By Elizabeth Rogers Kotlowski
Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future station.
It is appropriate that Christian education should be considered part of a total missionary outreach because Christ commanded His disciples not only to evangelise but to teach all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). Evangelism must be followed by education. Wherever missionaries have gone, they have set up schools. Funding of the early schools was the key factor in their administration.
Australian Roman Catholic educator, Brother Ronald Fogarty, has identified three stages in the development of denominational school administration during the nineteenth century. In the first stage, from 1793 until 1848, government grants were given for land, buildings and salaries. In the second stage, terminating in the 1860s, grants covered books and apparatus. Management of the schools was left largely in the hands of the churches or denominations during the first two stages. In the third stage, from the 1860s to 1880, most of the administrative details were taken over by central boards. Conditions for qualifying for government grants became more stringent, while aid was restricted to salaries and books. By the sixties and seventies, it became obvious that the government was trying to destroy the denominational education -- Protestant and Roman Catholic -- by withdrawal of all state aid from church schools.
Australian Protestant educator, Allen Roberts, has also identified three stages in the development of education during the first hundred years. The first stage was the acceptance of the responsibility for the education of the rising generation by the church; the second, denominational rivalry and compromise with the state; the third, secular state education with religious neutrality.
The development of denominational education during the twentieth century, namely independent denominational schools, organised denominational schools, and controlled denominational schools, will be discussed. This will be followed by a consideration of the implications of the rise of secular state education: the Roman Catholic stand and the Protestant resignation. The fruit of the crucial decisions made one hundred years ago and their significance for twentieth century
During the first stage--that of independent denominational schools--there were some attempts at creating a national system of education by governors Richard Bourke and George Gipps. However, both ventures failed because of the uncompromising opposition of the Protestant churches under the unflinching leadership of Anglican Dr Broughton.
From 1793 to 1848, the church accepted the responsibility for the education of the rising generation. "If any hopes are to be formed of any reformation being affected in this Colony, I believe it must begin amongst those of the rising generation". The fact that
Samuel Marsden, who succeeded Johnson as chaplain, agreed. "The future hopes of this colony depend upon the rising generation. Little can be expected from the convicts who are grown old in vice, but much may be done for their children under proper instruction".
The general acceptance of the necessity for moral education was voiced by the Church of England Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPGFP) . As early as 1795, the opinion was recorded in the minutes of the Society that: "The most likely means of effecting a reformation must be by paying all the attention that can be to the instruction and morals of the rising generation".
Even non-clerics, such as Governor Phillip and Spenser Percival, Chancellor of the Exchequer, agreed. Percival stated: "Schools, or some system at least of regulated education, in which industry and morals are more attended to than is learning, should be coextensive with the youth of the settlement".
Governor King also established orphanages with schools attached for the illegitimate children of convicts. Boys learned the three R's, tailoring, shoemaking and gardening. The need for schools became more urgent with the increase of the number of school-age children in the colony. Only 36 children arrived with the First Fleet, but by the end of 1792, there were 246 children in the colony. The type of school that would provide such a moral education was assumed to be the responsibility of the church. Historian Partridge noted:
At this stage in the history of educational thinking, it was commonly assumed ... that the education of children ... was an aspect of moral training and that since the Christian faith was the foundation of morality, education was the responsibility of the Church.
The majority believed the Protestant evangelical tradition, as expounded by Luther and Calvin, was the touchstone of morality. In the minds of the evangelicals, the reading of the Bible was essential to a moral life, so literacy became the primary goal of education. The two main streams of evangelical tradition--the Wesleyan and the Church of England--thus concurred on the emphasis on literacy as being central to educational policy. This belief was supported by the English philanthropists who believed that teaching the masses to read was essential to guarantee the good life for all. They sponsored
As mentioned in the first chapter,
The choice of a biblical God-centred model rather than a humanistic man-centred pagan model for Australian education was no accident in God's economy. Johnson was familiar with Rousseau's didactic novel published in 1762 and popular in
Break their wills betimes, begin this work before they can run alone, before they can speak plain, perhaps before they can speak at all. Whatever pains it costs, break the will, if you would not damn the child. Let a child from a year old be taught to fear the rod and to cry softly; from that age make him do as he is bid, if you whip him ten times running to effect it. If you spare the rod, you spoil the child: if you do not conquer, you ruin him. Break his will now, and his soul shall live, and he will probably bless you in eternity.
Based on this evangelical philosophy, early schools had distinctive policies concerning administration, curriculum and staffing. Staffing of the early schools, as noted in the first chapter, was dependent on availability of suitable persons among the convict population. Marsden looked for persons of Christian character with a strong desire to communicate Christian knowledge, and an ability to endure the hardships of pioneer life. In order to guard against attracting unsuitable types, Wilberforce recommended that salaries paid to teachers be small. 
The first teachers, as mentioned in Chapter 1, were women convicts or ex-convicts. While questions may be raised as to the suitability of employing convicts as teachers of morals, it should be remembered that, in the early years, there was no alternative labour supply. Women were more available as every able-bodied man was needed for the work force. No special training was required for teachers in an age when apprenticeship (or, learning on the job) was the norm for lacemaker, carpenter and teacher. While Christian qualities were desirable, the only three criteria required for a teacher were good behaviour, literacy, and the ability to discipline a class. Though there were difficulties in finding suitable teachers, the majority were Christians. Johnson, as chaplain to the colony, exercised diligence and care in his selection of teachers (although he had to dismiss one on account of drunkenness).
