The Legacy of Education, researchers earlier took learning as a systematic process, being taught at specific places. Learning was just memorization. Fear of harsh punishment was the only inspiration behind the course of learning as we find on an ancient Egyptian clay tablet which reads, “Thou didst beat me and knowledge entered my head.”
The new research concludes that learning is an innate process which begins even in the wombs. The children are born little scientists already exploring the world around them (Estela Rennervia). The children learn and behave like scientists making repeated actions guess repeated results. The process may seem irritable to an adult, but it is the way that children learn. Children learn and invent things with an innate drive for mastery (Jack Shonkoff).
“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to and therefore does not partake of society is either a beast or a god. ” (Goodreads)
We all might have admired the quote above from Aristotle but never think of this quote in the context of the early development of a child. In earlier years a child cannot thrive without a supportive environment (Charles Nelson). A loving and enriching environment helps children to become productive adults for society. The environment consists of the people around a child and behaviors displayed before a child make or disintegrate the frame in the brain of a child.
Man cannot live alone; hence the need for learning arises. When the societies grew larger and complex, the way of transmitting the knowledge from person to person changed, and the civilizations realized the need for some ways to accumulate, record and preserved the culture. By about 3100 BC, with the advent of governments, formal religions, and trade, the art or invention of writing came into being. This could be considered as the first formal course of learning through the formal system.
While a child’s firsthand experience teaches him about several things around it, it could not teach him the skills of reading and writing. Hence we observe that a child can imitate well by the age of three and even can lie about a thing, it is hard for it to read or write, though it can recognize an apple from the sound produced to say word Apple by his parents. He may not be able to read the word “Apple” by his firsthand learning. Because a child cannot read or write from its firsthand experience, the need for a place devoted to exclusively for education arises which turned into “the school.”
The concept of the school goes back to 1st century AD when Jews established elementary schools for their boys to learn reading, writing, and rudimentary mathematics along with first five books of the Old Testament, thus imparting religion through education to young minds (Guiseppe).
In ancient Greece, the varied city-states had diverse education for their children, while Spartan child needs to be a soldier-citizen, he got an education in soldiering arts, on the other hand; an Athens child needs to be citizen well trained in arts of war and peace.
Under Greece influence, ancient Rome adopted almost the similar course of education and training for its children as of Greeks. The conquest of Greece by Rome around 146 BC, gave way to Greece arts to Latium. While in the beginning, the Roman education intended to produce orators for Senate, the fall of the Roman empire gave way to the rise of education in Europe. So much so that by the end of 20th century, the most of the books in Europe were written in Latin, and it was the language of education, commerce, and public service for thousand years (Guiseppe).
The invasion of Germanic tribes to the West virtually destroyed Roman and Greece cultures from the West. It was the medieval church that kept the lamp of learning burning but at low. Western Europe during the Middle Ages produced members of clergy and clerks. There was no attention towards preparing students for life but life beyond the grave. The system did not observe any difference between a child and an adult. Only in the 18th century, we find the traces of recognition of childhood.
The end of the Middle Ages saw the rise of the universities. The curriculum consisted of subjects commonly known as liberal arts. These seven liberal arts were further divided into two groups. The first group consisted of grammar, rhetoric, and logic; the second group consisted of mathematics, geometry, astronomy, and music.
It was again imitation of Greeks, which the Middle Ages scholars adapted to their cultures. The knowledge was considered an authoritative body of revealed truth. To test, hypothesize, question, theorize and discovery was beyond the limits of knowledge or education. The education was sugared with religion, and hence everyone has to interpret and expound the accepted religious doctrines. Hence we see Middle Age scholars debating on the number of angels that could stand on the head of a pin, rather than questioning the existence of angels. This era, however, is credited with the education of women, and we see girls from noble families being studying at Notre Dame de Paris. So we again credit medieval education with the end of barbarism. A sharp distinction in the careers of poor and rich children was present. While the noble families sent their children for chivalric education, the poor were to learn a trade and clerical jobs going through the process of apprenticeship in the shop of a craftsman (Guiseppe).
