The Urban Living Factor
Farm versus city living changed very little from the time Moses to the time of Abraham Lincoln. Throughout the entire 19th Century 80% to 90% of the people lived on farms. The variation in estimates may be accounted for because many men would have had a vocation such as blacksmith, plus that of a farmer. Farmer/inventors have always been common. In fact, I have used a hay carrier attached to a tractor for rolling hay out for sheep each winter every year for the past 30 years, and it was invented by two young farmer/brothers in Missouri. Anyway, it should be obvious that there was little change during roughly 3000 years. Let’s look at a portion of Deuteronomy 6:7,
… You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
With 80 – 90% of families on the farm in the 19th Century, it is reasonable to think the Bible’s instruction via Moses and Deuteronomy, would not be difficult to comprehend. In both people groups it would have been normal for children to be near their father while they “walked by the way” for example. In the early part of the 19th Century when most Americans lived on farms, they worked with limited hand tools to grow food for their families. It also meant that family labor was an integral part of the daily activities.
The Government School Factor
Formal schooling in America was very limited until the last half of the 19th Century, and the few schools available were usually church sponsored. In the 1840s some Unitarians who were unhappy with the Christian schools, undermined those schools by gaining support to have government-funded schools in Massachusetts. A few wealthy men gave financial seed money to start the first schools. The whole idea was to undermine Christianity and replace it with socialism in government schools. Once public taxpayer funded free (?) education caught on, then the church schools had a difficult time surviving financially. This was a watershed moment that ultimately led to separation of children from their parents during the school year and the school day. Once fully entrenched, the father could not be effective at teaching his sons while he “walked by the way.”
Father/Son Time – Lets say a eight-hour block of time, the time in school, plus the travel time, was taken out of the father/son relationship once government schools became well established. While the farm life remained relatively unchanged for many centuries, the establishment of government schools and the subsequent separation of children from their parents was a major factor in separating children from biblical principles. When the government schools first began, it obviously did not have an immediate impact on the parent’s Christian convictions. The same could be said of many teachers since Christianity was so prevalent, at least as we compare it to government school teachers in the 21st Century. This change did allow the seeds of secularism to grow over a period of more than 100 years. As secularism, and other worldviews crept into public education, God and His Book were crowded out.
We can assume that in the 19th Century that the home influence was relatively unchanged because farming was the predominant occupation. In fact schools were set up to allow for the children to be home during the busy growing season. To this day the nine-month school year is simply a policy holdover from the early years when most people were farmers.
The Industrial Revolution Factor
Horse drawn machinery invented during the latter half of the 19th Century (Second Industrial Revolution, or Technological Revolution) did much to reduce manual labor on family farms. For example Cyrus McCormick, at 22 years of age, in 1831 invented a horse drawn wheat harvester that tied bundles with twine. That piece of machinery worked so well that its design and function changed very little in the next 125 years following its invention. In fact, I rode such a binder, pulled by a tractor, in the 1950s as a teen working in the wheat fields. As technology advanced, fewer people were needed to raise the food necessary for the nation.
By 1920 the percentage of people farming was 30 percent compared to the 80-90 percent in Lincoln’s day. In the 50-year period from 1870 to 1920 there was a five-fold increase in people living in cities, from 10 million to more than 50 million. Whereas about 66 percent of people lived in non-metropolitan areas in 1920, that number was only 20 percent by the year 2000. Or the reverse of that would be 34% of America’s population was in cities in 1920 and that increased to 80 percent by the year 2000.
In 1960, my first year in college with a major in agriculture, each American farmer produced enough food for about 25 people, and that increased to more than 155 people 50 years later. I have followed this trend closely since I have spent all of my adult life working in some phase of agriculture.
The Training to Work Factor
So what’s the point of all this information about population on farms and in the cities have to do with a war with the information age. It has to do with a key four-letter word: T-I-M-E. What do people do with their time? When technology advances and people gain more free time, what do they do with it? When people migrate from rural farming environments into cities what do people, especially those of school age do with their time? I am going to lump city folk into two broad categories. One type is the inner city group who live in small houses and apartment dwellings. The second type is the group that lives in nicer houses, perhaps on an acreage away from the inner city. Question: can a teenage boy in either group after leaving school each day walk somewhere to work? Can he walk from school to work and then walk home? Can he leave school to walk home, then to work and back home?
