In 2010 we published America the Beautiful for children in grades 5 through 8. History marches on, so it’s time for an update. That update is my main occupation these days. I remember how I felt as I came near the end of that project ten years ago. As much as I wanted to finish it, I was sorry that the process was over. It had been such fun!
So, now I am getting to go through the process again. I keep finding new stories and new pictures and I get so excited.
I remember being excited about the life of Noah Webster the first time through. Webster’s first dictionary, published in 1806 (the same year that Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery returned from their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase), contained 40,000 words. Webster continued to publish new editions. He reviewed the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew he had learned in college. He did research in America, England, and France. He studied Anglo-Saxon, Danish, French, German, Old Irish, Persian, Welsh, and other languages to better understand origins of English words. Webster wrote on paper with a quill pen. After many years, Webster finished. He had defined 70,000 words. Webster published his final version of the American Dictionary of the English Language in two volumes in 1828, at age 70. He recalled:
When I had come to the last word, I was seized with a trembling which made it somewhat difficult to hold my pen steady for writing. The cause seems to have been the thought that I might not then live to finish the work, or the thought that I was so near the end of my labors. But I summoned strength to finish the last word, and then walking about the room a few minutes, I recovered.
Imagine completing a 70,000 word handwritten dictionary — at any age. Webster finished it at age 70. Let’s start a revolution of actually respecting the “elderly” again! That “elderly” man lived to be 86!
Several years earlier, Webster worked to raise money for a school that would educate both boys and girls. He opened Amherst Academy in 1815 with a student body of ninety girls and over one hundred boys. He served as the chairman of the board of trustees. Students paid no tuition. Their food cost one dollar per week. A major purpose of the school was to educate young men who were talented and pious yet poor, so that they could become ministers. Webster’s 1828 dictionary has many quotations from the Bible. Webster often used a Bible quotation or a Biblical teaching to explain a word’s meaning.
I think you will enjoy and agree with his definition of the word education.
EDUCA′TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.
As God teaches us:
. . . bring them up in the discipline
and instruction of the Lord.