History of Education & Its Growth as an Industry

History of Education & Its Growth as an Industry

Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, research, or simply through autodidacticism. This article takes you through the history of education and its development as an industry.

Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, research, or simply through autodidacticism.

Education in Pre-History Times:

Presumably every generation, since the beginning of human existence, somehow passed on its stock of values, traditions, methods, and skills to the next generation. Education has been practiced since time immemorial to instill social and cultural values. In ancient times, the education system was verbal, carried out generally by the elders of the family.

In pre-literate societies, education was achieved through demonstration and copying as the young learned from their elders. Rural communities had few resources to expend on education, and there was a lack of commercially available products for schools. At later stages, they received instruction of a more structured and formal nature, imparted by people not necessarily related, in the context of initiation, religion or ritual. Some forms of traditional knowledge were expressed through stories, legends, folklore, rituals, and songs, without the need for a writing system. Tools to aid this process include poetic devices such as rhyme and alliteration. The stories thus preserved are also referred to as part of an oral tradition. In ancient India, the Vedas were learned by the repetition of various forms of recitation. By means of memorization, they were passed down through many generations.

The Development of Writing System:

Oral traditions were central in societies without written texts. With the gradual rise of more complex civilizations in the river valleys of Egypt and Babylonia, knowledge became too complicated to transmit directly from person to person and from generation to generation. To be able to function in complex societies, man needed some way of accumulating, recording, and preserving his cultural heritage. So with the rise of trade, government, and formal religion came the invention of writing. The writing system developed around 3500 BC, enabling the recording and sharing of information. With the advent of the writing system - people were able to record and share information. This became the foundation of formal education.

Various materials were used for early writing including wax-covered writing boards, sheets or strips of bark from trees, the thick palm-like leaves of a particular tree, the leaves then punctured with a hole and stacked together like the pages of a book, parchment, made of goatskin that had been soaked and scraped to remove hair, vellum, made from calfskin, and wax tablets which could be wiped clean to provide a fresh surface.

Start of Formal Education:

The education industry was initially associated with law, trade and commerce, religion, and civil administration. Formal education was available to only a small fraction of the population. The first large established university is thought to be Nalanda established in 427 A.D in India. The first university establishments in the western world are thought to be the University of Bologna (founded in 1088) and later Oxford University (founded around 1096).

The system developed in most countries after 1850 CE. Providing literacy to most children has been a development of the last 150 or 200 years or even the last 50 years in some Third World countries.

Modern System of Education:

Since the 19th century, education has developed substantially into the modern system for standardized education. The modern education industry is based on structured training that's developed by experts, who use organized instruction to create a systematic curriculum. In other words, someone develops a curriculum and then an instructor uses the material to educate a group of students – typically in a classroom.  Nowadays some kind of education is compulsory for all people in most countries. Due to population growth and the proliferation of compulsory education, UNESCO has calculated that in the next 30 years more people will receive formal education than in all of human history thus far. The modern education industry consists of training by professionals and organized instructions with respect to systematic curricula and pedagogy.

Education & Technology:

One of the most substantial uses in education is the use of technology. Also, technology is an increasingly influential factor in education. As computers have become more and more commonplace, people are able to learn from their own homes. From online courses to the vast amount of information available on the Internet, people have access to a wider range of learning opportunities than ever before. Advances in technology have forced the education industry to change as well. Companies have had to adapt their products to reflect the new technology-driven learning environment. Computers and mobile phones are used in developed countries both to complement established education practices and develop new ways of learning such as online education (a type of distance education). This gives students the opportunity to choose what they are interested in learning. The proliferation of computers also means the increase of programming and blogging.

Technology offers powerful learning tools that demand new skills and understandings of students, including Multimedia, and provides new ways to engage students, such as Virtual learning environments.

Technology is also being used in the assessment of students. One example is the Audience Response System (ARS), which allows immediate feedback tests and classroom discussions. Even businesses have adapted, and the way they train employees has evolved. Many companies use technology platforms to provide education to their employees – whether it's in the form of self-directed online learning or classroom learning with a laptop and projector.

All of these changes have caused illiteracy rates to decrease significantly. In most industrialized countries, illiteracy is practically nonexistent. Illiteracy rates are expected to decline even further in other countries too in the coming decades as more and more people gain access to formal education.

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