17. Education and Literacy

Early Modern England: Politics, Religion, and Society under the Tudors and Stuarts (HIST 251)

Professor Wrightson begins by assessing the state of education in the late medieval period and then discusses the two cultural forces (Renaissance humanism and the Reformation) which lay behind the educational expansion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. While there were distinct hierarchies of learning in the period (with women and the lower orders having far fewer educational opportunities open to them than other members of the social order), this was genuinely a revolutionary period in terms of education. Attendance at the universities and the Inns of Court expanded exponentially, educational ideals for the elite were transformed, standards of clerical education reached unprecedented heights, grammar schools and petty schools were founded across the country and, by the end of the period, literacy levels in the population were much higher. England was now a partially literate society and was well on its way to achieving mass literacy. A threshold had been crossed, and this shift had far-reaching cultural and political effects.

00:00 – Chapter 1. Education: Cultural Influences Underlying an Increase in Schooling
09:33 – Chapter 2. Elite Education
21:03 – Chapter 3. Clerical Education
22:42 – Chapter 4. Education for Commoners
26:16 – Chapter 5. Limits in the Educational Revolution
30:41 – Chapter 6. Literacy
36:59 – Chapter 7. Gender
40:18 – Chapter 8. Conclusions

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Fall 2009.

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