MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 1
OVERVIEW OF ANCIENT EDUCATION
Education was acquired during primitive period by enculturation. Enculturation is the
process of learning the culture and acquiring the values and knowledge of a society. Primitive
education aims to help a primitive person in learning his culture, developing his behaviour in the
ways of adulthood, and guiding him toward eventual role in his society. In this education, the
environment and all the surrounding activities are viewed as school or classroom and all adults act
The purpose of primitive education is to shape children to becoming good members of a
tribe. Training for citizenship is essential to primitive people because they are primary concerned
with the growth of individuals as tribal members and the comprehensive understanding of their
society and lifestyle during the passage from pre-puberty and post-puberty.
Primitive education is classified into: pre-puberty and post-puberty education.
Pre-puberty education. In this education, children actually participate in the social
processes of adult activities, and their participatory learning is based upon identification,
empathy and imitation (Margaret Mead). Primitive children learn by doing and observing
basic technical practices. Teachers are their immediate community.
Post-puberty education. In this education, some cultures are strictly standardized and
regulated. Teachers are unknown to initiates (referring to their students), though they
are his relatives in other tribe. The form of education is called initiation. Initiation may
begin with initiate being separated from his family and sent him to secluded camp where
he joins other initiates. The initiation curriculum does not include practical subject,
instead it composes of a whole set of cultural values, tribal religion, myths, philosophy,
history, rituals, and other knowledge. The body of knowledge constituting the initiation
curriculum is the most essential to primitive people’s tribal membership.(Anon., 2008)
Geography: China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is a sovereign state occupying a
position on the eastern side of Asiatic continent. It is the second largest country in the world by
land area covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres or 3.6 million square miles. It is also
the most populous country in the world having a population of over 1.53 billion. Its territory lies
between 18 degree and 54 degree North latitude and 73 degree and 135 degree East longitude.
Shang Dynasty was the first Chinese dynasty who ruled between 17th
The oracle bone script of the Shang Dynasty represents the oldest form of Chinese writing, and
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 2
considered as the direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters used throughout East Asia. The
Shang was invaded from the west by the Zhou, who rules between the 12th
and 1th centuries BCE.
Qin Shi Huang formed the first imperial known as Qin State in 221 BCE. He proclaimed
himself as the First Emperor. During his reign, he imposed many reforms throughout China such as
forced standardization of the Chinese language, measurements, length of cart axles, and currency.
After the downfall of Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty rules between 206 BCE and 220 CE. The
dynasty created a lasting Han cultural identity among its people that has endured to the present
day. It helped establish the Silk Road in Central Asia, and became the largest economy in ancient
The fall of Han Dynasty gave way to chivalric period of the Three Kingdoms. Among these
kingdoms was Wu Dynasty that opened diplomatic relations with Japan and introduced the Chinese
The development of Chinese technology and culture happened during the reign of Tang and
Song dynasty. Song Dynasty was the first to use paper currency and the first to establish Chinese
polity. In this dynasty, arts and philosophy flourished. Notable philosophers during this period were
Cheng Yi and Chu His who taught the doctrine of Neo Confucianism.
Kublai Khan, Mongol leader, conquered the last remnant of the Song Dynasty in 1279 and
built his on empire known as Yuan Dynasty. They were defeated in 1368 by a peasant named Zhu
Yuanzhang, and he founded the Ming Dynasty.
Under the government of Ming Dynasty, the China’s economy became rich and prosperous
with their flourishing arts and culture. During this dynasty, explorations around the world started
and changed the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. Wang Yangming, a philosopher, further critiqued
and elaborated the concept of Neo-Confucianism with individualism and innate morality.
Ming Dynasty fell by an alliance of rebel forces led by Li Zicheng. However, the dynasty founded by
Li Zicheng named Shun Dynasty reigned shortly when they were overthrew by Manchu Qing
Dynasty together with Ming Dynasty general, Wu Sangui.
