What Was New Netherland?

The School Master, by Dutch painter Adriaen van Ostade, 1662

Students of all ages shared the same classroom and were taught by the same master.

What did children learn at school?

Most Dutch children—both rich and poor—attended school in New Netherland. Although most families paid a fee to the local schoolmaster, students whose parents could not afford this fee were admitted for free.

The youngest students learned their letters and numbers. More advanced pupils learned counting, spelling, reading, and grammar. For an extra fee, the local schoolmaster taught writing and ciphering (or arithmetic) to students who had already mastered the more elementary subjects. Unlike other Europeans, the Dutch believed that girls, as well as boys, should learn these skills.

Children in New Netherland were also taught proper values and good manners. At school, students studied the Bible and memorized the teachings of the Dutch Reformed Church. They were also required to follow an awful lot of rules. A student might be punished for screaming, swearing, gambling, lying, stealing, fighting, name calling, making noise in church, staying home without his parents’ or teacher’s permission, failing to show proper respect to an adult, or slinging snot or lice at another student. Many of us would probably get in trouble for doing many of the same things.


About the New Netherland Institute

For a quarter century NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. Directed by Dr. Charles Gehring. More

 

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