History of Education
by Levi Seeley
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From seven to thirteen intellectual as well as physical activity is required.

The special education begins at twenty by the selection of the most promising youths. At thirty another selection of those able to continue their education five years more is made.

Higher mathematics, astronomy, harmony, and science constitute the work of the first ten years, and philosophical study that of the last five. Fifteen years then are to be given to the service of the State, after which, at fifty, the student may return to the study of philosophy for the remainder of his life.

Education is to be compulsory, as the child belongs to the State and not to the parent.

Plato gave predominance to intellectual rather than to physical culture, as he said, "If the mind be educated it will take care of the body, for the good soul improves the body, and not the good body the soul."

He taught that it is the aim of education to bring all of the powers of man into harmonious cooeperation.

It will thus be seen that Plato's scheme of education centers around the oriental idea that man belongs to the State, and the main purpose of education is to fit him to serve the State. And Plato clearly set forth how the education which he demanded should be attained, and therefore he is to be remembered as originating the first systematic scheme of education in history.

ARISTOTLE (B.C. 384-322)[17]

Aristotle was born in Stagira in Macedonia, and from this fact he is called the Stagirite. For twenty years he was a pupil of Plato, as Plato had been of Socrates. Aristotle was not only one of the greatest philosophers that ever lived, but he enjoyed the distinction of being the teacher and chosen counselor of Alexander the Great. Much of the greatness of the man who conquered the world and "wept because there were no more worlds to conquer" was due to his wise teacher. Alexander loved and revered Aristotle as much as his father, declaring "that he was indebted to the one for living, and to the other for living well." He assisted Aristotle in founding a school at his native place, Stagira.

It is not simply as the teacher of Alexander the Great that Aristotle is to be remembered in the history of education, though that would entitle him to lasting fame. After the education of Alexander was finished, Aristotle went to Athens, where he founded the Lyceum. Here he lectured for many years, in the morning to his riper pupils on philosophical subjects, and in the evening to the masses on such topics as were within their comprehension and as would tend to elevate them.

His pedagogy may be briefly outlined as follows:—

1. Education is a lifelong task, beginning at birth and continuing till death. The first seven years are to be spent in the home under the fostering care of the parents. During this period the child is to have no severe tasks, but chief attention is to be given to physical development. He must learn obedience, as the first step to an ethical life. His food and clothing are to be simple, and his toys and games of a character to stimulate wholesome activity. At the age of seven he is to enter upon the direct intellectual training, and nothing must interfere with this during the next seven years. From fourteen to twenty-one the education is to include such exercises as directly prepare for life. The diet is to be simple, the physical training severe, for the double purpose of counteracting the tendencies of the adolescent period, and of preparing for war.

2. Education includes the development of the body, the character, and the intellect. Courage, endurance, self-denial, temperance, truthfulness, and justice are essential characteristics to be sought. The purpose of instruction is to develop the imperfect, untrained child into the well-rounded, intelligent, and patriotic citizen.

3. The course of study, which begins seriously after the seventh year, includes music, gymnastics, drawing, grammar, rhetoric, and mathematics. Later, dialectics, philosophy, and political science are to be added.

4. Woman is to have part in education that she may properly train her children, and may, by an intelligent understanding of the laws, uphold the State.

5. Aristotle considered education as the most important and most difficult of all problems. He based his pedagogy upon a knowledge of the individual.

6. His method was the analytical. He began with things and advanced from the concrete to the abstract.

The foregoing will show that Aristotle began the study of problems that still occupy the minds of educational thinkers, after more than twenty-two centuries of search for the truth. Some of the problems he discussed have found their solution, and the seed sown by the great thinker has come to fruitage. Karl Schmidt says, "Aristotle is the intellectual Alexander. Rich in experience and profound in speculation, he penetrates all parts of the universe and seeks to reduce all realities to concepts. He is the most profound and comprehensive thinker of the pre-Christian world,—the Hegel of classical antiquity,—because, like Hegel, he seeks to unify all knowledge, brings together the scattered materials of the present into one system, constructs in a wonderful intellectual temple the psychical and physical Cosmos, the universe and God, proclaims the destruction of an earlier culture epoch, and sets in motion waves in the ocean of history that are destined to influence the intellectual life of all centuries to come.... Aristotle stands for the highest intellectual summit of antiquity,—the bridge which binds the Grecian to the modern world,—the philosophical mouthpiece and the intellectual master of twenty centuries."


[17] Brother Azarias, "Essays Philosophical."



Literature.—(See general literature for Greece.) Sankey, Spartan and Theban Supremacies; Smith, History of Greece; Plutarch's Lives; Mombert, Great Lives; Spofford, Library of Historical Characters.

History.—Sparta was the capital of Laconia, the southern province of Greece. Its inhabitants consisted of:—

1. Citizens, composed of nine thousand families of nobles, who ruled the other classes.

2. Perioeci,[18] composed of thirty thousand families of freemen who lived in the territory surrounding Sparta, but who were subject to the nobles.

3. Helots,[19] about three hundred thousand in number, who were slaves.

The Perioeci and the helots, with the love of freedom characteristic among the Greeks, chafed under their yoke of subjugation, and eagerly watched for opportunities for revolt. Only by an exercise of superior force could the nobles maintain their supremacy, and they were obliged to seek by martial training the strength they lacked in numbers. Hence the education of the Spartan youth was of necessity military, and every citizen was trained to become a warrior.

The Spartans were dignified, austere, and of few words, "laconic" in speech. The young were expected to be silent in the presence of their elders except when addressed. They were taught to give way to their seniors, especially to old men, whenever they met upon the street or in a public place.

The Home.—The child was left in charge of the mother until six or seven years of age. Toys inciting to warlike sports were provided, and childhood was made happy. The father usually superintended the child's training, but sometimes an aged relative assumed the responsibility. The treatment was humane and intelligent. From the first the child was taught implicit obedience and modesty.

The Iliad and the Odyssey have been called the Bible of the Greeks, and children early learned extracts from the works of the great poet, Homer. The Spartan mother was highly respected by her husband and her children, and she was noted for her chastity and nobility of character. She entered fully into the Spartan idea, and cheerfully gave her sons to her country, while she often inspired them to deeds of bravery and patriotism. The lofty and self-sacrificing patriotism of the Spartan mother is illustrated by her words upon sending her son to battle,—"Return either with your shield or on it!"

It is said that weak and unpromising children were either killed as soon as they were born, or abandoned to the wild beasts upon the mountains. This was because the State would assume the training only of strong children, such as were likely to make good soldiers. It is probable that many of these abandoned children were rescued and reared by the lower classes, which would partially account for the fierce resistance so often offered by these classes to those who deprived them of liberty. If such an inhuman practice had been encouraged by other nations of the world, many of the greatest benefactors of the race would have been consigned to an untimely death, for some of the noblest men that have ever lived were weak in infancy.

Education.—At six or seven the boy was taken from the home, and the State had entire jurisdiction over his education. The boys were placed in groups in charge of young men who were responsible for their education, which was almost wholly physical. They lived on very simple food, and were often obliged to appease hunger by theft. They were taught that crime did not lie in the commission of the offense, but in its detection. Their dress from seven to twelve consisted of a long coat of very coarse material, the same for summer and winter. They were taught to bear blows without a murmur, and instances are related of boys being whipped to death without crying out.

Children sat at table with older men and listened to their conversation, but they were never allowed to speak except in answer to questions. Thus they absorbed wisdom and were incited to deeds of bravery by the stories of heroism related by their seniors.

The State furnished barracks poorly provided with the comforts of life, in which the boys slept in severe weather; at other times they slept in the open air. They were wholly separated from their homes, and completely under control of the State. The purpose was to secure strong, beautiful, and supple bodies, inured to hardship, as a preparation for the life of the soldier. The only intellectual education was music, which consisted in playing the lyre as an accompaniment to the dance. Reading and writing were despised as being fit only for slaves.