Qing Dynasty lasted from 1644 until 1912 and it was the last imperial dynasty in China. The
dynasty experienced western imperialism in 19th
century and was forced to sign unequal treaties,
pay compensation, and cede Hong Kong to Britain. Despite of tremendous rebellions during the
period that wasted several million lives, Qing regime became victorious. Mass civil disorder begun
and advocates for reform and revolution emerged across the country and this led to the end of
ruling of dynasty.(Wikipedia, 2013)
The wife exists only for the comfort of her husband. She receives punishment by one
hundred stripes when she abuses her husband, but abuse from her husband is not a punishable
offense. The birth of a boy in the family is presented by hanging a bow and arrow over the door
while the birth of a girl is presented by a hanging a spindle and yarn over the door. Instruction at
home and in school is limited to boys. Boys are more important than girls.
The mother can seldom read and write as she does not receive formal education. Her
primary duty is mostly at home and that is to bring up her children by instilling the two cardinal
Chinese virtues. These are obedience and politeness(Seeley, 1904).
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 3
The child enters school at the age of six or seven. The school is held sometimes in a temple,
home of the teacher, or home of a wealthy patron. The room has an altar consecrated to Confucius
and the god of knowledge, a desk and a chair for the teacher, and student’s self-provided desks and
stools. Rich families used to employ teacher to educate their children.
The first day of the child in school is accompanied by a ceremony. This is considered one of
the most memorable experiences for the child as he drops the name of his babyhood and receives a
new name. Every change of name goes with new epoch of life, it means new responsibility.
On the first years of study, pupils are dedicated to reading, writing and arithmetic. The teaching
method is fixated on cultivation of memory and improvement of writing. The study to learn is
driven by fear not by child’s interest.
The second level of education includes translation from textbooks and lessons in
composition. The third level consists of belles-lettres and essay writing. Only few reach the third
level, only if the student wants to have position under the government. Even with last two levels of
education, memory is the principal concern (Seeley, 1904).
Men who have taken degrees gather about them young students, who are devote
themselves to study, and give them instruction in the Chinese classics and prepare them for the
State examinations for degrees. Students in this education are required to memorize writings from
classical authors and to write essays and verses which are evaluated by their teachers. Education is
confined solely to the Chinese Classics (Seeley, 1904).
Candidates must pass three examinations in their own district and those who passed receive
the lowest degree called “Budding Intellect”. Thousands enter for this degree but only about one
percent succeeds in achieving it. Having this degree does not entitle a holder to a public office, but
most of them become teachers, physicians, lawyers, etc.
Once in three years there is another examination for the second degree called “Deserving of
Promotion”. This examination is conducted by an examiner sent from Perkin. Examination for the
third degree is also conducted once every three years, and successful examinees are rewarded by
the title called “Fit for Office”. Holders of these last two degrees are entitled to an appointment to
There is still higher degree called “Forest of Pencils” that is only administered to the
members of Royal Academy, the Hanlin. Possession of this degree provides greatest honor and
highly esteemed, and may hold the highest offices in the country.
An edict was promulgated in 1905 to abolish the old system of examination. This marks an
era in Chinese educational history and will tend to place China in the line of modern political and
industrial development (Seeley, 1904).
CONFUCIUS (550-478 BC)
He is the most respected man among Chinese. He was concerned on language and literature
aside from Buddhism. He began to teach in a private school at the age of twenty-two and rejected
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pupils with no ability and ambition (Seeley, 1904). His interests were more on moral philosophy,
ethics, and social philosophy. His famous writing is “Analects of Confucius”.
Geography: China, officially the Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It’s land area covering
approximately 3.2 million square kilometres or 1.3 million square miles. It is the second most
populous country in the world having a population of over 1.2 billion. Its territory lies to the north of
the equator between 6.44 degree and 35.30 degree North latitude and 68.7 degree and 97.25
degree East longitude.
During the period of 2000-500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from
Chalcolithic to the Iron Age. In this period, the Vedas, the oldest known scriptures of Hinduism,
were composed, and many historians have analysed these to postulate a Vedic Culture both in
Punjab region and upper Gangetic Plain. The caste system arose during this period.
Around the 5th
century BCE, in the late Vedic period, the small chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain
and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies called
mahajanapadas. Orthodoxies and the development of urbanization led to the creation of reform
movements of Buddhism and Jainism, both of which became independent religions.
Between 200 BCE and 200 CE revealed the Sangam Literature of Tamil Language. The
Cheras, the Cholas, and the Pandyas were the dynasties that ruled the southern peninsula and they
traded extensively with the Roman Empire and with the West and Southeast Asia.
