Milestones of Learning


11th century

Few people in the world are receiving any kind of formal schooling. Education is centered around religion.

c. 1045 Printing by movable clay type is invented in China.

12th century

Serfs in Europe can receive vocational training, or religious instruction in order to participate in the church. Females in the West are excluded from formal schooling.

Muslims in Europe help to usher in a new phase of education known as Humanism. It emphasizes the role of reason in human affairs and the study of humankind in the present, in contrast to the earlier Christian preoccupation with the cultivation of faith as essential for the future life.

c. 1100 Bologna University is founded. The most ancient in the world, it is established mainly for the study of Roman law.

1160 Paris University is founded, said to be the finest university of the Middle Ages.

Arabs in Spain manufacture paper.

1167 Paris University bars English students, which is thought to have led to the founding of Oxford University in England.


13th century

In Europe, Latin is phased out as the language of the university. For the first time, students are taught in their common language.

In China, semiprivate institutions, shu-yan, or academies, gain popularity. Often located in mountain retreats or in the woods, they symbolized the influence of Taoism and Buddhism and a desire to pursue quiet study far away from possible government interference.

1202 Arabic numerals are introduced in Europe by Italian Leonardo Fibonacci.

1225 St. Thomas Aquinas is born. He later develops the Scholastic model - a theological-philosophical doctrine that greatly influences the development of Western education, especially by stressing the idea of intellectual discipline.

14th century

1304 Francis Petrarch is born in Italy. Known as the first modern scholar, his interest in classical antiquity rather than medieval literature is a defining feature of Renaissance artists and thinkers.

1376 A nonmonastic teaching order, dedicated to democratic teaching principles, develops in Holland.


15th century

European education during the Renaissance is very selective, with women and the lower classes excluded. The first secondary schools appear in Italy.

c. 1438 The printing press is invented by German metalworker Johannes Gutenberg. Inexpensive books and pamphlets are printed, stimulating interest in education.

c. 1469 Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus is born. His writings include the idea that children need play and games to learn.

16th century

In Europe, some of the women of royal and noble families benefit from the Humanist view that girls should receive an education in the liberal arts, as well as in the more usual fields of manners, housekeeping, and basic religious knowledge.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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