At the age of twelve the boy exchanged the long coat for the mantle, thereby entering upon manhood. From this time until the age of thirty, much the same form of training was continued, though it became more definitely military. At thirty the Spartan youth became a citizen and was expected to marry. Girls also received gymnastic training, in many cases with the boys. The purpose of this was to develop strong and beautiful wives and mothers. The effect of this coeducation of the sexes was in the highest degree salutary, impurity among women being unknown in Sparta. We have already noted the patriotism of the Spartan mother. Woman was highly esteemed in the home. Her praises and her reproofs were alike respected, and all her opinions bore much weight.

Criticism of Spartan Education.—1. It produced men and women of beautiful physique.

2. It inculcated obedience, politeness, modesty, sobriety, respect for the aged, courage, and patriotism.

3. It checked luxury and extravagance.

4. On the other hand, it gave little attention to intellectual training, hence it produced few men of lasting fame.

5. Its aim was martial supremacy, and this attained, the State fell into a hasty decline because of the instability of such a foundation.

6. It excluded a large part of the inhabitants from its benefits, only the nobles being included.

7. It was selfish because it trained for Sparta and not for Greece, or for humanity.

8. It taught the duty of man to the State, and not the duty of man to man.

9. It took boys at an early age away from the influences of home, thus robbing the parents of the sacred prerogative of directing the education of their offspring.

10. It produced men cruel in battle and revengeful in victory, men incapable of cultivating the arts of peace.


There is so much that is mythical and uncertain concerning Lycurgus that many have doubted whether he ever lived. Curtius, however, says, "There really lived in the ninth century B.C. a legislator of the name of Lycurgus." Lycurgus formed the constitution which gave Sparta its peculiar institutions, and which established its place in history. His laws were intended to check luxury and to inculcate the simplest habits. Some of his important laws led to the introduction of the following customs:—

1. All the men ate at common tables, fifteen at a table.

2. Children sat at these tables, but were required to maintain silence save when addressed. They were not allowed to ask for food. The object was to teach them good manners, to inculcate implicit obedience, and to impart to them the wisdom of the Spartan fathers.

3. The food was of the simplest kind.

4. Sparta was divided into nine thousand parts, a part for each of the nine thousand citizens, or noble families. The provinces under Spartan rule were divided into thirty thousand parts, a part for each Perioeci family.

5. Iron was made the only money, so that the people could not become rich; for its great weight rendered burdensome the possession of a considerable amount.

6. All children belonged to the State, to which only soldiers were valuable, therefore weak or deformed children were cast out. Marriage was also controlled by the State.

Lycurgus exerted a great influence upon Sparta, and his laws were responsible for her peculiar political system and her resulting greatness.


Pythagoras, though not a Spartan, is associated with southern Greece. Little is known of his early life. He was born on the island of Samos, about B.C. 582. He was familiar with the Ionic philosophy, and probably visited Egypt for study, a custom common among scholars of that time. Such a visit would in part explain his knowledge of mathematics, as the Egyptians had long been masters in that science. One of his teachers was Thales, the father of philosophy. The fundamental thought of the Pythagorean philosophy was the idea of proportion and harmony.

"Through number alone, the quantitative relations of things, extension, magnitude, figure (triangular, quadrangular, cubic), combination, distance, etc., obtain their peculiar character; the forms and proportions of things can all be reduced to number. Therefore, it was concluded, since without form and proportion nothing can exist, number must be the principle of things themselves, as well as the order in which they manifest themselves in the world." (Schwegler's "History of Philosophy.")

While mathematics was the central idea of his system, medicine, physics, and philosophy were also taught in his school. He did the world great service in the discovery of the so-called Pythagorean theorem in geometry, that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.


[18] The Perioeci (dwellers around) were the older population of the land, who inhabited the mountains and hillsides about Sparta. They were farmers, and they also worked the mines and quarries, manufactured articles for the Spartan market, and carried on the commerce. Though freemen, they were allowed no part in the government, could not bear arms, and had to pay tribute to Sparta.

[19] The Helots were probably peasants who occupied the land about Helos, and, defeated in war, became Spartan subjects. They could not be sold or given away, but belonged to the inventory of the farm.



Literature.Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire; Bury, The Roman Empire; Church, Pictures from Roman Life and Story; Clarke, Ten Great Religions; Gibbon, Decline and Fall of Roman Empire; Lord, Beacon Lights; Capes, Roman Empire; Merivale, History of the Romans; Shumway, A Day in Ancient Rome; Mommsen, History of Rome; Liddell, History of Rome; Ploetz, Epitome of Universal History; Gilman, Story of Rome; Collins, Ancient Classics; Monroe, Source Book of the History of Education.

The Age of Augustus.—The history of Rome covers a period of a thousand years. From the little village on the Palatine Hill Rome grew to be the mightiest empire of the world. The "Age of Augustus" represents not only the summit of military glory, but also the highest civilization, and the noblest ideals of the Roman people. It was the age of Vergil, Horace, Ovid, Livy, and Seneca. Rome was at peace with the world, and therefore had time to devote to art, literature, and other intellectual pursuits. It was during this period that Christ was born.

Like Sparta, Rome for a long time maintained her supremacy by force of arms, and therefore encouraged physical education. But when she became mistress of the world, and came in contact with the culture of the Greeks, she began to feel the need of an intellectual and aesthetic development. Accordingly it became the fashion to study Greek, to bring teachers from Athens to Rome, and to send young men to Athens to study. The Roman Empire was therefore the medium through which Grecian culture was transmitted to the western world, and during the Augustan Age the center of learning was transferred from Athens to Rome.

Gibbon says, "The first seven centuries were filled with a rapid succession of triumphs; but it was reserved for Augustus to relinquish the ambitious design of subduing the whole earth, and to introduce a spirit of moderation into the public councils."[20] The Augustan Age shows Rome at her best, and a study of the educational system at that time will be most fruitful for the student of pedagogy.

Geography and History.—We have seen that Rome began with a small territory in the center of Italy, and that province after province was added, until in the time of Augustus she ruled the world. Italy, the center of the empire, has a diversified surface, a mild climate, and a fertile soil. In the time of Augustus, the Roman Empire embraced all of the border of the Mediterranean, extended as far north as the North Sea, as far east as the Euphrates, as far south as the Sahara, and west to the Atlantic. With the great Mediterranean entirely under its control, including the seas, bays, and rivers tributary to it; with its rich territories; and with its vast population, which represented most of the enterprise and civilization of the world,—this great empire possessed wonderful advantages for the spread of Christianity, for the dissemination of intelligence, and for the improvement of the human race.

The government of the Romans was generally some form of republic, the people always being jealous of their rights. Their religion took on gross forms of idolatry, for they readily adopted and worshiped the gods of the Grecians, Egyptians, and other conquered peoples. Temples to Faith, Hope, Concord, and other virtues were erected and maintained. The Romans were very superstitious. These facts have a bearing upon Christian education, and will explain some of the chief difficulties which it had to encounter.

The Home.—While in Athens the father had charge of the education of the boy in his early years, in Rome that duty devolved almost entirely upon the mother. In early Roman history the matron was celebrated for her virtues—fidelity to her husband, love for her children, and queenly guardianship of the sacred precincts of the home. The name of the Roman matron became a synonym of all that is noble, wifely, and motherly in the home. Without doubt the character had sadly deteriorated at the period of which we write, but there still remained with many the lofty ideals which had been fostered in earlier times.

The husband was the head of the house, but to the wife was committed the care of the children and their instruction for the first six or seven years of their lives. She taught them strict obedience and politeness, and instructed them in the "Twelve Tables of Roman Law."[21]

The mother also took great pains to teach her children correct pronunciation. She taught them their letters, first the name and then the form, a practice which is pedagogically false, as Quintilian pointed out. She also taught them poems from the great masters. In taking pains with pronunciation she prepared the way for later training in oratory, which was the most important study in Roman education.