By the 4th
centuries, the Gupta Empire has created a complex system of taxation and
administration in the greater Ganges Plain that became the basis for later Indian Empires. Under
this empire, Hinduism began to assert itself according to devotion rather than the management of
ritual. The renewal was reflected in a flourishing of sculpture, architecture and Classical Sanskrit
literature. Science, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics made significant advances during these
Medieval India began between 600 CE to 1200 CE. It was defined by regional kingdoms and
cultural diversity. Territorial expansion was the prominent issue during this century.
After the 10 century, Muslim Central Asian nomadic clans overran South Asia’s north western plains,
and led to creation of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate. The sultanate built to control North India and to
make many forays into South India. The sultanate’s invasion and weakening of South India’s
regional kingdoms paved way for the indigenous Vijayanagara Empire. The empire embraced a
strong Shaivite tradition and building upon the military technology of the sultanate. It came to
control much India peninsular and then it came to influence South Indian society.
In the early 16th
century, Northern India fell to the hand of Mughal Empire. The empire
derived most revenues from agriculture and mandating that taxes to be paid in the well-regulated
silver currency. These economic policies caused peasants and artisans to enter larger market.
Commercial expansion during Mughal rule gave rise to the new commercial and political elites
along the coasts of southern and eastern India.
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 5
India’s Modern Age begun sometime between 1848 and 1885. This period set changes
essential to a modern state. This includes the consolidation and demarcation of sovereignty, the
surveillance of the population, and education of citizens. Technological changes and industrial
improvement were introduced not long after their introduction in Europe(Wikipedia, 2013).
THE CASTE SYSTEM
There are four great castes in India:
1. Brahmin- the highest order that includes priests, scholars, lawyers, physicians, teachers, etc.
They are highly respected by lower caste and its members are dignified, abstemious, and
sedate (Seeley, 1904).
2. Kshatriyas- the second order that includes warriors, administrators, and law enforcers.
3. Vaishyas- the third order that includes farmers, traders, and mechanics, and they constitutes
the bone and sinew of India (Seeley, 1904).
4. Shudras- the fourth order that includes servants or artisans, who receive no education
expecting in matters of politeness and other things connected with their station in life
Those people who were not considered from these four caste classifications are considered
Panchama. They are also regarded as outcastes or the untouchables, and they lived on the fringes
of the society.
Woman has no educational advantages in India, and she is considered more as the servant
than as equal of her husband. She is not allowed to appear uninvited in the presence of any man
except her husband. She does not also medical attention in case of sickness unless a female medical
missionary can be reached.
A member of a caste may marry in his own or in a lower caste. Brahmin may have four wives,
Kshatriyas may have three, Vaishyas may have two, and Shudras may have one.
Children are taught to love and honor their teachers even more than their parents. They are
also taught to respect older people under all circumstances. Hindu idea is to prepare for future life,
and children are trained with reference of this idea (Seeley, 1904).
All teachers belong to the Brahmins. They are paid by gifts for support. Unlike Chinese
teachers who are strict, they are mild in discipline and humane in treating their pupils. Instruction,
when in good weather condition, is held under the tree or when in bad weather condition, it is held
in shed or tent.
Education focuses more in reading, writing, and arithmetic and memorizing the holy sayings
of Brahma constitutes a large portion of the time. Reading lessons are taken from the Veda. In
writing, the child begins by forming characters in sand with his finger or a stick, then he writes on
leaf, and finally on paper. Arithmetic is very elementary and it deals with things are the important to
learner’s practical life. Servants and girls are excluded even from this limited education.
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 6
The castes are taught separately, and especial attention is given to such instruction that will
fit them for their station in life. They are taught with politeness, patience, modesty, and
truthfulness (Seeley, 1904).
The Brahmins are the only educated class. Warriors attend their schools for purpose of such
study as is necessary in connection with their calling. Farmers may also attend the Brahman schools
to lean studies pertaining to their caste.
In this education, they study grammar, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine, law,
literature, and religion. Many of them still speak their classic language, the Sanskrit (Seeley, 1904).
He fought to overthrow the Brahmanism and taught that all men are brothers, that they
should show friendship, kindness, pity, and love toward their fellow. His belief and teachings
approach nearer to Christianity than any other oriental faith. Buddhism are more on moral acts
The Jews, as translated, were the “Children of Israel” or “Sons of Israel”. They came from
the Israelites (Hebrews) of the Ancient Near East. Biblically speaking, Jewish ancestry is originated
from apostles Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who lived in Canaan around the 18th
Historically speaking, they had evolved mostly from the Tribe of Judah and Simeon, and some were
from Benjamin and Levi, who all together formed the ancient Kingdom of Judah(Wikipedia, 2013).
They reached their greatest power and glory during the reigns of David and Solomon, and
they occupied Palestine (known now as Israel), with Jerusalem as their capital city. In this place
happened the most important events in history, and the Jewish race was chosen to be
representatives of God’s purposes toward man.
The early Jews were nomadic in their habits, living in tents, and tending their flocks. The
patriarch, who was the head of a family or tribe, made laws for people under him and governed
them in accordance to God’s command.
In 63 BCE, the Jews lost their freedom and they were under the control of Romans, and in 70
AD, Jerusalem was ruined that made the Jews wandered all around the world. Despite of this, they
had maintained their racial characteristics with remarkable purity. However, most of them were
persecuted by other religions because of their religious belief (Seeley, 1904).
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 7
Jewish people practiced monogamy, and the wife was regarded as the companion and equal
of the husband. Children are gift of God, and as father, he had to bring up his children in the
knowledge and service of the Lord.
The father taught his boys reading and writing while the mother taught the girls household
duties but girls were not entirely excluded from intellectual training.
Jewish people paid attention to rites and ceremonies of the tabernacle and the law. They
also taught history as a mean of stimulating patriotism. Their children were accustomed with the
Scriptures (Bible) and history, law, and prophecy.
There were no schools, teaching was given at home and the child’s parent was considered
his teacher. Education was central on religion to prepare every child for the service of the
tabernacle and the worship of God was also given to them.
Obedience and respect to parents and ancestors with knowledge of Jewish law were
instilled into the minds of all children. Music and dancing were taught in every household, not for
pleasure, but as means of religious expression. The father led his children to ideal manhood which
was revealed to him by the teachings of Holy Writ.
There was no social discrimination among Jewish people. All were equal, rich or poor, high
or low and they deserved to get an education (Seeley, 1904).
THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Education became the sole means of retrieving their national greatness. In 64 AD, the rabbis,
the teachers, required every community to support a school, and that attendance should be
compulsory. Every teacher could have not more than twenty-five pupils, otherwise an assistant was
Teachers were respected even more than parents because they prepared their pupils for the
future. Parents were to prepare their children for the present. Qualified teachers were mature
The child entered school at age six. Tasks were provided according to the child’s strength.
The subjects taught were reading, writing, natural history, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy.
The Scriptures were taught to all children, and all were versed in religious rites(Seeley, 1904).
THE SCHOOL OF RABBIS
The tablets containing the Ten Commandments of God are the oldest writing among the
Israelites. Moses, David, Solomon, and Isaiah, and the other prophets were the founders of the
School of the Prophets were among the educational institution that provides higher
education. Teachers of this school taught philosophy, medicine, poetry, history, and law to the sons
of prophets and priests, and of known families. The school aimed to stimulate the production of the
historical, poetical and prophetic books of the Old Testament.
But School of the Rabbis was considered important as direct means of higher education. The
school was founded by famous teachers. They taught mainly theology and law, while politics,
history, mathematics and science were being excluded(Seeley, 1904).
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 8
This is a book of sayings and discussion of rabbis collected from the second to the sixth
century AD. It serves as rule of life to Jews and aids in perpetuating laws, ceremonies, customs, and
religion. It has been the most compelling means of preserving the national and racial characteristics
of the Jews for nearly two thousand years (Seeley, 1904).
Geography: China, officially the Hellenic Republic and known since ancient times as Hellas. It is the
country in Southeast Europe.The country has the 11th
longest coastline in the world and eighty
percent of the country consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest mountain.
Greece is considered the birthplace of western civilization beginning with the Cycladic
civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea (3200 BC), the Minoan civilization in Crete (2700-
1500BC), and then the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland (1900-1100 BC).
The end of the Greek Dark Age was also the year of the first Olympic Games. During this age,
various kingdoms and city-states across Greek peninsula emerged. These states and their colonies
achieved cultural prosperity clearly expressed in their architecture, philosophy, science,
mathematics, and drama. Cleisthenes implemented the first democracy system of government in
Athens in 508 BC.
