One prominent part of Wesley’s life work, subordinate to evangelization and social service, was his role as founder, promoter, and theoretician for various diverse educational projects, especially…. With the poor, who were excluded from the existing means of education.
Wesley succeeded in significantly advancing the English school system toward providing an adequate elementary education for all the country’s children. The explanation for this success springs primarily from Wesley’s view, shaped by basic ethical convictions, that all persons are of equal worth.
As Wesley wrote in 1748…..
Another thing which had given me frequent concern was the case of abundance of children. Some their parents could not afford to put to school: so they remained as “a wild ass’s colt.” Others were sent to school and learned at least to read and write; but they learned all kinds of vice at the same time….
Wesley was not satisfied with the lamentations about deplorable conditions or accusations against responsible agencies; instead he committed himself to remedying the deficiency through the strenuous efforts of the Methodist communities. To that end he employed repeated sermons and conversations on the education and training of children, regularly checked the schools he had founded, conducted conversations with the children, gave hours of instruction himself, wrote his own school books, outlined instructional plans, counselled parents on child-rearing enlisted teachers, and regularly assisted with various emerging difficulties. ……. The preachers were required to include questions of child-rearing in their catalog of sermon topics regularly, and to report to the congregations, …… as well as take up collections for schools, something Wesley himself continued to do even in his old age. It is fair to say that hardly any other Christian communion has given so large a place in its preaching and pastoral care to the education of children as did Methodism in its formative period.
(Manfred Marquardt – John Wesley’s Social Ethics -- Praxis and Principles 1992 Abingdon Press)