Johnson's successor, Samuel Marsden, carried on this tradition of Christian church-based schools, and education went hand in hand with his missionary endeavours. Later, Governor Lachlan Macquarie also did much to promote Christian education for the masses. The living conditions of the early educators and missionaries were hard, and their work was mostly unappreciated, but the reader should remember that Australia was established as a penal colony in a cruel inhospitable age. Australia, the "wide brown land", so unlike the neat squared parcelled fields of England, was a land of terror, a sunburnt country of strange animals, a land of droughts and flooding rains, as well as a land of rare beauty. Yet, as truly as the winds and rain sculptured the sandstone rocks of Australia's red centre, Johnson, Marsden, Hassall and other Duff missionaries, Matthew Hughes, J. Harris, Crook, and their followers, left an indelible imprint on the hearts of Australia's youth. God used a penal colony to achieve his purposes so only He would get the glory.
In the early schools, the Bible formed the core text of the curriculum. The three R's were taught in the context of biblical truths. The memorising of the Ten Commandments and catechism occupied a central place, while hymn singing and prayers opened and closed the school day. Johnson's first school was "conceived in the Protestant vernacular tradition expounded by Luther and Calvin in the sixteenth century". Children were taught to read the Bible and Prayer Book in English, rather than Latin. It was generally believed, as King Solomon expressed it, that the best way for a young man "to cleanse his way", was to pay careful attention to the Word of God. Supplementary texts, such as Dixon's Speller , in addition to the ABC and syllables, included moral injunctions and stories intended to drive home biblical truths. Johnson, in requiring his pupils to attend church regularly, was simply following English precedent. If a mother neglected to send her child to church, Johnson had the governor's authority to expel him from the school.
A typical school day at Johnson's school started at a quarter to nine with the tolling of the church bell to alert children that school was starting in fifteen minutes. On the stroke of nine, the children solemnly walked in, under the stern eye of the head teacher from the rostrum. A few early birds got window seats, while the little ones perched precariously on the adult-size rough wooden benches, with their legs dangling. The two assistant teachers ushered their classes to the corners of the building, as far apart as possible since there were no walls to separate classes. Each teacher had a box for his canes, textbooks, paper, quills, slates, ink-powder and soft lead pencils. In the absence of blackboards and steel nibs, the writing instructor spent much time in sharpening quills (made from magpie feathers) and in demonstrating how to keep the points sharp. The children dipped their quills into home-made ink as they wrote on scraps of paper, which was expensive at one pound for a ream of foolscap. The alphabet was scratched on framed squares of wet sand or on tiles. In the infant colony, all school supplies were in short supply and had to be requisitioned through the government stores. A typical order included "slates purchased at 4d. each, lead pencils at 3d., quills at 1s. for twenty, and ink-powder at 3d. a packet". Johnson had brought 150 copies of Dixon's Speller with him. Besides the ABC's and selected syllables, it included prose excerpts with religious and moral content, as well as the basics of grammar, punctuation, geography and history. The spellers were part of a package of 4000 books donated by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) and sent out with the First Fleet, and shipped and stored at government expense.
Other school supplies included Prayer Books, Psalters, New Testaments and Bibles, as well as tracts with such cautionary titles as: Exercises Against Lying, Dissuasions from Stealing, and Exhortations to Chastity. After mastering the speller, the student moved to the primer which included the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. Textbooks included only occasional pictures. Writing samples were prepared by the masters, while popular arithmetic texts were Walkinham's Arithmetic and Thomas Dilworth's The Schoolmaster's Assistant. The lower grades cut their teeth on addition and subtraction exercises (of pounds, yards, gallons and leagues). More meaty problems for the upper grades included: "What is the Root of this Squared Square-Cube: 10279563944029090291760398073856"? A chapter, headed "Pleasant and Diverting Questions", posed a more entertaining problem for the adventurous student:
A gentleman courted a young lady, and as their birth-days happened together, they agreed to make that their wedding day. On the day of the marriage it happened that the gentleman's age was just double to that of the lady's that is, as 2 to 1. After they had lived together 30 years, the gentleman observed that his lady's age drew nearer to his, and that his was only in such proportion to hers as 2 to 1 3/7. Thirty years after this the same gentleman found his and his lady's ages to be as near as 2 to 1 3/5; at which they both died.--I demand their several ages, at the day of their marriage and of their death; also the reason why the lady's age, which was continually gaining upon her husband's, should, notwithstanding, be never able to overtake it?
The school day began with prayer and a hymn from a collection by the popular dissenter and textbook author, Rev. Dr Isaac Watts. Among his most celebrated works were Divine and Moral Songs for the Use of Children, and Hymns and Spiritual Songs. A delightful example of one of Watt's songs was Against Quarrelling and Fighting:
Let Dogs delight to bark and bite,
For God has made them so;
Let bears and lions growl and fight,
For 'tis their nature too.
