Education in Early Cultures
(Week 2, September 11 , 2013)
Education versus Schooling:
Education happens more broadly, inside and outside of schools, institutions and uses real
world experiences. Includes many other aspects.
Schooling has a formal curriculum, assessment, entry requirements, etc., and happens in
Note: ‘Early Culture’is different from Greece and Rome, it is before 500 BCE.
The history of education is the history of the development of the human race.
Can you imagine a society without education? What would it look like?
This overlaps in many ways, inseparable (Ex, can a culture exist without education?).
Education in Early Cultures:
Studied by anthropologists.
Pre-civilization (what is civilization).
Most of human history is ‘pre-history’.
What kind of education went on then?
Intensity practical, through observation.
Moral or religious, made ‘good’people, through listening.
Some Educational Scenarios:
Afather is sitting beside some boulders on a hill, over 10,000 years-ago, looking down on
some animals. His son is watching from a distance, and throwing a wood spear.
Amother is collecting berries by a river beside the tribes’camp. She is teaching her
daughters which ones are poisonous and which ones are not, and how they can be
mixed with food.
AShaman is explaining the origins of thunder, and how it is a part of the largers story
about the origins of the world and the creation of their tribe.
Was it safe?
Where was it found?
Where does it grow?
Tracking and killing animals.
Taking meat off animals and transporting the meat.
Storytelling and Social Learning: Equivalent to social media today.
Speaking and listening was a big part of life as these were oral cultures, and there was no
reading or writing.
This was how values and beliefs were transmitted.
Examples of Informal Schooling:
It was spontaneous, unsystematic, very specific, practical (survival).
Education is not equal to school.
Characteristics of Education in Early Cultures:
Children are always around adults, so they ate always observing them (compared to
Adults did not initiate teaching, they taught what was needed at that specific time.
Children would learn without being taught.
Children would follow their impulses and natural curiosity. They were self-motivated,
would use their natural talent.
There was no discipline, structure, or demonstrations.
In a way, adults were always teaching, they needed to behave in ways their child should
imitate. Teaching was often unintentional.
Children became educated through their own play and exploration, without adult
intervention. They would play versus us ‘learning’today, fun has been forgotten.
Level of learning depends on the strength of the childs desire to be like an adult.
Transmission, imitation, repetition, conserve and preserve.
We can see much of this happening among animals.
Retain information better.
Make adults act like better people.
No test of knowledge.
Adults acting poorly has a negative affect.
Some knowledge may not be passed on.
Education becomes more formalized with written language.
The need for schools as a culture becomes literate, learning is no longer spontaneous.
Learning how to read and write requires intentional, planned and structured learning.
Lead to teaching and schools.
Literacy ↔ Formal Education. John Dewey:
American philosopher of education (1859-1952).
Most influential education writer ever.
One of the most influential writer ever in history.
Founder of “Pragmatism”.
“Learning by doing”.
Dewey is like the air we breathe (straight forward).
Therefore, he sometimes seems remarkable.
But he was actually revolutionary!
In many ways he helped create our educational world today.
Three Main Ideas:
Renewal of life by transmission.
Education and communication.
The place of formal education.
Continuity Through Renewal:
The article starts in a general sense, talking about life, not just education.
We maintain ourselves as a species through renewal.
What would happen without renewal? Extinction of a culture or species.
“Education, in its broadest sense, is the means of the social continuity of life.”
Social continuity of life, passing on of a culture.
Inculdes customs, institutions, beliefs, victories, defeats, recreations and occupations.
Not just biological.
“Education, and education alone, spans the gap”:
With the growth of civiliza