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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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In the following treatment of this subject, the theory and early history of education is first dealt with, and secondly the modern organization of education as a national concern. Many definitions have been given of the word " education," but underlying them all is the conception that it denotes an attempt on the part of the adult members of a human society to shape the development of the coming generation in accordance with its own ideals of life. It is true that the word has not infrequently been used in wider senses than this. For example, J. S. Mill included under it everything which " helps to shape the human being "; and, with some poetic licence, we speak of the education of a people or even of the whole human race. But all such usages are rhetorical extensions of the commonly accepted sense of the term, which includes, as an essential element, the idea of deliberate direction and training (Lat. educare, to bring up; educere, to draw out, lead forth). No doubt, all education is effected through the experiences of the educated, and much of it is indirect, consisting mainly in the determination of the form of experiences other than those of direct precept, compulsion and instruction. But it does not follow that all experiences are educative. Whether an experience is part of an individual's education or not is determined by its origin. Whatever be its effect, it is educative in so far as its form has been arranged with greater or less deliberation by those who are concerned with the training of him whose experience it is. It follows that an education may be good or bad, and that its goodness or badness will be relative to the virtue, wisdom and intelligence of the educator. It is good only when it aims at the right kind of product, and when the means it adopts are well adapted to secure the intended result and are applied intelligently, consistently and persistently.

Education is, thus, a definitely personal work, and will vary between wide extremes of effectiveness and worth in any given society. For in all times and places there are wide differences in virtue, wisdom and capacity among those who have in their hands the care and nurture of the young. But the inference that, therefore, no comparative estimate of the education of different times and places can be made would be fallacious. For, despite all differences in conception and efficiency among individual educators, each expresses, more or less perfectly and clearly, the common conception and energy of his age and country. As these rise or fall the general level of the actual educative practice rises or sinks with them. The first essential for successful educative effort is, then, that the community as a whole should have a true estimate of the nature and value of education.

I. Educational Theory In any comparative estimate of different places and times, as tested by the standard just given, it must be borne in mind that, except in the most general and abstract form, we cannot speak of an ideally best education. Looking at the individual to be educated, we may say with Plato that the aim of education is " to develop in the body and in the soul all the beauty and all the perfection of which they are capable," but this leaves quite undecided the nature and form of that beauty and perfection, and. on such points there has never been universal agreement at any one time, while successive ages have shown marked differences of estimate. We get nearer to the point when we reflect that individual beauty and perfection are shown, and only shown, in actual life, and that such life has to be lived under definite conditions of time, place, culture, religion, national aspirations and mastery over material conditions. Perfection of life, then, in the Athens of the age of Plato would show a very different form from that which it would take in the London or Paris of to-day. So an individualistic statement of the purpose of education leads on analysis to considerations that are not, in themselves, individualistic. The personal life is throughout a relation between individual promptings to activity and the environment in which alone such promptings can, by being actualized, become part of life. And the perfection of the life is to be sought in the perfection of the relations thus established. So far, then, as any conception of education can give guidance to the actual process it must be relative in every way to the state of development of the society in which it is given. Indeed, looked at in the mass, education may be said to be the efforts made by the community to impose its culture upon the growing generation. Here again is room for difference. The culture in question may be accepted as absolute at least in its essentials, and then the ideal of education will be to secure its stability and perpetuation, or it may be regarded as a stage in a process of development, and then the ideal will be to facilitate the advance of the next generation beyond the point reached by the present. So some ages will show a relatively fixed conception of the educative process, others will be times of unrest and change in this as in other modes of social and intellectual life.

It is in these latter times that the actual work of education is apt to lose touch with the culture of the community. For schools and universities, which are the ordinary channels through which adult culture reaches the young, are naturally conservative and bound by tradition. They are slow to leave the old paths which have hitherto led to the desired goal, and to enter on new and untried ways. If the opposition to change is absolute, there must come a time when the instruments of education are out of true relation to the desired end. For change in culture ideals means change in the specific form of the goal of education, and consequently the paths of educative effort need readjustment. When the goal of the past is no longer the goal of the present, to follow the ways which led to the former is to fail to reach the latter. Continuous readjustment, by small and almost imperceptible degrees, is the ideal at which the educator should aim. When this is not secured, the educational domain is liable to sudden and violent revolutions which are destructive of successful educative effort at the time they occur, however beneficial their results may be in the future.

But the relation of adjustment is not entirely one-sided. The tone of thought and feeling and the direction of will induced by education necessarily affect the common ideals of the next generation, and may make them better or worse than those of the present. Hence, the educator must not blindly accept all current views of life, but rather select the highest. For the average thought of every community is obviously below its best thought; and may, in some points at any rate, be lower than the best thought of a past age. While, then, all true education must be in direct relation with the culture of its age and country, yet, especially on the ethical side, it should aim at transcending the average thought and tone.

Still more does this imply that education strives to transcend the present condition of the educated by making their life more rational, more volitional, and more attracted by goodness and beauty than it would otherwise be. It can never be a passive watching of the child's development. No more fundamental error can be made than the assumption that education can be determined wholly, or even mainly, by the tendencies and impulses with which a child is endowed. Its real guiding principle must be a conception of the nature to which the child may attain, not a knowledge of that with which it starts. The educator studies the original endowment of the child and the early stages in the development of that innate nature in order that he may, wisely and successfully, employ appropriate means to direct further development and to accelerate its progress towards a more rational, complete and worthy life; not that he may the more skilfully give facilities to the child to drift about on the unregulated currents of caprice.

Such considerations show the importance of an insight into the theory of education on the part of all who are practically concerned with its direction. But the theory required is no system of abstract ideas ignoring the real concrete conditions of the life for which the actual education it is to guide is a preparation. To approach the subject only from the standpoint of the mental sciences which underlie it is to run the risk of setting up such a body of abstractions, whose relation to real life is neither very close nor very direct. The most profitable way of developing an educational theory for the present is to trace how in the past education has consciously adapted itself, more or less truly and fully, to the conditions of culture and social life; and by analysis to discover the reasons for comparative success or failure in the degree of clearness with which the end to be sought was apprehended and the nature of the children to be trained was understood.