But, children, you should never let
Such angry passions rise;
Your little hands were never made
To tear each other's Eyes.
The above song may have provoked an opening dialogue such as the following:
Teacher: "Why . . . did dogs delight, by nature, to bark and bite, if God had made all things good?"
Child: "Because their nature had been changed by the sin of man".
After the opening exercises, the children lined up to take turns to read to their teachers. The pupils were divided into seven grades: the ABC class, the 2-letters class, 3-letters class, 4-letters, 5-letters, the two-syllables class; and the Bible class. Each class was divided again into those students writing with slate pencils and those using quills and paper.
The teaching method by which a teacher heard the child recite before the next task was assigned, was known as the Individual Method. The teacher's main task was to keep order. Learning was very much up to the child himself. He could get help at home or by sitting next to a brighter student. Endless hours were spent in recitation of nonsense syllables, in deciphering words, and in reading aloud, so that the school house sounded like "a musical performance consisting of a thousand repetitions of a single note", according to one observer.
By the early nineteenth century, the Individual Method of teaching had been largely replaced by the Lancashire Monitorial System since the latter system lent itself to the increasing numbers of children in the colony. Using this approach, the inventors, Anglican Dr Andrew Bell and Quaker Joseph Lancaster, claimed up to 500 children could be taught by only one teacher! The master teacher selected the older and brightest students and only taught them. In turn, the newly trained "monitors" were assigned to teach the lower grades. Discipline was better than under the old Individual Method because the children were divided into smaller groups. With the use of competition and rewards, there was less reliance on corporal punishment and threats of hell fire. In Britain, by 1820, a quarter of a million children were enrolled in monitorial schools and on the road to becoming "good scholars, good men, and good Christians". In Bell's own words, the Lancashire Monitorial System had been founded:
To imbue the minds of my pupils with the principles of morality and of our holy religion and infuse a spirit and habit of diligence and industry, so as at once to supply the necessities of the community and promote the welfare of the individual, two objects indissolubly united in every well regulated state.
As pointed out by Roberts, the system had advantages in Australia because it was possible to teach a large number of children with a minimum number of teachers. Teachers were difficult to find and expensive to support. For these reasons, Commissioner Bigge also recommended the system as the best option for a reorganisation of public education.
However, until 1830, the schools were largely under the control of Christian churches, using Bible-centred curricula which were funded by the churches and missionary societies and staffed with Christian teachers. An examination of limited documentation of improvement in literacy and morals of the colony, would suggest that these early Christian schools had a positive input in the development of literate, moral, self-governing citizens. A count of marriage registers taken by V. Goodwin at St Phillip's, Sydney, St John's, Parramatta, and St Matthew's, Windsor, for the years 1804 and 1814 showed that 55 per cent of the men and 24 per cent of the women could sign their name, while the remainder marked the register with an "X". Over the same period, 63 per cent of the men and 44 per cent of the women born in the colony could sign their names. Between the years 1821 and 1824, of those born in the colony, 71 per cent of the men and 69 per cent of the women could sign their names.
Commissioner Bigge observed that the native born were superior in morals as well as literacy. He recommended that they be eligible for land grants and for jury service. His opinion was shared by historian Peter Cunningham who observed that:
They are little tainted with the vices so prominent among their parents! Drunkenness is almost unknown with them, and honesty proverbial; the few of them that have been convicted having acted under the bad auspices of their parents or relatives.... The young girls are of mild-tempered, modest disposition, possessing simplicity of character; and, like children of nature, credulous and easily led into error. The lower classes are anxious to get into respectable service, from a laudable wish to be independent, and escape from the tutelage of their often profligate parents.
A British correspondent in the Edinburgh Review (1828) commented that the native born were "in a more than ordinary degree, temperate and honest". While these opinions would suggest that there was a positive correlation between Christian schooling and an observable improvement in literacy and morals among the rising generation, the most convincing evidence came from a study by J. Ward and K. Macnab of Sydney gaol admissions between 1833 and 1836. Results of the study gave "an average index of 10.4 committals per 1000 convicts, 15.4 for emancipists, 4.23 for free emigrants, and 3.43 for the native born". Judge W. W. Burton of the Supreme Court, was sufficiently impressed by the law-abiding nature of the native born to write:
There was not one of them ever tried before the writer for any of those atrocious crimes which are attributed to their country, but belong only to the convict class; nor did he hear or know of any person born in the colony, being tried for, or even charged with, either the offence of rape, or any other licentious crime; nor has he ever found any offence committed by any one of them, such as to call upon him to pronounce sentence of death; and no such sentence has ever passed within his knowledge, or any crime committed with such a degree of violence as to justify it.
Governor Macquarie and Rev. Samuel Marsden, recognising the contribution of the Christian schools in raising the standard of literacy and morals in the colony, decided to build some Christian orphanages with government aid, but unfortunately did not succeed in doing so. They could not get the money. As the demon of sectarianism raised its ugly head, denominational rivalry gave the state the opportunity to intervene in the name of "common Christianity".
