April 23: sumus primi
2012/04/23 § 2 Comments
On this day in 1653 the first public school in North America was founded.
The primacy of the Boston Latin School is echoed in its motto: Sumus Primi (“we are first”). But it also underscores the nature of first things, in particular, the first things in education: namely, the Classics, which remain the foundation for the curriculum of the centuries-old institution.
The first classes were taught in the home of the master, until a purpose-built school house was built by the mid-1640s (above). “Purpose built,” but, like most Colonial buildings for institutions (like buildings for governance, hospitals, and prisons), the basic architectural image was that of a house. But this humble pile should not be seen as a dodgy shack, unfortunately selected to house the glorious traditions that its inmates studied by lamplight. It too is expressive of the aim of what is still a public school, one with the highest intellectual standards and, ideally, the widest social reach.
The little building stood until the early eighteenth century and was replaced by a new building to accommodate a growing student body in 1704.
Image: sepia from their website (from this source)