In all ages the claims of the individual and those of the community have struggled for the mastery as the ultimate principles of life. As one or the other has prevailed the conception of education has emphasized social service or individual success as the primary end. The true harmony of human life will only be attained when these two impulses, contradictory on their own level, are united in a higher synthesis which sees each as the complement of the other in a life whose purpose is neither simple egoism nor pure altruism. Until that conception of life is attained and held generally there can be no sure and universally accepted conception of the aim and function of education. Much of the interest of the history of education 1 turns on the relation of these two principles as determinants of its aim.

In ancient Greece the supremacy of the state was generally unquestioned, and, especially in the earlier times, the good man was identified with the good citizen. No doubt, in Old Greek later days philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, 5' p p > education saw clearly that the round of the duties of citizenship did not exhaust the life of the individual. With them the highest 1 For the evolution of the school as such from early times see Schools.

life was one of cultured leisure in which the energies were mainly concentrated on the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. But this " diagogic " life was only for the select few; for the undistinguished many the fulfilment by each of the duties of his station remained the measure of worthy life, though such duties were regarded as affecting the individual and private relations of the citizens in a much more intimate way than in former and ruder ages. And for those who devoted their lives to the highest culture, the essential preliminary condition was the existence of such a state as would form the most favourable environment for their pursuits and the most stable foundation for their leisured life. Thus Greek thought was saturated with the conception of life as essentially a set of relations between the individual and the city-state of which he formed an integral part. The first aim of education was therefore to train the young as citizens.

This training must, of necessity, be of a specific kind; for, like other small communities, the Greek city-states showed a life fundamentally one in conception, under various specific forms. Each state had its special character, and to this character the education given in it must conform if it were to be an effective instrument for training the citizens. From these fundamental conceptions flowed the demands of Plato and Aristotle that education should be regulated in all its details by the state authority, should be compulsory on all free citizens, and should be uniform - at any rate in, its earlier stages - for all. In the Republic and the Laws, Plato shows to what extreme lengths theory may go when it neglects to take account of some of the most pertinent facts of life. For the guardian-citizens of the ideal state family life and family ties are abolished; no lower community is to be allowed to enter into competition with the state. Aristotle, indeed, did not go to these extreme lengths; he allowed the family to remain, but he seems to have regarded it as likely to affect children more for evil than for good.

In the essential principles laid down by both philosophers as to the relation of the state to education, and in the corollaries they drew from that relation, they were not at variance with the accepted Greek theory on the subject. It is true that the actual practice of Greek states departed, and often widely, from this ideal, for, especially in later centuries, the Greek always tended to live his own life. The nearest approach to the theory was found in Sparta, where the end of the state as a military organization was kept steadily in view, and where, after early childhood, the young citizens were trained directly by the state in a kind of barrack life - the boys to become warriors, the girls the mothers of warriors. It was this feature of Spartan education, together with the rude simplicity of life it enforced, which attracted Plato, and, to a less extent, Aristotle. In Athens there had of old been state laws insisting on the attendance of the children of the free citizens at school, and, in some degree, regulating the schools themselves. But at the time of Plato these had fallen into desuetude, and the state directly concerned itself only with the training of the ephebi, for which, we learn from Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, somewhat elaborate provisions were made by the appointment of officers, and the regulation of both intellectual and physical pursuits. For children and youths under the ephebic age there was no practical regulation of schools or palaestra by the state. Yet there is no doubt that the education really given was in conformity with Athenian ideals of culture and life, and that it was generally received by the children of free citizens, though of course the sons of the wealthy, then as now, could and did continue their attendance at school to a later age than their poorer brethren. The education of girls was essentially a domestic training. What Plato and Aristotle, with the theorist's love of official systematic regulation, regarded as the greatest defect of Athenian education was in reality its strongest point. In practice, the harmony between individual liberty and social claims was much more nearly attained under a system of free working out of common thoughts and ideals than would have been the case under one of the irresistible imposition from without of a rigid mould.

The instruments of education everywhere found to be in harmony with the Greek conception of life and culture were essentially twofold, - " music " (µovouii ), or literary and artistic culture, for the mind, and systematic gymnastic (yvyvaartio )) for the body. Plato, in the Republic, shows that the latter, as well as the former, affects the character, and doubtless, though not formulated, this was generally more or less vaguely felt. But Greek gymnastic was really an individual training, and therefore made only indirectly for the aim of cultivating the social bonds of citizenship. Ancient Greece had nothing corresponding in value in this respect to the organized games which form so important a feature in the school life of modern England. The " musical " training was essentially in the national literature and music of Greece, and this could obviously be carried to very different lengths. The elements of mathematical science were also commonly taught. The essential purpose throughout was the development of the character of a loyal citizen of Athens. As Athenian culture advanced, increasing attention was paid to diagogic studies, especially in the ephebic age, with a corresponding decrease of attention to merely physical pursuits; hence the complaints of such satirists as Aristophanes of a growing luxury, effeminacy and corruption of youths: complaints apparently based on a comparison of the worst features of the actual present with an idealized and imaginative picture of the virtues of the past. Such comparison is, indeed, implicit in much of Plato and Aristotle as well as in Aristophanes.

But a disintegrating force was already at work in the educational system of Greece which Plato and Aristotle vainly opposed. This was the rhetorical training of the Sophists, the narrowly practical and individualistic aim of which was entirely out of harmony with the older Greek ideals of life and culture. In a democratic city-state the orator easily became a demagogue, and generally oratory was the readiest path to influence and power. Thus oratory opened the way to personal ambition, and young men who were moved by that passion eagerly attended the Sophist schools where their dominant motive was strengthened.

Further, the closer relations between the Greek states, both in nearer and farther Hellas, led naturally to the diminution of differences between civic ideals, and, as a consequence, to a more cosmopolitan conception of higher education. This process was completed by the loss of political independence of the city-states under the Macedonian domination. Henceforth, higher education became purely intellectual, and its relation to political and social life increasingly remote. This, combined with the growing rhetorical tendency already noticed, accounts for the sterility of Greek thought during the succeeding centuries. The means of higher education were, indeed, more fully organized. The university of Athens was the outcome of a fusion of the private philosophical schools with the state organization for the training of the ephebi, and there were other such centres of higher culture, especially in after years at Alexandria, where the contact of Greek thought with the religions and philosophies of Egypt and the East gave birth in time to the more or less mystical philosophies which culminated in Neo-platonism. But at Athens itself thought became more and more sterile, and education more and more a mere training in unreal rhetoric, till the dissolution of the university by Justinian in A.D. 529.

Thus when Rome conquered Greece, Greek education had lost that reality which is drawn from intimate relation to civic life, and the fashionable individualisticschoolsof philosophy Old Roman could do nothing to replace the loss. It was, then, an education. g p > education which had largely lost its life-springs that was transferred to Rome. In the earlier centuries of the republic, Roman education was given entirely in family and public life. The father had unlimited power over his son's life, and was open to public censure if he failed to train him in the ordinary moral, civic and religious duties. But it is doubtful if there were any schools, and it is certain there was no national literature to furnish an instrument of culture. A Roman boy learnt to reverence the gods, to read, to bear himself well in manly exercises, and to know enough of the laws of his country to regulate his conduct. This last he acquired directly by hearing his father decide the cases of his clients every morning in his hall. The rules of courtesy he learnt similarly by accompanying his father to the social gatherings to which he was invited. Thus early Roman education was essentially practical, civic and moral, but its intellectual outlook was extremely narrow.

When a wider culture was imported from Greece it was, however, the form rather than the spirit of true Hellenic education that was transferred. This was, indeed, to some extent inevitable from the decadent state of Greek Hellenized education at the time, but it was accentuated by the education. essentially practical character of the Roman mind.

The instrument of education first introduced was Greek literature, much of which was soon translated into Latin. In time the schools of the grammatici, teaching grammar and literature, were supplemented by schools of rhetoric and philosophy, though the philosophy taught in them was itself little more than rhetorical declamation. These furnished the means of higher culture for those youths who did not study at Alexandria or Athens, and were also preparatory to studies at those universities. Under the Empire the rhetorical schools were gradually organized into a state system, the general principles of administration being laid down by imperial decree, and even such details as the appointment and rate of payment of the professors, at first left to the municipalities, being in time assumed by the central government. There is no evidence of any state regulation or support of the lower schools. This widening of culture affected both boys and girls, the domestic education of the latter being supplemented by a study of literature. But it is the higher training in rhetoric which is especially characteristic of Hellenized Roman education.

The conception of a rhetorical culture is seen at its best in Quintilian's Institutio oratoria, the most systematic treatise on education produced by the ancient world. With Quintilian the ideal of an orator was a widely cultured, wise and honourable man. And at first the teaching of rhetoric undoubtedly made for higher and true culture. But with the autocracy, soon passing into tyranny, of the empire, rhetoric ceased to be a preparation for real life. The true function of oratory is to persuade a free people. When it cannot be applied to this purpose it becomes little more than a means of intellectual frivolity, or, at the best, an exhibition of cultured ingenuity. Under the empire a rhetorical training was, indeed, turned in not a few instances to practical but most unworthy uses by the delators; a result made possible by the legal system which rewarded delation with a considerable portion of the estate of the condemned. Even apart from this, the education in rhetoric had an increasingly evil effect both on the culture and on the character of the higher classes in the Roman empire. Out of real connexion with life as it was, it sought its subjects in the realms of the fanciful and the trivial, and with unreality of topic went of necessity deterioration of style. The vivid presentment of living thought gave way to that inflated and bombastic abuse of meretricious ornament and far-fetched metaphor in which human speech is always involved when it sets forth ideas, or shadows of ideas, which grow out of no conviction in the speaker and are expected to carry no conviction to the hearer. Imitation of the form of great models, without the substance of thought which underlay them, led to a general unreality and essential falseness of mental life. Further, the continual gazing with admiration on the productions of the past, and the conception of excellence as consisting in closeness of imitation, induced a servile attitude of mind towards authority in all too close agreement with the political servility which marked the Roman court. Such an attitude was essentially hostile to mental initiative, and thus rhetoric became not merely an art of expression but a type of character.

Nor was there anything in the general conditions of society to counterbalance the ill effects of school and university education. Quintilian lamented that, even in his time, the old Roman family education by example was corrupted; and the moral degradation of later times, though it has doubtless been exaggerated, was certainly real and widespread. Nor does the religious revival of Paganism which synchronized with the early centuries of Christianity appear to have effected any reform in life. Alexandria, the birthplace of Neo-platonism and the intellectual centre of the later empire, was also a very sink of moral obliquity.

It was into such a decaying civilization, which by its want of vitality sterilized education, oppressing it under the weight of = a dead tradition, that Christianity brought new life.