The Anglican Church initially had a monopoly in education since the Church of England was the Established Church. However, in England, there had been no government money spent on education before 1833. In fact, there had been a strong prejudice against the state's spending money on education, but New South Wales received different treatment because of its having been established as a penal colony. Phillip's Additional Instructions of 1789 had included directions to set aside land in every town to support a Church of England clergyman and schoolmaster. The clause read:
It is Our further Will and Pleasure that a particular spot in or as near each town as possible be set apart for the building of a church, and four hundred acres adjacent thereto allotted for the maintenance of a minister, and two hundred for a schoolmaster.
The policy of endowing a church with land to secure the future of religion and education was not unique to New South Wales. Similar land endowments had been made, by both the Jesuits and the Church of England in North America. Phillip secured 600 acres for a minister and a schoolmaster in the Petersham Hill district to the west of Farm Cove and fronting the harbour. The land was leased for grazing, but as Cleverley observed, the income from the land in its unimproved state was not sufficient to build or to support a school.
Other alternative sources of support, such as church endowments, missionary societies, and philanthropists were lacking in the fledgling colony, so the transplantation of English institutions, such as dame and charity schools, was not the solution. While the early Anglican (Church of England) churches received small payments from the SPCK and other missionary societies, and the teaching services of suitable assigned convicts, such aid was not sufficient to cater for the growing school-age population in the early nineteenth century without government assistance.
However, government support meant government control. This obviously created new problems because the government had its own philosophy of education--a philosophy which did not necessarily coincide with that of the churches. So long as the colony chaplain was under the thumb of the governor, there was no problem, but when chaplain and governor conspired together to establish an Anglican monopoly in education, other denominations, such as the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian, protested. Evidence from official communications between Governor Macquarie and the home office suggested an attempt to create such a monopoly. In 1818, in a letter to the Secretary of State, Governor Macquarie requested six more schoolmasters. He begged leave "to suggest the propriety of all persons sent hither for the purpose of disseminating the principles of education being of the Established church, untainted by Methodism or other sectarian opinion".
Confirmation of the privileged status of the Church of England was evident in a letter written by Earl Bathurst from the Colonial Office to Macquarie in 1820. After recommending the Lancashire Monitorial System, Bathurst added that it was:
The best adapted, not only for securing to the rising generation in New South Wales the advantages of all necessary instruction, but also in bringing them up in habits of industry, regularity, and for implanting in their minds the principles of the Established Church.
On 17 July 1825, the home government passed legislation setting up the Church and Schools Corporation. This ruled that one seventh of the crown lands of the colony were to be set aside "for the maintenance and support of the clergy and the established Church of England . . . and the maintenance and support of schools and schoolmasters in connection with the established church". There was immediate opposition to legislation from the Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics. Father John Joseph Therry, the first Roman Catholic chaplain to New South Wales, writing to the Editor of the Sydney Gazette on 14 June 1825, commented:
And as from a document which has recently been published, it may be inferred, that public provision is to be made for Protestant parochial schools exclusively; and that the children of the Roman Catholic poor are to be either excluded from the salutary benefits of education, or compelled or enticed to abandon the truly venerable religion of their ancestors, according to the past and present system of the Orphan School establishment in the colony; and as the lesser of these evils is to be deprecated as a most serious one, the Roman Catholic chaplain, with the fond hope of obviating both, is determined, "Deo adjuvante", immediately to form a Roman Catholic education society, into which, however, persons of any persuasion may be admitted, on subscribing to its funds fifteen shillings a year, or one shilling and three pence per month.
Presbyterian Dr John Dunmore Lang, writing in 1831, complained of the incompetent management of the affairs of the Corporation and of its detrimental effects on the colony. By 1833, reaction to the Church and Schools Corporation was so strong that the government dissolved it.
Since the Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination in Australia, mainly because of the growth of its schools, it is appropriate at this point to briefly consider the development of Roman Catholic education. In the private sector, the Roman Catholic schools have grown so rapidly that they have become known as the seventh state. In 1959, approximately 399,900 of the 494,400 pupils enrolled in private schools, were in Roman Catholic schools (an average of 80.7%).
Traditionally, Roman Catholic education in Australia, like the early Protestant education, belonged to the church, "wherein children might be instructed in the knowledge of God and divine things, and brought up in the fear, love, and discipline of the Lord". While one-third of the convicts on the First Fleet were Roman Catholic, the colony did not have a Roman Catholic priest until 1820. In spite of petitions for a priest to be sent with the convicts to minister the sacraments, the Colonial Office refused because they feared a Roman Catholic threat to the Protestant (Church of England) establishment. Roman Catholic-Protestant relations had never been amiable. This had been accentuated by the volatile political situation in Ireland, so there was always a fear of Irish sedition or revolt against the English. Even though England and Ireland were united in 1801, distrust of the Irish was still strong. Early colonial Roman Catholic education was scanty, some Roman Catholic parents preferring to keep their children at home rather than send them to the only available schools, run by the Church of England.
