Who Invented School?

Horace Mann invented school and what is today the United States’ modern school system. Horace was born in 1796 in Massachusetts and became the Secretary of Education in Massachusettes where he championed an organized and set curriculum of core knowledge for each student.

Most kids all around the globe receive some sort of education, whether it’s learning from family members, going to school, or even getting homeschooled. If you have ever questioned who actually created school and standardized education, well look no further.

Early Schooling

School and education have been around for quite some time, but our standardized education is actually fairly new to us. Check out this guide to education.

“Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It’s about widening your knowledge and absorbing the truth about life.” — Shakuntala Devi
The idea of passing children knowledge is nothing new and can date back to the first humans on Earth. Long before schools parents and elders would pass down their knowledge to their children. This was typically done one on one as opposed to teaching a group of children. The knowledge passed down typically consisted of hunting skills, self-defense tactics, responsibilities that needed to be done, and even responsibilities that had to be done for the group they belonged to.
After a while, the idea of placing a group of people to teach them those skills came up. By doing that, a group of students could learn the skills and knowledge together, which saved time and allowed the students to learn with each other. This was the very early stages of the concept of school. This early stage of school was not what we know today. these students were taught about survival and religious ideas rather than calculus and all that boring stuff we dealt with in school now.

The Start Of Formal Schooling

 We can find the first idea of formal schools and education can be seen as early as 500 AD in ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and even ancient Egypt. Societies began to teach more than just skills the pertained to their culture and students were given a more formal education. Alexandria, in Egypt, became the home to the Library of Alexandria and literacy became an important focus to many schools in different civilizations. During the Middle Ages, mathematics became yet another main focus for education and during the Renaissance period science became a focus for education. As you can see, the different periods in civilization opened up another main focus and added more ideas for education.
The first college in the world, the University of Bologne, was founded in 1088 and is the oldest and longest-running university in the world. It started when students began grouping together and hired educators to teach them different things and ideas. Scholars were able to pass down their knowledge to large groups of people who came from many different nations, and the students were able to decide if the professor was doing their job or not. The students essentially controlled the professor by using money against them, somewhat similar to what we have today. Over time the professors banded together to get their own rights and began setting up degree plans and even set up exams.

Mandatory Schooling And Who Invented It

Overtime education and schooling became more and more important to different societies. Here are some countries who made education mandatory:
  • The Aztecs made education mandatory in the 1400s
  • Different German settlements made education mandatory in the late 1500s
  • Scotland paid for schooling for everyone and made it mandatory in 1616
  • In the United States, Massachusetts made mandatory schooling in 1642
  • Prussia made school compulsory in 1763
  • The UK did not make school mandatory until 1870, but only elementary school was required
    • It wasn’t until 1996 that children were required to have a full-time education BUT school is still not compulsory
  • Japan made school mandatory in 1868

This Is Who Invented Modern Education

While there is no one to credit for inventing school, there is someone who is considered to be the father of modern education. Meet Horace Mann (1796-1859), who was the Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of education, and who eventually became a representative for the state of Massachusetts. Mann truly believed that universal public education was extremely important to help mold American citizens. Under his tenure, he created a number of public schools in Massachusetts and reformed public schools so much that other states adopted Mann’s ideas.

“Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.” — Oprah Winfrey

After being appointed Secretary to the school board Mann visited every school in Massachusetts to see how they operated. Mann began a journal named Common School Journal in 1838 for teachers to follow and get on the same page in their teachings. Mann also went to Europe to check out their schools to see what was important to the Europeans to teach children.

What Are The Principles Of Modern Education?

Mann came up with 6 principles regarding public education. They were actually pretty controversial at the time but were adopted and put into place. Here they are:

  1. Citizens cannot be both free and ignorant
  2. The public needs to pay for, maintain, and control education
  3. Children from all classes should have the same schooling
  4. Education needs to be nonsecular (meaning not religious)
  5. Education needs to use the principles of a free society
  6. The educators and teachers need to be professionally trained

Along with these principles, Mann also separated grades by age as opposed to grouping all students together. He is also the one who best theorized that lecturing would be better suited to learning. Over time, many other states began adopting Mann’s principles that led to the education system that we know today.

Standardized Education

Love it or hate it, ou education system now relies on the usage of standardized education. Historically there have been standardized tests dating as far back as the Han dynasty in the early ADs for citizens to become members of the government. Standardized tests are tests that ask students the same questions that measure how much a school is actually teaching, and it has become very controversial.

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” — Brian Herbert

Just as with the founder of schools, there is no real inventor of standardized education. In 1905 Alfred Binet began developing tests of intelligence, but that became what we know today as IQ tests, and aptitude tests began coming around in the early 1900s but it is still not the standardized tests that we have today. The SAT and ACT were developed in the early 1900s as well by the College Board to test who could be accepted into colleges, but it was a group of people who developed that idea.

Overall, education is an extremely important part of not just American society, but for the citizens across the globe. As Mann believed, a free society can only function with educated individuals running it.