From Monasteries to Universities: Ministers to Moneymakersby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time Essay
How did monasteries and universities develop?
Moses was schooled in the way of the Egyptians. Daniel was schooled in the way of the Babylonians. Paul attended the School of Gamaliel. These were all religious based educations. However, millions of students today are schooled in the way of secular humanism. How have the purpose of schools changed over the centuries?
From sitting at the knee of one's mother, to sitting in a university lecture hall with hundreds of other students, schooling has dramatically changed. Disciples gathered around favorite teachers, like Confucius, Buddha, or Muhammad. In Europe, monasticism grew as monks left for private study and meditation and unintentionally drew others to which formed monasteries. These became places to learn different languages, reading, writing, grammar, mathematics, logic, rhetoric, astronomy, and music. Did this promote superstitious beliefs as secular humanists accuse, or were monasteries places were superstitions were challenge and scientific reasoning was developed to better understand the working of God's creation? Obviously, monks like Mendel (father of genetics), were promoting true knowledge.
During a time, in the 800s, when few knew how to read and write, and almost none knew arithmetic or any other subject, Charlemagne decided that his empire needed educated people in order to survive. He issued a decree that each monastery needed to hold a school for the free education of boys. These schools’ main goal was to train priests, and the young men went through two phases for this purpose: the trivium and the quadrivium. While studying the trivium, the students learned the basics: grammar, rhetoric, and logic. These three subjects have not changed much since then; grammar teaches reading, writing, and speaking—in those days they learned to do all of this in Latin—while rhetoric teaches public speaking, and logic teaches validity of propositions. In the quadrivium the students learned arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. These subjects, however, differ rather greatly in comparison to what each subject now addresses. Arithmetic was the study of quantitative reasoning (numbers), geometry meant the study of architecture, surveying, and measurements, astronomy was used for predicting dates of important events (such as Easter) and marking the seasons. All of these subjects only provided the basics that a priest would need to know.
Eventually, in the 1000s, schools began to teach concepts that went beyond what a priest would need to learn. Each school had a main area of study. Some schools specialized in law, others in philosophy, mathematics, music, and others yet in astronomy. While all these changes took place, the schools still resided in monasteries or cathedrals. In the 1200s the university was born. Universities came about in a rather strange way—they started as a result of a fight. One tavern owner began a fight with a group of students in a Latin school in Paris, and the students retaliated by causing a brawl in the tavern. Then the tavern owner asked the provost, the deputy who ran the city, to “take care” of the group of students. By the end of the unpleasant business, a fight had taken place and at least five students had died. Masters, or teachers, and students went to the chancellor, a man of power of the education system, for help and were refused.
This called for drastic action by the masters, so they formed a universitas, a union. After this union including masters and students had joined, the union sent representatives to the king of France, announcing themselves as representatives for The University of the Masters and Students of Paris. If the union did not receive rights, privileges, and protection from the king, then they would leave Paris and teach and learn in another location. Not wanting his city to lose any status, the king agreed to the terms. However, just like in any fight, the battles were not completely finished yet, and neither were the deaths of students and masters. Years later the universitas won the war and received several rights, including the right to create their own curriculum and to have protection provided by the local police. In winning this war, the universitas, or universities, still remain today.
Universities in the colonies continued the European tradition of basing their colleges and universities on religious foundations. Of the first one hundred eight colleges in the colonies, one hundred six were founded on Christian principles. Even as late as the mid-1800s, less than twenty American universities were secular by design. Most college/university students were expected to pursue a career in the ministry. As the population became more diverse so did the university system.To this day, universities have continued to prosper through generous government subsides and private foundations.
How did secular thinking take over in schools? It started when differing denominations struggled to promote their theological viewpoint through the integration of catechisms into the child's education. To solve these biases, theology was slowly removed from schools and secular humanism filled in the vacuum. Specifically, after educational philosophers such as Maslow, Dewey, and Jung, publicly schooled children were taught that life revolves around human wants and needs, specifically their own. Self-esteem was raised above God-esteem, and the ideas trickled down from universities to elementary schools. Secular humanist removed God as creator and ruler of the earth, and placed man as his own master .Though Christians stand accused of starting superstitions, the secular world really “began” the superstitions. While the Christians taught good, true, and real concepts in their schools, the secular world took God out of learning and the world in general in an effort to bring worldly gain to themselves.
Universities originally founded on a Christian faith, have become “public” universities. Many universities’ purpose statements claim that they started based on the Christian faith, such as Harvard College: “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, (John 17:3), and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.” Most, upon thinking of schools such as Harvard, do not consider them Christian schools. Even some "Christian" universities have “Bible” or “Christian” in their title but no longer appear or teach as Christian schools. Modern universities around the world tend to focus more on personal gain than the original intent of universities—to glorify and learn about God.
In this world of humanistic education that places pleasure and riches as the goal of knowledge, how can a student die to self for the glory of God? One way is to remember that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds" (Acts 7:22) Yet, “by faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-25).
Another student who was forced into an ungodly education was Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken the very brightest of Israelite youth and had Ashpenaz train them in Babylonian knowledge (Dan 1:1-5). In spite of this Daniel did not bow to forces he knew to be false. Instead, he became a teacher of the king, pointing to the truths of God.
The history of formal education is thousands of years old and focused on the development of intellect as a way to bring glory to the Creator. Even during the Renaissance, as human talent and beauty were emphasized, sculptors, painters, and musicians dedicated their works to the glory of God. Only recently has formal intellectual development focused on glorifying self with religious adherence. All education is still religiously based, even secular humanism. What can be done? Referring to his extensive education, the Apostle Paul said it best, "I count it all as dung that I might gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8).
1. Who started the first school?
A. The Apostle Paul
B. George W. Bush
D. King Henry IV
2. What did subjects did the trivium consist of?
A. History, language, and science
B. Geometry, astronomy, and music
C. Recess, lunch, and electives
D. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic
3. What was the catalyst for universities?
A. A fight
B. Students on a fishing trip
C. A group discussion at a tavern
D. Masters on strike for a raise
4. What does universitas mean?
A. A universe far, far away
C. A union
D. The greatest university in existence
Answers: 1c, 2d, 3a, 4c
Author unknown. "The Millennium in Education." FamilyEducation.com. 25 Oct. 2003.
Nelson, Lynn Harry. "The Rise of Universities." The University of Kansas. 17 Oct. 2003.
Shenandoah, April. "History
of America's Education Universities, Textbooks, and Our Founders Last of Three
Parts." American Partisan. 17 Oct. 2003.
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