Of course, careful instruction in the Faith was given Pagan in catechetical schools, of which that at Alexandria was the most famous. But the question as to the attitude of Christians towards the ordinary classical culture was important. On the one hand, literature was saturated with Paganism, and the Pagan festivals formed a regular part of school life. On the other hand, the Pagan education offered the only means of higher culture, and thus furnished the only weapon with which Christians could successfully meet their controversial antagonists. Quite at first, no doubt, when the converts to the new faith were few and obscure, the question scarcely arose; but as men of culture and position were attracted to the Church it became urgent. The answers given by the Christian leaders were various, and largely the outcome of temperament and previous training. The Greek Fathers, especially Clement of Alexandria (150-217)and Origen (185-253), regarded Christianity as essentially the culmination of philosophy, to which the way must be found through liberal culture. Without a liberal education the Christian could live a life of faith and obedience but could not attain an intellectual understanding of the mysteries of the Faith. On the other hand, Tertullian (160-240) was very suspicious of Pagan culture; though he granted the necessity of employing it as a means of education, yet he did so with regret, and would forbid Christians to teach it in the public schools, where some recognition of Paganism would be implied. The general practice of the Christians, however, did not conform to Tertullian's exhortations. Indeed, many of the cultivated Christians of the 3rd and 4th centuries were little more than nominal adherents to the Faith, and the intercourse between Christian and Pagan was often close and friendly. The general attitude of Christians towards the traditional education is evidenced by the protest raised against the edict of Julian, which forbade them to teach in the public schocls. The ultimate outcome seems to be fairly expressed in the writings of St Augustine (354-430) and St Jerome (346-420), who held that literary and rhetorical culture is good so long as it is kept subservient to the Christian life.

In another way Greek philosophy exercised an abiding influence over the culture of future ages. The early centuries of Christianity felt the need of formulating the Faith to preserve it from disintegration into a mass of fluid opinions, and such formulation was of necessity made under the influence of the philosophy in which the early Fathers had been trained - that Neo-platonism which was the last effort of Paganism to attain a conception of life and of God. In the West, this formulation had to be translated into Latin, for Greek was no longer generally understood in Italy, and thus the juristic trend of Roman thought also became a factor in the exposition of Christian doctrine. This formulation of the Faith was one of the chief legacies the transition centuries passed on to the middle ages.

Had classical culture been less formal than it was during the early centuries of Christianity, the innate antagonism of the Pagan and Christian views of life and character must have been so apparent that the education which prepared for the one could not have been accepted by the other. It was only because rhetorical culture was so emphatically intellectual, and so little, if at all, moral in its aims, that its inherent opposition to the Christian conception of character was not obvious. That its antagonistic influence was not inoperative is shown by the not infrequent perversions of cultured Christians to Paganism. But generally the opposition was so obscured that the ethical writings of St Ambrose (340-397) are largely Stoic in conception and reasoning. Yet the Pagan ideal of life, especially as it had been developed in the individualistic ethics which had prevailed for more than six centuries, was antithetical in essence to that of the Christian Church. The former was essentially an ethics of self-reliance and self-control showing itself in moderation and proportion in all expressions of life. An essential feature in such a character was high-mindedness and a self-respect which was of the nature of pride. On the contrary, Christian teaching exalted humility as one of the highest virtues, and regarded pride and self-confidence as the deadliest of sins. It recognized no doctrine of limitation; what was to be condemned could not be abhorred too violently, nor could what was good be too strongly desired or too ardently sought. The highest state attainable by man was absorption in loving ecstasy in ,the mystic contemplation of God. The practical attempt to realize this gave rise to monasticism, with its minutely regulated life expressing unlimited obedience and the renunciation of private will at every moment. The monastic life was regarded as the nearest approach to the ideal which a Christian could make on earth. Naturally, as this conception gathered strength in generations nurtured in it, the value of classical culture became less and less apparent, and by the time of St Gregory the Great (d. 604) the use of classical literature except as means of an education having quite another end than classical culture was discouraged.

Of course, during these centuries, the gradual subjugation of the western empire by the barbarians had been powerfully operative in the obscuring of culture. Most of the Effect of public schools disappeared, and generally the light of learning was kept burning only in monasteries, and in them more and more faintly as they became more or less isolated units exposed to attack by ruthless foes or living in continual dread of such attack. Though the barbarians absorbed the old culture in various degrees of imperfection, yet the four centuries following the death of St Augustine were plunged in intellectual darkness, relieved by transitory gleams of light in Britain and by a more enduring flame in Ireland. The utmost that could be done was to preserve to some extent the heritage of the past. This, indeed, was essentially the work of men like Boethius, Cassiodorus, Isidore and Bede.

During these same centuries another process had been advancing with accelerating steps. This was the modification of the Latin language. In the early centuries of Christianity literary Latin was already very different from colloquial Latin, especially in the provinces; and, as has been said, the literary output of the last age of Paganism was marked by sterility of thought and meretricious redundancy of expression. On the other hand, the writings of Christianity show a real living force seeking to find appropriate expression in new forms. Thus, with Christian writers, slavish imitation of the past gradually gave way to the evolution of a new and living Latin, which showed itself more and more regardless of classical models. To express the new ideas to which Christianity gave birth fresh words were coined, or borrowed from colloquial speech or from the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. This Christian Latin was a real living instrument of expression, which conformed itself in its structure much more closely to the mode of thought and expression of actual life than did the artificial imitation of antiquity in which the literary productions of Paganism were clothed. It is the Latin in which St Jerome wrote the Vulgate. But with the obscuring of culture during the barbarian invasions this current Latin became more and more oblivious of even such elements of form as grammatical inflexions and concords.

It was to the reformation of this corrupt Latin by a return to classical models, and to the more general spread of culture, especially among clergy and nobles, that the Carolingian revival addressed itself. The movement was essentially li Th n practical and conservative. Alcuin (735-804), who was Charlemagne's educational adviser and chief executive officer in scholastic matters, was probably the best scholar of his time, and himself loved the classical writings with which he was acquainted; but the text-books he wrote were but imperfect summaries of existing compendia, and the intellectual condition of his pupils forbade a very generous literary diet even had he thought it desirable, of which there is some doubt. The most valuable outcome of the movement was the establishment of the palace school, and of bishops' schools and monastic schools throughout the empire. Of these the latter were the most important, and each of the chief monasteries had from the time of Charlemagne an external school for pupils not proposing to enter the order as well as an internal school for novices. Thus, the educational system north of the Alps was pre-eminently ecclesiastical in its organization and profoundly religious in its aims. For two centuries the new intellectual life was obscured by the troubled times which followed the death of Charlemagne, but the learning which the Carolingian revival had restored was preserved here and there in cathedral and monastic schools, and the sequence of well-educated ecclesiastics was never altogether interrupted.

