Education as infrastructure

teaching has changed little

There are few differences to the structures and functions of medieval and modern teaching. New communication technologies and portable networked devices may soon be changing the traditional classroom.

Education, the organized system of educating people to be literate members of a society, is an infrastructure. Like the road and rail network of a country educational systems are designed to create the structure and process by which members of society learn the language, rules, social constructs and patterns of life and belief needed for the society to continue to function.

The history of educational systems is not the same as a history of schools. The formation of modern schools, with an organized curriculum taught by teachers, developed from early teaching and training systems that we have few historical records of. Early cultures built boats, fortifications, engaged in trade and warfare and developed religions and churches– all of which required sophisticated training and education. That ancient Egyptians and Assyrians developed writing and record keeping systems is clear, but we don’t know much about the training requirements for becoming a priest, clerk or member of the elites of any early culture.

The modern school, supported by church or state funding and deploying teachers in classrooms dates back to the early Republican period in Rome and to the Han dynasty in China. Educational systems in most early societies was designed to develop a bureaucratic workforce that supported functions of government.