Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

HISTORICAL VIEW OF STATE EDUCATION IN THE OLD

WORLD.

State education is found among the oldest institutions of history. It has been established in some form by nearly all of the nations of the earth, and at all times the status of education has been determined by the political condition of a country. A high state of culture can not long remain independent of and separate from the institution of polit. ical government, for it will be either crushed by the arm of despotism or, rising in its own activity, it will transform the government into a protecting power. It is safe to say that under the benign influence of political protection the highest literary development has been attained, while the best products of culture have flowed through political channels. It is now democratic Athens, now imperial Rome, now royal France, now constitutional England that fosters and protects higher learning. This government aid to education may be seen in the patronizing whims of princes, in the recognition of individual merit. It may be seen in the wise provision of beneficent laws for the protection of independent effort, or again in a strong national policy for the protection of art, literature, and science. The great universities of ancient and modern times have received government support. The Academy at Athens and the Universities of Alexandria and Rome testify to the truth of this assertion; let Bologna and Paris, Pisa and Salamanca, Oxford and Wittenberg, Leyden and Berlin, bear witness to the fostering care of the respective governments under which they have existed. The great libraries of the world have been the creations of government. The ancient libraries of Assyria and Egypt, and the modern collections of the Vatican, of London, of Paris, Berlin, and St. Petersburg were established and supported by governments.

Something more than a desire for personal glory and the perpetuation of a name must have filled the mind of the great Assur-bani-pal to induce him to collect the ancient and modern writings of his time and form them into a great library to be used as a basis for national education. He brought together the lore of the Chaldeans and of the ancient Accadians whose language was still used in worship. He pro. vided for the education of the priests' and the scribes, and the interpreters of the law. He turned one part of his great palace into a

[blocks in formation]

school of learning. The books of the library were arranged and classified; there were books on history, religion, and the natural sciences; on astronomy, grammar, legends of gods and men, and the laws and customs of the people. The remains 1 alone of the library of Ninevah2 form mass of more than one hundred cubic meters; the number of tablets surpasses ten thousand, and their contents would cover in the ordinary form of our present books more than five hundred quarto volumes of five hundred pages each. By this educational zeal of the great monarch, writings have been transmitted through thousands of years and their copies are now imperishable.

Alexandria for over six hundred years was the abode of men of learning. Here arose under the Ptolemies, in the third century before Christ, a complete system of higher education and libraries such as the world had never known before. Here was the first great university in the modern conception of the term. The Serapeum dates from 298 B, C. and disappears about 640 A. D. In connection with this great library, Ptolemy founded a college, or what might be called a Studium Generale, and endowed its professors. This colleget was in the vicinity of the Serapeum, the Gymnasium, the royal palace, and the amphitheater. “A noble portico stretched along its front for exercise or conversation and opened on the public rooms devoted to disputation and lectures, a certain number of professors were lodged within the precincts, and a handsome hall or refectory was provided for the common meal.” This building was called the Museum;5 as time passed, other colleges were added and eminent men called to fill their chairs. The influence of this university was felt in Greece and Rome and subsequently throughout Europe; mathematics, law, astronomy, and other arts and sciences were cultivated.

The education of Sparta was wholly of the state and for the state; although education in letters and philosophy did not reach so high a standard as in Athens, the best was by the state. The academy at Athens, though nourished by beneficent influences, was not supported by the government during its earlier years. Its organization was entirely of a voluntary character. But when it was under the empire of Rome, the great emperors endowed it. Perhaps before Augustus, but certainly in the time of Marcus Aurelius, it received endowments from the imperial government. But these were only a partial endowment. There were three principal chairs: rhetoric, philosophy, and politics. The first was recognized as the chief chair, and was endowed with the equivalent of two thousand five hundred dollars. To this school flocked the youth from Italy and the provinces of the empire to receive the highest intellectual training that could be given at that time. Athens

Menant, Bibliothèque de Ninive. 2 Ibid., 30 3 The Rise and Constitution of Uni

versities, Laurie, 5.

4Ibid.
6 The Office and Work of Universities,
144, by J. H. Newman.

10.

6Ibid.,

STATE EDUCATION IN THE OLD WORLD.

331 .

long continued to be the great center of learning, but after the removal of the seat of the Roman empire to Constantinople, the latter city began to assume prominence in this respect.