Only when Rome had begun to decay did mothers commit the training of their children to nurses and slaves. When Rome was at her best, the child grew up in an atmosphere of love under direct care of the mother, who shaped his morals and guided his religious life as well as his early mental development. Around the mother centered all that was ennobling and elevating in the first seven years of the child's life. The father had but little to do with this period, and did not interfere with the mother's work. His duty lay in public life; hers lay within the home, and well did she meet her responsibilities until the time of her debasement with all the other elements of Roman society.

Elementary Education.—At six or seven years of age the child was sent to school in charge of a slave, who carried his books and protected him from harm. This was in imitation of the practice in Athens, where the pedagogue performed a like office. But the duties of the Roman slave do not seem to have been as responsible as those of the Athenian pedagogue. As we have seen, in Rome the mothers looked after the morals of their children with great care, and the attendant of the child to school was regarded as but little else than a servant. In some of the wealthier and more aristocratic families, however, in addition to the slave who performed the menial duties mentioned, there was also a pedagogue who attended the youth to school and to the theater, superintended his games, and, in short, accompanied him wherever he went. This pedagogue was intrusted with full power to discipline and to direct the morals of his charge. In some cases several boys were placed in the care of the same pedagogue. On the other hand, it often happened that a boy had a whole retinue of slaves, each having his special duty to perform.

The schools were in charge of literators, usually men of little culture and no social standing. These institutions were public, though supported by private means. The discipline was severe, strict obedience being exacted by the teacher, who made use of the rod when he thought it necessary. The subjects taught were reading, writing, and arithmetic. Great care was taken with pronunciation, just as had been done in the early years under the mother's instruction. In writing, the characters were traced with the stylus on waxed tablets. Arithmetic was learned for its utility. Indeed, the whole purpose of the schools was to prepare the children for practical life. The easier poets were read, explained, and committed to memory, not so much for their content as to fit youth for public speaking. Obedience, politeness, modesty, cleanliness, and respect for teachers were virtues insisted upon. These schools, which covered the instruction of children from five to twelve years of age, did not, as already intimated, reach the very highest classes, who preferred to employ private tutors.

Secondary Education.—At twelve the boy entered a school taught by an educated man, called literatus. Many of the teachers of this class were Greeks. Here, in addition to the studies of the elementary school, the pupils were taught the Greek and Latin languages; and the poets, history, oratory, philosophy, and criticism were also studied. The school of the literatus was much better than that of the literator, but it reached only a limited number of the Roman youth.

Higher Education.—Upon entering his sixteenth year, the boy was inducted with ceremony into the dignity of manhood, and was clothed with the toga virilis, the dress of men. He now chose his calling and began definite preparation for it. Five vocations were open to him,—namely, oratory, politics, arms, law, and agriculture. Those without talent or inclination for any of the others devoted themselves to agriculture. They were taken to the farms, where they received definite instruction in the principles and practices of this occupation. To those who chose oratory, politics, or law, were assigned persons experienced in their respective fields, and the boys were taken to the forum, the senate, and other places where they could hear renowned orators and become familiar with public life. They had also definite instruction in their chosen branch. Those who entered the army were placed in charge of military officers, who taught them military tactics and the practical duties of life in camp. These learners also gave attention to oratory and other intellectual studies.

It will thus appear that in their schools, as in life, the Romans were thoroughly practical. Each boy was carefully prepared for the life which he had chosen, by being inducted into it during his school course. Cicero asked the question, "What have we to learn?" and answered it, "To honor and strengthen the State, in order that we may become the rulers of the world." Roman parents demanded that their children should be trained in the practical duties of life, in order that they might know how to become rich. Therefore all training for children was in this direction.

While this in general was the purpose of education, the Romans had their ideal of what an educated man should be, and that ideal found its expression in the name of orator. He who was the best orator was the best educated man. The schools, however, were for boys, little account being taken of the education of girls except in household duties. Still, women were more respected, and had wider privileges than they had before enjoyed. Most of the wealthy citizens employed Greek tutors for their sons, and sought to ape Grecian manners and culture. Education was completed by study in Athens and by travel—advantages within reach only of the very wealthy.

Criticism of Roman Education.—1. It took great care to instill respect for law and obedience to parental and civil authority.

2. It honored the home and taught respect for the mother. In this, Rome took a great step in advance over many nations of antiquity.

3. It was not a State institution, and therefore could not offer equal advantages to all.

4. Its end was to prepare the youth for practical life and to fit him for the acquirement of wealth, rather than for the development of all the human powers.

5. It was superficial, and sought to apply Greek culture to Roman conditions and character.

6. It did not take a strong hold upon the Roman people so as to shape the course of the nation.

7. It ignored the claims of the masses, including women, to equal education and equal rights.


[20] "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," Vol. I, p. 2.

[21] The "Twelve Tables" were formulated about B.C. 450. They constituted the code of written law, and were written or engraved on tables of wood. They settled usages long in practice, but never before written, defining the rights of plebeians and patricians. They were agreed to only after ten years of dispute and mutual concession. They resembled Solon's laws, owing, doubtless, to the commission which was sent to Greece to study the laws of that country. These tables were destroyed when the Gauls sacked Rome (B.C. 390), but their contents had been widely committed to memory, and were handed down from generation to generation. The mothers saw to it that these laws were early taught to their children, who thus came to venerate them and to have respect for authority.



Literature.—(See Literature, Chapter XI.) Forsyth, Life of Cicero; Spofford, Library of Historical Characters; Watson, Quintilian's Institutes (Pedagogy, in Bks. I & II).

CICERO[22] (B.C. 106-43)

Cicero was born B.C. 106, of noble parents. As a boy he had the advantage of the best schools and teachers that Rome could furnish. Later he studied at Athens, under the greatest Greek masters, and became proficient in the Greek language. According to the common practice among the better classes in Rome, he spent some time in travel to complete his education, visiting Egypt, Asia Minor, and other parts of the known world. But Cicero's education can hardly be said to have been "completed" as long as he lived, for he remained a student even in the midst of his most exacting duties of State, and often employed teachers, especially in oratory. Forsyth says of him, "Philosophy and oratory seem to have been the two chief objects of his study; but if of any man before Bacon appeared that might be said which the great master of modern philosophy claimed for himself, that he 'had taken all knowledge for his province,' it might be truly declared of the youthful Cicero. His appetite for knowledge was insatiable, and his desire for distinction boundless."[23]

Becoming an advocate in Rome, he devoted himself chiefly to the defense of men high in position, often those who were charged with bribery, extortion, or other abuse of political trust. Some of his finest orations were delivered on these occasions. In the meantime he lost no opportunity to advance his own political interests. He was elected to one office after another until he reached the height of his political ambition,—the consulship of Rome, the loftiest position attainable by the Roman citizen. As consul he devoted himself with such zeal, integrity, and success as to win the title "Father of his Country." While he held this office he exposed the conspiracy of Catiline and saved Rome from civil war. He conducted the office with honesty and efficiency. Indeed, at a time of great corruption, Cicero stands out during his entire life of nearly sixty-four years as the purest patriot, the broadest-minded statesman, the noblest man of the age. His honesty in public or private life is unquestioned. Of his intellectual greatness Forsyth says, "The greatness of his intellect dwarfed that of every other man alive."[24]

That he was vain of his accomplishments admits of no doubt. That he also sometimes lacked moral courage and was vacillating seems also true. But he was incorruptible in a corrupt age; above reproach when impure life was the rule; and when treason was common, he remained a firm patriot. His celebrated "Philippics" were delivered against practices which indicated the approaching ruin of the republic. That ruin was complete when the Second Triumvirate was formed,—an event which also sealed the doom of Cicero. Upon learning that he was proscribed, Cicero attempted to escape from Italy, but was overtaken and assassinated. His head and hands were carried to Rome and presented to Antony, who gave the head to his wife, Fulvia, whose crimes Cicero had often rebuked. Forsyth says, "She took it, and placing it on her lap, addressed it as if it were alive, in words of bitter insult. She dragged out the tongue, whose sarcasms she had so often felt, and with feminine rage pierced it with her bodkin. It was then taken and nailed to the rostra, together with the hands, to molder there in mockery of the triumphs of his eloquence, of which that spot had so often been the scene. A sadder sight was never gazed upon in Rome."[25]

Cicero's Pedagogy.—It is not as a teacher, but as a writer, that Cicero demands a place in educational history. His writings furnish the finest examples of Latin style, and his orations are studied for their classic beauty and rhetorical finish. He wrote many philosophical works, in which are set forth advanced ideas on education. Especially was he in advance of his age in regard to the punishment of children. He held that corporal punishment should be resorted to only when all else has failed; that the child should not be degraded in the mode of punishment; that punishment should never be administered in anger, should be deferred until ample time for reflection has been allowed to both teacher and pupil; and that reasons for it should be given, so that, if possible, the child may be led to see the justice of the punishment inflicted. The teachings of Cicero on this subject are of great pedagogical importance, and they have at last come to be recognized in the school practice of the present day.