Pick a school child in the city of any age, in any housing group, and tell me; what are his options during the summer when he is not in school? Can he walk to work? If he had transportation, could he even find a job? Even if the reader never lived on a farm, or had contact with farm life, I have some questions for you. Do you think a farmer could find some work in the family garden for a 10-year old boy, like maybe pulling the weeks out of the potato patch? Do you think a 14-year old boy would be given something to do by his farmer father? Do you think a farm boy of any age would be smart to tell either of his parents that he is bored, and wants to know what he can do? Here is my guess concerning all the questions I asked; you answered all questions correctly. The teen boy in the city can’t walk from school to a job. Neither can he walk to a job in the summer. He would not likely find a job even if he had transportation. The farmer can find several jobs for the 10-year old, in addition to the weed pulling. And, how smart is it for a farm boy to say he is bored? He would certainly be dumb to ask that a second time.
The reader likely noticed that my questions centered on the theme of “walking to work.” I understand that it is not politically correct because it sounds like some type of child abuse to have them work. Not so, suitable work will not harm a child. My first paid job was at five years of age. I was paid a nickel for drying dishes after supper that my 11-year old sister had washed. I don’t recall if it was a nickel each day or a nickel for washing all week. Anyway, I used the term “work” for the simple reason that part of training up a child should include training to work. Unfortunately, our present system puts children in school at five or earlier (pre-school programs) and many students graduate from college before work becomes a reality. Interesting too, employers are not too enthused about hiring an inexperienced person.
The reality is this: most children in a non-farm environment spend most of their waking hours exposed to the Information Of This Age, (IOTA.) They spend several hours in school. I won’t cover that topic here other than to say the guardians, except for homeschooled children, for several hours a day are NOT THE PARENTS. We must never forget that teachers today are largely products of the IOTA as well. I will not detail here what exact information students are exposed to from the time school is out until they go to bed, but it is probably safe to say they are during most of that time being exposed to IOTA, via radio, TV, Internet, and phones.
Lets back track a bit. As production of farms became more efficient, more people moved off the farm to take jobs in cities. Jobs were the chief magnet that drew people to that environment; it still is. While men obtained better paying jobs, and the increased pay usually enabled the family to acquire a better standard of living (?), a serious unintended consequence resulted. The trade off, a bad one I might add, was that children grew up in the city without gaining work experience. The problem was exacerbated once the women’s liberation movement arrived because often the mom/housewife also became a wage earner. Therefore, at the end of the school day, and throughout the entire summer, little Johnny and sister Susie needed “something to do” with their time. In a 2009 report, people over 15 years of age averaged 58 percent of their leisure time watching TV, using the Internet and playing video games. This represented an increase of 16 percent since 2003. Another report said that teens spend 53 hours each week with this type media. That totals more than 7.5 hours per day. With no work, no parents to mentor them, and few options to chose from, children in cities have basically overdosed big time on entertainment. For me this is one of the most haunting horror stories of the 20th Century. Is it any wonder that most children have become “conformed to this age,” the very thing the Bible instructed us not to do?
Development of the government school systems ran parallel to the movement of people from farm to city. It took more than 100 years before the public school secular training gained a stronghold. The IOTA has developed rapidly especially during the last four decades of the 20th Century in both the public schools and the culture in general through movies, TV, music, etc. It is accurate to say that this is the era whereby the whole enchilada was put in front of us. In other words the fruit of the IOTA became fully ripe by the turn of the 21st Century.
Therefore, American fathers have failed to teach their sons and grandsons because of loss of time in two broad areas. Public schools have taken one block of time and entertainment has taken another.
Father/Son Time – Public school including bus time takes about an eight-hour block of time, and entertainment as discussed above takes another 7.5-hour block. Therefore, children today are missing more than 15 hours each day whereby they cannot interact face to face with their parents when we compare this day with a time about 150 years ago. So, what we have here is a true war with Christians on one side against IOTA on the other. Knowing how we got here will hopefully help us as we attempt to obey the command, “Do not be conformed to this age.”
In the name of progress, man moved from the farm to the city to work to increase his standard of living. Meanwhile he has become more separated from his sons and grandsons making it extremely difficult to fulfill God’s instruction … You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? ……………………………(Matt 16:26)
Is it public schools or government schools? These two are used interchangeably in this book, but government schools is more accurate. First consider the word “govern.” I used to tell my students, If you don’t govern your actions, someone else will.” A much better quote is the one by William Penn, in 1668, Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants. Here is an important question, “If children are separated from parents 15 hours each day, is it likely they will be governed by God, or…???