The Renaissance was nothing other than revolt from the Middle Ages and once again return to the ideals of literature taught during ancient Greece period. Once again, the aim of education was sugar-coated to develop a man’s physical, spiritual and intellectual powers to make him a useful citizen of the state. The renaissance added physical activities to the Middle Ages liberal arts. The change of goals of education brought into new educational methodology and education was no more a matter imparted through hitting on the head but a friendly and fun through ‘Happy Houses’ where children were taught not only the seven liberal arts but also Greek and Roman literature. Once again, the Happy Houses were not for poor classes.
It was not earlier than reformation in the 16th century when the demarcation between a wealthy and poor child shattered in the elementary vernacular schools first started in Germany. Protestants’emphasis on universal education was going to bring far-reaching effects to the Western world.
The 17th and 18th-century schools remained stagnant where barely professional teachers were trying to impart education through cruel punishments and harsh discipline. The learning was consist of memorizing facts, words, and sentences which the children barely understand. Latin was the language of education as it was considered the only language that can train the brain. Protestants and Catholics were on the same page for keeping reasoning, skepticism, and inquiry out from the schools. However, the scholars bearing the brunt of Protestants and Catholic churches did not give up. Their adamant behavior of these scholars paved the way for the revolution in education during the 20th century.
The first traces of any effort on logical education is seen in the 17th century when John Amos Comenius insisted that for effective education, the nature of a child should be taken into account and children should not be treated as miniature adults. His famous textbook Orbis Pictus (The World in Pictures) remained the only textbook with an illustration of things for children for 200 years.
From the 17th century onward we see different scholars presenting different educational theories. One of these scholars was English philosopher John Locke who gave impetus to the theory of ‘tub lay rasa,’ which means that children mind at birth is a blank slate without any innate knowledge. He furthers his argument by adding that at birth children, however, had some power of faculties; perceiving, discriminating, comparing, thinking and recalling and the function of schooling is to train these faculties. Despite the fact Locke theory was dismissed in the 20th century, it lasted a significant impact on education by emphasizing the need for firsthand experience rather than memorizing the books. This impact resulted in the inculcation of pictures, models and field trips in the school system. After Locke, the most significant scholar is Jean-Jacques Rousseau who presented the theory that a child develops intellectually, emotionally and physically as a plant. He furthered his theory by adding that there was no need for a formal schooling system and added that the only aim of education should be a natural development of a children’s mind. He believed that a child did not need to learn science but to find out for himself.
During the period, the New England Primer was another book used up to the 19th century which was America’s contribution to education and the book was aimed at teaching children reading and religion, hence when a child learned alphabet a, also learned “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” The books used in English colonies were heavily sugar-coated with religion. One of the products of the period was the law of the “Old Deluder Satan Act” which was passed in 1647 to ensure that every child learns to read. It was a deliberate attempt to foil Satan’s attempts to keep the men away from reading so that they cannot read the Scriptures. The law made it necessary for all towns to have elementary and grammar schools according to the population of the cities. The ultimate goal of these schools was to prepare children to serve the religious ends.
The spirit of commercialization soon took over the religious education system and with the increased emphasis on everyday life, Benjamin Franklin’s secondary schools sprang up to compete with the religious schools in colonies where education was closer to the everyday needs of a learner including history, geography, accounts, algebra, geometry and modern languages. By the end of the 19th century, most of the schools in England were free and compulsory. By the end of the 19th century, there were secondary schools for women and very few coeducation schools (Hussain, 2012).
During the period Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi’s school in Switzerland got international attention where people saw children running, jumping, and playing different games. Indeed Pestalozzi was following the footsteps of Rousseau. The idea was well developed by Friedrich Wilhelm Froebel who paved the way for the popular Kindergarten (garden for children) system for small children. Another development during the late 19th century was the education of mentally retarded children by the Italian physician Maria Montessori which helped these children to read and write like normal children.
The whole history of education could be concluded in the words that the educators of all ages took children as they thought children were or should be and no serious attempt was made to consider what children were.
Our beloved country Pakistan is situated in the region which was popularly known as Indus Valley Civilization in prehistoric times. While an extensive list of invaders including Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Turks, and Arabs ruled the region for several thousand years. Today, we have Islam as the principal religion of the country which was introduced in 711 AD. Muslims ruled the region in 16th to the middle of the 18th century when the British took over the area from Muslims. The British remained a dominant power in the area up to the middle of the 20th century.