While these were Cicero's most important pedagogical teachings, he also taught many other truths valuable in education. Among them are these: that education begins in childhood, and is a steady growth throughout life; that memory should be cultivated by learning extracts from classic authors; that great care should be taken to make the amusements and environments of the child such as to elevate and refine, as well as properly to develop its powers; that at the suitable time some calling should be chosen for which the youth has evident fitness; that religion is the basis of morals, therefore careful attention should be given to religious instruction.

SENECA (B.C. 3-A.D. 65)

Seneca was one of the most distinguished men that Rome produced. Even as a boy he showed remarkable talent, and his father furnished him the best educational opportunities by placing him under the greatest masters in the city. He also had the benefit of travel in Greece and Egypt, after which he practiced law in Rome. The student of education is interested in Seneca chiefly as the tutor of Nero, who was committed to his charge at the age of eleven. Without doubt the lad had already formed vicious habits, as his teacher had great trouble in managing him; nor did Seneca eradicate those evil tendencies which bore such terrible fruit in Nero's later years.

Nero retained his love for his teacher for a long time, keeping him as a trusted counselor for several years. Seneca drew up all of Nero's state papers, among others one defending the crime of matricide, Nero having put his own mother to death. This brought deserved odium upon Seneca's name. It indicates that he was a time-server, lacking moral independence and firmness. This may explain his failure in the training of his royal pupil. Nero himself wearied of his old teacher and friend, and condemned him to death. Seneca, however, committed suicide, a mode of death quite in accord with his Stoic philosophy.

Seneca was the most eminent writer, rhetorician, and orator of his time. He anticipated many modern ethical teachings, and in some of his writings we find a strong religious sentiment, quite like that of Christianity, leading one to think that he may have been influenced by Christ and his disciples, with whom he was contemporary. On the other hand, some of his teachings are decidedly repulsive to Christianity.

Seneca's Pedagogy.—1. Like Cicero, he believed that punishment should be mild and reasonable. "Who condemns quickly, condemns willingly; and who punishes too much, punishes improperly."

2. The office of education is to correct the evil tendencies in the child.

3. The character of each child must be studied, and each individual should be developed according to his peculiarities.

4. Do not flatter the child, but teach him truthfulness, modesty, and respect for his elders.

5. Take great care that the environment of the child is elevating, and allow only pure and ennobling examples to be reflected before him.

6. Give the child but few studies, in order that he may be thorough and acquire right habits of learning.

7. The office of teacher is one of the most important of all offices. "What the teacher, who instructs us in the sciences, imparts to us in noble effort and intellectual culture, is worth more than he receives; for, not the matter, but the trouble; not the desert, but only the labor, is paid for.... Such a man, who consecrates his whole being to our good, and who awakens our dormant faculties, is deserving all the esteem that we give a benevolent physician or our most loved and dearest kindred."


No other Roman contributed so much pedagogy to the world as Quintilian. He was born in Spain, but early moved to Rome, in order to be trained in the atmosphere of culture which that city alone afforded. His education was conducted by his father, a celebrated rhetorician, to whom he owed the particular direction of his powers which afterward made him so famous. He chose the law as a profession, because it offered the best opportunity for the exercise of oratory. Not finding the practice of law congenial, he soon abandoned it, and devoted his time to teaching. He founded a school at Rome, and conducted it with great success for twenty years, having for pupils children from the most distinguished patrician families. Among these were the grandnephews of Domitian, possible heirs to the throne. This was the best school in Rome at that time. Vespasian honored Quintilian by creating for him a chair of rhetoric and conferring upon him the title "Professor of Oratory." This is the first instance in history of State endowment of a chair for teaching a specific subject. Royal recognition was not without effect upon the fortunes of Quintilian, as it placed him in the front rank of the teachers of Rome. This, together with his subject, the teaching and mastery of which were considered by the Romans to be the climax of education, enabled him to wrest supremacy from the Greek teachers who so long had enjoyed a monopoly of teaching in the city.

When fifty-three years of age, Quintilian retired from his school, and devoted himself to authorship. In the first two books of his great work, "Institutes of Oratory,"[27] he sets forth his ideas on education. This is the most remarkable treatise on education bequeathed to us by antiquity.

He taught that as oratory was the climax of Roman education, especial attention should be given to it. He was not in sympathy with the prevailing use that was made of oratory. Oratorical contests were frequent, and they excited popular interest. Courts, lawyers, and public speakers resorted to all the tricks of speech to win popular favor, and audiences demanded something startling, dramatic, and unusual. Quintilian tried to stay this tide, and taught that oratory should conceal itself. He met, however, with poor success in reforming the evil.

Quintilian's Pedagogy.—His pedagogical teachings, some of which we present, are of the greatest importance.

1. There should be no corporal punishment, as punishment administered to slaves is not suitable for children who are to be citizens.

2. Nurses must be irreproachable in life and language, so that children be not brought in contact with anything impure.

3. Amusements should be turned to account as a means of education.

4. Teachers should be men of ability and of spotless character.

5. Children should begin early with a foreign tongue, as their own language will come to them naturally in their intercourse with those about them.

6. Education should begin with the earliest childhood.

7. The forms and names of the letters should be learned simultaneously, playthings being utilized to assist in this.

8. Care should be taken that children do not acquire a distaste for learning.

9. In learning to read, advance very slowly.

10. Writing should begin with tracing, and the copies should consist of moral precepts.

11. The individuality of the child should be studied.

12. Public schools are preferable to other means of education, because they do not subject the child to greater moral danger, while they stimulate him by association, friendship, and example, to nobler endeavor.

13. Under the literatus, grammar, composition, music, geometry, astronomy, and literature are to be studied.

14. The climax of education should be rhetoric.

Other Roman Educators.—Among the other Roman educators may be mentioned Plutarch (50-138 A.D.) and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Plutarch in his "Parallel Lives" gives particular attention to morals. He offers valuable suggestions as to the training of children, laying great stress upon family life, an admonition particularly needed in Rome at that period. He also urges that women should be educated in order properly to train their children, being one of the first to consider this question.

Marcus Aurelius, called "the philosopher on the throne," in his "Meditations" gave expression to most lofty thoughts, showing keenest self-examination and obedience to conscience. His moral teachings are among the noblest of all the writers of antiquity.


[22] Forsyth, "Life of Cicero." This is a very complete, just, and discriminating treatment of Cicero and his relation to the times in which he lived.

[23] "Life of Cicero," Vol. I, p. 30.

[24] Vol. II, p. 213.

[25] Vol. II, p. 317.

[26] Authorities differ as to the dates of Quintilian's birth and death, placing his birth at from A.D. 35 to 42, and his death from A.D. 95 to 120. Drieser, who is perhaps the best authority, places his birth at A.D. 35, but does not fix the date of his death, which, however, was probably much later than A.D. 95 as he lived to a ripe old age.

[27] Institutio Oratoria.



Literature.Bryce, Holy Roman Empire; Guizot, History of Civilization; Lord, Beacon Lights; Sheppard, Fall of Rome; Draper, Conflict between Religion and Science; Clarke, Ten Great Religions; Gibbon, Decline and Fall of Roman Empire; Laurie, Rise of Universities; Stille, Studies in Mediaeval History; Arnold, Essays in Criticism; Lecky, History of European Morals; Hegel, Philosophy of History; Allies, The Formation of Christendom; Chateaubriand, The Genius of Christianity; Azarias, Essays Philosophical.