In 1820, during a lull in the sectarian controversy, two Roman Catholic priests, Philip Conolly and John Joseph Therry, arrived in New South Wales. The Protestants assisted the work of the Roman Catholics and helped collect funds from their own denominations to build a Roman Catholic Church. Father Therry possessed "a zeal for the glory of God and a solicitude for the salvation of his fellow-men" and he was known for his compassion, heroism and devotion. One of Father Therry's main jobs was the provision of Roman Catholic education, so that by 1833 there were ten Roman Catholic schools. Father Therry worked tirelessly to free the schools from Church of England jurisdiction. When he confronted Archdeacon Scott on the issue, Governor Darling misinterpreted Father Therry's missionary zeal and dismissed him from his office as Roman Catholic Chaplain for the colony.
The next government attempt at resolving the sectarian problem was the introduction of the Irish National System, endorsed by Governor Bourke in 1833. This was a plan to implement state education for children of all denominations, based on their "common Christianity". Religious instruction was to be limited to the reading of approved passages of Scripture acceptable to all faiths, and to instruction by clergymen who were permitted to enter the school one day a week to instruct children of their own denomination.
This plan also met with violent opposition from Anglican Bishop Broughton and Presbyterian Rev. Dr John Dunmore Lang. Broughton immediately saw in this legislation a threat to the very heart of Protestantism--the accessibility of the whole counsel of God to the people of God. It was the placing of the Bible (written in the language of the common people) into the hands of the common people, under Henry VIII, that brought liberty to the people. Now there was great concern that the martyrs who laid down their lives to bring men the precious Word of God should not have died needlessly. Broughton thundered:
I lay my finger upon this principle and I say this is the bane and plague-spot which infects the whole system. To this, as a Protestant, I must object in toto . . . . What does Protestantism rest upon? Upon this principle: that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation; and that the use of it should be free to every man who has a soul to be saved. Upon this point turned the great struggle between the Reformers and the Church of Rome.... It is this continued inculcation of the Scriptures from early childhood, and to the acquaintance which is thus acquired with their contents, that the general diffusion of Protestant principles is attributable.
Broughton further reminded his audience that the whole English-speaking world was indebted to the Church of England for giving them the Word of God in their own language. He made it clear that he could only support the scheme if "the free use of the Scriptures shall be established, and no doctrine shall be taught in your schools adverse to the Church of England".
Broughton's stand on the integrity of the Bible, "in all its unmitigated completeness and in all its unsullied purity",  was shared by Lang, who was equally vehement. However, the infamous "Irish Stew", a poem published in the Colonist, edited by Lang, did more to rally public opinion against the Irish National System than any amount of rhetoric.
Although the Irish National System was doomed from its inception in 1833, it introduced the concept of public secular education, based on a "common Christianity" with a restriction of Bible reading and proselytising. Governor Bourke claimed that education was the responsibility of the state. After recounting how the government of New South Wales took the lead in building school houses and in supplying teachers, Bourke asserted that "in no part of the world is the general education of the people a more sacred and necessary part of the government than in New South Wales". Not only did the state pay teachers but in 1842, out of 109 clergymen in New South Wales, 94 were state-paid. When Lang refused his stipend, he explained that "since the time of Constantine state aid meant an enfeebled church". There were other supporters of voluntarism (no state aid to religion). The most significant example was South Australia. Established in 1836, one of the founding principles was that there should be no state aid to any religious group. However, South Australia was the exception. The gradual reception of the insidious idea of state control elsewhere initiated the second stage in the development of Australian education--that of organised denominational schools and the great compromise.
In 1848, the Irish National System was replaced by the Dual System, which consisted of two government-appointed boards: a National Board to supervise government schools and a Denominational Board to supervise and distribute funds to private schools. As the population increased, there were increased demands for government funding and naturally public schools were a priority. The churches and missionary societies could not meet the demands of the private church schools, while Lang and Broughton, the two most outspoken opponents of the Dual System, succumbed to government pressures. South Australia was the first state to withdraw government support from non-government schools. By the time the two boards were abolished in 1866, all government funding for private schools, including the Roman Catholic schools, had been withdrawn. The reasons for the dissolving of the denominational school system were several. They included (1) the low professional training of teachers; (2) inefficient school administration; (3) the primitive condition of school facilities; (4) inadequate equipment; (5) lack of standardisation of textbooks (leading to confusion); (6) inconsistent academic results; and (7) the accelerating costs of operating an increasing number of schools (often due to denominational rivalry) with decreased funds, while still leaving the bulk of the population uneducated.
However, the most important factor that contributed to the fall of the denominational system was (8) the apathy of the Protestants, who, since Broughton and Lang stepped down, accepted the new government schools with resignation or even enthusiasm. The result was a national disaster that was to have tragic repercussions for over a century. Government-funded schools ushered in the era of government-controlled denominational schools and Public Instruction Acts, culminating in the Public Instruction Act, 1880 which secularised education through the twentieth century.
With the dissolution of the Dual System in 1866, control of the denominational schools was transferred from the churches to a central government board. In 1867, public schools had an enrolment of 28,000 students and denominational schools 35,000. By 1879, public school enrolment had reached 88,000, while denominational school enrolment had dropped to 34,000--the majority Roman Catholic. The reason the Roman Catholics were able to carry on without government support was because they had "cheap labour" in the persons of members of religious orders they imported from Ireland. While most churches let their schools die, Roman Catholics held on, sustained by a philosophy which saw education not as mere schooling, but as the living transmission of values preparing children for life here and hereafter.
