How Values and Views on Education Changed from the Fifteenth to Seventeenth Centuries

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From the middle of the Fifteenth Century to the middle of the Seventeenth Century, views on the values and purposes of education were altered and challenged: first were the humanists who saw education as extremely important for the sake of rediscovering the past; then important figures began to view education as an important tool for prestige and power; for some religious Christians during the time of the Reformation, education was viewed as important for teaching piety; over time, others came to think too much emphasis was put on classical education, which was not practical for common people. From the middle Fifteenth Century up until the early Sixteenth Century humanists viewed education was important for both rediscovering the past and providing the basis for contemporary human culture, and politics. Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, an Italian Humanist in the late 1400s, describes education as important because it is “[the] guide to the true meaning of the past, to a right estimate of the present, to a sound forecast of the future.” (Doc 1) Thus, the teaching of past knowledge is the basis for understanding the present and future. Supporting the idea that the past had great learning value, Erasmus wrote in On the Art of Learning: “The student devotes his attention to…the literatures of ancient Greece and Rome because…the whole of attainable knowledge lies therein.” (Doc 4) Erasmus, similar to Piccolomini, is stating that classical knowledge is the basis of every other type of knowledge, though these views are swayed because the two men who held these opinions were educators and humanists themselves. Piccolomini also states “a Prince who cannot read the lessons of history is a helpless prey of flattery and intrigue.” (Doc 1) By this, Piccolomini means a prince who has not studied the past would not be able to do his job, and would be easily fooled. This is evidence
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