Oriental civilization was based on the theory that the individual belonged to the State, and could have no interest except that which was bound up in the interests of the State. Christianity, on the other hand, taught that while the individual has duties which he owes to the State, and while he must look to the State for his protection, and for the preservation of his material interests, he owes a higher allegiance elsewhere, and no fetters can be placed on the aspirations or wants of his own soul. In a word, Christianity taught the importance and worth of the individual.

The great teachers, Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, Plato, had many glimpses of truth, but Christ is truth itself. He discovered to the world the final principle of the value of the human soul, and brought to fruition the truth that "all men are equal before God." This thought made human development possible; a new principle was introduced upon which civilization could build and advance, and improve to the end of time. Perhaps the highest test of civilization is found in the respect shown to women. Measured by this test, the oriental nations have made but little progress, as the position of woman with them is much the same to-day as it was centuries ago. While this is true of each individual nation, we have found among the nations themselves, as we have traced the growth of civilization, steady improvement in the condition of woman. Thus, in Athens and Rome, where we find the highest types of ancient civilization, there was also the greatest respect for woman. In no country of the East was it equaled. If the Jews are mentioned as an exception, it must be admitted that the Jewish women held the highest place among those of antiquity; but this eminence was given by the Jews only to the women of their own race, and was by no means universally accorded to womankind, as it is by the spirit of Christianity. If we discover a greater respect for woman in Rome or Athens than in China or India, it only shows the movement of civilization toward the west.

The coming of Christ marked a new era both in religion and education. Let us look at some of the lessons which Christianity teaches.

1. God is the common Father of all men.—This does not limit the blessings of the world to the Jew and exclude the Gentile. All men of whatever race or color may approach God as their Father, and all are equal in his sight. This gives hope to all, and makes possible an exercise of faith in the present and in the future life. It proclaims a higher citizenship than that of the State, and demands allegiance first of all to God.

2. The universal brotherhood of man.—This principle sweeps away castes, abolishes slavery, destroys class distinctions, and gives equal rights to all men. It stimulates love for fellow-men, checks selfishness, promulgates peace and good will, and implants the spirit of the Golden Rule in the hearts of men.

3. Marriage is a divine rite and husband and wife are equal.—Nothing like this teaching had been practiced in the pagan world. Woman was simply the servant, the creature, of man. She was to do his bidding, and might be divorced for trivial cause, or for none. Man was supreme and his will was law. The home in the Christian sense did not exist, because the husband and wife were not one.

4. Children are the gift of God.—This was a Jewish as well as a Christian teaching. If children are the gift of God, the power of life and death over them cannot rest with the father, as in China, Persia, or Rome. It is the duty of the father to preserve them, teach them, train them for this life, and prepare them for the life to come. Since the children come from God, the pious parent must consider them as a sacred trust which he does not neglect. Hence he must see to it that they are properly educated.

5. The central pedagogic truth of Christ's teaching is this: All education is for the individual. Oriental education had for its end the interests of the State. Christian education has for its end the interests of the individual. The State is the creature of man, and not man the creature of the State. Man will create, and support, and preserve the State for his self-protection and for his own good. The highest ideal of the State is that in which the people rule, that which furnishes the greatest liberty. This is the logic of Christianity, and the logical conclusion of education. It is really for the individual. The world has been slow to learn this lesson taught by Christ; but now it is mastering it more thoroughly every day, as shown by the more liberal forms of government, the broader interpretation of courses of study, and the greater attention to the needs of the individual child.

All these teachings of Christianity have a direct educational meaning, and suggest lessons for all humanity. For the school is not the only contributor to the education of a people. Every truth that affects mankind, every principle that touches the home or the State, has its influence upon the life and character of the individual, and is, therefore, an element in his education.

The natural consequence of these principles is that education must be universal. Every child must be fitted for the duties of life, both for his own sake and for the sake of the State of which he is a part. As an individual, he must work out his destiny, and to make this possible in the broadest and best sense from the Christian standpoint both mind and heart must be developed. As a member of the State he must assume duties in public affairs which require the possession of superior intelligence. This is particularly true in free governments which are the logical product of the spirit of Christianity. While the idea of universal education had its beginning with the Christian era, we shall see that many centuries elapsed before it reached its fulfillment. There were many serious and almost insurmountable obstacles against which the early Christians had to contend, and these made progress necessarily slow. Let us look at some of these obstacles.

Their Poverty.—The early Christians were almost without exception poor. Christ appealed to the poor and lowly, and chose his disciples from among them. The acknowledged followers of the Nazarene had to face confiscation of property, persecution, death. Homeless and without protection they wandered about, and had neither the opportunity nor the right to acquire property. They, therefore, had little means to apply to the education of their children. They could neither establish schools nor employ teachers; they could give only such instruction as the limitations of their poverty, their misery, and their fear permitted. Consequently, only the most meager training could be secured, and that almost wholly in religious matters.

Their Own Ignorance.—Chosen as they were from the lowly ranks of life, many of the early Christians were ignorant. Most of them were servants and slaves, who had been converted from paganism, and who did not possess even the rudiments of education. They had to be instructed in the rites and ceremonies of the Church, and in the practices and requirements of their new belief. Unlettered as they were themselves, they could scarcely undertake to educate their children. It is marvelous that under these conditions any attempt was made to do it; yet we find that great pains were taken even in the early centuries of the Christian era to perform this duty toward those who were regarded as gifts of God and heirs of salvation.

Their Small Number.—Even when free from persecution and under comparatively happy conditions, they were so scattered and so few in number, as well as so poor, that to maintain schools was almost an impossibility. They would not permit their children to attend the pagan schools, as they feared moral and intellectual contamination. The only safety, especially for the converts from paganism, was in being "separate from the world" about them. So where their numbers were sufficient they established schools of their own. But in many communities they could not do this; hence they could only teach their children at home.

Opposition of the Rulers.—Rome ruled the world, and her highways, her commerce, her military expeditions, and her mighty enterprises furnished excellent means for the spread of Christianity. But while Rome had many religions, adopted from her conquered peoples, Christianity was so different from these that the rulers were readily brought to regard the Christians with suspicion. Humility, returning good for evil, refusal to avenge, were contrary to the Roman spirit. Therefore many persecutions followed, which disturbed the life of the Christians so as to make impossible the work of educating their children.

Lack of Christian Literature.—The early Christian Fathers fully realized the dangers that surrounded their children. To come in contact with pagan schools, or even with pagan literature, they felt to be dangerous. How easy it would be for pagan converts to fall away, or even for others not pagan, attracted by popular influences. For Christianity was not yet popular. Hence the only safety of the converts lay in totally abstaining from the use of pagan literature. Here was introduced a discussion that affected the Church and educational progress for centuries, and caused learned men when converted to abjure their favorite authors who had furnished the material for their education in their early years. Having no literature of their own, and condemning the use of pagan literature, the Christians found it hard to overcome the obstacles which stood in the way of Christian education. As a result, almost the only things taught to children were certain parts of the Bible, and the rites and duties of the Church.

Other Difficulties.—New ideas do not readily take hold of the world. Men naturally cling to the old and tried, and are not easily turned to new thoughts and practices. The teachings of Christ were so radically new that men were slow to adopt them. Their acceptance involved a change of habit, the abandonment of customs not before regarded as evil, the yielding up of social caste, the humbling of the individual. Herein existed a most serious obstacle to the establishment of Christian education.

These are a few of the great difficulties that had to be met, many of which were not overcome for centuries. We shall see, as we trace the development of education, how the new ideas which had their birth with the Christian era struggled for recognition, how they have become established, how they have brought great blessings to mankind, how they have aroused ambition and awakened hope, and how they give promise of still greater advancement in times to come. The boundless field thus opened to mankind, and the knowledge of how to enter and possess it, constitute the world's great inheritance from Christ. But to know how to appreciate and use this inheritance, we must study the slow and painful growth of these new educational ideals from the Christian era till the present time.