As a result of the sacrifice, devotion and downright tenacity of these religious sisters and brothers in the face of tremendous obstacles, the Roman Catholic school movement grew until, by 1885, the Roman Catholic parochial school became the most important feature of Australian Roman Catholicism. The first Australian order, the Sisters of Saint Joseph (or the Josephites) was founded by hard-riding bush pastor Julian Tenison Woods. His first recruit, Mary McKillop, became a Mother Teresa of her day. She was a woman of Christian character, compassion and extraordinary courage. Educated in her Melbourne home by her father, who was a leader in the Roman Catholic community, Mary became a teacher. Her first school at Penola was held in a stable. The Josephites lived in bare little cottages, depending on meagre school fees and whatever food people gave them. They dedicated their lives to serving the poor. The success of this largest of all religious teaching orders was largely a result of Mary's work. She trained the first generation of teachers not only in the art of teaching but also in the art of holiness. Since daily mass was rarely available because of their isolation, the sisters "like bush carpenters ... [learnt] to knock together a rough-and-ready spirituality from whatever materials were at hand".. Mary knew the importance of cultivating the inner life:
I do not spend much time in prayer, but God's presence seems to follow me everywhere and make everything I do or wish to do a prayer. I love to write in the oratory, for then I feel so near to Jesus and give Him all my thoughts and what I am going to do; and I love at night to sleep where I can see the lamp burning and the Tabernacle behind it; and yet all the while I do not pray, only feel near to God, and my mind working and my mind resting to please Him.
It was in Mary's devotion to Jesus that she found the inner strength and courage to rebuff clerical attempts to take over her congregation. In 1871, when she was excommunicated by Bishop Sheil of Adelaide for alleged "insubordination", Mary, who believed in local self-governing communities, wouldn't give up. Finally, in 1888, after many a battle with local clerics and bishops, she won her appeal to Pope Leo XIII, who granted the Josephites canonical status and independence (of diocesan interference). So the work continued and expanded nationwide. For the love of God, these heroic women went everywhere and suffered all things (including the contempt of many clerics) to run the little parish school houses that became the backbone of the Australian nation.
It is to the stand taken by the Roman Catholics that Christian schools owe the limited religious freedom they have today. While government funding played a significant role in the increase of the state schools, two social factors accelerated their growth. The Victorian gold rush attracted "aggressive, radical newcomers (who) were producing a society which was more irreligious, more anti-clerical, than any other in Australia". A second factor was the growth of centralisation and the concept that the government was responsible for supplying man's needs, including education. With the decline of the church schools and an astronomical increase in government schools, the scene was set for the great compromise--religious neutrality--which stripped the strength from the church schools.
The Protestant churches, in succumbing to government pressure, made way for the New South Wales Public Instruction Act 1880 and the principle of religious neutrality. Starting with South Australia in 1851, one by one each of the states passed acts secularising education and withdrawing support from all church schools. The 1880 Act was the grand finale that put the secular seal on education. Even though secular education was still based on a "common Christianity", the Protestants, like Esau who sold his birthright, virtually traded the souls of their children for a pot of lentils. Only the Roman Catholics, who knew a soul was worth much more than lentils, refused to compromise, until today every small town in Australia has its Roman Catholic School. The New South Wales Public Instruction Act 1880 read:
7. In all schools under the Act, the teaching shall be strictly non-sectarian but the words 'secular education' shall be held to include the general religious teaching, as distinct from dogmatical or polemical theology lessons in the history of England and Australia, and shall form part of the course of secular instruction. . . .
17. In every public school four hours during each school-day shall be devoted to secular instruction exclusively and a portion of each day not more than one hour shall be set apart when the children of any one persuasion may be instructed by the clergyman or other religious teacher of such persuasion.
Public education was to be "free", secular, compulsory and centralised. The Act was the beginning of a "drive towards a centralized, unified, rigorously standardised system of schooling". Two basic issues were involved: the role of the state in education and the place of religious teaching. The function of the state in education was the hub of the wheel around which the controversy concerning religious teaching revolved. Few Protestants understood the biblical concept of government. To most, "government" was synonymous with the "state". They did not understand that God had designed three governmental institutions--the family, the church and civil government, and that the foundation for all three was Christian self-government. Since God told parents to "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he shall not depart from it", education is the responsibility of parents. The Protestants, in accepting the humanist lie that education was the responsibility of the state (civil government), opened the door to increasing state control and centralisation.
Today, several generations later, Christians look increasingly to the state for guidance and sustenance, instead of to God. The State has become their Shepherd and Provider, who meets all their needs according to the gold in the government coffer. The Protestants, then, in handing the role of education over to the state, paved the highway to hell, along which the majority of Australia's Protestant young people are blindly speeding because of the sins of their forefathers. Even most of the church schools today are using humanistic texts and their teachers are trained in humanistic schools and universities, so that there is no great difference between state and church school education.
