History of Education: The Middle Ages

Dear Reader,

This post is part of an ongoing series in search of a reformed Christian philosophy theology of education. Find all the posts here.

I am currently looking at the history of Christian thought on education using D. Bruce Lockerbie’s A Passion for Learning: A History of Christian Thought on Education (Colorado Springs: Purposeful Designs, 2007; first published 1994). Thus far we have looked at biblical times and the early church. Today’s topic is the medieval church.

The picture Lockerbie paints of these so called “Dark Ages” is fairly typical. The collapse of the Roman Empire brought chaos. Centers of learning were destroyed and it was only in the monasteries that learning was preserved for future generations. The later Middle Ages did see the rise of the university. A style of teaching called dialectic involving “discussion and dispute between teachers and students” (p. 70 ) was developed. The method or school into which this evolved is known as scholasticism. Over time, however, these disputes became rigid. This was not open discussion but memorizing proscribed lists of questions and answers. At the very end of the Middle Ages, in the 15th and 16th centuries, there was a reaction against this method, a new opening up.

I don’t have a lot to comment on regarding this period. I will say again as I did for the early church period, that there is little indication here of what, if any, actually relates to the schooling of children which is meant to be our concern. I suspect there was just not much going on and that is why not much is said that specifically relates to what we might call elementary education. My other caution is that Lockerbie is presenting sources with little evaluation of their orthodoxy, which is fine for his purpose. Our overall purpose is to talk about reformed Christian education (which is somewhat anachronistic in this period as the Reformation hadn’t happened yet). There are authors listed here — Thomas Aquinas and Peter Abelard rise to the top — whom I would not consider good theological role models. While we may look at what they have said as part of the history of education, it is important as well to be discriminating and to know where, theologically, one’s sources come from before accepting what they say.

Nebby

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] 2007; first published 1994). Thus far we have looked at biblical times, the early church, and the Middle Ages. Today we are looking at the rise of humanism and the Protestant […]

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  2. […] Designs, 2007; first published 1994). Thus far we have looked at biblical times, the early church, the Middle Ages, and the rise of humanism and the Protestant Reformation. Today we look at the beginnings of the […]

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