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Why Do We Have to Go to School?
August 8 2017
Mr. Beat presents a brief history of school, starting with the question: “Why do we have to go to school?” and then narrowing to the focus of school as an institution, especially as a public and mandatory institution. Want a specific history topic covered? Your idea gets picked when you donate on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/iammrbeat Mr. Beat's band: http://electricneedleroom.net/ Mr. Beat on Twitter: https://twitter.com/beatmastermatt Check out the Edu Tuber playlist celebrating education! Produced by Matt Beat. Music by Matt Beat (Electric Needle Room). All images found in the public domain or used under fair use guidelines. Sources: http://data.uis.unesco.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=EDULIT_DS&popupcustomise=true&lang=en# https://qz.com/708139/the-worlds-oldest-university-and-library-in-morocco-founded-and-restored-by-two-women/ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200808/brief-history-education http://education.findlaw.com/education-options/compulsory-education-laws-background.html https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2012/09/17/africas-education-crisis-in-school-but-not-learning/ Market Education: The Unknown History by Andrew Coulson Traditions & Encounters a Global Perspective on the Past. by Jerry Bentley Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century. R.W. Southern n the beginning, for hundreds of thousands of years, we didn’t go to school. During the hunter gatherer days, when humans just gathered wild plants or chased wild animals, that’s pretty much the main thing we did, and we learned it at a very young age. At that time, children learned to be good members of their tribe, or clan. Around 3500 BCE, civilizations around the world began to develop writing systems, making it easier to teach others stuff so they would, what’s the word, uh...forget? Yeah, forget. (I should write that down) Formal schools, usually revolving around some kind of written language, popped up in places like ancient Greece, ancient India, ancient China, and ancient Rome. But usually only certain people had access to these schools, and those were the Three Rs: The Rich, The Religious Leaders, and The Royalty. Other than, you pretty much just starting working when you were three, and worked your butt off until you died a few years later. There were exceptions, of course. In the city-states of ancient Greece, anyone could open a school, and even the poor could sometimes afford to send their sons to school. Notice how I said “sons.” Yeah, girls rarely went to school. And the schools were not mandated by the government. It was voluntary, although a dude named Plato, kind of a big deal, first popularized the idea of making education mandatory in his book the Republic. The first universities popped up during the early Middle Ages. Students there studied specialized in one thing. Usually the arts, law, medicine, and of course, theology. It was during this time that the University of Bologna was established. That university, in modern day Italy, was founded in 1088 and still exists, still kicking butt today. But that ain’t got nothing on The University of al-Qarawiyyin, which opened in 859. It’s the oldest existing educational institution in the world and it’s also still kicking butt today. In Europe, most universities, and schools, for that matter, were Christian. In 1179, the Catholic Church gave free education for the poor. Well I mean, poor boys, not girls. Universities would spread throughout the entire world during the Middle Ages. The most important leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, called for mandatory education. Across the ocean, in modern day Mexico, the Aztecs already had mandatory education for every child. While the poor there did not go to the same schools as the rich, they still had the opportunity. And girls could go to school, too. The first country to kind of do this in Europe was Scotland. Its government passed the School Establishment Act 1616, in 1616, which forced all kids there to go to public, church-supervised, schools. During a period known as the Enlightenment, schools all of sudden were cool. One person I should probably mention from this time was John Amos Comenius. Comenius, who came to prominence in the 1600s in central Europe, promoted the ideas that everyone deserved an education, regardless of how much money they had. This included women. He also looked for ways to make instruction more universal and practical. The New England colonies in North America were ahead of the curve regarding public education. Sure, public schools, schools for everyone in a society and also paid for by everyone in that society, had existed here and there before, but in New England in the 1600s they were all over the place. The first taxpayer supported public school, the Mather School, opened in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1639. In 1647, Massachusetts passed a law basically forcing most kids to go to school in their colony.