We explain what a school is as an institution, its origin, history and what types exist. In addition, the origin of the term and its other senses.

The school is an educational institution for children, youth or adults.

What is a school?

We call school, in very broad terms, any establishment or institution from teaching, that is, in which a certain type of instruction is given, whether to children, youth or adults. However, in many countries the term is usually reserved for the education of the former, that is, to refer to primary school.

When we speak of school, at the same time, we may be referring to the educational institution, the educational procedure (that is, schooling) or the teaching given in the school itself.

In this multiplicity of senses, in addition, the term "school" is also used to refer to the doctrines or values of a specific author, to the set of their followers who adhere to them (the Aristotelian school of thought, for example), or even to the common features of a compendium of artistic works who share a historical moment, tradition cultural or geographic region (the flamenco school in painting, for example).

The word school, in any case, comes from Latin schola and this one from greek scholé, which could be translated as "leisure" or "free time." To understand this sense we must go back to the organization of the greek society according to Aristotle (384-322 BC), who differentiated the time of rest (anapausis), working time (ascholía) and leisure time (scholé), the latter dedicated to the aggrandizement of the spirit.

Thus, while the first two periods (rest and work) were dedicated to the survival of the body, the last was entirely free, and could be invested in pursuing the knowledge that was of interest to the individual. This changed when the first philosophical schools arose in Greek antiquity, and the word school became synonymous with "center of study" or "center of knowledge."

Origin of the school

Although it seems strange today, the modern notion of school, that is, of a center to which children and young people (or some adults) go to train and learn, is quite recent in the history of the humanity. In ancient times, the transmission of knowledge and trades was a family affair, in which parents taught their children the trade that they would perform for the rest of their lives.

However, many ancient religious cultures encouraged ritual learning among their youth. Thus, societies like the Indian and the Hebrew offered an education either through practice at the hands of a guru (as in Hinduism and Jainism) or by reading the sacred texts (such as the Talmud).

Other cultures, such as Chinese and Egyptian, instead designed more or less bureaucratized institutions in which individuals were technically and professionally trained according to the cultural or political needs of the community. monarchy.

The Egyptians, for example, developed an educational system based on "houses of instruction" (that is, schools) in which reading and reading were taught from the age of 6. writing, urbanity, religion, calculation, swimming and gymnastics, among other knowledge, and that distinguished through an exam those who passed from elementary school to higher, where they received more specialized instruction, aimed at forming the caste of priests.

However, the great model of origin of Western education was born in ancient Greece, and consisted of a combination of intellectual and physical education. The exact model could vary from region to region of Hellenic Greece, and was directed only at the citizens free men (that is, excluding women, slaves and foreigners, who had to learn trades based on repetition or family teaching).

The Greek school was called paideia and it consisted in the transmission of two types of knowledge: values ​​(knowing how to be) and technique (knowing how to do), at the hands of a teacher (grammatikós or rhétor) whose main task was to promote mnemonics and exercise physical punishment among students. The exact purpose of such knowledge could be to train citizens for war, like the Spartan model, or to imbue them with local values, as in the case of Athens.

Towards the IV century a. C. the ancient Greeks systematized the national educational model in what became known as enkiklos paideia (that is, encyclopedia). According to this organized model, Greek education consisted of:

  • Home parenting up to age 7 (called trophé) at the hands of the mother or nurse, and consisted of instilling Greek values ​​and traditions.
  • Later the boy entered the paideia provided by the State, where private teachers trained him in various knowledge until he was 14 years old (up to 18 in Sparta).
  • Then the adolescent entered the ephebia (in Athens) or melestrenia (in Sparta) until the age of 20, to receive the bulk of the more complex instruction that accompanied him during his life and that made him a Greek citizen in all his splendor.

School types

In general terms, today there is a difference between:

  • The public school: It is provided and maintained by the State. It is part of the highly standardized public education system,
  • The private school: It is financially supported by third parties. You can offer specialized alternatives to those who can afford it, such as bilingual education, education focused on certain skills, religious education or educational models avant-garde.
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