The History of Education

By Kayla Cozza

I am not sure when this education period started but we call this period is called ancient education and during this time we really didn’t have school but this is the beginning of recorded time. This period begins with the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. It was the time for apprenticeships, scribes taught scribes, masons taught masons, and physicians taught physicians. This period gave us Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. By the fifth century BC there was some school, but only for the sons of the elite. This period eventually had the archetype of one-to-one dialectic education. They wanted to find the truth between the younger and older party. It ended in 387 BC with the Platonic tradition where many people say this is the era that had the first university.
This leads us into our next era of education called classical education. Plato’s prototype university was founded near a grove that was dedicated to the earlier Athenian hero Akademos, which means academy. This marked the high point of classical Greek education. This period gave us Plato’s student Aristotle, Archimedes, and Euclid. They saw the founding of the Ptolemaic library the research institute at Alexandria. Many people argue that these are the first of only two wonders of the educational world, the other one being the internet. The curriculum consisted of 15 years of studying aimed to raise the scholar all the way from childhood to a good understanding of goodness, truth, beauty, and justice. They also had some extracurricular activities that were: gymnastics, military drill, oratory, and debate. This same pattern was adapted by the Romans as their empire started to outgrow the Greeks and the highest education was reserved for the families who could afford it. The classical period faded away when Rome declined into the Dark Ages and education grew into monasteries and convents until the renaissance in 800 AD.
The renaissance education era was from 800 to 1664 AD. On Christmas day 800, Charlemagne took throne of the newly Frankish Empire. This date was also a breaking point in the history of education because is brought in a tradition of renaissance. The new emperor had himself surrounded with scholars and established Latin schools to improve his bishops’ grammar. Later on we saw the birth of the modern university movement. Bologna (1088), Salamanca (1218), Padua (1222), Oxford (1249), and Cambridge (1284) universities were founded. The curricula at these universities were originally theology and philosophy but later grew more secular. The next key date for education was 1511 when Eramus of Rotterdam based his curriculum on the study of Latin and Greek and his approach was not to hammer the rules of grammar into the children’s head by rote (or leaning things by repeating them or trying to understand them), but to encourage its creative usage by guided experience with it.
For religious education the major date was 1548 when the Jesuit school system was established in Messina, Sicily by Ignatius of Loyota. It spread rapidly through the Christian world and remains to this day a model of strict Roman Catholicism. Students often wrote imitations of speeches they were learning and engaged in exercises in composition, in disputations, in contest, in giving speeches, and acting in plays.
The next era was in 1665 to 1869 and we know it as the Enlightenment era. In the 17th century there was a growth of experimental science. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society was the first scientific journal came out in 1665. This was an era when natural process, both physical and biological, started to be understood and was even more effectively investigated. John Locke a British philosopher said the mind of a new born was a “blank slate”. This means that they had no knowledge in their minds and we, the adults and educators were here to fill them with knowledge and to mold them. He promoted a workhouse schools for pauper children who aged between 3 and 14 years old so they could be taught to trade. He required them to learn the following characteristics: virtue, wisdom, manners, and learning per se. The next Brinish movement was the system of classroom organization and control. Andrew Bell served sometime in the army and his duties included educating the soldier’s children. This took up much of his time that he devised a way to improve his own way of teaching. He had the older children teach the younger ones. He called them monitors. This method work well and returned to England and decided to try it out there, He founded two schools, St. Andrews and Cupar, Scotland. St. Andrews is still thriving today.
Another progressive was Johann Heonrich Pestalozzi developed an education system based on the “principle that teachers should do for their pupils what their parents had failed to do for them”. The teacher’s job was to help children develop and not teach them just for their own sake. This meant that children had to make observations on their own and had activities to go along with it. Johann’s work was taken up by a German educator named Friedrich Froebel. He studied for a while under Johann and after watching him he developed the world’s first kindergarten in 1837 with his own elementary curriculum. He found games the kids were interested like building blocks, balls, and modeling clay.
Jean-Marc Izard, senior physician at the French institute for the Deaf and Mutes found a 12 year old boy naked, parentless, unsocialised, and unable to speak. They called him the “wild boy of Aveyrpn”. He named him Victor and made him his experiment. He was going to try to teach the boy how to talk and write. Many people said he was not capable of doing so. There were only many isolated improvements by him never leaned natural phonology, vocabulary, or grammar. But Itard’s work motivated his student Edouard Seguin to help children like Victor. He moved to the United States in 1850 and founded the Association of Mental Retardation.
The early 19th century brought Scotland’s George Jardine, who was a professor of philosophy at the University of Glasglow. He wanted to find out how to remove tedium from the learning process. He rejected a curriculum framed only to support, “the disputes and wrangling of divines, and of little use to the lawyer or physician”. He is therefore a good example of how educational reflective practice can change to the student’s experiences.
The Victorian age came next and it came along with serious fundamental division but there was no shortage of educational conservatives willing to rule but “rod and regulation”. Many children were it and punished because of their attitudes or answers.
By the mid-19th century there were progressives like Herbert Spencer and Thomas Huxley. They said “children should be led to make their own investigations. They should be told as little as possible and induced to discover as much as possible”. Spencer was mostly aiming this towards primary education but you could also apply this to the higher education.
This brings us to Early Modern education from 1870 to 1949. The second half of Queen Victoria’s time was famous for the move towards free primary schooling for all. In the United Kingdom this brought the Education Act of 1870 but the only problem was that compulsory education was delivered in large classes. These new free schools did their best but they were too heavily influenced by the other schools. The universities tried their best to include all the elements that they needed and tried to ignore the rote learning going on everywhere else. A London chemist by the name of Henry E. Armstrong was concerned by how dull his first year medical students were. They had no sprit and did not challenge him or want proof. They could not take good notes from their lab work and they were just trying to find the facts and definitions they could memorize to pass the tests.
Another approach was called the “Montessori Method.” This method came from the earlier work of Itard and Seguin. The skills were progressively taught and the first school was a run-down tenement with one room that open in a district of Rome in 1907. Its purpose was to serve the families on that block. Many referred to it as the “casa dei bambini” which means the children’s house.
The progressive movement kept going into the early 20th century in the American educational system thanks to a philosopher named John Dewy. Dewey wrote many books and emphasized the importance of mental reflection to present new ideas. He said simple concrete ideas need to come before a student so they can become capable of abstracting theoretical analysis. Dewey believed that rote learning reduced the skill of the teacher and said they would fall down to a level of animal training. He said the children need wisdom, not information.
In 1944 the Education Act came, which is also called the “Butler Act” after its sponsor, R.A Butler. This act established Free State secondary education and freer access to high education. This marked the end of the progressive movement.
The last period of education is the modern period from 1949 to now. They date this because of the educationalist Ralph W. Tyler who wrote the “Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction.” He summarized his points into 4 main ideas. They were:
The first principle: The curriculum development process should begin by defining appropriate objectives.
The second principle: Corresponding educational experiences should be developed.
The third principle: These experiences would then need organizing into a programmer.
The fourth principle: The programmer would need to be complemented by systems to evaluate and improve upon the end result.
Many people call these four ideas “Tyler Rationales”. His approach became the backbone of modern education.
When Benjamin Bloom published “Taxonomy of Education Objectives” in 1956, Tyler’s approach got an even bigger boost. Bloom had a detailed classification of what knowledge actually was. Under his instruction he believed humans could improve.
Today, there are many different ways teachers teach. We still see rote learning today even though many people have tried to do away with it. Teachers now have technology that helps them teach. Who knows how people will teach in the next 10 to 20 years.
Rote learning, however, has never entirely gone away.


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