The scope of that learning was comprised within the seven liberal arts and philosophy, on the secular side, together with The some dogmatic instruction in the doctrines of the medieval Church, the early fathers, and the Scriptures. Theology curri= was as yet not organized into a philosophical system: culum. that was the great work the middle ages had to perform. The seven liberal arts (divided into the Trivium - grammar, dialectic, rhetoric; and the more advanced Quadrivium- geometry, arithmetic, music, astronomy) were a legacy from old Roman education through the transition centuries. They appear in the Disciplinarum libri IX. of Varro in the 2nd century B.C., where are added to them the more utilitarian arts of medicine and architecture. But they reached the middle ages chiefly through the summaries of writers in the transition centuries, of which the best known were the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii of the Neo-platonist Martianus Capella, who wrote probably early in the 5th century; the De artibus ac disciplinis liberalium litterarum of the Christian Cassiodorus (468-562); and the Etymologiarum libri XX. of St Isidore of Seville (J70-636).

The scope of the arts was wider than their names would suggest in modern times. Under grammar was included the study of the content and form of literature; and in practice the teaching varied from a liberal literary culture to a dry and perfunctory study of just enough grammar to give some facility in the use of Latin. Dialectic was mainly formal logic. Rhetoric covered the study of law, as well as composition in prose and verse. Geometry was rather what is now understood by geography and natural history, together with the medicinal properties of plants. Arithmetic, with the cumbrous Roman notation, included little more than the simplest practical calculations required in ordinary life and the computation of the calendar. Music embraced the rules of the plain-song of the Church, some theory of sound, and the connexion of harmony and numbers. Astronomy dealt with the courses of the heavenly bodies, and was seldom kept free from astrology. In philosophy the current text-books were the De consolatione philosophiae of Boethius (470-524), an eclectic summary of pagan ethics from the standpoint of the Christian view of life, and the same writer's adapted translations of the Categories and De interpretatione of Aristotle and of Porphyry's Introduction to the Categories. It is evident that though such a scheme of studies might in practice, during ages of intellectual stagnation and general ignorance, be arid in the extreme, it was capable in time of revival of giving scope to the widest extension of culture. It was, indeed, at once comprehensive and unified in conception, and well adapted to educate for the perfectly definite and clear view of life which the Church set before men.

In the ti th century Europe had settled down, after centuries of war and invasion, into a condition of comparative political stability, ecclesiastical discipline, and social tranquillity: the barbarians had been converted, and, as in the case of the Normans, had pressed to the forefront of civilization; civic life had developed in the fortified towns of Italy, raised as defences against the pressure of Saracen and Hungarian invasions. Soon, communication with the East by trade and in the Crusades, and with the highly cultivated Moors in Spain, further stimulated the new burst of intellectual life. Arabic renderings of some of the works of Aristotle and commentaries on them were translated into Latin and exercised a profound influence on the trend of culture. A new translation of Aristotle's Metaphysics appeared in 1167, and by the beginning of the 13th century all his physical, metaphysical and ethical treatises were available, and during the next half century the translations from Arabic versions were superseded by renderings direct from the original Greek. As expositions of the real doctrines of Aristotle the translations from the Arabic left much to be desired. Renan calls the medieval edition of the Commentaries of Averroes " a Latin translation of a Hebrew translation of a commentary made upon an Arabic translation of a Syriac translation of a Greek text." The study of such works often led to the enunciation of doctrines held heretical by the theologians, and it was only when the real Aristotle was known that it was found possible to bring the Peripatetic philosophy into the service of theology.

There were thus two broad stages in the educational revival commonly known as scholasticism. In the first the controversies were essentially metaphysical, and centred round the question of the nature of universals; the orthodox theological party generally supporting realism, or the doctrine that the universal is the true reality, of which particulars and individuals are only appearances; while the opposite doctrine of nominalism - that universals are " mere sounds " and particulars the only true existences - showed a continual disposition to lapse into heresies on the most fundamental doctrines of the Church. The second stage was essentially constructive; the opposition of philosophy to theology was negated, and philosophy gave a systematic form to theology itself. The most characteristic figure of the former period was Abelard (1079-1142), of the latter St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). The former knew little of Aristotle beyond the translations and adaptations of Boethius, but he was essentially a dialectician who applied his logic to investigating the fundamental doctrines of the Church and bringing everything to the bar of reason. This innate rationalism appeared to bring theology under the sway of philosophy, and led to frequent condemnations of his doctrines as heretical. With St Thomas, on the other hand, the essential dogmas of Christianity must be unquestioned. In his Summa theologiae he presents all the doctrines of the Church systematized in a mould derived from the Aristotelian philosophy.

It is evident, then, that during the period of the scholastic revival, men's interests were specially occupied with questions concerning the spiritual and the unseen, and that the great instrument of thought was syllogistic logic, by which consequences were deduced from premises received as unquestionably true. There was a general acceptance of the authority of the Church in matters of belief and conduct, and of that of Aristotle, as approved by the Church, in all that related to knowledge of this world.

