Author Archives: Dr. Darrin

Educational Reforms of Charlemagne

After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th-century learning went into a decline at least temporarily. When the chaos of collapse and invasion settled several types of schools emerged. These schools and the curriculum that was a part of them is the focus of this post.

Schools

Charlemagne (748-814) played a major role in reviving learning within Europe. He created Palace Schools to educate members of the Royal court and their children. Charlemagne was also a lover of the arts and incorporated Gregorian chants (worship music) and the organ into worship.

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Charlemagne

In addition to the Palace schools, other schools developed during this period in part through the support of Charlemagne, and they include the Monastery and Episcopal schools. Monastery schools were created primarily for training for future clergy. The training was of a higher standard compared to Episcopal schools. The episcopal schools were for non-clergy and offered an inferior education. Both were frequently located in the same place with the only difference being the quality of the education. Originally anybody could go to the Monastery schools but this changed after the death of Charlemagne.

Curriculum

In terms of instruction, school began when a child was 7 years of age. Reading was learned through first memorizing the alphabet and then memorizing the Latin Psalter. A Psalter was the book Psalms extracted from the Bible. Imagine a child trying to memorize a book with 150 chapters, over 2,400 verse, and over 40,000 words. Of course, understanding does not matter only memorization. As the Psalter was developed for singing so was singing also taught.

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Wax Tablet

Writing was learned through the use of wax-covered tablets. When the child mastered this he would move to pen and paper. This system of writing was used for students to make their own textbooks. Students would write down the message on tablets that were then transferred to parchment.

Grammar was also studied and was considered the queen of the subjects. This is not the grammar of today but one with a slightly different purpose. The grammar of this period is similar to critical thinking and public speaking/communication today. Students learned the art of explanation and persuasion and not so much how to use commas and semicolons.

Latin, the primary language of the Catholic Church, was also studied. It was expected to be the only language used at school but even the teachers lacked the ability to use Latin exclusively. The emphasis was on heavy memorization. Math was studied until the point of learning basic calculations and adjusting the calendar.

Upon graduation job placement was usually predetermined. Graduates of the Palace schools worked in the government. Graduates of the Monastery schools often became monks/priests, and graduates of the Episcopal school did everything else. Even the education represented the 3 estates of Medieval Europe.

Conclusion

The reforms of Charlemagne are really the reestablishing of education in parts of Europe. Once there was some semblance of stability and safety leaders, such as Charlemagne, could focus on other pressing needs of their kingdom.

Common Goals for Schools

All schools have different goals and purposes for their being, In this post, we will look at some of the different goals and views schools have for themselves.

Intellectual

People who see the goal of school as intellectual development believe that the growth of the mind and reason is one of the chief aims of schools. Students who are well-rounded mentally are able to function in various challenges in the real world as people who support an intellectual purpose may say.

The development of the mind often happens through the study of the humanities and the “Great Books” of the past. Since the great books provide examples of the sound reasoning that students need, reading these books will help students to develop their own reason and thinking skills. These beliefs are drawn heavily from perennialism and its focus on the past to prepare students for the present and future.

Economic

The economic view sees school as a place to prepare students for the workforce. This means attaining relevant skills and knowledge for employment in the world. As such, students are trained to competency in various areas that they show at least some interests in such as accounting, plumbing, computer science, etc.

With the focus on job skills and the development of the economy, it is clear that the economic view has less tolerance for the study of “Great Books” compared to the intellectual view of the school. Reading irrelevant classics does not benefit industry and is not necessary. However, developing reason and critical thinking is beneficial to industry and should be encouraged in the context of problem-solving of real-life challenges and not intellectual debates. These views are similar to essentialism and its focus on developing practical skills for the application in the real world.

The economic development view of school seems to be the primary mover in education today. Almost everything is focused on the economy and the need for properly trained workers to help the economy grow. Rarely, does industry mourn the ignorance of its workforce in matters relating to the humanities and arts. For people who are not motivated by money and building the national economy, it can be intolerable to study in such a context.

Social/Character

Others view that the purpose of schools is in helping students to conform to the norms of society. This social view believes that a teacher’s job is to help students to find their place in the social structure. What society wants is what the child should become. This echoes the views at least partially of John Dewey.

