Education is Our History
Education is a part of human history since the very first moment. It has taken on various forms, however education is what has pushed civilizations forward and changed the course of history.
The education of young in the ways of survival was not only a tradition, but a necessity. Every generation passing their knowledge and skills onto the next to ensure the prosperity and continuation of a tribe or family.
About three thousand years ago, the written word was born. Hyroglyphics, Cuniform, Sandskrit were among the first languages used to record ideas and knowledge. The development of writing and reading created a new class of literate people as well as a new job, the scribe. Across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the tide of education was changing thanks to a piece of papyrus and a stylus.
As civilization advanced, so did the definition of education, giving way to great thinkers and teachers, such as Socrates. Socrates is still known as one of the greatest teachers to have ever lived. Nearly two and a half millennia later, his style of educating is revered and employed by professors. The dawn of higher education ushered in the value of thought. No longer was it considered enough to know how to survive, man had learned to thrive.
Over the next thousand years, formal education in schools began to take root as the private study and generational tutelage continued in the home. In the early middle ages, these cathedral schools led to the development of universities, coming from the Latin for universitas magistrorum et scholarium, a community of teachers and scholars.
Thinkers and motivated self-learners, gathered to discuss, ponder, and debate. Thought and written word collided to birth the greatest learning tool the world has ever known, the book! While books remained rare for centuries the ability to read became a hallmark of success in elite circles and ruling classes.
As the production of books became more readily available, the literacy rates exploded. Self education came to the masses. Families read together for entertainment and education. The art of forming letters in ink was taught by tutors and practiced regularly. Reading and writing became the building blocks of every education.
Literacy rates have continued to climb. “While only 12% of the people in the world could read and write in 1820, today the share has reversed: only 17% of the world population remains illiterate.” (source) The 19th century saw the ability to read become universal in the western world with near 100% literacy rates.
The thirst for knowledge and the premium placed on education led to the push for education for all and the advent of public schools. While the fight for education for all continues, significant progress has been made. Access to basic school supplies, uniforms, and books being the greatest hurdle for many who desire an education.
The face of education has changed drastically from family lessons of survival to socratic societies, medieval universities, and one room school houses to modern, computerized classrooms. Despite these changes in how we approach teaching, the essence of education is the same. The goal of every generation must still be passing on vital information, skills, and tools to inspire independent thinking, just as our early ancestors and Socrates did. Self education, literacy, and the art of writing are just as important now in our digital age as they were in the days of hand copied manuscripts.
Educational implements have changed but true and good education never will. It is the bridge from the past to an ever changing future bolstered by critical thinking, creativity, exploration, depth of knowledge, and quality literature. This is our past, this is our future, and we must never stop until every child has the opportunity to learn and dream.