Before the rediscovery of Aristotle exerted such a general influence on the form of education, there was a real revival of classical literary culture at Chartres and a few other schools, and John of Salisbury (d. 1182) in his Metalogicus advocated literature as an instrument of education and lamented the barrenness of a training confined to the subtleties of formal logic. But the recrudescence of Aristotle accelerated the movement in favour of dialectic, though at the same time it furnished topics on which logic could be exercised which only a bare materialism can esteem unimportant. The weaknesses of the general educational system which grew up within scholasticism were that haste to begin dialectic led to an undue curtailment of previous liberal culture, and that exclusive attention to philosophical and theological questions caused a neglect of the study of the physical world and a disregard of the critical functions of the intellect. Doubtless there were exceptions, of which perhaps the most striking is the work in physical science done at Oxford by Roger Bacon (1214-1294). But Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), the master of St Thomas, was also a student of nature and an authority for his day on both the natural and the physical sciences. And the work of Grosseteste (d. 1253), as chancellor of the university of Oxford, shows that care for a liberal literary The scholastic revival. Scholastic education. culture was by no means unknown. Always there were such examples. But too often boys hastened to enter upon dialectic and philosophy as soon as they had acquired sufficient smattering of colloquial Latin to engage in the disputes of the schools. A deterioration of Latin was the unavoidable consequence of such premature specialization. The seven liberal arts were often not pursued in their entirety, and students remained satisfied with desiccated compendia of accepted opinions. Thus the encyclopaedias of general information which were in general use during the middle ages show little or no advance in positive knowledge upon the treatment of similar subjects in Isidore of Seville.

The services of scholasticism to the cause of education, however, cannot well be overestimated, and the content of The scholastic studies was in fundamental harmony with the intellectual interests of the time. Above all other benefits owed by future ages to scholasticism is the foundation of the universities of western Europe. The intellectual activity of the 1 i th century led everywhere to a great increase in the number of scholars attending the monastic and cathedral schools. Round famous teachers, such as Abelard, gathered crowds of students from every country. In the 12th century the need for organizing such bodies of teachers and students was imperative, and thus the earlier universities arose in Italy, France and England, not by deliberate foundation of secular or ecclesiastical ruler, but as spontaneous manifestations of the characteristic medieval impulse to organize into institutions. Afterwards, charters conferring powers and privileges were sought from both Church and state, but these only confirmed the selfgoverning character the universities had borne from the first. Each of the early universities was a specialized school of higher study: Salerno was a school of medicine; Bologna was the centre of that revival of Roman law which wrought so profound an effect upon the legal systems of France and Germany towards the close of the medieval period. But the greatest of medieval universities was that of Paris, emphatically the home of philosophy and theology, which was the model upon which many other universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, were organized.

The German universities were of later origin, the earliest being Prague (1348) and Vienna (1365). They indicate the more recognized position the movement had attained; for nearly all were founded by the civic authority, and then obtained the recognition of the Church and charters from the emperor.

The concentration of higher instruction in universities was not antagonistic to the medieval conception of the Church as the teacher of mankind. University life was modelled on in medicine was absolute. The methods of instruction - by lecture, or commentary on received texts; and by disputation, in which the scholars acquired dexterity in the use of the knowledge they had absorbed - were in harmony with this conception, and were undoubtedly thoroughly well suited to the requirements of an age in which the ideal of human thought was not discovery but order, and in which knowledge was regarded as a set of established propositions, the work of reason being to harmonize these propositions in subordination to the authoritative doctrines of the Church.

Such an extension of the means of higher education as was given by the universities was naturally accompanied by a corresponding increase in schools of lower rank. Not Medieval only were there grammar schools at cathedral and collegiate churches, but many others were founded in connexion with chantries, and by some of the many gilds into which medieval middle-class life organized itself. The Dominican and Franciscan friars were enthusiastic promoters of learning both in universities and in schools, and in the Netherlands the Brethren of the Common Life, founded by Gerard Groote and approved by Eugenius IV. in 1431, regarded school teaching as one of their main functions, and the promotion of learning by the multiplication of manuscripts as another. The curriculum was represented broadly by the Triviunt. The greatest attention was paid to grammar, which included very various amounts of reading of classical and Christian authors, the most commonly included being Virgil, parts of Ovid and Cicero, and Boethius. The textbooks in grammar were the elementary catechism on the eight parts of speech by Donatus, a Roman of the 4th century, said to have been the tutor of St Jerome, and the more advanced treatise of Priscian, a schoolmaster of Constantinople about A.D. 500, which remained the standard text-book for over a thousand years. In rhetoric Cicero's De oratore was read, and dialectic was practised, as in the universities, by means of disputations. In addition to the grammar schools were writing and song schools of an elementary type, in which instruction was usually in the vernacular. Girls were taught in women's monasteries and in the home, and those of the upper classes at least very generally learned to read, write and keep accounts, as well as fine needlework, household duties and management, and such elementary surgery and medicine as served in cases of slight daily accidents and illnesses. Even those boys and girls who did not receive formal scholastic instruction were instructed orally by the parish priests in the doctrines and duties of the Faith; while the pictures and statues with which the churches were adorned aided the direct teaching of sermons and catechizing in giving a general knowledge of Bible history and of the legends of the saints.

No doubt, in times of spiritual and intellectual lethargy, the practice fell short of the theory; but on the whole it may be concluded that in medieval times the provision for higher instruction was adequate to the demand, and that, relatively to the culture of the time, the mass of the people were by no means sunk in brutish ignorance. Indeed, especially when the paucity of books before the invention of printing is borne in mind, the number of people who could read the vernacular, as evidenced by the demand for books in the vulgar tongue as soon as printing made them available, is clear proof that the latter part of the middle ages was by no means a time of general illiteracy.

Feudalism, the other characteristic aspect of medieval society, had also its system of education, expressing its own view of life, and preparing for the adequate performance of its duties. This was the training in chivalry given to pages and squires in the halls and castles of the great. Hallam has well said: " There are, if I may so say, three powerful spirits which have from time to time moved over the face of the waters, and given a predominant impulse to the moral sentiments and energies of mankind. These are the spirits of liberty, of religion and of honour. It was the principal business of chivalry to animate and cherish the last of these." And this was not in opposition to the spirit of religion which animated the scholastic education which went on side by side University that of the cloister, though the monastic ideal could not be fully realized, and the scholars not infrequently exhibited considerable licence in life. This was inevitable with the very large numbers of the scholars and the great variations of age among them. Moreover students, and to a less extent teachers, passed from university to university, so that the universities of medieval Europe formed a free confederacy of learning in close relation to the Church but untrammelled by state control. Nevertheless, they were less definitely ecclesiastical than the cathedral seminaries which they largely supplanted, and the introduction of studies derived from the Greeks through the Arabians led to an increased freedom of thought, at first within authorized limits, but prepared, when occasion served, to transcend those limits.