Constantine the Great encouraged learning, and many of his suc. cessors i endowed institutions. Theodosius and Valentinian developed more fully the scheme of construction, and organized the teaching at the Eastern capital by appointing a complete corps of professors. The influence of the Christian religion was fast undermining the Romano-Hellenic schools. “Family education became a more influential feature in society than public instruction; and though family education from the fourth to the seventh century appears to bave improved the morality of the population, it certainly increased their superstition and limited their understandings." Bordas tried to revive the flagging interest.About 850 A. D., he founded a free university at Constantinople, making it independent of the church and the clergy, and gave it a constitution. Distinguished teachers were appointed in philosophy, rhetoric, geometry, and astronomy; also special teachers in the sciences were paid out of the public treasury. The philosopher Leo3 had the direction of the entire system of education. But it was not until the reign of the Macedonian dynasty which began in 867 A. D. that the Byzantine empire entered upon its most brilliant period. Subsequently Constantine Porphyrogenitos (913–954) established four schools of science, and required that all the officers in the government of a higher grade should be filled from members of this school who were well versed in rhetoric and philosophy. In the face of all these efforts, politics and learning declined, from inevitable causes.4

At Rome the university originated under Vespasian (64–79 A. D.), who instituted a “basilica” in his 6 Temple of Peace” where the learned might carry on their disputations. This was afterward enlarged under Hadrian (117-138 A. D.), and called the Athenæum. From the time of Vespasian fixed salaries and senatorial rank were attached to certain chairs in the Athenæum. The object of this State education, says Merivale, was to “restore the tone of society and infuse into the national mind healthier sentiments,” 5 and in speaking of education under the Cæsars, Gibbon says, 66 In all the cities of the Roman world the educa

1 Mitford, History of Greece, 282.
* Finlay, History of Greece (Byzantine), I, 5.
3 Newman, 6.

* It is not easy to state the causes; yet as a fact from the time that the state took hold of learning to organize it in Greece, the enthusiasm for learning and the love of pure science gradually died out. It may have been a decline in government. Possibly the students were of a different class and came to prepare for offices in the state. Conrad finds that in the German universities young men attend largely as a pecuniary matter, for the purpose of preparing for employment, and this has a tendency to lower the ideas of learning. (See Conrad's German Universities.)

6 Merivale's History of Rome, Vol. VII, p. 29.

tion of youth was intrusted to masters of grammar and rhetoric who were supported at public expense, and distinguished by many lucrative and honorable privileges."1 This was in the days of the empire; for in earlier history the education of youth was a purely private matter, dominated neither by the State nor by religion. At the university of Rome in 1514, the professors numbered one hundred, and their salaries were paid by the government. These few citations will indicate the movement toward higher education under the directions of the old nations of the earth. The next educational movement that breaks forth in western Europe has been greatly modified by Christianity. Charles the Great, though a strong defender of the Faith, was the first in the modern world to establish state schools. Nothing is more noted in history than the civil, political, and religious reforms of Charles the Great in the revived Roman empire during the latter part of the eighth century.

When the great emperor came to the throne he soon perceived that the proposed reforms would prove wholly impracticable unless the illiteracy of the priests and the general ignorance of his subjects could be diminished by proper education. He, therefore, set himself at once to the task of reforming the schools of the realm. The episcopal and monastery schools were improved, and the priests were instructed to give more diligent application to religious studies and at the same time special attention to literature. The ablest scholars of that time were invited to the imperial court, among whom Leidrade, of Noricum, and Alcuin, of York, were the most celebrated. After reforming the monasteries, Charles turned his attention to founding a system of free schools in the towns throughout the empire, and especiallys to the founding of the famous Palatine school. The latter was especially designed for the education of the government officials and their children, but was free to all who desired learning. The remarkable feature of this school was that all persons who became proficient in studies or distinguished themselves as scholars, however humble their origin or circumstances, were promoted in the service of the state. Here then was a state school with a system of civil service reform attached; a civil academy for the benefit of the state. Charles did not stop here, but extended the free school system throughout the empire; without doubt he was the first originator of parish or district schools.

In the extension of the school system throughout the realm, three cities, Pavia, Paris, and Bologna received especial privileges and be

1 Gibbon, Vol. II, chap. 22, p. 154.

2 Letter to Baugulfus, Abbot, Capitularia Regum Francorum, Vol. I, pp. 201-204 (Baluzii).

3“ Etiam in literarum meditationibus.4 Mullinger, p. 103.

6 Theodosus, Bishop of Orleans, succeeded Alcuin and became minister of education. It is through his letters that evidences of these scbools are in existence.

Mullinger, The Schools of Charles the Great, p. 41 et seq.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »