Article

Schools in Britain

Nicholas Orme

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online March 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0029
Schools in Britain

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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Schools are here defined as places where literary skills are taught to children and adolescents up to about the age of eighteen. As self-contained institutions, they are recorded in England from about 1100, a little earlier than universities, which are examined in a separate article. Schools existed in the Middle Ages in a variety of forms and in large numbers. Except at an elementary level, where there was teaching for girls, medieval schools were virtually restricted to boys and youths, to whom all the items in this bibliography should be assumed to relate unless otherwise stated. The works cited here are also chiefly limited to the process of schooling, rather than to the knowledge and writing of literary works, but there is a concluding section on the history of literacy. Medieval schools may be classified in various ways. One is by their teaching. Reading schools taught the alphabet and a simple ability to read; this was often learned informally at home in literate families and was the only education open to most girls. Song schools taught plainsong, an elementary subject, and, by the 15th century, polyphony, a more advanced one. Grammar schools taught how to understand, compose, translate, and speak Latin, but sometimes included an elementary class learning reading and song. There were also specialized schools. One group (particularly associated with cathedrals and the religious orders) taught logic, philosophy, canon law, and theology, generally at a level below that of the universities, while another group offered training in business studies, including French. Another way of distinguishing schools is by their locations and constitutions. In the first respect, there was teaching in homes, churches, the great households of kings and the nobility, religious houses of all kinds, and freestanding schools––both private and public. Most schools charged fees and had endowments, but from the late 14th century a class of endowed schools developed that offered teaching free of fees. School education in medieval Britain, particularly England, has been intensively studied since the late 19th century, both in terms of the institutions and their curricula, and the following lists could be extended with many more citations.

Article.  12862 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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