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Education in the 17th Century

The vast majority of schools remained in a state of stagnation during the 17th and
18th centuries. By and large, the teachers were incompetent and the discipline
cruel. The learning methods were drill and memorization of words, sentences, and
facts that the children often did not understand. Most members of the lower classes
got no schooling whatsoever, and what some did get was at the hands of teachers
who often were themselves barely educated.
In the secondary Latin grammar schools and the universities the linguistic
narrowness and otherworldliness of classical studies persisted. By the 17th century
the study of Latin removed students even farther from real life than it had in the
16th, because Latin had ceased to be the language of commerce or the exclusive
language of religion. In the 17th century it also slowly ceased to be even the
exclusive language of scholarly discourse. Yet most humanist schools made no
provision for studying the vernacular and clung to Latin because it was thought to
"train" the mind. The scientific movement--with its skeptical, inquiring spirit--that
began to permeate the Western world in the 17th century was successfully barred
from both the Catholic and Protestant schools, which continued to emphasize
classical linguistic studies.

John (Johann) Amos Comenius (1592-1670)

Father of Modern Education
Effective education
'Orbis Pictus(The World in Pictures)
--the first--and for a long time the only--textbook in the
Western world that had illustrations for children to look at.

17th Century Philosopher

John Locke (1632-1704)

"Father ofLiberalism
knowledge is power
tabula rasa

Expansion of Curriculum
Printing press allowed the expansion of printed materials including textbooks. If
knowledge is power, then the printing press helped give power to the people. The
printing press of the 17th century was a less expensive type-face that reduced the

cost o fproduction. It not only resulted in a variety of printed material but preceded
the Civil War in England (Griscom). This knowledge gave the people power to
question their own government and publication laws were relaxed. This new found
freedom allowed
the printing of more material and resulted in many more textbooks during the later
17th century, the New England Primer being one of them.

Education Acts
The expansion of curriculum and educational sources did not stop at textbooks; the
Education Acts of the 1600s were a large marker of education. The Acts required
that a school be established and a suitable teacher found for each area, and later
required a schoolhouse and wages for that teacher. Mathematics also became a
large part of education during the 17th century and had such advocates as Isaac
Watts and Philip Dodderidge and was taught at universities such as Cambridge and
Oxford. Watts believed that mathematics should have a place in the curriculum
(OConner). It seems that the educators of the 17th century fought for textbooks
and mathematics the way educators of today fight for computers and technology in
each classroom.

The 17th century was a time of individuals striving for more knowledge, and all with
the belief that with this gain of knowledge meant power: power of mind, power of
self, power of country. As teachers, this is the power we wish to give to our
students, the power of knowledge. To teach students to use their senses in
searching out the interesting simple ideas, allowing those ideas to grow into
complex ideas, and going on to higher forms of education wishing only for more
learning. The uses of markers such as: the picture textbook, the printing press, the
laws of Education, and the establishment of higher learning led the 17th century
into a reform of education. Let us hope that we strive to secure markers in order to
allow our students to gain power through knowledge the way the reformers of the
17th century did.

Prepared by: Ms. Scarlet S.

Dr. Tavarro