Hellenistic and Roman periods started between 323 BC and 4th
century AD. At the Battle of
Pydna, Macedonia was defeated and became a province of Rome and the rest of the Greece
became a Roman protectorate. In 27 BC, the process of colonization was completed when Roman
Emperor Augustus annexed the rest of Greece and made it as the senatorial province of Achaea.
Romans, despite of their military superiority, were admired and heavily influenced by Greek culture.
Science, technology and mathematics became popular during this Hellenistic period.
In the 14th
century, Byzantine Empire lost most part of Greek peninsula as first the Serbs and then
Ottomans who declared imperial territory. This invasion caused many Byzantine Greek scholars to
go west bringing with them a large body of literature, which had significant influence in
During the Ottoman period, Greece people suffered economic consequences. Ottoman
Empire imposed heavy taxes and enacted a policy of hereditary estates turning the rural Greek
populations into serfs. The Greek Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of
Constantinople were considered by the Ottoman governments as the ruling authorities of the
entire Orthodox Christian population. Christians suffered discrimination and with these they were
forced to be converted to Islam.Greece fought their freedom between 1821 and 1832(Wikipedia,
The Olympic Games
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 9
The Olympic Games has direct influence on the education of the people. This was celebrated
in honor of Zeus at Olympia, which became the Holy Land of Greece. This took place once every
four years, and this period called the Olympiad. The first Olympia begins with 776 BC. This game
united various states of Greece in friendly and joyous activities.
The activities in this game were foot race, wresting, jumping, and throwing spear. Then, they added
chariot and horse races, and competition in painting, sculpture and literature. Only Greek citizens of
good moral character were allowed to join the game. Winner received a prize of simple wreath of
laurel or olive.
The Olympian Games aimed to unite people of Greece and it was created to stimulate
national patriotism (Seeley, 1904).
Sparta was the capital of Laconia, the southern province of Greece. People of Sparta were
1. Citizens- they were nobles who rules other classes.
2. Perioeci- they were freemen subjected to the nobles.
3. Helots- they were slaves.
The child was left in charge of the mother until six or seven years of age. The father usually
spearheaded the child’s training, but sometimes a mature relative assumed the responsibility. Child
was taught implicit obedience and modesty.
The Iliad and the Odyssey served the Bible of Greek, and children learned excerpts from the
works of the great poet, Homer.
The mother was highly respected by her husband and her children, and she was noted for
her chastity and nobility of character. She cheerfully gave her sons to serve his country and inspired
them to deeds of bravery and patriotism.
State trained those strong children that were likely to become good soldiers. Those children who
were perceived as weak and unpromising either killed as soon as they were born or left to feed to
the wild beasts upon the mountain. These abandoned children were rescued and reared by the
lower classes(Seeley, 1904).
At six or seven, the boy was taken from the home, and the State had entire jurisdiction of his
education. They boys were placed in group in charge of young men who were responsible for their
education. They sat at table with older men and listened to their storied of heroism and bravery.
They were never allowed to speak unless they had to answer questions.
The State trained these children to endure hunger and pain. The purpose was to prepare
them to be a soldier with strong and supple bodies and inured to hardship.
The only intellectual education provided to them was music from playing lyre as accompaniment to
the dance. Reading and writing were fit for slaves.
At twelve, the boy exchanged the long coat for the mantle, a sign the boy was entering manhood.
From this age to thirty, same training was continued, though the training became more definitely
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 10
At thirty, the Spartan youth became a citizen and was expected to marry. Girls also received
gymnastic training, in many cases with the boys. Gymnastics for girls aimed to develop strong and
beautiful wives and mothers(Seeley, 1904).
He formed the constitution which gave the Sparta its peculiar institutions. His laws were
intended to check luxury and to inculcate the simple habits (Seeley, 1904).
He was not a Spartan, but he was associated with southern Greece. The fundamental
thought of Pythagorean philosophy was the idea of proportion and harmony. His school taught
mathematics, the central idea of the system but they also taught medicine, physics, and philosophy.
His major contribution was the so-called Pythagorean Theorem in geometry(Seeley, 1904).