Literature.—The Bible; Beecher, Life of Christ; Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth; Geikie, Life of Christ; Azarias, Philosophy of Literature; Fouard, Life of Christ.

Life and Character.—Christ was born in Bethlehem, spent his early life at Nazareth, entered upon his ministry when thirty years of age, continued it for three years, and was then crucified by the Romans at the instigation of the Jews. These are simple facts of history corroborated by both sacred and profane writings. All agree that his was the most noble character that ever appeared on earth. The most careful study of his life for nineteen centuries, by friends and enemies, by scholars and critics, by philosophers and statesmen, by Christians and unbelievers, only adds to its luster, and sustains the conviction that, though he was a man, he was also more than man. The most critical research, the most careful examination of his life, his motives, his teachings, only compel the testimony that he was "without spot or blemish." The great have studied his sayings and his life, and have bowed in admiration before the sublime teachings of the Son of Man. The simple and unlettered have listened to his words of truth and been comforted. Faith has been awakened, hope inspired, love quickened, and man redeemed by the power of the Christ. Millions have been influenced by the sweetness and purity of his life. The spirit of Christianity has led to the founding of hospitals, asylums, and institutions of mercy everywhere; to the establishment of schools and colleges; to the universal spread of education; to the uplifting of the individual; to the furtherance of human brotherhood; and to the fostering of peace among men and nations.

Christ produced a profound impression alike upon the great and the small. Rousseau says of him, "The life and death of Jesus Christ are those of a god." Napoleon says of Christ, "His birth and the story of his life; the profoundness of his doctrine, which overturns all difficulties, and is their most complete solution; his gospel; the singularity of his mysterious being; his appearance, his empire, his progress through all centuries and kingdoms,—all this is to me a prodigy, an unfathomable mystery. I defy you to cite another life like that of Christ." It has well been said that "Christ is the God who is man, and the man who is God."

Nor was the impression upon the lowly less profound. He called ignorant fishermen to discipleship, and by three years' contact and instruction prepared them to "go into the world and teach all nations." The inspiration of his life and teachings made them able to stand before kings, and to "confound the wisdom of the wise."

His Work as a Teacher.—But the question here is not concerning Christ as the founder of a religion, nor of his divine character or life, but of Christ as a teacher. He is justly entitled to be called "The Great Teacher." Karl Schmidt says, "By his doctrines and through his deeds,—in and with his entire life,—is Christ the teacher and educator of humanity." His method is the foundation of all true teaching. Let us note some of the important characteristics of this method.

1. It was suited to his hearers.—When Christ taught the people he used material that they could comprehend. Thus, when he spoke his parable of the sower, while he sat by the seaside, the multitude before him had gathered from the villages and farms of the country round about. They therefore could thoroughly appreciate the lesson. His parable of the vineyard was doubtless suggested by the vine-clad hills of Judea, and the lessons taught were made more forcible by their suitableness. In his conversation with the learned Nicodemus he plunged at once into the most profound doctrines, but when he talked with the ignorant Samaritan woman, his approach to the truth he would teach was most simple and gradual. No one ever failed to understand him, and he is a most remarkable example of the teacher suiting himself to the capacity of his pupils.

2. It was full of illustrations.—When he wished to teach the evil of covetousness he told of the rich man and his barns; he encouraged faithfulness by the parable of the talents; he stimulated to fruit bearing by the story of the fig tree; he taught mercy by the account of the Good Samaritan; joy over repentance was illustrated by the story of the ninety and nine. And so we find that by ample and suitable illustration the Savior enforced the sublime truths that he taught.

3. It was simple and yet logical.—There was no effort to be philosophical, yet the teachings of Christ are full of philosophy. The language used and the manner of putting the truth were so simple that the ignorant man and the child were never left in doubt as to his meaning. Nevertheless his teaching was not haphazard; it was connected and logical. It contained so much of truth, so systematically put and so much to the point in view, that, while it appealed at once to the understanding of his hearers, it also furnished material for thought for the most learned of all ages. Whether it was a parable or a story, an admonition or a rebuke, a sermon or a prayer, a word of comfort to the sisters of Bethany or an argument with the chief priests, a familiar conversation with his disciples or a stern rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees,—Christ always expressed himself with simplicity and clearness.

4. It drew from Nature.—Christ loved to walk in the fields with his disciples and draw lessons from the plants, the birds, the sowing of the farmer, the gathering of fruit from the vineyard, the ripening harvests, and the whispering breezes. "Consider the lilies of the field how they grow;" "behold the fowls of the air;" "a sower went forth to sow;" "a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon and found none;" "lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest;" "the wind bloweth where it listeth,"—these and many other texts show that Christ was familiar with Nature, and loved to call upon her for illustration and example.

5. It elevated the truth and sought to enforce it.—Christ gave himself a sacrifice for the truth. He allowed no thought of personal safety or success to overshadow the truth. All his words, his acts, his teachings, aimed at establishing the truth. He overthrew old systems and introduced a new spirit into the world, even the spirit of truth. He was the very essence of truth, declaring to Thomas, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He thus gave to teachers for all time a noble example and an immortal principle, vital to their success in true teaching. It is the truth that must be taught and practiced by every one worthy of the name of teacher.

6. It was earnest and full of sympathy.—The earnestness of Christ aroused the populace to shout "Hosanna!" and provoked the bitter hostility of his enemies. It drew multitudes into the wilderness and attracted crowds wherever he went. His sympathy went out to the people as "sheep having no shepherd." It led him to feed the multitude, heal the sick, raise the dead, take little children in his arms and bless them, and weep over Jerusalem. He came close to the lives and hearts of those whom he instructed. This is one of the grandest lessons that the Great Teacher left for teachers of all time.

These are some of the chief characteristics of Christ's spirit and method. He loved little children, and taught his disciples, when he had set a little child in the midst of them, "Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Every one of the principles above stated is essential to the teacher, and these principles contain the sum and substance of all true pedagogy. Well has Karl Schmidt expressed the truth, when he says, "Christ, the perfect teacher, gave by his example and by his own teaching the eternal principles of pedagogy."



Literature.Allies, Peter's Rock in Mohammed's Flood; Newman, Historical Essays.

This period covered the time from the birth of Christ till the Reformation. It included the early centuries of struggling Christianity, in which old customs had to be combated, and the new ideas, born with the coming of the Savior, and propagated by him and his followers, were slowly and surely to take possession of the world. These fifteen centuries embrace those generally known in history as the "Dark Ages," during which progress was indeed slow. But when we remember the obstacles which, as we have seen, were to be met, the prejudice to be set aside, the great changes inaugurated, and the limited means at command, we marvel at the great results attained. Let us now briefly examine some of the factors that are prominent in Christian education during its first period.

1. The apostles and Church Fathers were foremost in all educational matters.—These men were not simply spiritual leaders; they caught the spirit of the Master, and sought to instruct the head as well as the heart. They established schools and themselves became teachers, directed educational movements, formed courses of study, and by fostering education furthered the success and perpetuity of Christianity. Men like Paul, Origen, Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Augustine did much good, not only in building up the Church, but also in promoting education, the chief handmaid of the Church. Indeed, all educational progress during the early Christian centuries centers around the names of these men.

2. The Church was the sponsor of the schools.—During this long period the State had not yet assumed the obligation of educating her youth, and we find only rare instances of the State taking any part in the training of the young. No attempt at universal education was made, and none could be made, for the Church could not furnish the means to do it; consequently nearly all educational effort was directed to training the priesthood and providing for the perpetuity of the Church. The Church was the mother of the schools, and to her fostering care alone do we owe their establishment and maintenance during this long period. Her authority was supreme, and acknowledged by all temporal powers; hence the subjects studied in the schools and the persons chosen to share the benefits of education were such as would subserve the interests of the Church.

