Human beings by nature are creatures that question the reality of their surroundings. The process of explaining natural occurrences, and developing a system to govern common people (which are incorporated in modern day science and politics) originated during the 18th century in the periods of Enlightenment and The Great Awakening. Philosophers began to step away from doctrines within the bible, and took a step closer towards making justifications from one's observation of the external world. The development of our American Society is greatly influenced by the educational practices, concepts of God, and ideals for government practiced during the Enlightenment and Great Awakening time periods of the 18th century. .
During the Enlightenment period, education was not only specified for knowledge of the ministry, it was also broadened to other areas of study. Colleges and institutions such as Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), and Princeton (1747) broadened their curriculum to include courses such as mathematics, natural science, law, and science. The Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes believed in free education. Locke stated in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) that people are not born with innate ideas but rather acquire knowledge, opinion and behavior from sense experience. Younger children though were not required attend school, took the initiative of learning how to read, the basics of writing, and simple arithmetic in their own homes. Even enslaved children were taught the rudiments. Though the Great Awakening was more so a religious movement, it also had its own implications for education. Individual Revival, which rejected the cold rationalism of Puritanism and Anglicanism, resulted from the Great Awakening. This ideal taught the importance of education through one's heart rather than biblical documentation. This movement also brought about the creation of new colleges.