History of Education
If you are interested in an education career, you should be aware of the history of education. Education is the way one generation passes its knowledge, values, and skills to the next, creating social cohesion and identity.
In pre-literate societies, education occurred through observation, imitation, stories, legends, and songs. As civilizations grew more complex, children learned from people who had experience raising crops, fishing, cooking, or building.
With the development of writing, education spread, in space and time, beyond the sound of one person's voice.
Ancient civilizations used education to maintain authority and belief systems. Scribes, physicians, and temple administrators were trained to read and write.
Before the invention of printing, texts were handwritten, and education emphasized memorization and oral repetition.
Education wasn't limited to Western societies. For example, it was freely available in India until the caste system developed. Hindu texts encouraged teachers and students to search for truth together.
Private tutors taught children in ancient Greece, with most parents educating their sons (but not their daughters) for at least a few years.
Both boys and girls were educated in ancient Rome if their parents could afford it. Roman students progressed based on their ability, not their age.
During the Middle Ages, the first universities were organized at monasteries, with priests giving instruction in Latin.
The first medical schools began in the medieval Islamic world. Chinese children were taught calligraphy and Confucian thought. Chinese officials were chosen by examination, so schools spread to instruct them.
Aztec boys and girls both attended school only after age 15. One Aztec group mandated education for children, regardless of rank, gender, or station.
After the Protestant Reformation, elementary education gained prominence. Scotland required a teacher for every parish church and free education for the poor.
John Amos Comenius added pictures to texts, produced the first encyclopedia, promoted laboratories for scientific research, and championed education for women.
In the American colonies, students learned the alphabet, reading, and religion. In a Dame School, a woman taught these lessons to neighborhood children as she did her household tasks.
After boys completed the Dame School, they either attended a Latin School to prepare for college, trained at home in their father's occupation, or became apprentices and learned a trade. Poor girls could be apprenticed as well.
Puritans in New England offered free schooling for all children for the first time in history. Harvard College was founded in 1636 with instruction in Latin and Greek.
In the middle colonies, education was practical and sponsored by varied religious groups.
Noah Webster promoted English rather than Latin or Greek as the basis of education in America. He published a speller, grammar, reader, and the first American dictionary. Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society and the first library in America. After his presidency, Thomas Jefferson created the University of Virginia.
The South didn't have state-supported schools until after the Civil War. Southern states passed laws against educating slaves.
In the early 1800s, the first kindergarten fostered self-expression, creativity, socialization, and motor skills prior to entering school.
Changes in higher education occurred as control passed from church to state, universities superseded colleges, and classical education gave way to practical.
Horace Mann promoted education for all American children. Compulsory education and child labor laws advanced children's rights. W.E.B. DuBois, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard, promoted leadership and equality for his race, while Booker T. Washington emphasized manual training to ascend the economic ladder.
The Land Grant College Act provided public land to fund colleges in every state. The National Education Association promoted teaching and popular education, while normal schools were established to train teachers.
Adult education boomed in the 1900s.
John Dewey, a psychologist, philosopher, and educator, introduced learning activities into the classroom. He believed that learning is active and that students need practical applications of theoretical concepts.
In the 1950s, Brown v. Board of Education did away with segregation in public schools. The G.I. Bill of Rights provided educational and other benefits for over 11 million veterans of World War II.
Illiteracy worldwide decreased from 36 percent in 1960 to 25 percent in 2000. UNESCO calculates that in the next 30 years, more people will receive an education than in all of previous history.
President Bill Clinton's Goals 2000 and George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act set goals for achievement, especially in reading and math competency.
An education career will give you a place in this chain that stretches around the world, back into prehistory, and into a future you might influence.