Who Invented School?

People hate school. But many more love it. It’s been around providing an educational foundation for people. Whether academically inclined or trades (flooring and carpets) inclined, both lovers and haters of it probably wonder who created school. Or who started the idea of it?

Byzantines or Hellenists? There are some suggested answers on the Internet, but they are far from being accurate about who invented school in particular. Most of them point to the Byzantines. They were said to be the first people on earth to come up with the idea of a school system. These people continued the Roman Empire in the Middle Ages. They were heavily influenced by the Greeks, especially in language.

The Greeks were so dedicated in seeking knowledge. They had been known for this long before the Byzantines thought of a school system. Thus, some say they were the ones who invented school. But what Greeks had was a form of discipleship, not a school. There was an itinerant teacher with disciples. They travelled to places. They seldom met in permanent places. They conducted lectures in different locations and some local folks sometimes joined in to listen. There was no formality. So they were not the ones who started the idea of school. The Byzantines liked the Greek idea of teaching a following, but they preferred to have it in an enclosed permanent area and with a system. The Greek philosophers and their disciples talked about anything randomly under the sun. They often sought meaning in life. The Byzantines wanted more specific subjects dealt with at a time. Like Mathematics, Language, Philosophy, Religion, History, and the like. Thus, they’re considered the people who invented school.

Who’s Horace Mann? To give a specific name to answer who invented school, some mention Horace Mann. He was supposed to have started a school system. Mann was born in 1796 in Franklin Massachusetts. He was an outstanding college president and educator. He took Law at the Brown University. He taught Latin and Greek. He also became a librarian in the same university. As to his being the one who invented school, he did plan and start the normal school system in Bridgewater and Lexington, Massachusetts around 1837-1838. He also supported the idea of a Prussian education system. But these facts do not make him the man who started the idea of school because there were already a lot of schools established in his time.

Who’s Mr. Harry P. School? In 1369, a Mr. Harry P. School was said to start the idea of gathering naughty kids in the neighbourhood and locking them up in a building. The idea seemed good to the parents. Later they employed an adult to look after the kids. And some say that started it. Mr. School was who started the idea of a school, the very man who invented school.

Who invented schyool

The 1800s development of school

School development over the ages
This graph from www.ourworldindata.org/global-education shows the take-up of formal education in the UK from 1820s onwards. You can clearly see the late catch-up of India. India actually made huge gains in the last few decades of the 20th century.

Children often dislike going to school. The fact they go and obtain an education is usually due to their parents and to the law of the land.
Only later in life does some of the learning become useful. The range of subjects taught is aimed at developing an interest in pupils, so that they may choose to take their interest a stage further as they progress in through the educational system.
Those early days of struggling to learn a foreign language, for example, French, are rewarded later in life when you go to visit France and find you can say a few be understood, even if just a little.

It is this concept that early educators had in mind when they developed the concept of school.
Not only foreign language can be taught, but implanting something in a child’s mind can have a big impact when they set out to follow a career later in life.
It is not hard to see that the most developed countries today have a high rate of school attendance, as can be seen in this graph.

Here you can see later starters in child development such as India but also how they have caught up with leading nations.
You can take a look at the …. and enter any country of your choice to assess its educational standards.
The development of the school, unfortunately, followed the politics of the time.
So when, for example, the Byzantines established the teaching of maths and language, the system fell apart when their empire ended.
In an entirely different part of the world, the followers of Islam developed the concept of using a system to teach. Early teaching took place in mosques but the ideas were moved to dedicated teaching establishments called Madrassas.

Later the Ottomans took up the banner and pushed things forward by combining all teaching establishments whether that be mosques madrasas or hospitals, and made the system open to the general public. That is a concept not familiar to us today where we take schooling as a fundamental right of all children. But before this time education was only offered to the elite or to the military.

 Moving forward in history to the time of the industrial revolution, we find people moving into town centres to gain work. But one of the problems they faced was what to do with their children when they were at work.
We discover that Prussia was one of the first to develop a properly organised system of education for many subjects that were put in place.

For financial reasons, children were put to work at the earliest time possible. But if parents had a job at a factory, it would not be safe for their children to be with them, especially over long shifts. To handle this problem, the Russian emperor
Frederick the Great allowed the schooling of children to be paid for by local authorities. Subjects to be taught were the basics of reading, writing and religion. This early input into education laid the groundwork for 1810 when teacher training was formalized. Some of the aims of the new system were laid out.
Primary education was to be offered free of charge.
Teachers were to be awarded a basic salary
Money was to be made available for the building of schools.

Clearly, the system was a success because it was soon adopted in many other countries. A leading figure in the introduction of schooling to the United States was Horace Mann.
He took the trouble to visit Germany and find out for himself exactly how the system worked. On arriving back home he immediately set about lobbying to have a similar system set up in the U.S.
He went on to evolve and improve the system by introducing compulsory attendance and many different subjects.