Contrast to principles of Sparta, Athens’ education, politics and ethics worked together with
their love of liberty, love of wisdom and love of beauty. Athenians believed that the truest beauty
was to be reached only by development of mind.
Hence, Athens produced great men. Among them were Pericles, Socrates, Plato, and
Aristotle. Athens created literature that influenced the world, she developed art to its highest
excellence, and she gained a permanent and high place in the world’s history.
The spirit of Athens was liberty, while the Sparta was tyranny. Athens had slaves but they
had a large share of freedom and they also enjoyed some means of education. Children of the
wealthy families were committed to trusted slaves called pedagogues, who escorted them to
school, instructed them in many things, and had a right to punish them for disobedience.
The first democratic idea of government was first found in Athens. Solon (638 BC) was the
great lawgiver of Athens. His wise laws had much influence on the prosperity and intellectual
development of people (Seeley, 1904).
In Athens, the child was left with the mother until the sixth or seventh year. The toys were
greater in variety than with any other people of antiquity. Their purpose was to amuse the children
rather than furnish a definite preparation of life. Therefore, play was recognized as an important
factor in the child’s life, and these toys used to stimulate and encouraged the joyous element in the
child’s nature. Toys are an effective stimulus toward child’s mental and physical growth.
Training of the children was humane and intellectual but strict parents or mentors enforced
strict obedience.Children were taught about selections from the works of poets.
Father interested himself mainly in the education of his son, and when he was unable to
discharge this duty, he selected an elderly male relative as a mentor who devoted his leisure hours
to such training. Little attention was paid to the intellectual training of the girls.
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 11
Women were not held so high esteem nor they were worthy of respect. She was not equal
to her husband neither by social position nor intellectual attainment. Her husband exercised the
same authority over his wife and over his children (Seeley, 1904).
The father was free to choose for his children their school and the character of their
education. The State provided gymnasia that served as schools, and it also fixed the qualification of
the teachers, the school hours, and the number of pupils to a teacher. Philosophers or wise men
were the teachers, thoroughly capable to discharge the duties to their office.
The boy went to school at age six or seven in charge of a pedagogue, or leader of young- he
was old and trusted slave. Pedagogue was responsible for morals and manners and he was allowed
to administer punishment for disobedience. He was the constant attendant of the boy.
The first two years were devoted chiefly to gymnastics. The two subjects of the elementary
course were gymnastics and music, and the next term, reading and writing were included. Little
attention was paid to study of arithmetic as it was only needed for practical use.
The idea of education of Athens was the development of beauty. So the pupils were
required to memorize many selections from the works of poets.
Children of the poorer classes were kept in school until their fourteenth and fifteenth year,
when they learned to trade. Those from rich classes remained in school until twentieth year to
study music, rhetoric, grammar and philosophy. After twenty, the youth’s education was
considered completed, and became a citizen. Teachers were paid fees and not fixed salaries.
Athens’ education aimed “beautiful”, and the ideal was the aesthetic in mind and body
The Sophists flourished during the 15th
century BC. Their chief exponents were Protagoras
and Gorgias. They wandered about from place to place proclaiming themselves as philosophers and
bidding for the patronage of the rich by charging large fees and considering public questions. They
discussed error and wrong with same eloquence and zeal and they discussed truth and justice. Their
purpose was foster eloquence rather than discover truth. From them, we came with the word
“sophistry”, which means fallacious reasoning. Protagoras hit many correct principles of rhetoric,
and satisfactorily established certain grammatical categories(Seeley, 1904).
Socrates (470-399 BC)
Socrates challenged the Sophists by saying it is possible to learn absolute virtue and attain
truth. He sought universal principles by pursuing the clear, common meaning of terms, and he
raised some of the basic questions of knowledge and ethics. His method of question and answer
conversation now called Socratic Method. His teachings rested on two basic assumptions: a person
is never to do wrong, either directly or indirectly, and not one who knows what is right will act
contrary to it (Zulueta & Malaya, 2012).
Plato (429-347 BC)
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 12
Plato was a disciple of Socrates, and he recorded many of his conversation. His “Dialogues”
are some of the most interesting reading in Western literature. He developed a many sided
philosophy that includes a theory of knowledge, a theory of human conduct, and a theory of the
state universe. He said there is a world of sense experience that is always changing. His world of
ideas resembles a blueprint after which the objects of the physical world are fashioned (Zulueta &
Another great work of Plato is his “Republic”. It portrays the ideal State and outlines his
scheme of education, which assembled on archetypes of both Spartan and Athenian citizenship.
