In Mesopotamia, the early logographic system of cu-neiform script took many years to master; thus, fewwere hired as scribes to be trained in its reading andwriting. Only royal offspring and sons of the rich andprofessionals such as scribes, physicians, and templeadministrators, were schooled. The other boys weretaught to trade, the other girls were left home forhousekeeping and cooking.When a syllabic script became more widespread,many of the population became literate. Later still inBabylonian times, there were libraries in most townsand temples, from which arose a whole social class of scribes, mostly employed in agriculture.In ancient Egypt, literacy was concentrated amongand educated elite of scribes. Only people from cer-tain backgrounds were allowed to train to becamescribes, in the service of temple, pharaonic, and mili-tary authorities. The hieroglyph system was always
difficult to learn, preserving the scribes’ status. The
rate of literacy in Pharaonic Egypt during most peri-ods from 3rd to 1st millennium BC has been estimat-ed at not more than one percent.In ancient Israel, high priests caused schools to beopened to be able to read, learn, teach, and write theTorah, the fundamental religious text. Emphasiswas given on developing good memory skills in addi-tion to comprehensive oral repetition. Despite thisschooling system, the literacy rate was reportedabout three percent, most children of which were notable to write even their own name.
teachig based on one’ gender and social status
In ancient India, during the Vedic period from aboutto 1500 BC to 600 BC, most education was based onthe Veda: hymns, formulas, and incantations, recitedor chanted by priests of a pre-Hindu tradition, andlater Hindu texts and scriptures. Education, at firstfreely available in Vedic society, became over timemore discriminatory as the caste system , originallybased on occupation evolved, with the
(priests) being the most privileged of the castes.The oldest of the Upanishads, another part of theHindu scriptures, encouraged an exploratory learn-ing process where teachers and students were co-travellers in a search for truth. The teaching meth-ods used reasoning and questioning; however, noth-ing was labelled as the final answer.The Gurukul system of education supported tradi-tional Hindu residential schools of learning; typically
the teacher’s house or a monastery. Education was
free, but students from well-to-do families paid
“Gurudakshina,” a voluntary contribution after the
completion of their studies. At the Gurukuls, theteachers imparted knowledge of religion, scriptures,philosophy, literature, warfare, statecraft, medicine,astrology, and history. The corpus of Sanskrit litera-ture encompasses a rich tradition of poetry and dra-ma as well as technical scientific, philosophical, andgenerally Hindu religious texts, though many centraltexts of Buddhism and Jainism have also been com-posed in Sanskrit.
One of the most learned men of all time, Confucius became the first private teacher in history. Born of a oncenoble family fallen on a hard time of the state, he strived as an adolescent for knowledge for nowhere was he
allowed for education; all the teachers were government officials and there was no way around the State’s poli-
cy. Within his perseverance to learn and to teach, people sought him out to have their sons taught.During the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC), there five national schools in the capital city for the aristocratsand nobility. The schools mainly taught the Six Arts: rites, music, archery, charioteering, calligraphy, andmathematics. According to the Book of Rituals, at age twelve, boys learned arts related to ritual music anddance and when older, archery and chariot driving. Girls learned ritual, correct deportment, silk productionand weaving.During the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 221 AD), boys were taught at age seven reading, writing and calculation.In 124 BC, Emperor Wudi established Imperial Academy, the curriculum of which was Five Classics of Confu-
cius. Later during the Ch’in Dynasty (246
-207 BC), a hierarchy of officials was set up to provide central controlover the outlying areas of the empire. TO enter this hierarchy, both literacy and knowledge of the increasingbody of philosophy were required.