The primary activity for children is now school. This was not always the case. For most of man's existence there were no schools. And even within recorded history, few children attended schools of any kind. Indormation on ancient times is sketchy. Even for Rome, the ancient civilization which we know most about, accounts vary. Education in the medieval era was very limited. By the late middle ages education in Europe began to become more widepread. School for much of Western history was reserved for the children of the well-todo. The Protestant Reformation which focused on personal Bible study was a major factor. Modern school systems began to appear in Europe and North America during the late-18th and early-19th century. Authorities by the late-19th century school was seen in most modern countries as the most important activity for children and compulsory education laws were passed and child labor gradually prohibited. These trend varied from country to country Education in the rest of the world varied, but for continued to be very limited until after World War II.
The primary activity for children is now school. This was not always the case. For most of man's existence there were no schools. Most of man's exiistence has been during the stone age. Stone-age society was preliterate. There were of course no schools. Children learned what they needed from their parents and neighbors. People lived in small hunter gathering bands. There was no writing yet, but as hunter gathers, there was a great deal to learn.
Even within recorded history, few children attended schools of any kind. Indormation on ancient times is sketchy. With the agrcicultural revolution wtitibg developed as systems were needed to manage the expanding harvests and other production. Ans kills were needed to build and maintain canals. As a result, children had to be taught to read and wtite, basic numeracy, and other skills. This process began first in Mesopotamia, but occurred in the other great river valley civilizations--although information is limited, especially for the Indus Valley culture. At first professional scribes were needed as the first writing systems were complicated. Gradually simplier systems were develooped and larger numbers children could learn to read and writes. Even so, a relatively narrow part of societty wereeducated. The basic system in early civilizations was for a teacher to rent or otherwise obtain a room or set up in a park or square. This would be a school. This was normally done by individual teachers so they wwre not schools in the sence that a group of teachers taught children in age grouped classrooms. Parents who could afford it, sent their children yhere abd paid a monthly fee. Most parents coild not afford to do so and thus the great mass of children began work at an early age rather than attend school. The Greeks developed a more organized system of education (about 500 BC). As far as we know, this was the world's first systematic approach to education. At least it is the first one that historians have so far found. This may be because we know so muvh more about Greece than other ancient civilizations except Rome. Boys of different ages were taught by different teachers. Greek schools (except in Sparta) were private, but fees were so low that even the poorest citizens (Not slaves) could afford to send their children, at least for a few years. This a substantial part of the male population was literate. Few girls attended school, although some were taught at home. There were some exceptions. Sappho appears to have run a school for girls. Plato and Aristotle founded the started the first advanced schools, the ancestors of modern universitiesb (4th century BC). The Romans looked down on the Greeks because they were not able to defend themselves, they admired Greek arts and education. Thus the Romans adopted Greek methods and curricula with few changes. The Roman state did not found schools. Romans sent their boys to private teachers. Even for Rome, the ancient civilization which we know most about, accounts vary.
We do not know just how wide spread education was in Rome or what percentage of the population was literate. Some historians believe that education was fairly common, but actual evidence is limited. For advanced studies, the well-to-do might send their boys to Greece. The less civilzed people to the north like the Celts abd Romans were pre-literate and did not have schools.
Only with the Ming Dynasty (1400 AD) did some girls begin to be educated, but the numbers were limited--mostly girls from wealthy families and they were educated at home. One of the interesting questions of history is why modern science and the industrial revolution emerged in Europe rather than China. It is especially interesting given that China was technologically superior to the West as late as the Reniassance. One reason may ell be the importance of the imperial beaureacracy which attracted talent and stifeled innovation.
Education in the medieval era was very limited. Rome and the Christian West was over run by pagan Germanic tribes (5th century AD). The Germans were a pre-literate, pagan people without schools or any formal system of education. After comquering Western Europe, they became the new ruling, aristocratic class. School for much of Western history was reserved for the children of the well-to-do. The early middle ages were an exeption. The Germanic war leaders had little use fir education. The Germanic leader to begin to promote education was Charkemagne (9th century AD). Learning was not valued and radidly declined in the west. The only preserve of learning was the Church. Virtunally no one outside the Church learned to read and write. Even the nobiklity in the early-meduieval era was iliterate. Even priests and monks were barely literate. Church authorities attempted to promote learning. Schools were set up in monastaries and important churches. They were for boy choirs as well as boys preparing for holy orders. They schools were some the first established in Western Europe since the fall of Rome. These schools were for boys, but some girls preparing to be nuns also learned to read and write. For centuries, education was the purview of the Church or to much lesser extent Jewish synagogues. At anout the same time the Renaissance began (14th century), universities began to develop in Western European cathedral towns. Some of the most important early universities wre located Paris, Oxford, and Bologna. The teachers at these universities were initially monks or priests. Pnly boys could study there. By the late-middle ages education in Europe began to become more widepread. As the pace of commercialactivity quockened and cities grew, there were increasing demand for young people with reading abd writing a numeracy skills. At the end of the medieval period, the Protestant Reformation which focused on personal Bible study was a major factor (16th century).
Islam emerged from the Arabian Peninsula (7th century). Islamic warriors won major battles and established a great empire-the Caliphate. Mosques were built all over the Middle East and North Africa as well as the Iberian Peninsula. Many mosques, especially the larger ones, opened schools. These were generally not schools to educate children in the modern sence by teach reading and writing and numercy. Rather the mosque schools were foocusedd on having boys memorize the Koran. Rarely was there discussiions concerning the meaning of Koranic verse. The focus was almost entuirely on memorization. We are not sure just how many boys attended these schools, but it would have almost entirely boys in cities and towns. A very small part of boys abnd virtually no girls were literate. And in the Arab world this continued into the modern era. We are less sure about the Ottoman Empire and the Indian Mogul Empire. Children from affluent, mostly boys, families were taught to read and write by tutors at home or by private teachers in small groups. Universities in the Islamic world as in Europe were founded by religious institutions. The oldest and most famous is Al-Azhar University founded by the Al-Azhar Mosque as a madrasa (970~72), centuries before universities wwee founded by European cathedrals. The great Islamic universities, however, never developed as great centers of secular learning. This occurred in the West because universities appeared in Wesrtern Europe just before the beginning of the Renaissance. There was never a Renaisance or Reformation in the European world. Secular education was not begun at Al-Azhar University until 1961.
Native Americans were for the mmost part pre-literate stone age people. There were areas of advanced cultural development. The most important was Meso-America and there were important Andean civilizations. We do not know much about schools and education. We do know that aristocratic boys did attend schools. Several civilizations developed writing systems, the most importahnt was the Maya. We do not know much about education in Native american civilizations. We have found some information on Aztec schools.
Modern school systems began to appear in Europe and North America during the late-18th and early-19th century. Authorities by the late-19th century school was seen in most modern countries as the most important activity for children and compulsory education laws were passed and child labor gradually prohibited.
Educational trend varied from country to country Education in the rest of the world varied, but for continued to be very limited until after World War II.
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