How Education Approaches Changed Throughout History

Education Approaches Changed Throughout History

You might be asking yourself how come humanity started valuing intellectual independence and freedom of thought in education?

The answer is complicated. It was a long, hard road.

The education reality is different from what it was centuries ago.

Today, in most countries, it is supplied by the governing body to all children.

Teachers use technology to improve the quality of education and to make lessons more engaging.

Educators’ aim is no longer just to teach kids to read and write correctly, but also to develop their minds, build a personality with critical thinking skills, and prepare them for life.

Students become more inventive and have their assignments done online by cheap assignment writing services, which enables them to concentrate on other important stuff.

This article explores the main education approaches that have been used throughout the history of humankind.

Prehistoric period

Let’s go back all the way to the beginning. In the prehistoric times, when people lived in caves and haven’t invented writing yet, education was exclusively practical. It was a basic and isolated system. Children acquired the skills and knowledge needed to survive from their parents. Kids were taught to use tools, fishing and hunting, cultivating and gathering crops.

First known school

The first revolution in education happened in the Sumer civilization about 2000 BC, with the founding of the earliest schools. They taught children to write and count and covered more than just skills indispensable for survival. These schools were available for privileged classes only, so education was out of the question for commoners.


In ancient Greece, schools were an effective method of upbringing good citizens. The main idea was to raise people who were in harmony with their body, mind, and art. However, education was not available to everyone. Only affluent families could afford the full spectrum of schooling options. Also, possibilities varied depending on the child’s gender.

Even girls from wealthy families received informal education at home. They learned reading, writing, as well as cooking and running a household.

Boys were taught at home until they reached the age of 6. Then they went to a private school to study math, art, music, and physical training. Male children were also taught rhetorics to give persuasive speeches. An essential part of the educational process for boys was a military school called palaestra.

The development of physical abilities, along with intellectual and moral ones, were the key goals of education in ancient Greece. As for teaching methods, grammarians and citharists (these were teachers at schools) exercised memorizing and reciting poems of Aesop and Homer. Dancing, singing, and playing was also part of education.

There was a different approach in Sparta. Schools were separate for males and females. The purpose of education was to raise warriors. Boys entered a military school at six years old. Along with nursing the fighting spirit, young men learned reading and writing, but the latter was not that important. Those schools were rough, and the kids were frequently beaten.

Girls also went to school to become good warriors. Though their schools were not as brutal, all female children knew how to kill, wrestle, and handle a weapon. The Spartan people believed that a strong woman will give life to a strong baby and will be able to protect the city if all men left for war.

The Middle Ages

Education in the Dark Age was conducted by monks, priests, and bishops, making it a purely religious matter. Schooling was available for upper classes, while commoners rarely had a chance to acquire it. Since education was extremely costly, only 5% of people were literate in the 1330s.

Boys from wealthy families studied Latin, grammar, logic, rhetoric, philosophy, math, astronomy, and music. The majority of educational principles were based on beliefs and dogmas. Lessons started at sunrise and lasted till sunset, which means that students were at school for many hours. They listened to the teachers, read books, and copied texts. During a class, all the students gathered in one room and sat on the floor. Once a week, they set aside some time for debates. The Medieval schools were known for strict discipline. Students who made mistakes were birched.

Very few girls studied at schools. Even daughters of wealthy families were taught at home. They learned basic reading and writing skills, but the church restricted education for women. The teaching program was designed for a girl to become a great wife and a caring mother.

Artisans and merchants couldn’t afford to provide education for their children, so they taught kids their trade from a very young age.

The Renaissance and Enlightenment

This period is known for the rebirth of education. With the rise of humanism, the goal of schooling became creating a harmony of body, mind, and morality. Medieval educational dogmas were dispensed with in favor of works of Cicero, Virgil, and other great minds of ancient Greco-Roman times.

For the first time in history, students were split into different groups depending on the age or accomplishments. Latin remained the main subject, but the purpose of learning it changed. Firstly, it allowed for reading ancient writings and broadening students’ horizons, building a multi-faceted, balanced personality. Secondly, the purpose of a language is to speak and write clearly and persuasively. Its aim is to have an effect on people and improve communication. Along with Latin, students were studying greek, history, rhetoric, grammar, moral philosophy, and poetry. Schools were filled with kids from the upper-classes, but there was some room for poor children with talent.

Women were educated based on their needs. There were private female tutors who taught young girls dancing, embroidery, music, poetry, and history. These activities were the privilege of wealthy families. However, the first schools for young women were established in this historical period, so educational boundaries dictated by gender were on their way out. In the 18th century, the number of women in schools had significantly increased.

A turning point for education was the code of Frederick William II of Prussia. According to this code, schooling complied with the coordinated academic system, and all children, regardless of social class, had to go through primary schools to get a fundamental educational background.

The Present Day

A lot has changed since the end of the 18th century. And it keeps on changing every year. Nowadays, modern teachers use computers, the internet, and social media as powerful educational tools. Approaches to teaching are becoming more student-oriented. Classroom activities are engaging and flexible, allowing for collaborative studying and adapting to the specific demands and learning pace of each student. Modern education aims to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to be an effective problem-solver in all spheres of life.

The number of disciplines has increased from basic mathematics and grammar to sciences and arts. In many countries, students are free to pick the subjects they like.


Society changes, and people require new approaches to educating their kids. From teaching children how to survive and find harmony between the mind, body, and soul to building a strong, well-rounded, moral personality, education approaches should always accommodate the needs of humankind.


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