TImeline of Classical Education



570 BC - 495 BC

Mathematical order in universe = beauty


469 BC - 399 BC

Dialectic/Socratic questioning, sophists established trivium, liberal arts. Believed in a just life, ethics/morality central.


436 BC - 338 bc

famous rhetorician, helped make rhetoric a central subject, Inspired a dominate literary tone in Western education


427 BC - 348 BC

Idealism (knowledge is a priori, emphasizes moral and spiritual reality as explanations for the universe; only the mental or spiritual is real, believers in ID) influenced heavily by Pythagoras, justice and goodness need to be “remembered” by human mind. Emphasized mathematics


384 BC - 322 BC

Realism, sees world mostly in material things, more concerned with how things actually are vs. how they should be, all things exist independent of man’s knowledge of them), emphasized biology and natural sciences. His works helped begin the 12th century revival of learning and his influence remained strong until the Renaissance. Goodness and virtue exist where men uses his rational mind. Believed in innate intelligence of universe, laid the foundation of formal logic. Influenced many famous philosophers.


35 ad - 100 ad

Spain, recognized that different developmental stages influence learning. Focused on goodness, excellence of mind.

St. Augustine

354 - 430

Roman developed the first full-blown theory of classical education by drawing on both pagan and Christian sources. Christian Platonism (immutability of God, evil is absence of good, God is not material) for a long time. Purpose of education is to understand the nature of God and His creation.


400 - 475

Roman put all seven LA in a single volume and presented them is a condensed form that was widely acceptable to medieval readers.


485 - 555

Roman transformed monastery into a theological school ,preserving scriptures and secular ancient writers. Helped make liberal arts a standardized part of education.

Middle Ages

Benedict and Monasticism


Monasteries provided a refuge of literacy and preserved classical texts as well as scriptures.



Charlemagne uses monks to educate courtiers.

Alfred the Great


Alfred the Great also encourages study in his court.

Rise of Scholasticism


Rise of Scholasticism. All knowledge acquired in pursuit of the Christian faith. Dominated until about the 15th century.

Establishment of Universities


Rose out of cathedral schools. Literature enjoys a prominent position as does rhetoric.

Thomas Aquinas

1225 - 1274

Caused the basis of Christian thought to shift from Augustinian Neo-Platonism to Aristotle. Rise of realism.

The Enlightenment

English Revolution to French Revolution

Francis Bacon

1561 - 1626

Gave fodder for Newton to argue against Descartes argued that all ideas come from sense knowledge

John Locke

1632 - 1704

Rejected innate ideas, child is a blank slate, opposed original sin, believed morality could be taught through secular means.

Isaac Newton

1642 - 1727

Arguments gave rise to empiricism.

The Enlightenment

1680 - 1790


1712 - 1778

Emile book had huge impact on education; accused church of sabatoging quest for truth.
Proposed children be allowed to develop “naturally”, rejcted original sin, assigned corruption to society, morality was social not religious, teacher was aid children versus instruct.
Had 5 illegitimate children and had mother give every one away at birth


1724 - 1804

German idealism. More movement away from classical. Deist. Little emphasis on church or Bible


1746 - 1827

Swiss. Follower of Kant and Rousseau. Experimental schools for the poor. Believed human nature inherently good.


1782 - 1852

German. Follower of Rousseau. Formal education should begin at age three. Developed the idea of kindergarten.

William James and Pragmatism

1842 - 1910

American. Pragmatism emphasizes what is fast and practical.