Milestones of Learning


c. 1500 Almost 80 universities have been established in Europe, and primary schools begin to appear.

1564 The graphite pencil debuts in England.

1596 "The English Scholemaister" by Edmund Coote is one of the first books about teaching the English language. It includes a table of about 1,400 words, which is later expanded upon in the first English dictionary.


17th century

When the colonists come to America, they set up schools based on European models. Many are run and supported by the church. Only 1 in 10 children attend school.

1630 In Japan, a school is founded in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) that would grow into the official Confucian University. Similar Confucian schools are established throughout Japan.

1635 The Boston Latin School opens as the first "grammar," or secondary, school in Britain's American Colonies.

1636 Harvard, the first college in the American Colonies, is founded.

1637 French philosopher Ren Descartes proposes mathematics as the perfect model for reasoning and invents analytic geometry.

1658 Czech education reformer John Amos Comenius publishes the first-ever children's picture book, "Orbis Sensualim Pictus" (The Visible World in Pictures). The book is a bestseller in all major European languages.


18th century

Schools in the American Colonies begin to teach more practical subjects, like bookkeeping, navigation, and algebra. After the Revolutionary War, church control over schools declines in the United States and most other Western countries.

1731 Benjamin Franklin founds the Library Company of Philadelphia, the first subscription library in America - funded by fees people paid to join.

1785 Interest in state control of education is on the rise. An ordinance passes declaring that the income gained from the sale of the land at the center of each township is to be used for public elementary schools.


19th century

The Industrial Revolution takes hold in the West, changing both the US economy and its educational system. Public schools, kindergarten, and teacher training are all introduced in this century.

In China, after years of broad and liberal education, a core of Confucian classics returns. The Chinese focus on restoring their heritage after alien rule by the Mongols. Reading and writing are seen as more important than art, science, music, and math.

1821 Boston opens the first public high school in the US.

1829 In the US, the first practical typewriter is patented.

1833 Oberlin Collegiate Institute (later Oberlin College) is founded in Ohio. In the US, it is the first coeducational college and the first to refuse to ban black students.

The first public library in the US is founded in Peterboro, N.H.

1837 Friedrich Froebel founds the first kindergarten in Blakenburg, Germany.

c. 1840 Blackboards are introduced.

1852 Massachusetts passes the first compulsory school-attendance law in the US. By 1918, every state will have a similar law.

1861 First Ph.D. degree in the US is awarded at Yale University.

1871 Japan forms a ministry of education and modernizes its system. By 1905, 95 percent of children of the compulsory-school age are in school.

1890 Educational testing is begun in some US schools.

1896 US Supreme Court decision approves "separate but equal" schooling.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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