Education in the Middle Ages

Like all things in History, education varied depending on the status of the family. Poor families and wealthy families educated their children very differently.

Wealthy education was structured and involved attending schools or being privately tutored at home.

Children from poorer families were educated by their parents, therefore could only rise to the same level as their parents, they therefore always followed in their parents footsteps.

The medieval period covered many centuries and a wealthy education changed greatly during this time. With the creation of schools; however the teachings very much remained the same.

Wealthy families employed tutors to teach their children from around the age of 9. This was to teach them to read and write in Latin as this was the main language of the day.

As the Middle Ages progressed schools came into existence, although these were only for middle class and nobility.

There were many schools, some of which were informal and others a little more structured, but they were all based around the church with lessons taught by the clergy.

Song schools were held in churches and cathedrals and taught students Latin hymns. Sometimes they also taught the students to read and write.

Monastic schools were held in monasteries for boys who wished to enter the church. Monks became the teachers and the lessons were all based on religious education.

Grammar schools were held in cathedrals and taught the sons of merchants to speak in Latin, and all lessons were taught in Latin. This was very important, as the main language of trade in medieval Europe was Latin. This then ensured that merchants businesses would continue to thrive through their sons management.

At Grammar school it was also possible to learn logic, rhetoric, philosophy, astrology and music. Little emphasis was placed on mathematics.

Lessons would start at sunrise and finish at sunset; this made school a very long day, sometimes up to 14 hours in the summer months, although the winter days were shorter. The schools were very strict and pupils would be punished if they did not behave.

If a boy excelled in Grammar school, it was possible to advance his education further, and some Grammar schools became Universities.

The two best known Universities in England, Oxford and Cambridge were formed in the Middle Ages, around the 12th Century.

It was rare for girls to be educated at school as they were believed to only need an education to make them a good wife, mother and housekeeper. All of these traits could be taught at home.

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