Schools in Tudor England

Schools in Tudor England

Schools in Tudor England

Schools in Tudor England

Excerpt

If we could visit an Elizabethan grammar school, we should find the scene intelligible and at first glance even familiar: teacher and pupils; books, lessons, recitations; rewards and punishments. The "learning process" changes slowly, since education is intensely conservative. So are its victims. Shakespeare's whining schoolboy is typical of all boys, as easily rec- ognizable within the schoolroom as Chaucer's "little clergeon, seven year of age" or Tom Brown or Tom Sawyer, whatever the differences when these worthies are outside.

Closer inspection would reveal some striking contrasts between Tudor secondary schools and our own. Every boy in every grammar school studied Latin then; in fact Latin was his main business as long as he attended school. English literature and modern languages were ignored, physical science unknown, in the curriculum. Grammar schools had no women teachers, of course, and rarely girls as pupils--Renaissance schools were seldom distracted by co-education. Elizabethans took learning seriously and expected it to be laborious, but they did not believe in universal, compulsory schooling. They accepted as normal and proper the principle that schoolmasters should be subject to ecclesiastical supervision. They were not sentimental about children. To Elizabethans, childhood was not a particularly attractive period; it was an unavoidable but trying experience, . . .

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