Throughout his life, John Wesley maintained an interest in how children were raised and educated, even publishing several sermons on the subject. He admitted girls into his schools at Kingswood, and provided money toward the education of daughters of his preachers. His decision to appoint a number of women preachers may have been influenced by his mother Susanna Wesley's attitude to her daughters' education. While this might suggest a progressive attitude, this article argues that John Wesley's thinking on the education of girls was far from straightforward and was contradictory in some ways. For example, Wesley advocated the thinking of Locke, and encouraged reading and learning. His Arminian theology championed self-improvement, and gave his followers an invitation for self-advancement. Nevertheless, his educational practice was more strongly evangelical than intellectual, more pious than academic. Indeed, that Wesley and his fellow evangelicals continued to argue that children were born in sin, and in need of correction, indicates that his views failed to acknowledge new concepts of the innocence of childhood which became increasingly influential during the eighteenth century.

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