The scheme of instruction was arranged on the assumption that special studies should be based on a wide general culture. Thus of the four faculties into which university teaching was organized, that of arts, with its degrees of Baccalaureat and Magister, was regarded as propaedeutic to those of theology, law and medicine. It often included, indeed, quite young boys, for the distinction between grammar school and university was not clearly drawn. Attention was concentrated on those subjects which treat of man and his relations to his fellow-men and to God, and no attempt was made to extend the bounds of knowledge. The aim was to pass on a body of acquired knowledge regarded as embracing all that was possible of attainment, and the authority of Aristotle in physics as well as in philosophy, and of Galen and Hippocrates with it. Throughout chivalry was sanctified by the offices of the Church. The education of chivalry aimed at fitting the noble youth to be a worthy knight, a just and wise master, and a prudent manager of an estate. Much was acquired by daily experience of a knightly household, but in addition the page received direct instruction in reading and writing; courtly amusements, such as chess and playing the lute, singing and making verses; the rules and usages of courtesy; and the knightly conception of duty. As a squire he practised more assiduously the knightly exercises of war and peace, and in the management of large or small bodies of men he attained the capacity of command.

With the unification of existing knowledge and the systematization of theology the constructive work of scholasticism was done. At the same time the growth of national Decadence feeling was slowly but surely undermining feudalism. g y y g ticism. Moreover, deep resentment was accumulating through out western Europe against the practical abuses which had become prevalent in the Church, and especially in the court of Rome and in the prince-bishoprics of Germany. In short, Europe was out-growing medieval institutions, which appeared more and more as empty forms unable to satisfy the needs and longings of the human soul. In such conditions, the customary and traditional education of school and university tended to lose touch more and more completely with the new aspirations and views of life which were everywhere gathering adherents among the keenest and most active intellects. Had a new cultural movement not begun, the education of Europe threatened to become as arid as the rhetorical education of the last centuries of the Roman empire had been. From this it was saved by the renaissance of classical studies which began in the 14th century.

Italy, by its greater wealth and its more intimate commerce with the eastern empire, was the seed-plot of this new tree of knowledge. Ever since the nth century the cities of northern Italy had been in advance of Europe beyond the Alps both in culture and in material progress. The old classical spirit and the feeling of Roman citizenship had never quite died out, and the Divina Commedia of Dante (1265-1321) furnishes evidence that the poet of the scholastic philosophical theology was also a keen student and lover of the old Latin poets. But the greatest impulse to the revived study of the classics was given by Petrarch (1304-1374) and Boccaccio (1313-1375). Generally throughout western Europe the 14th century, though full of war and political unrest, was a time of considerable intellectual activity, shown in the increase of schools and universities, as well as in the literary and artistic revival in Italy, in the social and theological movement in England and Bohemia associated with the names of Wycliffe and Huss, and in the more or less perfect substitution of Roman law everywhere except in England for the law of custom which had hitherto prevailed.

But it was the literary movement which most affected education, and indeed the whole life of Europe. A decisive step was taken when Manuel Chrysoloras was invited to teach Greek in the university of Florence in 1397. The enthusiasm for classical culture, to which Petrarch had given so great an impetus, gathered force and extended over the whole of Italy, though, of course, felt only by a select few and leaving the mass of the people little, if at all, affected. From Italy it spread gradually to countries north of the Alps. In the old writers men found full expression of that new spirit of self-conscious freedom which was vaguely striving for expression throughout the whole of Christendom. In the free political atmosphere of the Italian communes, with their wealthy and leisured merchant class, that spirit could flourish much more readily than in the feudalized Europe across the Alps. Moreover, the antique spirit was in direct line of ancestry with that of medieval Italy. Thus, for a couple of centuries, Italy stood in the van of European culture.

The stages of the movement cannot be traced here: suffice it to say it showed itself especially in an enthusiastic search for manuscripts, followed by their multiplication and wider dis tribution; in an intense devotion to literary form; in a revival of classic taste in architecture; in a wonderful development of painting and sculpture from symbolism of spiritual qualities towards naturalism and romanticism; in a return to Platonism in philosophy; in a contempt, often unreasoning and wanting a foundation in knowledge, for the scholastic Aristotelian philosophy itself, and not simply for the trivialities into which its actual exercise had so commonly degenerated. The invention of printing necessarily gave the movement both a stronger and a wider influence than it could otherwise have attained. And in its search after knowledge it was in full harmony with the spirit of adventure which marked the age, and by the discovery of the New World wrought so profound a change in the relative importance and prosperity of the countries of western Europe.

It is the spirit of the movement which is of interest to the student of education. And that spirit was essentially one of opposition to authority and of assertion of individual liberty, which worked itself out in various forms of the among peoples of different temperaments. In Italy the form was literary and artistic, and the full development of the Renaissance spirit was seen in a practical Paganism which substituted the attractions of art for the claims of religion and morality, and eventuated in deep and widespread immorality and a contemptuous tolerance of the outward observances of religion without faith in the doctrines they symbolized. The movement became an attempt to reconstitute the past intellectual life of Italy, and, as such, was foredoomed to sterility as soon as the work of re-discovery was completed; for the revived forms were not inspired with the vital spirit which had once made them realities, and consequently men's minds once again were occupied with mere verbal subtleties. The really valuable service of the Italian humanists to Europe was the restoration to man of the heritage of knowledge which he had allowed to slip from his grasp, and the leading the way to a freer intellectual atmosphere. In Germany the spirit manifested itself in a rebellion against the doctrinal system of the Church as the only effectual means of attaining reform of ecclesiastical abuses. The Protestant reformation of Luther was the real German outcome of the Renaissance. In no other country of Europe did the movement take so distinctive a form.