From Sparta comes the thought of an education which shall be controlled by the State from birth,
while Athens adds aesthetical aspects to those purely physical. In his scheme, he divided the people
into the following classes:
1. The common people. They should be allowed to rise, but no education is provided for
them in his scheme.
2. The guardians or citizens. They should study music and gymnastics. Music includes
literature, that is, human culture as distinguished from scientific knowledge. Writing and
arithmetic are also included under music, the latter not being studied for practical
purposes, but to develop the reason.
3. The rulers. They should study music and gymnastics and should also study geometry,
astronomy, rhetoric, and philosophy (Seeley, 1904).
Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Aristotle was Plato’s most prominent pupil. He departed from his master’s teaching on
many aspects. His writings on nature make him the world’s first real scientist, though his
conclusions have long been superceded. He said that the material world is real and not a creation of
eternal forms. He taught that individual things combine form and matter in ways that determined
how they grow and change. He was also the founder of formal logic (Zulueta & Malaya, 2012).
In Age the Augustus, Roman Empire embraced all the border of the Mediterranean,
extended as far north as the North Sea, as far east as the Euphrates, as far south as the Sahara, and
west to the Atlantic. With its rich territory and vast population, this great empire possessed brilliant
advantages for the spread of Christianity, for the propagation of intelligence, and for the
development of the human race.
Its government was generally some form of republic. Their religion took on gross forms of
idolatry, for they readily adopted and worshiped the gods of the Grecians, Egyptians, and other
conquered people. Romans were very superstitious. These facts have a bearing upon Christian
In Rome, the responsibility of the education of the boy was devolved almost entirely upon
the mother. In early Roman history, the matron was celebrated for her virtues- fidelity to her
husband, love of her children, and queenly guardianship of the sacred precincts of the home.
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 13
The husband was the head of the house, but to his wife was committed the care of the
children and the instruction for the first six or seven years of their lives. The mother taught her
children strict obedience and politeness, and instructed them in the “Twelve Tables of Roman
She also took great pain to teach her children correct pronunciations in preparation of their
later training in oratory, which was the most important study in Roman Education. Besides, she
taught them their alphabets, first the name and then the form, a practice which is pedagogically
false, as Quintilian pointed out. She also taught them poems from the great masters(Seeley, 1904).
With the same practice with Athenians, the child went to school at age six or seven in charge
of a slave. The slave task was to look after the child’s protection and to carry his books. He was not
responsible to child’s moral and manners.
In this level, children were taught by literators. They were usually men of little culture and no
social standing. These institutions were public, though supported by private means. The discipline
was severe, strict obedience being exacted by the teacher, who made use of the rod when he
thought it necessary. The school asserted obedience, politeness, modesty, cleanliness, and respect
The subjects taught were reading, writing, and arithmetic, and with great emphasis on
pronunciation. In writing, the letters were traced with stylus on waxed tablets. Arithmetic was
learned for its utility. Indeed, the whole purpose of the schools was to prepare the children for
practical life (Seeley, 1904).
At age twelve, the boy entered a school taught by literatus. They were educated men. Many
of the teachers of this level were Greek. In addition to the subjects taught in elementary school, the
pupils were taught the Greek and Latin languages. They also studied poets, history, oratory,
philosophy, and criticism.
At age sixteen, the boy was inducted with ceremony into the dignity of manhood, and was
clothed with the toga virilise, the dress of men. He now chose his calling and began definite
preparation for it. He chose among oratory, politics, arms, law, and agriculture.
Those without talent or inclination of any of the others devoted themselves to agriculture.
They were taken to the farms, where they received definite instruction in the principles and
practices of this occupation.
Those who chose oratory, politics, or law, were assigned persons experienced in their
respective fields, and the boys were taken to the forum, the senate, and other places where they
could hear renowned orators and become familiar with public life. They had also definite instruction
in their chosen field.
Those who chose army were placed in charge of military officers. They learned military
tactics and the practical duties of life in camp. These learners also gave attention to oratory and
other intellectual studies.
The purpose of Roman education was to train the children in his practical duties in life.