This belief can lead to a large amount of social stability but a growing undercurrent of resentment from the pressure to conform. For example, the high conformity of the United States in the 1950s was followed by the rebellious 1960s and ’70s.  In addition, this view is seen by many as being oppressive today. Society now is pushing heavily the idea of inclusion of everyone. This means that all people are accepted as they are and the norm taught today is conformity to tolerance which is now the standard.

A social purpose is also related to political activism in a democratic context. Schools should be seen as places to develop skills in democracy in order to participate in civic life after graduation. This is important because democratic participation is critical to the success of the nation in the minds of many.

A related idea to social development is character development. Character development is focused on having certain traits as an individual. Whereas in secular education these ideas are often called social traits in religious education this concept is frequently known as character. The difference being that social traits and skills can vary whereas character in the religious context is thoroughly defined by some religious text.

Multi-Purpose

It would be naive to say that any school only has one purpose. Rather, schools serve multiple views. The views listed above are present at most schools in one combination or another. For example, some schools may emphasize intellectual views while also considering economic views. Since schools have a diverse student population it makes it necessary to have diverse views for schools.

One of the dangers a school may face is having a view that is out of harmony with the local community. If people want their kids to get jobs and want the school to focus on economic purposes it would be detrimental for the school to focus on other aspects of education as if they know better. Schools are there to serve the needs of the community and need to keep this in mind when supporting students.

Conclusion

Schools are a part of a society to provide a service to the families that make up the society. Therefore, it is not surprising that different schools have different goals for themselves. The primary responsibility of a person should be to identify the local vies on education in order to understand how to function in that particular context.

Schools & Reconstructionism

Reconstructionism is a belief among many in education that schools should serve as institutions that train and developed students to enact social change. This is in stark contrast to the view that schools should serve as cultural transmitters. Reconstructionists believe that reverence for the past is neglect of current and future problems. Furthermore, reconstructionists believe in making autonomous individuals who question existing norms, such as the dominant culture, and strive to make the world a just and equitable place.

One of the main influencer’s for the philosophy of reconstructionism was George Counts and his highly influential essay/speech “Dare the School Build a New Social Order?” Counts’ work was written in the context of the Great Depression and proposes that schools should be the source of change in America. His views laid the foundation for the philosophy of reconstructionism. In this post, we will focus on two main branches of reconstructionism. These branches are economic reconstructionism and democratic reconstructionism.

Economic Reconstructionism

Economic reconstructionism tends to have a strongly suspicious view of those in power. In this view, schools are used by the elite i.e. dominant culture to conform students to the existing world view. This allows the elite to maintain power culturally and financially. Schools are either willing or ignorant participants in this system of intellectually and social oppression.

To be fair, there are examples of this taking place in history. Both  Hitler and Ferdinand Marcos use various forms of “youth camps” to educate people to support the existing power structure’s worldview. Hitler had the “Hitler Youth” while Marcos had “Village Youth” which was controlled by one of his relatives. The purpose of these groups was to teach loyalty to the status quo through the transmission of state-approved values and beliefs. Or you can say oppressive cultural transmission.

Economic reconstructionists and reconstructionism, in general, are heavily inspired by Karl Marx and his communist views. This includes a deep suspicion of capitalism, which is viewed as oppressive, and catering to the whims of the rich. Marx’s focused on how the bourgeoisie uses capitalism to oppress everyone else. The economic reconstructionist tends to focus more on how those with money use education to oppress students.

The classic text of economic reconstructionists is Pablo Friere’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” In this text, Friere explains how he believes the elite actually use education to hold people down. This is based on his experience of teaching adults to read in Brazil. As he taught reading, Friere noticed that the problems were not only reading but the worldview and beliefs of the people. The students were passive, subservient, and indifferent to thinking critically or questioning. For Friere, this was due to how they had been trained in the past by an educational system controlled by those with power who wanted these characteristics in their workers.

There are naturally several concerns with this approach, Economic reconstructionism does not inspire cooperation between the oppressors and the oppressed. Both view each other as enemies which tends to lead to a zero-sum game in which one side wins while the other losses.

