A Bleak History
Picture it. Britain. 1780s. The Industrial Revolution is in full swing, and so are the children. Many of them walk to their factories each day and put in 12 or more hours of work, leaving little time for education. This creates a problem: the number of illiterate children is growing. The solution is simple – send the children to school. But when? The work week is 6 days long, so that means Saturdays are out. So Sunday it is. And thus, Sunday school is born. And yes, Sunday school is quite literally school on Sunday.
Children flock to school on Sunday to not only learn the Bible stories, but to also learn how to read and write by using the Bible as a text book; they also studied mathematics. This idea of Sunday school caught on and it wasn’t long before American children were attending Sunday school as well.
By the 1870s, in both Britain and America, state education was established and the need for a true Sunday “school” was no more. Children were now learning reading and writing on the weekdays. However, the concept of Sunday school remained, only now, Sunday was reserved for providing children a religious education.