Lives in Education: A Narrative of People and Ideas

By L. Glenn Smith; Joan K. Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
The Greeks

Education is an old activity, but teaching is a new profession. Since human beings have been on earth--between two and four million years, some biologists estimate--people have been learning from each other and their environments. On the other hand, schooling, a Greek term implying leisured study by elite groups, is a recent phenomenon.

No one knows when the first school came into being. Perhaps it was in one of the ancient cities of Africa, South America, Mexico, India, or China. Western educational historians generally cite the "tablet houses" of Sumeria (now Iraq) as early centers of organized instruction. From about 3,000 B.C., scribes there kept agricultural records on clay tablets and taught apprentices their art of cuneiform writing. 1 At about the same time, people in Egypt refined the pictographic writing of the Sumerians into a more symbolic form. Later, perhaps around 800 to 700 B.C., people in the Greek islands developed a fully phonetic alphabet--that is, a combination of consonants and vowels totaling twenty-four characters. This development expanded literacy beyond a few specialists because students no longer required many years to memorize thousands of special symbols. It also permitted a written rather than strictly oral transmission of knowledge.

Formal schooling began in the Greek area around the time of Homer ( 1,000-800 B.C.) as chivalric training for warriors. It gradually became more oriented to written information. Some people specialized in sport and the use of military arms, while others concentrated on "bookish" endeavors, but the two kinds of activities were not mutually exclusive. All citizens in a city-state had access to some of both. Slaves, usually a majority of the city-state's population, got appropriate vocational training.

Formal schooling began at age six and lasted to around puberty. At that

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Lives in Education: A Narrative of People and Ideas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Notes x
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - The Greeks 5
  • Notes 31
  • Chapter Two - The Romance 33
  • Notes 55
  • Chapter Three - The Monastics 57
  • Notes 91
  • Chapter Four - The Humanists 94
  • Notes 121
  • Chapter Five - The Reformers 123
  • Notes 148
  • Chapter Six - The New Educators 151
  • Notes 196
  • Chapter Seven - The Americans 198
  • Notes 235
  • Chapter Eight - The Friends of Education 239
  • Chapter Nine - The Progressives 273
  • Notes 310
  • Chapter Ten - The Outsiders 312
  • Notes 351
  • Chapter Eleven - The Critics 355
  • Notes 407
  • Chapter Twelve - The Paradigm Shifters 412
  • Notes 439
  • Epilogue 443
  • Notes 445
  • Contributors 447
  • Index 449
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