PITLOCHRY CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
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Alexander Duff (1806 – 1878)
Dr Alexander Duff was born at Moulin, 1˝ km north
of Pitlochry, on 25th April 1806.
As a boy, he attended local schools in the Pitlochry and Kirkmichael area before completing this part of his education at Perth Grammar School.
In 1821, he went to St Andrews University where his proficiency
in Greek, Latin, Logic and Moral Philosophy and his interest in languages
earned him an MA degree after only two years.
It was there that he met Dr Thomas Chalmers, Professor of Moral Philosophy, who later became one of the leaders of the Free Church at
the time of the Disruption in 1843.
held the view that religious teaching was of primary importance in general
education because all instruction which professed to convey any kind of
truth was regarded by the indigenous people as a species of religion.
He therefore saw instruction in the Christian faith as an integral
part of his education syllabus and not separate from it.
He also believed that teaching the subjects taught in the high
schools and colleges of Europe should be done in English and not, as was
the official view at the time, in the local language.
An advantage of using English as a teaching medium was that it
avoided the hindrances of the caste system so closely linked to the use
of the local languages. Nevertheless, his students were expected to be
proficient in their local language (here Bengali) so that they could spread
the ideas behind the new teaching to others in the community.
During his three periods of activity in India he founded an Educational Institute for male students, and a College of Education for Girls, building on the work of Major Jameson and his Ladies’ Society for Female Education in the East, started in 1837. He also set up the first teacher training courses. By the date of the Disruption (1843) when all the Church of Scotland missionaries joined the breakaway Free Church, there were 900 students in the Institute and its three branches. Students and teachers had to move to a new college in 1844, the year in which the Governor-General opened public service posts to educated Indians. About this time, a Medical College Hospital was built and the teaching of medicine, which up until then had relied on Arabic texts, was revised and based on the principles laid down by Alexander Duff, with instruction in English. Ultimately there were 10 hospitals and dispensaries treating around 300,000 patients a year.
Alexander Duff was Moderator of the Free Church General Assembly in 1851 and 1873. During his time in Scotland it soon became clear that there was great ignorance about the situation in India and he travelled the country campaigning vigorously for funding and assistance for his work there. On one of his visits he preached in his home kirk of Moulin, in Gaelic and in English! He was also invited to the USA where he addressed Congress and spoke to many congregations. He visited Knox College in Toronto, Canada,
and spoke at meetings in Montreal and other cities.
extracted from "Alexander Duff of India" by A.A.Millar
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