A second problem is that there is no end to who is oppressed. If one class topples another it becomes the new dominant group then has to fight off the new group of oppressed people. In other words, it is similar to a game of king of the hill. One group gains power and then uses the same oppressive measures it once despised to stay in power. This is one reason why communist states of today, who were once freedom fighters, are often oppressors now. To put it simply, the only thing that changed was who was doing the oppressing. This constant cycle of changing who is doing the oppressing can make a country unstable. In the end, the problems never end just the person who is blamed for causing them.

Democratic Reconstructionism

Democratic reconstructionist believes in training a politically active citizenry. In contrast to economic reconstructionists who often want to tear down the system, democratic reconstructionists want to work within the system to promote change.

To do this, schools should focus on teaching students about the democratic process, developing critical thinking skills, and solving local community problems. The focus is on problems rather than on conspiratorial views of oppression as with economic reconstructionist.

Democratic reconstructionists are highly influenced by John Dewey and progressivism. The ideas of changing society through the use of the existing system are things that he frequently encouraged through his views on democracy in the classroom.   This approach is less antagonistic in comparison to economic reconstructionism. Yet, the peaceful implementation of it does not happen as much anymore. For example, many protests in the name of change have become violent in ways that did not happen decades ago such as the protesting in Hong Kong and India or the violent protesting that takes place in America now.

As such, it is common to acknowledge this approach however, many schools support the more extreme view of economic reconstructionism even though they may believe that they are supporters of democratic reconstructionism. Just examine how people speak only of removing “privilege” and bringing equality even by force if necessary in the name of democracy

Conclusion

Change is a part of life. There will be times when life is good and when it is bad. Reconstructionism struggles with this cycle of good and bad. The primary tenet is that there should be no bad or suffering. However, whenever the oppressed takes over they simply become the new oppressors.

School as a Socializing Agent: Cultural Preservation

Many would agree that education, as found in schools, as an obligation to socialize students to help them fit into society. With this goal in mind, it is logical to conclude that there will be different views on how to socialize students. The two main extreme positions on this continuum of socialization would be

  • Socializing through the preservation of cultural form on generation to the next
  • Socializing through the questioning of prior norms and pushing for social change

As I have already mentioned, these may be the two extremes on a continuum going from complete and total cultural preservation to complete and total anarchy. In this post, we will focus the discussion on schools as agents of cultural preservation.

School as  Cultural Preserver

In the view of the school as a cultural preserver, the responsibility of the school to society is to support the dominant ideas and views of the culture. This is done through teaching and explaining things from a dominant group’s perspective and excluding or censoring other viewpoints to some degree. In other words, American schools should produce Americans who support and live American values, Chinese schools should produce Chinese who support and live Chinese values, etc.

This approach to schooling has been used throughout history to compel people from minority groups to conform to the views of the dominant group. In the US, there were boarding schools for Native Americans to try to “civilize” them. This was also seen in many parts of Asia in which ethnic tribes were sent to government schools, forbidden to use their mother tongue in place of the national language, and pledge devotion and loyalty to the dominant culture. Through the process of weakening local identities, it is believed by many that it will help to strengthen the state or at least maintain the status quo. If you are in a position of dominance either of these would benefit you.

What this view lacks in diversity, due to minority views being absent, it makes up for it through stability. Schools that support cultural preservation show students their place in society and how to interact with those around them. Through the limits of a specific predefined worldview, it lowers but does not reduce internal social strife.

Problems and Pushback

A natural consequence of schools as cultural preservers is a strong sense of pride in those who belong to the culture that is being preserved. This can lead, at times, to a sense of superiority and pride. Of course, if you are not from the dominant culture, it can be suffocating to constantly have other people’s values and beliefs push upon you.

This sense of exclusion can lead to serious challenges from minority groups. There are countless examples of this in the United States where it seems everyone is pushing back against the establish dominant culture. There are those who are pushing for Black, Latino, Asian, feminist, and other worldviews to be a part of the education of the school. This is not inherently a problem, however, if everyone has an equal voice and everyone is talking at the same time this means that nobody is listening. In other words, a voice needs an ear as much as an ear needs a voice.

Conclusion

It is convenient to take an extreme position and say that using school to preserve culture is wrong. The problem with this is that the people who say this want to preserve the belief that using school to preserve culture is wrong. In other words, it is not the preservation of culture that is the problem. The real battle is over what culture is going to be preserved. Whether it is the current dominant view or the view of a challenger.