The place of religious instruction in education, while important, is not the point. Biblical principles should be the basis of every subject in the curriculum. The central issue, then, is state control. The two opposing viewpoints on this matter were best expressed by William Wilkins and Archbishop Vaughan. Wilkins, as the Chief Inspector for the National Board of New South Wales, spoke of "the adoption of religious neutrality as [the] central principle" of the national system, because it made possible "unity, mainly in its laws and its administration . . . [and] it is more readily supervised, more effectively controlled and so much more cheaply administered". Wilkins was supported in his campaign by Henry Parkes, who, as Editor of the Empire until 1858, exerted a considerable public influence. In 1854, he declared that: "Education is as much within the province of the State to promote it as it is to provide police for our protection", and that "all that concerns elementary, intellectual and moral training is . . . the limit of state duty. That which pertains to another world belongs to the parent and pastor, with whom none will interfere".
However, to Vaughan, religious neutrality was an impossibility; secular education was "Godless education", with "schools which the church knows from experience will in the course of time fill the country with indifferentists not to speak of absolute infidels". Vaughan elaborated on the reasons why a policy of religious neutrality would not work:
There is one greater curse in the world than ignorance and that is instruction apart from moral and religious teaching. To instruct the masses in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and to leave out religion and morality is to arm them with instruments for committing crime. . . . A great deal has been said in the colony about the crime that proceeds from want of schools; very little about the still greater amount of crime which is produced by training the intellectual faculties whilst the will and the animal passions are allowed to run loose.
Vaughan predicted that public schools would become "seed plots of future immorality, infidelity, and lawlessness, being calculated to debase the standard of human excellence, and to corrupt the political, social, and individual life of future citizens".
As Australia moved into the twentieth century, Vaughan's predicted "seed plots of future immorality, infidelity, and lawlessness" reached maturity under the careful motherly eyes of the state providers of education. The private "church" schools that survived, though originally founded on Christian or sectarian principles, were often scarcely distinguishable from the public schools. The denominational schools had come to accept the dichotomy between religious and secular education. Early Christian educators had applied biblical principles to every subject, but the teachers in the church schools relegated "religion" to a prescribed slot in the day much as Religious Instruction (RI) was scheduled in the public schools. The real business of education was mathematics, English, history, geography and science. Its goal was to prepare students for the same external exams as the government schools, so the curriculum was basically the same. "Religion" or "Scripture" class was not relevant and was often taught in a manner that inoculated students against real religion. It provided a form of religion, but denied the power of God (2 Tim. 3:5).
The church schools that remained fell into two groups: Protestant and Roman Catholic. The larger Protestant schools catered to those who could afford to attend them, and to the "old boys" who supported them. The Roman Catholic parish schools, more reasonable in cost, continued to grow until Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion practised in Australia. But even these schools were affected by the signs of the time. Industrialisation brought vast technological changes, two world wars and the Korean and Vietnam wars, with disillusionment and cynicism in their wake. Nevertheless, education retained a semblance of "common Christianity", as the preamble to the 1961 Primary Curriculum in Social Studies demonstrated:
The child has spiritual tendencies which need opportunity for expression and development. Through inward freedom and opportunity he can express goodness, truth and beauty; and by love and reverence his spiritual nature can attain to full stature. He therefore needs an environment in which the great stories of the Bible will nourish and develop his moral and spiritual life. To this end the syllabus provided for the reverent and vivid telling of stories in infant grades and for the systematic reading of the authorized Junior and Senior Scripture books by all pupils in primary grades.
By the mid-1950s, many negative changes were taking place, and by the 1960s, it became obvious that all was not well in the classrooms. While the population explosion following World War II resulted in a shortage of classroom space and teachers, the twentieth century technological revolution has brought about a demand for more specialised and advanced training. The rise of a white collar class was rapidly replacing the image of a rural Australia.
In the field of education, a major revolution was also beginning to take place. For example, the 1957 Report on Secondary Education in New South Wales had made eight major recommendations, including the introduction of a four-year comprehensive school with a core of subjects common to all schools, followed by a public examination, which would mark the end of secondary education. An additional two years of study, followed by a matriculation examination, was to be provided for those who wished to enter university. The thrust of the Wyndham Report was to provide a "good general education" and "a variety of curriculum . . . to meet . . . varying attitudes and abilities", through a system of coeducational comprehensive schools emphasising social development and the democratic principle of giving everyone "a fair go". The Report stimulated much public debate. It was feared the large centralised nature of the new comprehensive schools would mean less individual attention for the student and less progress for the intellectually gifted. Academic excellence appeared to be secondary to the social function of education. After four years of delay, the Labor Party adopted the Wyndham Report proposals by passing the Education Act 1961. Similar laws were passed in the five other states.
A major effect of the educational revolution was the impact on the denominational schools, which were forced to make drastic changes that pushed up costs. The Roman Catholics were in the vanguard of this revolution. For example, to demonstrate how much money they were saving the state, the Catholics closed all their schools in the town of Goulburn in New South Wales and sent their children to the local state schools. When the public schools were unable to cope with the sudden influx of 2000 students, the New South Wales Labor government (dominated by Roman Catholics) was very embarrassed. The incident became a political snowball, which was exploited by the Menzies government in the election campaign of 1963. The Goulburn school "strike" of 1962 thus became a landmark in the campaign for state aid.
