Renaissance was a time of rebirth of the studies of the Greeks and Romans, as well as the start of new ideas. Some ideas that were created in the Renaissance include: individualism, secularism and humanism. Individualism was the concept of the individual and the belief to be able to reach the best of its abilities. Secularism is enjoying worldly affairs, which took after the Roman’s epicureanism. Lastly, the concept of humanism which is the study of human nature. All three of these ideas were ideal to the purposes and values of education throughout the Renaissance.
These ideas were useful to the people as well as caused them damage. Thus, education and its purposes and values were argued hotly throughout the Renaissance. Some of the main arguments were education for upper class, education for all, and criticizing education over all. Some Renaissance men argued that education should be for the upper class or people who wish to attempt to be part of the upper class. They believed the upper class was the only people that needed an education since they were at the top.
Some men who believed this were Castiglione, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, and John Amos Comenius. Castiglione wrote a book to the courtiers describing how a courtier should behave. This book, The Courtier, was used by upper class for three hundred years to teach their kids about manners and behaviors. Castiglione suggests that a courtier should be well-rounded in his studies and be “passably learned in the humanities, in the Latin poets, orators and historians” (Doc. 3). Compared to a lower class male, Castiglione believes the upper class needs more education.
Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini was an Italian humanist who later became pope. He describes that education is needed on high class, especially a prince or any ruler (Doc. 1). John Amos Comenius stressed the importance of education and university; which, back then, university was more for the upper class since they can afford it. He believed the only useful education was university (Doc. 13). As more time passed by, the percentages of justices of the peace who attended university increased. More men started getting an education and becoming part of the upper class.
Francesco Guicciardini was an Italian statesman and historian. When he was young he never took education seriously, but as he grew older he regret it and wished he paid more attention. He talks about that if he had a great education he could have “opened the way to the favor of princes and sometimes to great profit and honor”. He believed that if he had a great education he could have been in the upper class (Doc. 6). This shows that many people argued strongly about the purpose and value of education was for the upper class or to attempt to be part of the upper class.
Other Renaissance men believed that education should be for all. This idea was practiced more in the Northern Renaissance than the Italian Renaissance but it was still used in both. An example of Northern Renaissance men that hold this idea would be Desiderius Erasmus and a man from the School Ordinances. He wrote the Praise of Folly which was a satire against the church. Erasmus was also known for his strong belief in education and institution (Doc. 4). A man from the School Ordinances believed everyone should go to school so they can learn discipline and to be afraid of god.
I think this view point is strange since this man is telling this to a pastor and a pastor wouldn’t like the idea of teaching kids to be afraid of god (Doc. 7). Examples of Italian Renaissance men who hold this idea would be Battista Guarino. Battista Guarino believed learning and training in virtue is the true meaning of humanist and that this property pursuits all of mankind (Doc. 2). The values and purposes of education was to reach a wider variety and attempt to give education to all. Lastly, another group of Renaissance men argued intensively that the values and purposes of Renaissance education was useless and pointless.
John Brinsley was an English schoolmaster and he believed that when adolescents went to school, they “have little sense of the meaning and true use of learning”. He claims that all they know is how to write in Latin which “no one will want to read” (Doc. 10). In a letter from an unknown man to the Parlement of Dijon, he says, “the study of literature is appropriate only to a small minority of men” (Doc. 11). He goes on to say that more hard-working bodies are needed than dreamy and contemplative spirits. Michel de Montaigne was a French essayist and politician.
He called the educational system absurd and accused the cause of the selection of books was due to which one sounds the best not which one has the best facts (Doc. 8). John Amos Comenius believed education was pointless until university. He stressed the importance of education in university, which was usually the upper class who went to university. He criticized and emphasized the unimportance of education before university greatly (Doc. 13). The values and purposes of education were discussed and argued greatly throughout the Renaissance.
The main arguments were education for upper class, education for all, and criticizing education over all. Castiglione, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, and John Amos Comenius believed strongly in education for upper class. Desiderius Erasmus, a man from the School Ordinances, Battista Guarino believed in education for all. Lastly, John Brinsley, Michel de Montaigne, and, once again, John Amos Comenius criticized the education system strongly. All three topics are only a few of the many values and purposes of the education during the Renaissance.
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