Language Teaching Through the Ages (Routledge Research in Education)
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Higher education in Rome was more of a status symbol than a practical concern. Literacy rates in the Greco-Roman world were seldom more than 20 percent; averaging perhaps not much above 10 percent in the Roman empire, though with wide regional variations, probably never rising above 5 percent in the western provinces.
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The literate in classical Greece did not much exceed 5 percent of the population. During the Early Middle Ages, the monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church were the centers of education and literacy, preserving the Church's selection from Latin learning and maintaining the art of writing. Prior to their formal establishment, many medieval universities were run for hundreds of years as Christian monastic schools Scholae monasticae , in which monks taught classes, and later as cathedral schools ; evidence of these immediate forerunners of the later university at many places dates back to the early 6th century.
The first medieval institutions generally considered to be universities were established in Italy, France, and England in the late 11th and the 12th centuries for the study of arts, law, medicine, and theology. Students in the twelfth-century were very proud of the master whom they studied under. They were not very concerned with telling others the place or region where they received their education.
Even now when scholars cite schools with distinctive doctrines, they use group names to describe the school rather than its geographical location. Those who studied under Robert of Melun were called the Meludinenses. These people did not study in Melun , but in Paris, and were given the group name of their master. Citizens in the twelfth-century became very interested in learning the rare and difficult skills masters could provide.
Ireland became known as the island of saints and scholars. Monasteries were built all over Ireland, and these became centres of great learning see Celtic Church. Northumbria was famed as a centre of religious learning and arts.
Initially the kingdom was evangelized by monks from the Celtic Church , which led to a flowering of monastic life, and Northumbria played an important role in the formation of Insular art , a unique style combining Anglo-Saxon, Celtic , Byzantine and other elements. After the Synod of Whitby in AD, Roman church practices officially replaced the Celtic ones but the influence of the Anglo-Celtic style continued, the most famous examples of this being the Lindisfarne Gospels.
The Venerable Bede — wrote his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum Ecclesiastical History of the English People, completed in in a Northumbrian monastery, and much of it focuses on the kingdom. During the reign of Charlemagne , King of the Franks from to AD, whose empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Romans, there was a flowering of literature, art, and architecture known as the Carolingian Renaissance. Brought into contact with the culture and learning of other countries through his vast conquests, Charlemagne greatly increased the provision of monastic schools and scriptoria centres for book-copying in Francia.
Most of the surviving works of classical Latin were copied and preserved by Carolingian scholars. Charlemagne took a serious interest in scholarship, promoting the liberal arts at the court, ordering that his children and grandchildren be well-educated, and even studying himself under the tutelage of Paul the Deacon, from whom he learned grammar, Alcuin, with whom he studied rhetoric, dialect and astronomy he was particularly interested in the movements of the stars , and Einhard, who assisted him in his studies of arithmetic.
The English monk Alcuin was invited to Charlemagne's court at Aachen , and brought with him the precise classical Latin education that was available in the monasteries of Northumbria.
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Charlemagne's chancery made use of a type of script currently known as Carolingian minuscule , providing a common writing style that allowed for communication across most of Europe. After the decline of the Carolingian dynasty, the rise of the Saxon Dynasty in Germany was accompanied by the Ottonian Renaissance. Cathedral schools and monasteries remained important throughout the Middle Ages; at the Third Lateran Council of the Church mandated that priests provide the opportunity of a free education to their flocks, and the 12th and 13th century renascence known as the Scholastic Movement was spread through the monasteries.
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These however ceased to be the sole sources of education in the 11th century when universities , which grew out of the monasticism began to be established in major European cities. Literacy became available to a wider class of people, and there were major advances in art, sculpture, music and architecture. This highlighted the monastery influence and developments made for education, from the ancient capital of Scotland.
Sculpture, paintings and stained glass windows were vital educational media through which Biblical themes and the lives of the saints were taught to illiterate viewers. During the 6th and 7th centuries, the Academy of Gundishapur , originally the intellectual center of the Sassanid empire and subsequently a Muslim centre of learning, offered training in medicine, philosophy, theology and science.
The faculty were versed not only in the Zoroastrian and Persian traditions, but in Greek and Indian learning as well. The University of al-Qarawiyyin located in Fes , Morocco is the oldest existing, continually operating and the first degree awarding educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records  and is sometimes referred to as the oldest university.
