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When considering the history of education, the 18th-century was a pivotal time for education. In order for one to understand school systems today, one needs to take a look at the past and the way things worked throughout the 1700s around the world. 

The Age Of Enlightenment

One of the most important periods in education was shaped by the age of Enlightenment that came about between the 1650s and the 1790s. New ideas and concepts were being appropriated and dogmatic authorities such as the Catholic Church and religious organizations were being questioned. The public started to embrace the ideas of the scientific method and new ways of thinking. It gets better - this paved the path for critical thinking, analysis, and discussion into the classroom environment. Common and undiscussed subjects such as religion were suddenly being brought into the classroom environment with a more open dialogue between teachers and pupils.


Truly A New Time

As society changed, so did people’s ideas and thoughts. People were thinking differently and the classroom reflected these changes within society. Philosophy evolved and many thinkers began to criticize traditional ways of thought. These Enlightenment philosophers expressed a want to modernize the traditional educational systems so that people could live more meaningful lives for the future to come.


Embracing The Arts

Things that had previously been considered sinful within America were being embraced within the classroom, such as the arts and theatre. As people's tastes began to change, the sophistication of society increased and people began to demand more education in drama. The same went with music, the demand for live music performances increasing which was reflected within the education system. With changes in interest came changes in schooling and subject matter. New days were coming around, allowing the development of arts education programmes in schools.


A Touch Of Class

As economic prosperity was on the rise, schooling changed. Previously there had been a lot of focus on elitist grammar schools, providing little in the teaching of practical based tasks and vocational subjects. A lot of pressure was subsequently placed within the education system to allow young men to seek vocational education and to learn business skills. As a result of this, the middle class grew substantially.


New Philosophies

As previous ideas were being challenged, philosophy such as John Locke's showed that knowledge could be gained through reflection and sensation. Locke’s ideas highlighted the fact that people shouldn't be restricted by class and gender when education was concerned, which is why today Charles Ebert the chief of EduBirdies says amongst others that education is really for everyone. Before the 18th-century, education was mostly restricted to men who were of a noble or upper class. This all began to change for the better, society gradually adopting these ideas throughout the century.


The Rise Of Grammar Schools

As a response for a more practical based educational system, English grammar schools were on the rise. These institutions served to teach students who had no intention of going to college. Grammar schools within the 18th-century were the 1st to embrace alternative forms of subject matter,


●        Dance was taught in schools and embraced by both genders.

●        People began to learn musical instruments and study musical theatre.

●        Paintings were painted, pictures were drawn and the arts flourished.


This all proved to be highly exciting for individuals attending school at the time.


New Academy Schools

Aside from the introduction of grammar schools, another outcome was the growth of Academy institutions for higher learning. The first of these academies was established by Benjamin Franklin in 1749, which subsequently became the University of Pennsylvania. These academies served as private schools for secondary students and taught a wide range of subjects, both practical and academic.


Such schools combined aspects of grammar schools, but the academies were not controlled by religious influences and so the discussion side of education was free. The curriculum is typically taught a number of subjects, including astronomy, maths, sciences, modern languages, drama, sport, horticulture and orienteering. Academies were coed and allowed both boys and girls to participate, continuing to bridge the gender divide that had previously been a huge part of the 17th century.


A Better Time

The benefits were enormous for all of society all around the world. Literacy rates grew to new and historic heights - most people were actually able to sign their names and many women could now read. The amount of printing and book publishing increased, making books more and easily available around the world. Everybody began to read and write, so the subject matter wasn't always religious dogma as it had been for many years previously. All of these benefits fostered a culture of intellectual exchange. People began gathering in society at libraries, clubs, and coffeehouses where they could learn, read and exchange their thoughts. It was only the 18th-century that created the field for the seeds of education to grow in the future. What happened here shaped the Industrial Revolution and history for many years to come.



Have you read much about the education system in the 18th century? How do you think it may have affected today’s society? Leave us your comments below.


About the author: Sophia Clark is a freelance writer and blogger. Her passion for helping people in all aspects of essay writing.