From Greek to Roman Education

During the transition from the Greek to the Roman Empire, there were several significant changes to education. In particular, we will look at early financial support, the history of the first university, and the influence of the government during this period.

Financial Support

As time progress, it was becoming common for education to be supported by endowments. Several chairs in rhetoric, politic, and philosophy were established. In addition, the fees students paid in the form of a honoraria was the primary source of income for schools and teachers. It was also common for teachers to fight over students. This happened through teachers sending “recruitment” agents to the ports when young people arrived in order for the agent to advertise whatever courses the teacher taught. The more students in a class the higher the honoraria for a teacher.

First University & Changes

Under the Ptolemies in Egypt was founded what is considered the first university by Western standards. Located in Alexandria, the university offered training in medicine, math, grammar. The teaching here in Alexandria was considered to be more practically focused compare to Athens. The purpose was primarily to train people for economic purpose rather than only for intellectual development.

During the height of the Roman Empire under Augustus, Greek and Roman teaching was combined into something that some called the Roman-Hellenic school. However, how this was done varied between the Eastern and Western halves of the Empire. In general, Rome placed an emphasis on practical things such as law and this was combined with Greek philosophy in terms of the education of students. Philosophy became more and more abstract and less and less practical over this time period as well. As philosophy grew in importance it became more and more of an annoyance for the early Christian church.

Growth of Government

Throughout this time period, the influence of the government became stronger and stronger. This was shown through financial support and prestige. For example, the government would provide funding to build buildings. In addition, at one point, teachers were given senatorial rank for their work. All this was done in order to have influence over the education process and prevent teachers from fomenting rebellion it seems that teachers have frequently sparked revolutionary ideas throughout history.

Despite the efforts of the government, one overarching theme of this time was the gradual and steady decline of education. By the end of the fifth century, which aligns with the collapse of the Western Roman  Empire, the majority of the Roman Hellenic schools were no longer in existence. This laid the foundation for the rise of a new system of education that was at first shunned by Christianity,  then influenced by Christianity, and finally controlled by Christianity.

Conclusion

Over time the structure of education became more formalized. It went from individual teachers providing education to the systematic structure of the university. With this new structure came also various costs that were hard to account for. Strangely enough, as the empire collapse so did education in a way that makes one wonder if the collapse of education was because the Roman Empire was collapsing at the same time.

Motivations for Teaching

Often, it is expected that new teachers have a reason for wanting to teach. In this post,  we will look at several common reasons why people choose the occupation of teaching.

Money

This is probably a reason for not teaching. Teachers normally make enough money but not much more than that. Generally, there is an increase over time but it is often difficult to get ahead financially in the teaching profession. However, if you take the skills you develop as a teacher (communication, planning, leadership, etc.) you can pivot these skills into side jobs or other career fields.  Many famous writers and musicians were at one time teachers (JK Rowling, Stephen King, Gene Simmons, Sting).

Towards the end of one’s career the salary can be lucrative. This often takes 20 plus years in many countries and requires additional professional development in order to continue to progress of the step salary. If continuing to study appeals to you than teaching might be the right choice as a career.

Prestige

Despite the apparent association with how poor the educational system, is teaching is still considered a highly respective occupation. Often, people speak highly of teaching in general but often have sharp criticism of the teachers of their own children or even of the teachers they experienced as a student.

The amount of prestige varies depending on the discipline and level of teaching. Often science and math are more prestigious than the humanities due in part to the higher expect salary of science and math majors. Teaching at the university level is often considered more prestigious than teaching K-12 due in part to the higher level of education required and the assumption of greater talent that is necessary to teach at the tertiary level.

In many ways, the respect given to teachers is almost tongue in cheek. People are suppose to say that teaching is important and respectable even if they rarely appreciated the hard work of their own children’s teachers or the teachers they studied under.

Authority

Teaching comes with a large amount of power and authority over students. The students  spend several hours a week with you as you play a critical role in shaping their character. This can be good or bad depending on the type of teacher. There is also a great deal of academic authority over students. As a teacher, it is not hard to find ways to fail hardworking students are to pass lazy ones. The difference is in the integrity of the teacher and how they use this authority.

