The curriculum of academic education, along with the Roman alphabet and the Latin language, was first brought to Britain during the Roman occupation. Originally a pagan education for administrative and cultural (including religious) purposes, Roman secular education, in the provinces as at Rome itself, was an elevating, civilising experience aimed at producing a cultured citizen elite capable of participating in the state’s affairs, for example, as magistrates. When the Roman occupation ended, the Latin language survived in Britain in the Christian priesthood, and it received a new lease of life with the sending of the Gregorian mission to the Anglo-Saxons in 597. Anglo-Saxon recruits to the priesthood learned Latin, the language of the Rome-based church, and the art of metre, astronomy and ecclesiastical computation. According to Bede some knew Latin and Greek as well as their native tongue. Thus the two classical Mediterranean civilisations of Greece and Rome and their ancient tongues entered the curriculum of scholarly education in the European offshore islands of Britain. However, though Bede was well educated for the seventh century, he viewed education as cramming in approved learning (‘pouring streams of wholesome learning’ into minds) rather than drawing out the pupil’s potential. The minds were passive receptacles and the desirable education was precensored so that ‘wholesome’ knowledge was selected for the drip feed.
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- Outline of Developments
Helen M. Jewell
- Macmillan Education UK
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