From Farms to Field Hockey
It may surprise you to know that boarding schools have been around a lot longer than public schools. But there are a lot of interesting facts in the history of education. During the Colonial Era, schooling was organized around the agricultural calendar. In other words, when kids weren't plowing fields or harvesting wheat, they went to "old field schools." Eventually, more formal schools emerged—a lot more formal—called "Latin Grammar Schools." They taught Homer, Horace, Hesiod, Virgil, and Cicero and lots of other Greek and Roman history. Fortunately for future generations, the next wave of schools smartly expanded the curriculum. These "English Grammar Schools" emphasized a range of subjects including mathematics, modern languages, geography, rhetoric, accounting, and English grammar.
Since many of these schools were one-man shows where the teacher was also the headmaster and the accountant, it's no surprise that a lot of them eventually closed down for financial reasons. These schools were eventually replaced by schools of the "Academy Movement," which successfully blended the better elements of the Latin and English Grammar Schools. The first academy opened in 1763, a century before people even started thinking about a public school movement in America. Since they drew students from far and wide, many students lived with faculty masters or local townspeople who took them in as boarders. The notion of
in loco parentis—or the idea of surrogate parents—emerged naturally in these environments and formed the basis of an educational model that endures in boarding schools today.
As American cities grew more urban, complex—and sometimes dangerous—parents sought ways to send their children to healthier environments. Academies were a great option. Today's boarding schools continue that tradition of providing exceptional learning environments for students of all kinds. The boarding school community offers plenty of options—from arts-driven schools to military-focused institutions. But the idea of living on campus, under the guidance of teacher-mentors, and enjoying an active athletic and social life with your student peers, is common to all of them—and something every future boarding school student can look forward to.
Download a full history of boarding schools here.