Schedule

Teaching still allows for a better work life balance when compared to other professions. This in part due to the holidays and built in vacations. However, during a given week in a semester a teacher is putting in about 50 hours a week in the US which is comparable to other occupations in America.

This means that once Christmas, Easter, and holidays are removed from the equation teachers a worker just as hard in terms of hours given to their job as others. However, there are additional burdens on teachers with meetings, clubs, field trips, and other extra-curricular activities at the school. Someone has to watch the kids during recess, lunch, etc and this is in addition to the teaching load of the teacher.

Students & Colleagues

Many people become teachers for the chance to interact with students and colleagues. For students, it is a chance to help them to develop and grow intellectual and socially as well as a chance to spark interest in learning in general. This opportunity to have an impact on the lives of young people is a primary motivation for entering the teaching field.

There are downsides to working with students as there are times when behavior becomes an issue. Nothing is more draining to a teacher than dealing with a group of students who do not want to learn. Navigating this disinterested in education can be discouraging to say the least.

For the colleagues, it is a chance to wok within what is usually a non-competitive environment. Unlike other industries where there is a best salesman or best manager, in teaching every teacher can be a great teacher because there is normally no ranking. However, with the pressures of standardized testing teaching has become more competitive.

Conclusion

Everyone must determine for themselves what is their motivation for becoming a teacher. This is really a personal decision and there is rarely a way to state conclusively that someone’s motivation to teach is wrong. The examples provided here are for giving reasons to think about why someone may want to teach.

Ancient Higher Education & Christinanity

With the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, there were several gradual and strong changes made to education. All the changes mentioned are not directly caused by Christianity, but they are correlated with it meaning that they happened at the same time Christianity was rising in Europe.

Changes in Curriculum

The trivium and the quadrivium were replaced in part by other subjects. Theology was studied for the obvious reason that Christianity was growing in popularity among people. There was a need for clergy in this religion which begat the need for academic training. In addition, unlike other religions in which the priesthood may be limited by tribe or hereditary, any male could at least express interest in being a religious leader in early Christianity assuming he passed vetting by elders and others.

Law was also added to the curriculum. This may not be directly related to Christianity but it happened around the same time. In particular, people wanted to understand Roman law in greater detail leading to a growth in those who were trained as lawyers. For whatever reason, the natural sciences were sometimes classified as being part of law studies during this time as well. Perhaps this was meant to refer to natural law as alluded to by Aristotle.

The subjects of the trivium and quadrivium were often reduced to a single subject called philosophy. By the dawn of the Christian era in the Roman Empire, the influence of Plato and Aristotle was strongly felt. As such, the study of their work along with anything else related to the humanities was temporarily classified as philosophy.

Changes in Traditions

Within schools, at this time students were encouraged to think independently. Free thought was supported and schools were locally controlled. There was also a discussion style of teaching instead of simply lecturing. Education was about bringing forth from the student rather than filling the head of students. This is in part what the Latin word “educere” means which serves as the root word for education.

The religion of Christianity has several strong absolute beliefs such as what is right and wrong. This influenced education in that academic learning was focused on finding universal truth. Education was searching for the ideal. This is in sharp contrast to education today with its obsession with the subjective. The idea of an absolute God led to the focus on finding absolute ideal truth.

Higher education also had something in common with monasticism. When students went away to study, it was expected that they would live away from society in part and study it objectively before returning to the world and engage with it. The idea of leaving the world is one of the goals of monastic living not with the purpose of studying the world objectively but of trying to have a closer connection with God.

Conclusion

Education like most things in this world, changes with the times. As a new religion began to make its presence felt there was a corresponding change in education. It would be simplistic to trace all the changes provided here solely because of any religion. However, historical people saw education differently when they began to see the world from a Christian perspective.

Ancient Higher Education in Greece

The first universities can be traced back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome. In terms of location, early universities were located primarily in Athens, Alexandria (Egypt), and Rome. In addition, to being educational centers, these three cities were also seats of spiritual authority with Alexandria and Rome playing critical roles in the development of Christianity.

In this post, we will focus on higher education in Ancient Greece. We will look at the curriculum and teaching styles of this time period.

