Education in the Middle Ages

When you think of school today, you probably think of going to school Monday through Friday in a building separate from your house (though of course, some folks are homeschooled). You spend most of the day at school, learning about subjects such as science, math, English, and history. You probably also enjoy some breaks for recess or sports. This is your experience for most of childhood, from ages five through 18.

Most students today attend public schools, though some attend private schools. Public schools are free, which was actually unheard of for much of history. Because school is available free of charge, people of all socio-economic status (meaning, people who are rich, poor, and in-between) can go to school and receive an education.

In the Middle Ages, this was not the case. Only the wealthy had access to education, and then usually only for boys. There were no public schools, and those who had the privilege of getting an education usually either learned at home with a tutor or from a school run by the church. Because of this, religion informed every subject that students learned. Some of the things that students learned then we might consider to be superstitions today.

What did students study in the middle ages? All kinds of things! Just like today they learned math and grammar (or, the study of language) as well as music, art, and science. And, they played sports like archery, hammer-throwing, horseshoes, and wrestling. 

Unlike today, most subjects centered around theology (or, the study of religion). There were also colleges and universities in the middle ages. Though, very few students got to attend, unlike today.

And remember all the wars and invasions of the middle ages? Students would sometimes have their learning interrupted by social upheaval. It’s pretty hard to keep learning when there’s a war going on! Today, students are protected from the political changes around them and schools are able to keep operating like normal.

So, would you rather be a student then or now?