Reading questions: Learning in colonial Carolina
This set of questions was designed to accompany an article about education in colonial North Carolina.
A lesson plan for grade 8 Social Studies
Have your students read the article “Learning in Colonial Carolina” and answer the questions below. Suggested responses follow each question.
The questions are also available in PDF format as a handout for students.
- Why did schools not develop in Carolina as they did in other colonies?
Settlers in the Carolina colony were generally yeoman farmers, who needed their children to help on the farms. These families were more interested in economic security.
- How did most children in North Carolina learn?
Most children were engaged in informal education — learning from watching relatives and through practice. Any reading and writing would be taught by elder relatives.
- What was considered important for Carolina children to learn? Why?
It was important for them to learn the skills that they needed to help and eventually to run or help a husband run their own farms. These skills were generally gender-specific. You may want to ask students to give examples of what boys and girls would have been expected to learn.
- What were the few examples of formal education in the colony? Who most benefited from these?
There were religious schools for boys — mostly to provide an educated clergy. There were also apprenticeships — these would be for boys that would learn a trade. These would benefit middle-class children or children of artisans.
- What was an apprenticeship? How was this similar and different from indentured servitude?
A young person would learn an art, skill, or trade by working for and with an expert in the craft for several years. The master was expected to provide room, board, education (basic reading, writing , and arithmetic), and training and the apprentice would be under a legal contract, often four to seven years or to age 21.
Similarities to indentures: Contract, requirements of obedience, master provide room and board, apprentices and servants were not paid, at the end of the contract both apprentices and indentured servants were free and were to be given something by the master (often clothes, money, or tools).
Differences: Apprentices began as younger children and were usually put into their position by parents, servants generally “sold” themselves for transportation; apprentices were expected to be taught a craft, indentures were servants; indentures could be bought and sold.
- How did the children of the wealthy receive an education?
Wealthy parents would send their boys to the North or to Europe for formal education. Girls were taught at home, but would have received lessons in reading, writing, arithmetic, and often female arts such as needlework in order to be able to run a fine home or plantation.
- Why do you think formal schooling for all children developed in the United States?
Answers will vary. Students should understand that an education is required for an informed electorate.
North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
- Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
- Objective 1.07: Describe the roles and contributions of diverse groups, such as American Indians, African Americans, European immigrants, landed gentry, tradesmen, and small farmers to everyday life in colonial North Carolina, and compare them to the other colonies.
- North Carolina Essential Standards
- Social Studies (2010)
- 8.H.1 Apply historical thinking to understand the creation and development of North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.1.1 Construct charts, graphs, and historical narratives to explain particular events or issues. 8.H.1.2 Summarize the literal meaning of...
- Social Studies (2010)