It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another: who created school? Surely it was a cruel and heartless individual with a diabolical desire to make children suffer, right? Well, not quite. The truth is, the history of schooling is a long and complicated one. Let’s take a look at how education has evolved over the years.
Early History of Education
In ancient times, education was primarily reserved for the wealthy elite. Historians believe that the first schools were established around 2000 BCE in Mesopotamia. These early schools were more like training academies for future scribes than anything else. Scribes were responsible for keeping track of important government records, so it was essential that they be thoroughly educated in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
As time went on, other civilizations—such as the Greeks and the Romans—adopted similar systems of education. Once again, though, formal schooling was mostly available only to those who could afford it. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that education began to become more widely available. This is thanks in large part to the rise of Christianity and the establishment of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church played a significant role in the development of schooling throughout medieval Europe. Monasteries served as some of the first educational institutions, offering boys instruction in reading, writing, and Latin. In later centuries, the church began to establish formal elementary schools called “cathedral schools.” These were open to boys from all social classes, not just the elites.
The Modern Education System
It wasn’t until the 19th century that education became truly universal. In 1817, Prussia became the first country to establish state-sponsored elementary schools. Other countries soon followed suit; by 1918, all Provinces in Canada had government-funded elementary schools. The 20th century saw even more advances in education; by mid-century, high school had become mandatory in most developed countries around the world.
So there you have it: a brief history of schooling. As you can see, it’s come a long way since its humble beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia! Today, education is more accessible than ever before—and we haveProgressives like Horace Mann to thank for that. So next time you’re stuck in detention or struggling through a math test, remember: it could be worse! You could be living in medieval Europe…or ancient Mesopotamia!