By 1965, eighty years after its initial introduction, direct state funding to private schools once again became the policy.  An important feature of the campaign for state aid in the 1960s was the cooperation between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Based on their thrust to promote Christian values in education, both groups found they had more in common than a desire for increased funding. This cooperation led to the development of a socially conservative Christian coalition which was to challenge the liberal left on issues affecting the family.
Nonetheless, government aid has ushered in the modern Christian school movement. During the last decade, while the growth of traditional Roman Catholic and Anglican schools has remained constant, the number of other non-governmental schools has increased dramatically. These include Christian Community Schools (CCS), Christian Parent Controlled Schools (CPCS), Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Schools, and other independent Christian schools--more than 200 schools that have started within the last 15 years, not to mention the emergence of numerous home schools. The reason for this growth of Christian schools has been an increasing disenchantment with the results of a humanistic state education, together with a growing response to the call to discipleship. However, the battle for the souls of Australia's children has intensified in the wake of all the revolutionary changes in education.
The writer of Lamentations wrote, "Lift up your hands towards [God] for the lives of your young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street" (Lamentations 2:19). The weeping prophet of Lamentations may well have been addressing the people of Australia. Indeed, the church has been involved in a spiritual battle for the souls of Australia's youth. The battle focuses on "who" or "what" should be in control of education. Whether education was the duty of the state or the parent was the central issue in the nineteenth century; it is still the point in question today. This modern onslaught in the battle for the soul of Australia's youth began with the introduction of the New South Wales Public Instruction Act 1880. The situation is so critical now that if the church does not act--whether because of ignorance or apathy --then, to be sure, the state will. If education is the responsibility of parents, aided by the church, then the state or federal government has no business meddling in it.
The decrease in literacy and in morals today can be directly ascribed to the growth in the power of the state. In the early days of the colony, the increase in literacy and in moral values of the "currency" lads and lasses was attributed to the Christian education they received. Now, centralisation has brought with it state control and the inevitable deathblow to the soul of Australia's youth. What little religious freedom we have now, we owe largely to the Roman Catholic Church because it was willing to take a stand and carry on even when government support was withdrawn in the mid-1800s. Roman Catholics knew the value of a soul and have taken the lead in the crucial area of teacher training by being the first major denomination to set up their own university, opening in 1991.
The type of Christian education that should be promoted in our schools involves more than the mere inclusion of a few Scripture verses in the syllabi. Christian education involves more than memorising Psalm 23 and posting the Ten Commandments on the wall. It is more than having chapel and saying a prayer before arithmetic, or sending a get-well card to a teacher who is sick. Christian education is not the reading of the biographies of great Christians, important though that is. The way to create good Christian education is to establish it in sound biblical principles. The Principle Approach is a historic biblical method of reasoning that makes the truths of God's Word the basis of every subject in the curriculum. It is teaching the children how to research the biblical principles of a subject; how to reason, relate and record those observations. In history, it is asking "who" or "what" is controlling individuals, events, institutions and documents. It is thinking "governmentally" by applying the 4 R's to the subject. (See Appendix II.)
Christian education entails an understanding of government, starting with Christian self-government as the basis of family, church, and civil government. Christian self-government involves learning to be self-governed at home, in the classroom and in society. For the student, it is learning how to exercise Christian self-government in keeping a bedroom tidy, doing chores with a cheerful spirit, and in completing homework on time. It is learning how to care for a pet or how to pray for a sick classmate. It could also involve taking a bag of groceries to a hungry family or writing a letter to a member of Parliament. Education is learning how to share the Gospel with a playmate; how to pray for a city; and how to resist temptation. It is the renewing of the student's mind in the Word of God so that every area of society the individual touches will be transformed. It is the developing of the student's talents to the full that the Christian might be used to the glory of God to change the world and hasten the return of Christ.
Knowing who or what controls education is the key to understanding it. For the first 100 years, Australia's education was Christian, but once the Protestant church abdicated this responsibility and allowed the state to take over, Christians lost control over the education of their children. When the church (acting as an extension of the authority of the parents) took the responsibility for education, it was able to control the philosophy, curriculum content and methodology.
From the very beginnings of the colony, government assistance to Christian education created problems of control over an area which God has clearly stated is the responsibility of parents (Deut. 6; Ps. 78). As we approach the year 2000, the whole question of state aid needs to be addressed again. The Goulburn school "strike" of 1962 demonstrated the degree to which the Christian school movement is dependent on state aid (as well as how much money the Christian schools are saving the state government!). Christian educators need to be bold enough to ask some basic questions. For example: should there be any government aid to Christian education? If so, how can it be arranged so a compromise will not happen again? Are there types of government assistance to education that will not lead to compromise in biblical principles, or are acceptable from a biblical worldview? An example is the voucher funding of schools, which gives parents power to choose the type of education they want for their children. Could this be one solution? Is the real problem a financial one, or a complacent and uninformed church? How many Christians really know what is the agenda of the government schools? How are Christian schools different if they use the same curriculum? The answer to these questions and how Christian educators act upon them, will determine Australia's future. .i).Education:twenty-first century;
As Australia developed from a struggling penal colony to a self-governing federation the governor, in his capacity as head of state, also played a crucial role in either furthering or in hindering the growth of Christianity and the application of biblical principles of government to Australian society.