Who Invented School: The history of education
Today, children everywhere are required by law to go to school every day. But, in the past, children educated themselves through self-directed play and exploration. With the rise of agriculture and industry throughout the world, children were forced into labor, and their strong desire for play and exploration was basically suppressed. The invention of agriculture that occurred 10,000 years ago has changed people's ways of living. In order to become more effective hunters, people had to possess an extensive knowledge of all the animals and plants on which they depended. People were forced to develop great skills in crafting and had to be creative in providing foods for their families. But, thanks to agriculture, people were now able to produce more food, which allowed them to have more children. Agriculture also allowed people to live in permanent residences, where their crops were planted. However, many children had to work in the fields to help their parents and to feed their younger siblings, so their lives changed.
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Agriculture and the associated ownership of property have created the first status differences in the history of humanity. People who did not own any land were dependent on those who did and the principal lessons that kids had to learn in life were suppression of their own will, obedience, and the show of great respect towards masters.
In the Middle Ages, masters and lords had no hesitation about physically beating children into submission. Later with the rise of industry, feudalism slowly subsided but this did not improve the lives of most children. Young children used to work for seven days a week in very poor and miserable conditions, just to survive. In England, children were forced to work in dark and dirty factories, where they were treated as slaves and many of them died of starvation, exhaustion and diseases.
For several thousand years after the rise of agriculture, the education of the children was only a matter of crushing their willfulness to make them good laborers. However, the human instincts to explore and play are so strong that they can never be beaten out of a child. For various reasons, the idea of universal education gradually spread across the whole world.
As the industry progressed, the need for child labor declined in many parts of the world. People understood that childhood is the time for learning and schools for children were developed as places of learning. The idea and the practice of public education developed gradually in Europe, from the early 16th to the 19th century.
So, as you can see schools are not really a new invention, and the earliest schools date back thousands of years. People figured out that is would be easier to have a small group of adults teach a large group of children and the concept of the school was born.However, ancient schools weren't like the schools we know today because they focused more on reaching skills and passing along religious values. The first schools in the United States were founded in the 17th century. Boston Latin School (founded in 1635) was the first public school and the oldest existing school in the United States.
After the American Revolution, education became a higher priority and many countries began to establish public schools. The man who invented our modern school system is Horace Mann. During the time he was a Secretary of education in Massachusetts in 1837, he set forth his vision for a group of professional teachers who would teach students an organized curriculum of basic content. For this reason, Mann is known as the "Father of the common school movement."