Curriculum

For Greeks, there were three key subjects students needed to study at university. These were grammar, rhetoric, and logic. Grammar was focused on written communication and not just spelling and punctuation. Instead, the grammar of the Greeks was about learning to write and communicate persuasively in text.

Rhetoric goes by the name of public speaking today. Again, the goal of rhetoric was to learn how to communicate persuasively and to develop ideas and arguments during oral communication. Lastly, logic is often seen as critical thinking today. This subject focused on developing arguments, judging their quality, and applying the same skills to the arguments of others.

Trivium & Quadrivium

Under Alexander the Great there were some changes to what was considered higher education.  The education at the university level was divided into two main components which were the trivium and the quadrivium. The trivium consisted of the three subjects we have already discussed (grammar, rhetoric, logic). However, logic was refocused and renamed dialectics.

Grammar during the days of Alexander the Great was mostly the same with a stronger emphasis on poetry, semantics, and the addition of history to this subject mater. Rhetoric continued to stress public speaking but also included the study of the forms of literary works. Dialectics was more of a teaching tool and encourage dialog and debate. Subjects under this term included metaphysics, physics, and ethics. Generally, the trivium is seen as focusing on human nature are laying the foundation for the humanities.

The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Arithmetic was basic practical math. Geometry dealt with theorems and also geography. Astronomy was not complete about the stars but natural science and philosophy in general. Music included not only music but theatrical arts such as comedy and tragedy, and also dance, lyric poetry, and hymns. The quadrivium is often seen as focused on nature.

Greek education was also highly focused on physical education through gymnastics. This is, of course, one of the inspirations for physical education today.

Teaching Style

The teaching style in Greek universities has been described as dry. There is a focus on memorizing and the minute details of a subject. However, there was also a contradictory emphasis on finding patterns and examining the form of things. It was believed that if students saw the big picture it would help to enlighten the details.

There was a focus on debating. This could have made learning more tolerable and interactive. However, argue for the sake of arguing could lead to a great deal of discord and bruised egos if taken to an extreme.

It also needs to be mentioned that universities were not thought of as universities as we do today. It would better to use the word of higher education or education beyond the basics. Often teachers would have their own school in which they would pass on their knowledge to pupils.

Conclusion

Ancient Greece and its influence are felt to this day. The role of the university was first established in the West by the work of this early time. Without this pioneering work by Greece the world may have been a much different place.

Issues of Early Christian Education

In this post, we will look at two issues that Christian education had to address during the period of AD 300-900. These two concerns are the debate between Christian learning and Greek thought and the teaching capacity of educational leaders.

Faith & Hellenism

With the growth of the Christian church within the Roman Empire was a corresponding tension between Christian thought and Greek philosophy. Church leaders were split over whether Christians should study Greek thought along with church teachings.

This debate continued and perhaps grew when the Christian church had firm control of education within the empire by the fourth century. In general, the divide over the inclusion of Greek thought in the education process was split between those who said avoid Greek thought and those who said embrace it.

For the anti-Greeks, they had a strong example of what happens when a Christian studies Greek teachings in the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate (331-363). Julian’s exposure to the classics of Greek thought (and Neo-Platonism) as a student, led him into outright involvement with mystery cults and magic. To further compound matters, Julian attempted to reestablish paganism as the religion of Rome before his untimely demise at the age of 32. Julian was the last emperor to openly oppose Christianity and his actions were all the evidence anti-Greek Christians had that the writings of Plato and Aristotle should be avoided.

For those who supported the study of ancient Greek writers, their argument rested in caution and temperance when reading the classics. One Christian educator warned against hating worldly sciences and that the ideas of these authors should be supplementary to scripture. Julian’s problem was an intemperate and uncritical study of Plato and his peers.

This debate over faith vs Hellenism has continued for the pass 800-900 years. However, there is not as much objection to studying secular thought as there used to be as Christian education has mostly accepted it with the strong exception of several highly controversial ideas (sexual orientation, creation, etc.).

Teaching

As time continued, monks and priests began to educate the young. Unfortunately,  the education that they provided was considered of low quality as they generally focused only on teaching the trivium (Grammar, logic, and rhetoric) in terms of knowledge. Quadrivium was rarely taught if at all.

