New Englander Harriet Bishop arrives in St. Paul and opens the town’s first public school. In a log cabin that had once been a blacksmith’s shop, students sit on wooden benches while chickens wander in and out.*
Thanks for Harriet Bishop and her desire to make education ‘public’. There were few opportunities for female teachers in New England, and she relished the adventure of moving west into unfamiliar territory. She credits Harriet Newell and Ann Bishop, missionaries to Burma, as her inspiration.
The first school house, which she opened in a former blacksmith shop on July 19, 1847, was a “mud walled log hovel… covered with bark and chinked with mud” at what is now St. Peter Street and Kellogg Boulevard in the relatively isolated fur trading post of Saint Paul. Of the seven students in her first class, only two were caucasian. She had to rely on a student who was fluent in French, Dakota, and English to translate for her classes (which she taught in English). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Bishop
It’s astounding to think that most schools in our nation were private or parochial at the time. Public schools were often for the benefit of Protestants and the poor, whose communities did not have the resources or organizational structure to support them. How far we have come from this log cabin filled with students and wandering chickens!
However, presently we fail future generations because learning is disconnected from the Omniscient One. We have generations leading lives filled with facts, technology, and the benefits of science, but detached from meaning or a reason for being. This state was made by our Loving God, but even Your presence in school is an affront to the humanistic underpinnings of our current system of education! Will you forgive us this offense? Will You forgive our education system, legal system, and hearts where we have blocked You, and therefore any real sense of Divine Purpose, from our lives!
Today I remember the risk of Harriet Bishop, and her heart to see all children learn! Perhaps her home culture did not value her, but we thank You for incredible contributions to our state! Will You bless her, and all like her, who bravely risk the frontiers of our educational system?
Will You forgive any arrogance and academic pride of our forbearers, as You forgive us those same separations in the present? Will You bless future schools of Minnesota with wonder and awe of knowledge beyond our reach? May we remember the Infinite One who perceives the oceans of information beyond our drop in the bucket! May we receive Your forbearing spirit for each other, and a willingness to honor each other in Minnesota’s classrooms regardless of our faith in God or man?