Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America

Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America

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An experienced teacher of reading and writing and an award-winning historian, E. Jennifer Monaghan brings to vibrant life the process of learning to read and write in colonial America. Ranging throughout the colonies from New Hampshire to Georgia, she examines the instruction of girls and boys, Native Americans and enslaved Africans, the privileged and the poor, revealing the sometimes wrenching impact of literacy acquisition on the lives of learners. For the most part, religious motives underlie reading instruction in colonial America, while secular motives led to writing instruction. deeply researched and readable case studies. An Anglican missionary battles mosquitoes and loneliness to teach the New York Mohawks to write in their own tongue. Puritan fathers model scriptural reading for their children as they struggle with bereavement. Boys in writings schools, preparing for careers in counting houses, wield their quill pens in the difficult task of mastering a good hand. Benjamin Franklin learns how to compose essays with no teacher but himself. Young orphans in Georgia write precocious letters to their benefactor, George Whitfield, while schools in South Carolina teach enslaved black children to read but never to write. colonial literacy. She pioneers in the exploration of the implications of the separation of reading and writing instruction, a topic that still resonates in today's classrooms. Her close examination of reading methodology yields fresh insights into the colonial mind. Her discussion of instructional texts, particularly spelling books, adds an important and previously neglected element to the study of colonial literacy. Monaghan's wide-ranging study confirms a break with tradition that began in some circles around the 1750s. Thereafter, a gentler vision of childhood arose, portraying children as more malleable than sinful. It promoted and even commercialized a new kind of children's book designed to amuse instead of convert, laying the groundwork for the reading revolution of the new republic.Instruction. The notion that the ability to write was an essential part of what it meant to be free is not easily inferred ... In eighteenth- century America, writing was lauded for its extraordinary benefits in equipping the novice to participate ... could set their students to copy a€” they turned to English spelling books or to what we would term self-help manuals. ... copies in the Youtha#39;s Instructor contain every letter of the alphabet, such as, aquot;A dazzling Triumph quickly flown, is but a gay Vexation.

Title:Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America
Author:E. Jennifer Monaghan
Publisher:Univ of Massachusetts Press - 2005


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