3. The monasteries rendered valuable service to education.—They were long the centers of learning, being the only places where schools existed. They were the repositories of valuable manuscripts, which were copied with marvelous diligence and preserved for future generations. The monasteries adopted courses of study which, however incomplete, were efficiently carried out, and formed the basis of future courses. The influence of the monasteries for many centuries was of great value to learning.

4. The crusades brought new life into education.—While the crusades were primarily religious movements, they were also educational in their results. They infused new life into the stagnant conditions of Europe. They aroused the people to physical and mental, as well as religious, activity. They led to the establishment of schools and universities.

5. The Teutonic peoples became an important instrument of progress.—Rome began to decline, and the Teutons of the north, whom Rome had never been able to subjugate, became her conquerors. The Latin race had served a noble purpose in the world's history, but now another, perhaps stronger race, joined in the work of civilization. The physical and intellectual vigor of the various branches of the Teutonic family,—the German, the Anglo-Saxon, the Scandinavian,—which has won for them leadership in evangelization, in commerce, in conquest, and in educational enterprise, showed itself unmistakably during the period under discussion. These peoples now joined with the Latin peoples in assuming the ever increasing responsibilities of Christian civilization, and the interests of education were greatly enhanced and furthered through these combined influences.

These are the principal agencies to which were committed the most vital interests of humanity during the first fifteen centuries of the Christian era. We shall see that some grave errors were made, errors that blocked the path of improvement sometimes for centuries; we shall find that narrowness, bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance often hindered the introduction of truth because it did not coincide with tradition; we shall see how the Church assumed prerogatives that did not belong to her, especially in the field of scientific research, and thereby delayed human progress; nevertheless, we shall ever remain thankful to these agencies for the encouragement they gave to education, and for whatever good results they were instrumental in attaining.



Literature.White, Eighteen Christian Centuries; Durrell, A New Life in Education; Laurie, Rise of Universities; Lecky, History of European Morals; Allies, The Formation of Christendom; Azarias, Philosophy of Literature; Azarias, Essays Philosophical.

We have already seen that the early Christians were obliged to endure great hardships and surmount great difficulties in securing education for their children. Indeed, during the first two centuries almost all that was done was to train the converts in the rites and ceremonies of the Christian Church. But as they grew stronger in numbers, and as persecution diminished, they could give greater attention to education. Unwilling to make use of pagan schools, which could not satisfy their chief need—to prepare for the new religion—they gradually established their own.

Catechumen Schools.—The first Christian schools were catechumen schools. A catechumen was a person who desired instruction in the new faith with a view to baptism and admission into the Church. As many of the converts had been pagans, and as all were ignorant of the requirements of the Church as well as of the new doctrines, such instruction was absolutely necessary. Therefore the converts were divided into classes, at first two, later, four; and instruction was given them in the rudiments of Christianity. In the beginning the catechumen schools were for adults only, but afterward children were admitted, and reading and writing were taught. Previous to this change, if children received any secular instruction at all, it was given at their homes by parents or tutors, or in the pagan schools. At the close of the second century Protogenes established a school at Odessa, in which reading, writing, texts of Scripture, and singing of psalms were taught. This was the first Christian common school. Other schools followed rapidly as the persecutions ceased, until Rome became Christianized, and pagan schools gave place to Christian schools throughout the empire. Two great names are closely connected with this movement.

CHRYSOSTOM (347-407)

One of the greatest representatives of the early Christian Church interested in education was Chrysostom.[28] He was born at Antioch in Syria, and educated in the pagan schools, but the influence of his devout Christian mother kept him true to her faith. He was noted for his eloquence, hence the name by which he is known in history, for Chrysostom means golden-mouthed. John Malone says of him, "First of the great Christian preachers after the Church came from the caves, he was not less able as a teacher."[29] He became bishop of the Church, and was the greatest pedagogue of his time. Some of his educational principles may be stated as follows:—

1. As Christ lowered himself to man's estate in order to raise man to his estate, so the teacher must lower himself to the capacity of his pupils in order to elevate them.

2. Christ did not reveal everything to his disciples, suggesting sometimes truths for them to discover; so the teacher must not do for his pupils what they can do for themselves.

3. The foundation of all true education is the Christian life and example; therefore teachers and parents must walk circumspectly before children.

4. Women, especially mothers, are the natural educators of children.

5. Religious instruction is an essential factor of the school work. It is of the highest importance that children should be brought up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."


Basil the Great was born at Caesarea. He studied at Constantinople and Athens, and sat at the feet of the greatest pagan philosophers and teachers of his time. He was not perverted by their teachings, but told them frankly that, though they possessed all learning, he had found something greater than this, and that was the Christ. Basil was one of the foremost Fathers of the Church, a great writer, and a promoter of education. He was very fond of classic literature, and, in face of the bitter opposition of many of the Church Fathers, urged its proper use in the schools. He was instrumental in founding monasteries, hospitals, orphanages, and refuges for the poor.

Pedagogical Teachings.—1. Every misdeed should be punished in such a way that the punishment shall be an exercise in self-command and shall tend to correct the fault. For example, if a child has lied, used profane language, or been quarrelsome, give him solitude and fasting. If he is greedy and gluttonous, let him stand by and see others eat while he remains hungry.

2. Orphan children and those that are dependent should be taught in the cloister.

3. The Bible, with its stories, promises, history, and doctrines, should be the chief text-book.

4. Not only monks and priests should be allowed to teach, but also the laity.

5. Children while still young and innocent must be taught good habits and right precepts.

It is worthy of note that Chrysostom and Basil were the first to mark out definite lines of Christian instruction. During this period, also, the first songs of the Christian Church originated in the huts and caves of the poor. Thus in religious instruction and church song the foundations of the Christian common school were laid.

Catechetical Schools.—The principal catechetical school was established at Alexandria A.D. 181, by Pantaenus. Others were located later at Antioch, Odessa, and Nisibis. The Alexandrian school, however, was by far the most important. Alexandria, at the close of the second century, was the seat of philosophy, as Athens had formerly been. It possessed the most important library in the world, and students and sages from all parts of the world flocked to this place of learning. Laurie says, "The great Alexander, in founding Alexandria, connected Europe, Asia, and Africa, not merely by mercantile bonds, but in their intellectual and literary life. Here arose, under the Ptolemies, a complete system of higher instruction, and libraries such as the world had not before seen. The books were lodged in the temple of Serapis, and accumulated to the number of seven hundred thousand. They formed the record of all human thought, until they fell a prey to internal civic and religious dissensions. The Serapeum dates from B.C. 298, and, after recovering from the fire of B.C. 48, it finally disappeared about A.D. 640."

Under the stimulus of these surroundings, and with such an abundance of literary material at command, pagans and Christians vied with each other in their search for truth. But the pagans had better schools and better means of preparing themselves for intellectual combat. Christian teachers were called upon to defend their faith against subtle philosophers and trained thinkers, who had had the advantage of excellent schools. In order to meet this apparent defect and fortify themselves against their skillful opponents, the Christians established the catechetical school at Alexandria, the most celebrated school of its kind at that period. It took the name catechetical from the fact that the method of instruction was largely that of catechising, though lectures were also given. Many pagans had been converted to Christianity, and it was necessary that they should be taught the reason of their faith, in order that they might maintain their ground when they came in contact with unbelievers. This was particularly necessary, if Christianity was to hold its own, in a city like Alexandria, where so many learned men had gathered. It was also necessary for the extension of the new faith among men of superior intelligence. Thus the object of the catechetical school was to instruct learned men in the doctrines and usages of the Church, to prepare believers to meet the arguments of the philosophers, and to train teachers.

While it was a sort of theological school, it also taught philosophy, rhetoric, grammar, and geometry. From the nature of things it will be seen that the catechetical school was for adults only, and it may be called a kind of university, whose chief attention was given to the study of the Scriptures and the promulgation of religious doctrine. The catechetical school was much higher than the catechumen school in its course of study, and in the intelligence and learning of its students and professors.


