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1. As long as we live we continue to learn, and the education we receive when we are young helps us to continue learning. We are taught to read and write, and are taught many of the essential facts about the world and shown how to sort them out' so that later in life, we shall be able to find out things ourselves and not to ask other people.
The first teachers were fathers and mothers, but very early in the history of man children began to be taught by people other than their fathers and mothers. It is thought that schools first started in Egypt 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, and that it was the invention of writing which made them necessary. Reading and writing were quite different from the skills used in everyday life, and writing made it possible to store up knowledge which grew with each generation. Specially trained people were therefore needed to teach it.
2. Only the sons of nobles attended the first Egyptian schools, which taught reading, physical education and good behaviour. In ancient India the priestly caste decided what should be taught to each of the four castes, or groups, into which people were divided.
Only the priestly caste was allowed to learn the Hindu scriptures. In China, until the 19th century, education was organized according to social classes, and consisted largely of learning the scriptures by heart,
3. A clear example of the way in which even neighbouring peoples produce different types of education comes from ancient Greece. Sparta and Athens were two Greek states. The Spartans, hard and warlike people, gave a purely military education to their children. At the age of seven all boys of noble families were taken from their homes and sent to live in schools. They were kept under a very strict discipline and were taught hunting, military scouting, swimming and the use of weapons. The Spartans despised literature, and some people think they could not even read.
At the very same time, also for the nobles only, the Athenians were building what we call a liberal education - one that helps a man to develop all sides of his nature, helps him to make and appreciate beautiful things and helps him to find the best way of life They thought it important to educate the body as well as the mind, and had a programme of physical training which consisted of running, jumping, wrestling and throwing the discus. As time went on Athenian education paid special attention to reading, writing and literature and these were taught by a special teacher, known as the "grammatist". Common people were not educated, they were trained in craftsmanship, workmanship, trades.
Greek philosophers, or thinkers, always discussed what education should try to do and what it should include. Plato wrote a book called The Republic, which is one of the best books ever written on education, and since those days Greek ideas have influenced European education, especially secondary and university education.
4. The Romans were very good at organizing, and they were the first people to have schools run by the government free of charge. Throughout their great empire there was a network of these schools which provided for three stages of education.
At six or seven all boys (and some girls) went to the primary school, where they learned “three R's”: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Most children were not taught more than this, but at 12 or 13, boys of the rich families went on to the "grammar" school to study the Greek and Latin languages and literatures, that is, what had
been written in those languages. At 16, young nobles who wanted to enter politics or the service of their country went to the schools of rhetoric to be trained in rhetoric, or public speaking.
5. In Great Britain the first teachers we read about were craftsmen. They taught children to read, write and count, to cook and mend their own shoes. In the early 19th century the main system of teaching was the "Monitor" system. The teacher could manage a class of 100 or more by using older pupils or "monitors" to help him. The schools had long desks which were sometimes arranged in tiers so that the teacher could see every child in a large class.
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