Origin of Schools

A BOY is usually sent to school in order that he may obtain, with greater ease and fewer interruptions than would be possible at home, knowledge which would be serviceable to him in after life. This is a motive which acts on parents independently of State instigation; it filled the school of Flavius at Venusia with "big boys, the sons of big centurions," (Hor. Sat. i. 6, 73.) and took Horace to that superior establishment at Rome which received the sons of "knights and senators." To these voluntary schools, which doubtless existed in every part of the Roman empire, and were closely connected with the movement of Pagan society, it does not appear that Christian parents in the first three centuries sent their sons. The earliest Christian school of which we have a distinct account that of Pantaenus at Alexandria (A.D. 180) was one for religious and catechetical instruction (hieron logon katecheseon).(Eus. Hist. Eccl.) The earliest State provision for secondary instruction was made by the Emperor Vespasian, (J.B. Mullinger, The Schools of Charles the Great [1877], p. 12.) who established a group of "imperial schools" at all the great provincial towns; Besancon, Arles, Cologne, Rheims, and Treves are particularly mentioned. In these schools rhetoric, logic, and Latin and Greek literature were well taught, and many a Christian apologist owed to them the mental culture which he employed after his conversion in the service of Christ. When the empire had become Christian, these schools still retained the old methods and subjects of instruction, and even, to a great extent. the old spirit. St. Jerome, who had himself been educated in one of them, was alive to ths perilous nature of this influence, and interdicted the reading of the Pagan authors to all those under his direction who were in training for the religious life. Every bishop's residence was from the first more or less definitely a school, in which clerics were trained for the ecclesiastical life. Similarly, after the commencement of the monastic life under St. Antony and St. Hilarion, the monastery, besides subserving the ends of selfdiscipline and continual intercession, became a school for training monks. This was especially seen in the monasteries in Gaul which followed the rule of the Abbot Cassian of Marseilles. Early in the fifth century the invasions of the barbarians began; for four centuries Western Europe weltered in chaos, and the institutions of civilized life perished. In the cities of Gaul, as the Franks pressed southwards, the old municipal schools the schools of the Rhetoricians and the Grammarians dwindled and were dispersed. Lay life became barberous; and the arts of barbarism which are chiefly fighting, destruction, and coarse indulgence do not stand in need of schools. But in the wreck the episcopal and monastic schools survived, and, through the degradation of lay life, became ever more attractive. In the island of Lerins, the abbot Honoratus, about 400, founded a celebrated monastery, the school of which was known as the Studium Insulanum. Ireland, soon after its conversion by St. Patrick, was dotted over with monastic schools, in which such learning as was then accessible was prosecuted with remarkable success.

The suppression of the schools of Athens by order of Justinian (5~9) sounded the knell of the educational institutes of antiquity. These schools were, in fact, a university, although that name was of later introduction. They had never been able to shake off the Pagan modes of thought which gave birth to them, and now the advancing tide of Christian ideas engulfed them, without being able for a long time to supply their place. A few months after the suppression, St. Benedict founded the abbey of Monte Cassino, and the schools for the erection of which his rule provides were soon spread over Western Europe. These gradually produced a race of teachers and students whose higher and wider views suggested the resuscitation of academic life. It is sufficient to mention the names of Iona, Lindisfarne, Canterbury, York, Fulda, Rheims, Corbie, Fleury, and Seville not as being all of Benedictine origin, but as among the best schools to be found in the troubled period from the fifth to the tenth century.

The great organizing mind of Charlemagne endeavoured to make use of education, as of all other forces within his reach, for restoring civilization in the West. He invited Alcuin, the Scholasticus of York, as the best known teacher in Europe, to his Court at AixlaChapelle and gave into his charge the palace school. Conscientious and painstaking, Alcuin was yet essentially borne; there is something cramped and unsatisfactory in his way of handling all the subjects of his narrow curriculum. The age of universities was not yet. Charlemagne, and his son after him, were perpetually urging the bishops to improve their schools. Rabanus Alaurus, a pupil of Alcuin, made the school of Fulda illustrious; that of Corbie, in the same age, produced Paschasius Radbert. The trivium and quadrivium the invention of which is ascribed by some to Martianus Capella a Carthaginian professor of rhetoric, by others to St. Augustine supplied the cadre of the most advanced instruction for several centuries. Between 850 and 1000, the inroads of the Normans and Danes again made havoc of all that had been hitherto done in France and England to promote education. The Normans, however, when once solidly converted, became the most active propagators of all civilizing ideas that the world has ever seen. The Norman school of Bec, founded in the eleventh century by the Abbot Herluin, numbered among its teachers Lanfranc and St. Anselm. In schools of this class, where knowledge was sought at first hand and philosophy disdained conventional methods, university ideals began to emerge. In the twelfth century, at Paris, commences the history of modern universities. After the establishment of these foci of superior teaching, the secondary school became, in theory, on the one hand a stage
of preparation for the university, on the other a place of the final training for those who had to begin work early. But for a long time first of these two aspects of a secondary school overpowered the other. William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, founded there, in 1373, the school which still exists, expressly in order to feed the college (New College) which he was establishing at Oxford. The Winchester foundation was for a warden and ten fellows, three chaplains and three clerks in orders, an informator or head master, a hostiarius or second master, seventy scholars who were to be "poor and in need of help," and sixteen choristers. (The Public Schools, 1867) Imitating this example, Henry VI. founded the school at Eton in 1440, as a nursery to King's College, Cambridge. The later public schools of England Westminster, Rugby, Harrow, etc. have been founded, speaking generally, upon the model of these two, but without the same close connection with the universities.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the necessity of separating primary or elementary instruction from secondary began to make itself felt. The greater complexity and variety of employments and the increased application of science to all the useful arts, made it desirable, if not indispensable, that the labouring class also should at least be instructed in letters and in the art of calculation. Primary instruction on a large scale was first tried (1684) by the Ven. de la Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers. The new grade had its two aspects that by which it was a stage of preparation for the secondary school, and that by which it gave a final training. Up to very recent times the former aspect was little regarded; but, at present, the advantage of making free and easy communications by which the best scholars can pass from the primary to the secondary, and from that to the superior grade of instruction, is clearly perceived by educationists.

