Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education: A Biographical Introduction Themes

Gerald L. Gutek
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Benevolence and the Bible from uneducated masses to literate

The history of education changed over several years and eras over time as the cultural influences and thinking changed. The ancient Chinese, Greco-Roman and Medieval Periods were concerned with educating small male groups to become the leaders and rulers of a vast uneducated and illiterate populace. The ruling elite were expected to demonstrate appropriate concern for the uneducated masses to keep them peaceful and under control so as to avoid conflict and rebellion. Not until the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation were the masses given the opportunity to become educated as well. Initially literacy enabled reading Scripture in the vernacular to oppose a Roman Catholic Church that maintained control by a tradition-based hierarchy of clerics.

Confucius and the ancient Chinese held out the gentleman and benevolence to be the primary purpose of elite education. Confucius claimed no belief in an afterlife...

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