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Title

The Educational Impact Of American Church Missionaries On The Educational Programs Of Iran (1834-1925 C.E.)

Date of Award

1980

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The Problem. The present study is an historical study of the educational impact of American church missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries on the educational programs of Iran. Western church missionaries, particularly Americans, were among the earliest foreign influence to affect the Iranian educational programs. Traditionally, education has been important in Iran's recorded history of 3,000 years. In old and medieval Iran, customs and religious laws were the prevailing systems that influenced individual and group behavior. They also dictated educational policy. When mosques were built under the Muslim faith they became the chief centers of schooling. This type of institutions failed to provide students with the previous traditional classical background of the 19th century. The American church missionaries established the first Western-type school in 1836. The continued such schools into the 20th century, until the Iranian government appropriated the schools during the 1930's. Procedures. In order to analyze the educational impact of American church missionaries on the educational programs of Iran primary and secondary sources were studied. The data were collected by questionnaire method. The objectives were accomplished by surveying sixteen accessible American church missionaries who directly had worked in education in Iran. The generalizations from study apply specifically to the Presbyterian and Seventh-day Adventist missionaries but may have applicability to other church missionaries in Iran. Findings and Conclusions. The American church missionaries affected Iranian education in several ways and promoted school modernization. They introduced to Iranians a new concept of education which was different from their traditional rote memorization. They helped Iranian girls go to school. The church school stimulated the Iranian government to establish its own school and to improve standards of education. Although the American church missionary impact seemed to prove productive, people resisted the attempt to change the Iranian religion. Iranian had tended to accept those practices which were in harmony with their own values and culture, and to oppose those which were not. The secular goals of missionary education attempts were more important to Iran than the religious ones. Recommendations. Additional investigation should replicate the study in its broadest sense. This could involve a larger sampling of American church missionaries. It should include comments and evaluation from Iranians who were educated in American church missionary schools. This is the major limitation of this study. Further research should also examine the effectiveness of those Iranians who are the product of mission schools. Another focus would include other church missionaries from Western Europe and from other religions. Finally, more attention definitely should be given to the aims of missionaries.

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