In addition, the monks and the priest were in need of education themselves. It was common for these men of faith to a lack of a formal education in the position in which they served the church. As such, they were frequently not much ahead of the students in terms of their learning. This led to a push for formal training and education of priests and monks in the 7th and 8th centuries.

In terms of the teaching style, there was a move from the discussion-oriented style of the Greeks to a focus on memorization. This was not done simply to stifle the critical thinking of the students. Rather, the price of parchment rose drastically during this time period, which made it difficult to write things down. The only way to learn now was to memorize large amounts of material because there was no other cheap way to retain knowledge.

Conclusion

There will always be differences and issues that challenge education. The purpose is to examine how others have addressed problems in order to learn from their successes and failures. To this day, Christian leaders struggle with the role of secular thought tin the education of its members. In addition, there are still issues with the qualifications of teachers and the style of teaching tat is employed. As such, a look to the past will simply confirm that problems never change.

Moral Demands of Teaching

As with many jobs, teaching comes with a certain moral expectation. Due to their influence over children, teachers are expected to be a positive moral example for their students. Naturally, what is meant as positive has changed and morphed overtimes. This post will try to trace how the moral expectations of teaching have changed over time in the United States.

19th Century

Originally, teaching was considered temporary work for young men as they made plans to move on to better things. This led to a great deal of turnover. Horace Mann, a leading political figure of the United States at the time wanted to change this. He wanted to move away from the stern male teacher to the gentle female teacher. For the most part, Mann was successful as by the end of the 19th century about 70% of all K-12 teachers were women which is a number that is about the same today.

The switch to a primarily female teaching corp had its advantages and disadvantages. Traditionally, women were more nurturing than men were which may be a benefit for young children. Despite this, it may be possible that at least some children would benefit from the strong hand of male disciplined as portrayed stereotypically during this time period. However, women teachers could be just as itinerant as male teachers as we shall see.

Moral Demands Teaching 19th-Early 20th Century

There were many restrictions on a teacher’s behavior that people would find completely unacceptable today. For example, teachers were expected to go to church every Sunday. Not only is this a church-state violation but it is also compulsory worship in a Christian setting. This would exclude most other religions from teaching in US public schools at this time.

There were also rules against smoking, drinking, dancing, playing cards, and even loitering at ice cream parlors. Even today, few teachers would complain about restrictions for smoking and drinking on-campus but would chafe at such a restriction after hours on personal time. No dancing and play cards would be indefensible. However, during this time, dancing was associated with sexual licentiousness and playing cards was linked with gambling which were both unacceptable behaviors in Christian America. These taboos have been lost over time. Lastly, loitering at ice cream parlors is no longer a concern due to changing times but during the time of these restrictions hanging out anywhere was considered unproductive to society especially for a teacher.

There were also restrictions in terms of dating. Male teachers needed to be careful about how often they were courting women. This was probably meant to make sure that the male teacher was not a womanizer. He could court but not too often or too much. Of course, we are using the word court instead of date because technically there was no dating for teachers at least officially. The purpose of courting was for the consideration of marriage and not premarital sex.

For a female teacher, marriage meant being dismissed from her teaching job. At this time, it was not considered acceptable for a woman to work outside the home once married especially in the teaching. Whether this was fair or not is opened to debate. However, there were not all the amenities that we have today available such as childcare, washer machines, microwaves, etc. that allow a woman to have a career while supporting a home. If the wife did not stay home the home would literally have collapsed.

Changes

As values changed so did the standards for morality for teachers. Over time women were allowed to return to teaching after pregnancy with the caveat that their job was still available. Eventually, in the US, maternity leave was no longer mandatory by the 1970s. Pregnancy discrimination was also banned.

As mentioned previously, there is a stronger separation between how teachers act on an off-campus. Behaviors that used to be unacceptable such as smoking and drinking are only problems if they happen on campus during school hours. Teachers are not the only ones held to such a standard. Even police officers are expected to abstain from certain behaviors when on duty.

Conclusion

Teaching is a rewarding profession that at times can place higher standards in terms of moral behavior. Being around impressionable youth requires teachers to uphold strong moral values because of their influence. Over time, however, the behaviors that are considered moral and acceptable has changed along with the moral expectations of teachers.