The Evolution of Western Education

246 views 6 pages ~ 1614 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

From the era between the middle of the 17th century to the around the late years of the 18th century, a new social, economic and intellectual movement was experienced. First, it is important to understand the rationale behind education and what exactly entails that term. Education is primarily a way of facilitating learning in order to acquire knowledge, values, beliefs, skills, and habits. In most instances learning usually takes place under the guidance of a tutor. In other cases, learners also get to acquire knowledge by themselves through personal research and interaction. Education is majorly classified into two broad categories; Formal Education and Informal education.  Formal education is basically the current system in the bigger parts of the world where learners attend class in a school set up under the guidance of a tutor. The classes are divided into levels that is Primary, secondary and Tertiary levels (though this is not universal in all formal systems). On the other hand informal setup entails a situation where learners don't usually follow a stipulated curriculum like in the formal setup. Learners may be guided by tutors who teach them basic skills and acquire knowledge from such organization.

Evolution of western education

This essay will focus on the education system in the western civilization past the 17th

century. The point of interest will be to understand and look into how the education system in the western civilization has leaped in bounds to date. To understand the context it is also important to define western civilization. It is the heritage of social values, ethical norms, political systems, educational systems, specific artifacts, and technologies that are believed to have some origin from Europe. This term applies to countries whose history is strongly marked by the immigration off European origins such as countries of the American link and Australia and Asia. One important element to note is that these countries are not restricted to the European continent. Historically the records of western culture begin with the ancient Rome and Greece. Trends that have come to describe the modern Western culture include the emergence of new political pluralism, prominent subcultures and an increased level of syncretism. This is majorly attributed to the rapid growth of the globalization and mass human migration.

The spread of the European civilization into new worlds overseas triggered the rise of commercial rivalry. This eventually led to an increase in the national wealth and facilitated the growth in numbers of the middle class. All these factors (Social and economic) coupled with technological changes such as the steam engine and the factory setup, together brought about industrialism, urbanization and the introduction of mass labor. There was a huge psychological change where people’s confidence in their own power to use resources and structure their own future was fueled to immense levels in a scale never known before. This was packaged in the form of nationalism that directed all groups to fight for their struggle to freedom and take control of their own affairs.

All these events led to the influence on the progress of education. One major and the most notable outcome was the progressive acceptance of the idea that education is supposed to be the responsibility of the state. For instance countries such as France and Germany were inspired by the idea of both national aspiration and ideology, leading to the commencement of the public education system in the era of early 19th century. On the other side of the border countries such as Great Britain and the United States held on longer before accepting the government to take control of the educational issues.

The new changes in the social and economic sectors also required the schools, both private and public, to broaden their goals and curricula. In this new regime schools were expected to just only spearhead literacy, mental discipline, and good moral status, but also to assist in setting up children for jobs, citizenship and overall success of the individual. The initial teaching methods were retained towards memorizing of textbooks and inculcating strict discipline. Additionally, a more sympathetic approach towards children began to sprout in these countries. Pupil’s numbers began to grow rapidly and group methods of learning began to show. The monitorial system of education was born. In this setup, a teacher would essentially use older children to act as prefects in teaching specific lessons to younger children in various groups. Again, the tendency of dividing and grading children into various grades and classes using the criteria of age, began in the 18th century as the number of schools grew larger.

The era between the 18th

and 19th century was a period that saw a huge activity in the restructuring of educational principles. For instance, there was the emergence of philosophers such as Froebel. Froebel is documented to be the father of the kindergarten movement. He spearheaded the ideology of constructive play and self-activity in early childhood. According to him, education is split into two aspects: first, the teacher has to remove hindrances that are seen to inhibit self-growth or rather self-activity of the child. On the other hand he was to correct deviations from what the human being experience has outlined as right and accepted. In this regard, education is seen to be both dictating and giving away. Therefore the teacher should not intervene either place upon mandatory education, but when a child of kindergarten category is seen to be uncomfortable. Then in such a situation the teacher is authorized to take over and understand the main cause of distress and in the process attempt to eliminate it. This is believed to unlock the child’s creative development. The meaning of school for Froebel was not just an idea for acquiring a greater or lesser variety of external knowledge. He thought children were given directions in things they really didn't need. School should, therefore, be a place where pupils come and understand the inner relationship of things. In this context, things mean God, man, nature and their overall unity.

There were huge changes seen to spread across Europe in the 19th century. These included the consolidation of national states, the emergence of modern technology and lastly industrialization. These changes had a direct influence on the design of school systems. For example, national schools had to be born and organized. Vocational schools were seen to also emerge. The influence of religious institutions such as churches was increasingly crushed while on the other end the influence of states on the school system grew more robust. The idea of universal education that advocated for education for all started to take shape and grew more realistic.

In the country of Prussia similar to everywhere else across the globe, the higher education of girls was sluggish compared to that of boys and received minimal attention from the state. This necessitated the administration of girl's schools to be established under the elementary school system. After the establishment of the German empire in the year 1871, a conference of directors and teachers of such schools was convened at Weiner and advocated for better organization and improvement of the status of such schools. The women teachers demanded a larger share of the work seeking equality with their male counterparts. This henceforth led to the establishment of a new higher examination for female teachers. It was until the beginning of 20th century that the fought for changes began to take effect.  

In the European education system, the secondary school education level was set up as a way of preparing the learners for university education. The characteristic European organization has basically been called the dual plan. There was the elementary level and the secondary level. This was two distinct levels of education and just a minority of the pupils would qualify to secondary level. This was grounded on the basis of bright students winning scholarships through a rigorous examination process. The secondary schools were of two categories; lycees and communal colleges. The lycees that were primarily maintained by tuition fees and state scholarships were mandated to teach the ancient languages, mathematics, physical sciences, and ethics. On the other hand, communal colleges which were established by municipals or certain individuals were maintained by tuition fees but also offered partial lycee curriculum. The prominent subjects included Mathematics, history, and geography. Pupils who unfortunately did not complete the secondary education level were absorbed into the civil service or other white collar occupations.


The modern education system is strongly anchored on the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution is an era that the west experienced in the early 19th

century to the mid of the same century. This era saw the transition to a new manufacturing process in western countries. With industries emerging, the demand for skilled labor grew strongly in order to supply the workforce to run these industries. The answer to this skill gap was found in education. Therefore as a move to bridge this gap the emergence of modern education systems was introduced and eventually schools began churning out skilled workforce to the emerging industries. Schools impacted skills and knowledge to run processes and machinery in the industries there facilitating the growth of industries. Since then education has evolved in leaps and bounds adjusting to the requirements of the modern day world. This has since spread rapidly worldwide as new economies emerge.

Work Cited

Tabulawa, Richard. "Pedagogical classroom practice and the social context: The case of Botswana." International journal of educational development 17.2 (1997): 189-204.

Bowen, James. A History of Western Education: The Modern West: Europe and the New World. Vol. 3. Methuen, 1981.

Good, Harry Gehman. "A history of western education." (1961).

Clark, Burton R. The higher education system: Academic organization in cross-national perspective. Univ of California Press, 1986.

November 13, 2023




Subject area:

Education System

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Education System
Verified writer

RiaSm02 is great for all things related to education. Sharing a case study that I could not understand for the life of mine, I received immediate help. Great writer and amazing service that won’t break the bank!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro