When Did Schools Start?
Nobody just knows when the first schools appeared. But in Egypt and in China and some other countries, schools were in existence more than 6,000 years ago! The first schools appeared with the invention of writing.
Young men, studying to become priests and scribes in ancient Babylonia, India and Egypt, copied their lessons on clay tablets, papyrus, stone or sand.
In almost all the cases, the first schools tried to make sure that nothing would change in their society. Only the rich and privileged people went to school. They were taught to preserve everything just as it was. No originality was tolerated.
Even in ancient Greece, which developed many fine ideals of education, the schools were for the sons of full citizens, while slaves, “barbarians,” and others weren’t considered fit for education.
During the 400s and 300s B.C., Greek children went to “grammar” school, where they were taught the “art of letters.” Few children in colonial America learned more than the essentials of reading, writing and arithmetic. By the end of the last century, almost every American town had established free public schools.
During the 15th and the 16th centuries, two events occurred that enabled a greater number of people to go to school than ever before. One was the invention of printing. Now books became cheaper and more people could obtain them. The other event was the start of the Protestant movement.
The protestant church started schools in order to spread its beliefs to more people and win them over. Gradually the idea spread that schools not only should be available for everyone, but that the government should provide education free to its people.