All English schools before the Reformation had a Catholic character. That being withdrawn from them by the change of religion, and the laws prohibiting the erection of new schools under Catholic teachers, those who adhered to the old faith were put to great straits for several generations in order to get their children educated under any tolerable conditions. A single sample of Protestant legislation will show what difficulties had to be faced. By the 11 and 12 Will. III. c. iv.

"if any Papist, or person making profession of the Popish religion, shall keep school, or take upon himself the education or government or boarding of youth, he shall be adjudged to perpetual imprisonment in such place within this kingdom as the King by advice of his Privy Council shall appoint." (Hook's Church Dictionary, "Schools") Unless foreign education were sought, obscure private schools, such as those of which we obtain a glimpse in the accounts of the early life of Pope, were the only available resort. The first school of a higher class was that established at Sedgley Park (it had previously existed in a humble way at Newcastle. underLyne) by bishop Challoner in 1763. Ushaw, which, as Crook Hall, was founded in 1794; Stonyhurst, dating from the same year; St. Edmund's, founded in 1795; Downside, in 1798; Oscott, in 1808; and Edgbaston, in 1858 with Ampleforth, Beaumont, and Woburn Park are our principal Catholic secondary schools at present.

The monitorial system of Bell and Lancaster, by means of which it was considered that primary instruction could be much extended at little expense by setting the elder children as "monitors" to teach the rudiments to the younger, was brought out in 1797. The primary schools of Prussia, organized under Hardenberg with great skill and thoroughness, drew general attention; and in 1833 the first public grant, 20,000l., in aid of the elementary education of the people, was voted by Parliament and its administration confided to a Committee of the Privy Council. The system of aiding local efforts thus introduced has received an enormous development and undergone numerous changes of detail, but in its substantial features it remains unaltered to the present day. In the Anglican communion, the organ through which State help was dispensed was the "National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church," founded in 1812. The corresponding organ for the Dissenters was the "British and Foreign School Society." For Catholics was established, in 1847, the "Catholic Poor School Committee," which by maintaining efficient trainingschools for masters and mistresses, enables Catholic managers to obtain their fair share of the Parliamentary grant for elementary education.

In Ireland the penal laws rendered the erection of Catholic schools impossible until about a hundred years ago, when the ill success of the war against the American colonists compelled certain relaxations. A secondary school for forty boarders was founded at Burrell's Hall, Kilkenny, in 1783, under Drs. Lanigan and Dunne.(Trans. Of the Ossory Archaeolegical Society, 1882, vol. Ii. Part 2) It throve exceedingly, and was transformed in 1836 into St. Kieran's College, under which name it still exists. 0f more recent foundation are Carlow and Thurles Colleges, and the Jesuit Colleges of Clongowes and Tullabeg. These institutions, though without State aid or inspection, are already more flourishing than the Royal and Charter Schools founded in the bad times in order to preserve and extend Protestant ascendancy could ever boast of being.

The National Board of Education in the schools of which a combined literary instruction was to be given to children of all creeds during certain hours in the day, while separate religious teaching might be given to those whose parents desired it before or after those hours, and also on one particular day of the week was organized through the exertions of Mr. Stanley, Chief Secretary for Ireland (afterwards Earl of Derby), in 1831. The bishops accepted this arrangement, not as the best, but as the best obtainable, measure; and under it, notwithstanding the difficulties caused by extreme poverty, elementary school training has penetrated into every corner of Ireland.

An Act for the enforcement of general education, and authorizing the formation of School Boards, and the levying of rates, in all places where voluntary effort should appear to be insufficient for the need, was brought in by Mr. Forster in 1870, and became law. Great efforts have been made by the Catholic body in England, and hitherto with a large measure of success, to provide schools under certificated teachers (and therefore qualified to participate in the educational grant) sufficient for the reception of all the Catholic children in the country. Whether these efforts will prevail, or the Board schools, from which definite religious teaching is excluded, will more and more bring the elementary instruction of the people under their control, is a question still uncertain.

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