The House of Wisdom in Baghdad was a library, translation and educational centre from the 9th to 13th centuries. Works on astrology , mathematics , agriculture , medicine , and philosophy were translated.
Drawing on Persian , Indian and Greek texts—including those of Pythagoras , Plato , Aristotle , Hippocrates , Euclid , Plotinus , Galen , Sushruta , Charaka , Aryabhata and Brahmagupta —the scholars accumulated a great collection of knowledge in the world, and built on it through their own discoveries. The House was an unrivalled centre for the study of humanities and for sciences , including mathematics , astronomy , medicine , chemistry , zoology and geography.
Baghdad was known as the world's richest city and centre for intellectual development of the time, and had a population of over a million, the largest in its time. The Islamic mosque school Madrasah taught the Quran in Arabic and did not at all resemble the medieval European universities. In the 9th century, Bimaristan medical schools were formed in the medieval Islamic world , where medical diplomas were issued to students of Islamic medicine who were qualified to be a practicing Doctor of Medicine. Under the Ottoman Empire , the towns of Bursa and Edirne became major centers of learning.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the town of Timbuktu in the West African nation of Mali became an Islamic centre of learning with students coming from as far away as the Middle East. The town was home to the prestigious Sankore University and other madrasas. The primary focus of these schools was the teaching of the Qur'an , although broader instruction in fields such as logic, astronomy, and history also took place.
Over time, there was a great accumulation of manuscripts in the area and an estimated , or more manuscripts , some of them dated from pre-Islamic times and 12th century, are kept by the great families from the town. More than 18, manuscripts have been collected by the Ahmed Baba centre. Although there are more than 40, Chinese characters in written Chinese, many are rarely used. Studies have shown that full literacy in the Chinese language requires a knowledge of only between three and four thousand characters.
In China, three oral texts were used to teach children by rote memorization the written characters of their language and the basics of Confucian thought.
The Thousand Character Classic , a Chinese poem originating in the 6th century, was used for more than a millennium as a primer for teaching Chinese characters to children. The poem is composed of phrases of four characters each, thus containing exactly one thousand unique characters, and was sung in the same way that children learning the Latin alphabet may use the " alphabet song ".
Later, children also learn the Hundred Family Surnames , a rhyming poem in lines of eight characters composed in the early Song dynasty  i. From around the 13th century until the latter part of the 19th century, the Three Character Classic , which is an embodiment of Confucian thought suitable for teaching to young children, served as a child's first formal education at home. The text is written in triplets of characters for easy memorization. With illiteracy common for most people at the time, the oral tradition of reciting the classic ensured its popularity and survival through the centuries.
With the short and simple text arranged in three-character verses, children learned many common characters, grammar structures, elements of Chinese history and the basis of Confucian morality. After learning Chinese characters, students wishing to ascend in the social hierarchy needed to study the Chinese classic texts. The early Chinese state depended upon literate, educated officials for operation of the empire.
In AD, during the Sui dynasty , for the first time, an examination system was explicitly instituted for a category of local talents. The merit-based imperial examination system for evaluating and selecting officials gave rise to schools that taught the Chinese classic texts and continued in use for 1, years, until the end the Qing dynasty , being abolished in in favour of Western education methods. The core of the curriculum for the imperial civil service examinations from the midth century onwards was the Four Books , representing a foundational introduction to Confucianism.
Theoretically, any male adult in China, regardless of his wealth or social status, could become a high-ranking government official by passing the imperial examination, although under some dynasties members of the merchant class were excluded. In reality, since the process of studying for the examination tended to be time-consuming and costly if tutors were hired , most of the candidates came from the numerically small but relatively wealthy land-owning gentry. However, there are vast numbers of examples in Chinese history in which individuals moved from a low social status to political prominence through success in imperial examination.
Under some dynasties the imperial examinations were abolished and official posts were simply sold, which increased corruption and reduced morale. In the period preceding — AD, prefectural schools had been neglected by the state and left to the devices of wealthy patrons who provided private finances. Each university specialized in a particular field of study. Takshila specialized in the study of medicine, while Ujjain laid emphasis on astronomy. Nalanda, being the biggest centre, handled all branches of knowledge, and housed up to 10, students at its peak.
Indigenous education was widespread in India in the 18th century, with a school for every temple, mosque or village in most regions of the country.