Romans had their ideal of what an educated man should be, and that ideal found its expression in
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 14
the name of orator. He who was the best orator was the best educated man. The schools were only
for boys, while girls were educated on household duties at home.
Cicero (106-43 BC)
Cicero was a Roman statesman who introduced Greek philosophy to Rome, and he was
famous because of his political ideologies and interest. His writings endow the finest examples of
Latin style, and his orations are studied for their classic beauty and rhetorical finish.
Among his most pedagogical teachings that had significant influence on education are:
1. That education begins in childhood, and is steady growth throughout life.
2. That memory should be cultivated by learning extracts from classic authors.
3. That great care should be taken to make the amusements and environments of the child
such as to elevate and refine, as well as properly to develop its powers.
4. That at the suitable time some calling should be chosen for which the youth has evident
5. That religion is the basis of morals; therefore careful attention should be given to
religious instruction(Seeley, 1904).
Seneca (3 BC- 65 AD)
Seneca was the most eminent writer, rhetorician, and orator of his time. His writings have
strong religious sentiment, quite like that of Christianity, leading one to think that he may have
been influenced by Christ and his apostles, with whom he was contemporary.
Among his pedagogical teachings are:
1. “Who condemns quickly, condemns willingly; and who punishes too much, punishes
2. The office of education is to correct the evil tendencies in the child.
3. The character of each child must be studied, and each individual should be developed
according to his peculiarities.
4. Do not flatter the child, but teach him truthfulness, modesty, and respect form his
5. Take great care that the environment of the child is elevating, and allow only pure and
ennobling examples to be reflected before him.
6. Give the child but few studies, in order that he may be thorough and acquire right habits
7. The office of teachers is one of the most important of all offices(Seeley, 1904).
He was one of the renowned orator and teacher during Roman time. He taught that as
oratory was the climax of Roman education, should be given great attention.
Among his pedagogical teachings of greatest importance are:
1. There should be no corporal punishment, as punishment administered to slaves is not
suitable for children who are to be citizens.
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 15
2. Nurses must be irreproachable in life and language, so that children be not brought in
contact with anything impure.
3. Amusements should be turned to account as a means of education.
4. Teachers should be men of ability and of spotless character.
5. Children should begin early with a foreign tongue, as their own language will come to
them naturally in their intercourse with those about them.
6. Education should begin with the earliest childhood.
7. The forms and names of the letters should be learned simultaneously, playthings being
utilized to assist in this.
8. Care should be taken that children do not acquire distaste for learning.
9. In learning to read, advance very slowly.
10. Writing should begin with tracing, and the copies should consist of moral precepts.
11. The individuality of the child should be studied.
12. Public schools are preferable to other means of education, because they do not subject
the child to greater moral danger, while they stimulate him by association, friendship,
and example, to noble endeavor.
13. Under the literatus, grammar, composition, music, geometry, astronomy, and literature
are to be studied.
14. The climax of education should be rhetoric.
Table: Summary of the Development of Education from Primitive to Oriental Education
Period Aim of Education Learners Teaching
Curriculum Teachers Influence on
To teach survival skills
andto impart cultural
believes and practices
Children Informal, children
tribal culture and
To prepare elites to
govern the empire in
Males of upper
State officials Written examination
for civil service
To learn behavior and
rituals based on Vedas
Males of upper
To foster nationalism,
patriotism, and to
verses in the
To prepare for the life
of the soldier
listening to older
men’s stories of
songs and tactics
Military officers Concept of military
To nurture civic
poetry, but little
To develop civic
responsibility for the
MEM 501: HISTORY OF EDUCATION 16
and military skills rhetoric literatus
relate education to
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[Accessed 15 August 2013].
Seeley, L., 1904. History of Education. Revised ed. Chicago: American Book Company.
Wikipedia, 2013. China. [Online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China
[Accessed 15 Augusr1 2013].
Wikipedia, 2013. Greece. [Online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece
[Accessed 17 August 2013].
Wikipedia, 2013. India. [Online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INDIA
[Accessed 15 August1 2013].
Wikipedia, 2013. Jews. [Online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JEWS
[Accessed 15 August 2013].
Zulueta, F. M. & Malaya, E. M., 2012. Historical, Anthropological, Philosophical, Legal, Psychological,
Sociological Foundations of Education. Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore.