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Education in the Middle Ages

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The Russian State Social University

Report on Pedagogics.

“Education in the Middle Ages”

Made by the first-year

student of faculty of

foreign languages,

Chrcked by Khajrullin

Ruslan Zinatullovich.





3Education in the Orthodox Christian Civilization

5The Russian offshoot of the Orthodox Christian Civilization

9Education in the Western Civilization


14bibliographic List


In A.D. 476 the Roman Empire, as universal state of the Hellenic Civilization, collapsed. This date is considered to be the beginning of the European Middle Ages. The Middle Ages covers the period from the fifth century till the sixteenth century. Middle Ages are divided into the early Middle Ages (V-IX centuries), the Middle Ages (X-XIII centuries), and Renaissance (XIV-XVI centuries).

Education in the Orthodox Christian Civilization

Although the stages in the history of the Orthodox Christian Civil​ization can be identified and dated, the scanty materials about educa​tion do not permit a comparable division in the development thereof. There were scholars in plenty in the society at many different stages, but education is rarely described either by them or by the historians, and the allusions to curricula, methods, and personnel are for the most part vague and ambiguous. There is little direct evidence about schools; what indirect evidence there is must be derived almost en​tirely from biographies of a relatively few individuals.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Orthodox Christian Civilization was the close relationship between church and state, in antithesis to the separation of church and state in the Western world. The whole outlook and orien​tation of the society was grounded in religion so that the church, as the official institution of religion, exerted an incalculably great in​fluence on all aspects of life including the "secular every-day educa​tion" and the affairs of the state supported university.

At the same time, however, public education in the society was pre​dominantly secular and independent of the church. Little is known about primary and secondary, but it is Marrou's opinion that in the East, there was a "direct continuation" of the classical education that prevailed under the Roman Empire. Certainly the basis continued to be grammar and the classics, and the same textbooks and commentaries continued to be used and copied. In higher education, the dominant institution was the univer​sity at Constantinople, which had been founded A.D. 425 by Theo​dosius II, and the curriculum in it remained entirely classical.

Thus by the time of the emergence of the civilization, the education and culture were Greek and the lay, secular education was classical, but behind the Greek culture and the secular education the influence of religion and of the orthodox church were extremely powerful.

There were three types of education, or, rather, three types of schools: the classical, secular, lay schools which included the univer​sity and its preparatory schools, in which there was a predominantly secular secondary training; the monastic school; and the special patriarchal schools. Each of the three, and the preparation for it, will be treated in turn.

The Orthodox Christian child was brought up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" and listened at night to stories from the Bible, was made to learn some of it by heart, particularly the Psalms, and was trained in correct (Greek) pronunci​ation. The child was later on to be taught from pagan textbooks and was to read pagan literature, especially Homer, as a matter of course; at home he learned that "our" — that is, the Christian — learning was the true and that the pagan literature, if not actually false, was only in praise of virtue disguised as verse or story.

At the age of six or seven or eight the boy went to an elementary school. Most towns of size had at least one school with a fairly competent teacher or teachers, and children of all social classes could attend the schools; it seems that tuition fees were charged and that the schools were privately operated. The main subject of study in the elementary school was reading and writing. When the boy was ten or twelve he began the study of "grammar."