Jefferson on Educating Young Virginians
“Of the boys thus sent in any one year, trial is to be made at the grammar schools one or two years, and the best genius of the whole selected, and continued six years, and the residue dismissed. By this means, twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed at the public expense, so far as the grammar schools go. At the end of six years instruction, one half are to be discontinued (from among whom the grammar schools will probably be supplied with future masters); and the other half, who are to be chosen for the superiority of their parts and disposition, are to be sent and continued three years in the study of such sciences as they shall choose at William and Mary College.
The ultimate result of the whole scheme of education would be the teaching of all the children of the State reading, writing and common arithmetic; turning out ten annually of superior genius, well taught in Greek, Latin, geography and the higher branches of arithmetic; turning out ten others annually of still superior parts…”
Instead…of putting the Bible and the Testament into the hands of the children at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious inquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history. The first elements of morality, too, may be instilled in their minds; such as, when further developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach them how to work out their own general happiness, by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.”
(Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, Funk & Wagnalls, 1900, page 275)