Among the most promising of the pupils of Pantaenus was Clement of Alexandria, who was his successor in the direction of the school. Clement was brought up a pagan, but was not satisfied with the heathen religion, and made a careful study of Christianity. He traveled everywhere, and sought out old men who had listened to the apostles, or whose parents had done so; and thus he hoped to learn the truth directly. As a result of his research, he became profoundly impressed with the purity of the morals of the Christians and the truth of their religion. He was a great teacher as well as Father of the Church.

His Pedagogy.—1. Faith is the cornerstone of knowledge.

2. Mosaic law and heathen philosophy are not opposed to each other, but simply parts of the same truth. Both prepared the way for Christianity. Jewish law and Greek philosophy are steps in the development of the world which prepare the way for revelation. Christianity is the fulfillment of law and philosophy.

3. He brought all the speculations of the Christians and the culture of the Greeks to bear upon Christian truth, and sought to harmonize the two.

The teachings of Clement gain in importance when we remember the bitter strife in the Church over the use of classic literature, which lasted for centuries, and the scholastic movement a thousand years later, which also sought to harmonize philosophy and religion.

ORIGEN (186-253)

Origen was a pupil of Clement in the catechetical school at Alexandria, and became his successor. Besides being brought up in an atmosphere of culture in his native city, and surrounded by influences that stimulated intellectual growth, he was fortunate in having a man of learning for his father. From him he learned Greek, mathematics, grammar, rhetoric, logic, and a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. He began to teach in the catechetical school when only eighteen years of age, a remarkable fact when one remembers that he had among his students learned pagan philosophers, and that it was very unusual for so young a man to be allowed to teach. He was abstemious in his habits, self-sacrificing, generous, and withal consistent in his life.

Origen's Pedagogy.—1. Never teach pupils anything that you do not yourself practice.

2. The end of education is to grow into the likeness of God.

3. Pupils must be taught to investigate for themselves.

4. The teacher must seek to correct the bad habits of his pupils, as well as to give them intellectual instruction.

Under Origen, the catechetical school at Alexandria reached its highest prosperity, and its decay began soon after his death. Already in the middle of the fourth century its power and influence were practically gone.

None of the other catechetical schools ever reached the fame of that at Alexandria, and they, too, gradually disappeared. Indeed, as the Roman Empire became Christianized, and as Christians gained in education and intelligence, there was less and less occasion for the existence of schools of this character.


[28] Warner's "Library of the World's Best Literature," Vol. VI, 3665. Lord, "Beacon Lights," Vol. I, Lecture on Sacred Eloquence.

[29] Warner's Library, Vol. VI, 3666.



Literature.Lord, Beacon Lights; Spofford, Library of Historical Characters; White, Eighteen Christian Centuries; Fisher, Beginnings of Christianity; Azarias, Essays Educational; Allies, The Formation of Christendom; Allies, The Monastic Life; Maitland, The Dark Ages.


As Christianity became more powerful; as the Roman nation privately and officially accepted the new religion; as the bishops of the Church came more and more to be recognized as the vicegerents of Christ and the apostles; as the Church authorities became convinced that tolerance of paganism was dangerous to believers, and irreconcilable with the principles of Christianity,—as these things became apparent, it was seen that nothing would suffice short of the utter destruction of pagan schools. Pagan philosophy and art were tolerated only as they served the Church. Pagan education had an earthly purpose; the new education, a spiritual aim, a preparation for eternal life.

The pagan temples and schools preserved the spirit of paganism long after the Roman Empire had become Christian, and the leaders of Christianity finally became convinced that ultimate success would be reached only when these institutions were destroyed. The conflict between these two parties continued during the fifth century and until 529, when a complete victory was gained by the Christians. After 529 we have therefore only Christian schools to consider. For the next thousand years education was entirely in the hands of the Church, whose power was not always exercised for the good of humanity, but often for the furtherance of her own ends. Still, it must not be forgotten that all that was done for education was done by her, and therefore the world owes her a debt of gratitude, as later pages will show. She did not undertake the education of the masses, a task that was beyond her power, and perhaps beyond the scope of her vision. Yet great honor is due the Church for what was accomplished in education during the Middle Ages, and to her alone must be given credit for an advancement in civilization by no means small, considering the difficulties to be met and the obstacles to be overcome. During this long period there were many bright spots in the educational firmament, many brilliant leaders of the Church who also were conspicuous educators, and many important movements toward higher civilization. An examination of this period has led recent historians to abandon the term "Dark Ages." A more careful study of some of these leaders and the movements that they inaugurated will be reserved to later pages.

We shall find the spirit of the period best illustrated by a study of two great men who are preeminent in the educational affairs of the time,—namely, Tertullian and St. Augustine.

TERTULLIAN (150-230)[30]

Tertullian was born at Carthage of pagan parents. He was converted to Christianity when forty years of age, and by his talent, his zeal for the new religion, and his faithfulness, he rose rapidly until he became Bishop of Carthage. He was an orator, a writer, and a teacher. His immoderate zeal led him into the vice of rigorism, quite foreign to the real spirit of the Christian religion. He joined the Montanists, a sect that believed in withdrawal from the world, the unlawfulness of second marriages, and the speedy second advent of the Savior. Having received a thorough training as a jurist at Rome, he became a great controversialist.

He was the founder of Christian Latin literature, being bitterly opposed to everything pagan. He would use nothing manufactured by the pagans, would not dress like them, nor have anything to do with their schools or writings. This of course excluded classic literature, and was in direct opposition to the teachings of the catechetical schools, especially that of Alexandria. Tertullian's attempt to create a literature for the schools which should take the place of classic literature, while it produced discord for centuries, and influenced other great men to follow his example, had no permanent result. Perhaps the downfall of paganism may have removed all danger to the Christians from pagan philosophy and letters; at all events it is certain that in later centuries the Church was most efficient in preserving them. Tertullian held that philosophy of whatever kind is dangerous, claiming that it makes man arrogant, and less inclined to faith.

In the fourth century the Fathers of the Church were opposed to pagan literature. The "Apostolic Constitutions" commanded, "Refrain from all writings of the heathen; for what hast thou to do with strange discourses, laws, or false prophets, which, in truth, turn aside from the faith those who are weak in understanding." It was urged that, "As the offspring of the pagan world, if not, indeed, inspired by demons, they were dangerous to the new faith." This introduced into education a narrow view, which evoked many bitter discussions, and which it took centuries to eradicate.

ST. AUGUSTINE (354-430)

Augustine was born in Numidia, Africa. His father was a pagan, and his mother a devout Christian. Augustine grew up in the faith of neither, and in his early years seems to have had no settled belief. As a student, he was wild and profligate, though attentive to his studies. He became thoroughly versed in Greek and Latin. He studied at Carthage and later at Milan. At the latter place he made the acquaintance of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, who was instrumental in Augustine's conversion. His life was radically changed, and he who had been the wild, careless unbeliever became the greatest of the Church Fathers. Like Tertullian, he condemned the very classic literature to which he was indebted for his intellectual greatness. His greatest literary works are "City of God" and "Confessions."

"Confessions."—In this work are found his chief pedagogical teachings. Karl Schmidt says, "In his 'Confessions' he develops a complete psychology of the human soul, from which the pedagogue can learn more than from many theories of education."

This work shows step by step his own development from childhood to mature manhood,—how a word, a look, an act may awaken passions, and lead to evil desire, or stimulate to noble deed or self-sacrificing consecration. From his own life and experiences he portrays the whole nature of man. Augustine is called the "St. Paul of the fifth century," and he certainly was the greatest man, since Paul, that the Church has produced. In his writings is found the most luminous exposition of the Catholic doctrine, and probably Augustine is the most noted of all Catholic Fathers. In the domain of theology and morals he based all teaching on authority rather than on investigation, yet the excessive application of this principle to subjects of physical science was destined later on to hinder investigators in the fields of scientific research. Draper says, "Augustine antagonized science and Christianity for more than fifteen centuries." This was doubtless due to the application of the principle of authority in fields that Augustine did not contemplate. But we shall have occasion to recur to this subject in later pages.

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