It was, then, not merely the revival of interest in classical studies which so profoundly affected the life and education of western Europe. It was rather that in those literatures men found a response to intellectual and moral cravings which had been blindly gathering force for generations, and which found themselves formulated and objectified in the writings which set forth the Pagan view of life with its assumption of the essential worth and self-reliance of the individual and its frank delight in all the pleasures of existence. It was, in short, in proportion as men not only found delight in Pagan literature but returned in essence to the Pagan view of individual worth and the supremacy of the human intellect, that the Church realized the danger to herself which lurked in the new movement.

At first the revival of interest in the classical literatures did not show any antagonism to Catholic faith and practice, and its warmest supporters were faithful sons of the Church. The view of the relation of classical literature to Christianity adopted by the great humanist schoolmaster Vittorino da Feltre (1378-1446) was broadly that of the early Fathers, and in his school at Mantua he showed that culture was not inconsistent with loyalty to the Church or with purity of life. With. him classical literature was not the end and sum of education, but was a means of implanting ideas, of developing taste, and of acquiring knowledge, all as helps and ornaments of a Christian life. Though Pagan literature was the means of education, the Pagan spirit had not supplanted that of Christianity. The school at Mantua may, indeed, be said to have exhibited in practice a Christianized application of the doctrines of Quintilian and Plutarch.


So was it in the other countries of Christendom. In the Netherlands the Brethren of the Common Life introduced humanistic studies into their schools side by side with definite religious teaching and observances and their work was always dominated by the Christian spirit. The earlier German humanists, such as Nicholas de Cusa, Hegius, Agricola and Wimpheling, adopted the same attitude, and Erasmus himself, bitterly as he attacked the practical abuses of the Church, remained in communion with it, and aimed at harmonizing classical culture with the Christian life. In England the same love of culture combined with devotion to the Church was seen in Selling, prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, the first real English humanist, in Grocyn, Linacre, More, Fisher, Colet and many others whose enthusiasm for culture was as undoubted as was their loyalty to Catholicism. It seemed, then, at first as if the greatest educational effect of the classical revival would be the deepening of literary culture, and the substitution of real inquiry for dialectic subtleties in the courses of schools and universities, without any break with established religious teaching. It is true that the majority of schools were but little affected, and many of the universities had given but a half-hearted welcome to humanistic studies when the religious revolt in Germany under the leadership of Luther threw the whole of Europe into two hostile camps. But even the conservative university of Paris - the headquarters of scholastic philosophical theology - had permitted the teaching of Greek as early as 1458, and both Oxford and Cambridge had welcomed the new studies. That the influence of the new movement for classical study was gradually permeating the schools is shown not only by the practice of the Brethren of the Common Life but by the curriculum laid down by the statutes of the schools refounded by Wolsey at Ipswich and by Colet at St Paul's.

The immediate effect of the religious controversies of the 16th century on education was emphatically, if unintentionally, disastrous. The secularization of ecclesiastical property too often absorbed the endowments of the schools, so that, both in Germany and in England, the majority of grammar schools either disappeared or continued a starved existence with diminished funds; the doctrine of salvation by faith alone and the futility of good works dried up the source from which such endowments had flowed; the violent fulminations of the German reformers against the universities as the homes of the hated scholastic theology and philosophy found an echo in minds fired with the renaissance enthusiasm for poetry and oratory, and correlative distaste for the more severe and abstract speculations of logic and philosophy, which expressed itself in abstention from those seats of learning; the preoccupation of men's minds with theological speculations and quarrels led those few who did resort to the universities to neglect their appointed studies and to devote their energies to interminable wrangling over the points in dispute. This decadence in culture was attended by an outbreak of licence and immorality, especially among the young, which called forth violent denunciations from Luther and many of his followers in Germany, and from Latimer and other reformers in England. In some respects these results were only transitory. Humanism and Protestantism, which had so far diverged that Erasmus (1467-1536) had declared that where Lutheranism flourished learning decayed, were brought together again by Melanchthon (1497-1560) under whose influence universities were founded or reorganized and schools re-established in Protestant German states; and in England the reign of Elizabeth saw many new educational foundations. But this restoration of the means of education was only partial, and the doctrine of the worthlessness of " carnal knowledge," which led the Barebones Parliament to propose the suppression of the English universities, was held by many fervent Protestants both in England and in Germany all through the 17th century.

Moreover, the schools established a tradition of curriculum and instruction which ignored the new directions of men's thoughts and the new view of knowledge as something to be enlarged, and not merely a deposit to be handed down g y p from generation to generation. The later humanist theories of education, which the schools continued to follow generally for over two centuries, and in many cases for another hundred years after that, were drawn mainly from Erasmus and Melanchthon, who found in the classical languages and literatures, and especially in Latin, the only essential instruments of education. General knowledge of natural facts might be desirable to the cultured man as ornaments to his rhetoric, but it was to be sought in the writings of antiquity. Even so revolutionary a thinker on education as Rabelais (1495-1553) with all his demand for an encyclopaedic curriculum, held the writings of the ancients as authoritative on natural phenomena. Melanchthon, whose conception of instruction was much narrower, exercised enormous influence in the moulding of Protestant universities and secondary schools, both directly and through such disciples as Trotzendorf and Neander, but especially through his friend Sturm (1507-1589), whose Latin gymnasium at Strassburg became the model which the grammar schools of Protestant Europe strove to imitate. In this school nearly the whole of the energies of the boys was given to acquiring a mastery of the Latin language after the model of Cicero. Sturm, indeed, did not go to the extreme length of the Ciceronians, opposed and satirized by Erasmus, who would allow no word or construction which could not be found in the extant writings of their master, but a like spirit dominated him.

In Catholic countries the Church retained control of education. The practical reformation of abuses by the Council of Trent, and the energy and skill of the Society of Jesus, founded by St Ignatius Loyola, in 1534, brought back most of south Germany into the fold of the Church. Everywhere Cath

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Education'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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