and The Renaissance
In many eras, events happened as a reaction,
and often an overreaction, to events of the prior era. In the Middle
Ages, a proper education was extremely rare for the common people.
As a reaction to the Middle Ages, in the early renaissance, there was a
strong focus on a classical education consisting of Greek, Latin, the classics,
and art. As the population and economy grew and books became more readily
available, people became disillusioned with the impractical classical education,
demanding an education leading to practical professions.
In the early renaissance, emphasis was
redirected from clerical to secular life. The secular humanist idea
held that the church should not rule civic matters, but should guide only
spiritual matters. The church disdained the accumulation of wealth and
worldly goods, supported a strong but limited education, and believed that
moral and ethical behavior was dictated by scripture. Humanists,
however, believed that wealth enabled them to do fine, noble deeds, that
good citizens needed a good, well-rounded education, and that moral and
ethical issues were related more to secular society than to spiritual concerns.
Humanists paid close attention to classical studies because most of the
humanist philosophy was based on Greek and Roman ideas. In addition to
the study of Latin and Greek, a classical education consisted of scientific
matters, government, rhetoric, philosophy and art.
In the Middle Ages, the church discouraged
education to keep people under the control of the church. People
were guided by the teachings of the church and had little opinion to what
was being told to them. Books were also very costly and were mostly
written in Latin, an unfamiliar language to the common people. People
were taught Greek and Latin so that they could understand the books available
to them. In 1445, Gutenberg invented the printing press, making books
more plentiful and therefore affordable for the educated middle class.
They also began printing books in European languages.
By the late stages of the renaissance,
the population started to rise dramatically and the economy started to
boom. With a larger population, more merchants and tradesman and
other people with practical skills were needed. With books more readily
available, people demanded books in the many languages of Europe.
As a result, the concentration in education focused on local languages,
practical mathematics, science and trades.
Although the renaissance reversed the practices
of medieval times by restoring education in the classics and gave rebirth
to independent thought, the masses demanded a redirection of education
to practical and useful skills. The focus on humanism forced the
Church to play a secondary role in peoples’ lives. Despite the changes
in education and philosophy during the renaissance, Europe eventually molded
itself into a well-rounded society.