Education started out as an instinctive procedure of transmitting knowledge about behaviors and methods, which during primitive periods were conveyed by way of demonstrated actions and bodily gestures. The foundations of education undertaken by the earliest known archaic humans were focused mainly on developing methods and practices for survival as evidenced by their stone tools. However, it was also evident that methods imparted to succeeding generations did not take into consideration the forces of nature, and of other benefits that the environment had to offer.
Knowledge Becomes a Tool for Wielding Influence and Power
Through the passing of time, discoveries were made by way of exploration, observations and experimentation. The focus of education therefore expanded, and those that acquired additional knowledge became influential, more privileged and in most instances, more powerful. Those capable of harnessing and applying acquired knowledge with success gained followers who depended on such abilities.
Eventually clans or tribes were formed, to which education included learning methods of communication and practices that solidified a group. The number of members constituting a clan or tribe was important as it meant greater dominion over a territory. Weaker groups were either vanquished, which lowered their stature and ability to assert themselves as equal beings. Others opted to leave and seek new habitats that enabled them to prosper and grow in numbers.
As the values of education became significant, acquiring knowledge and learning how to apply what was learned became a privilege. The different groups advanced through time by becoming nations that continued to explore their respective environment. Eventually, they reached a stage in which their individual quests for more knowledge transformed them into a society with distinct methodologies, practices, religious beliefs and systems of governance,more popularly known today as civilization.
Characteristics of Education in Earliest Known Civilizations
Old World civilizations represented by Egypt and Mesopotamia were traced as far back as 3000 BCE (Before Common Era) in the Middle East. Despite their differences, their methods of imparting knowledge were similar, as both introduced reading, writing and the development of education as a formal endeavor. Inasmuch as the two old world nations took to developing their education and culture simultaneously, the advancement in both civilizations were entrusted to priests,
Priests formalized education by instituting rigid methods and strict discipline, whilst requiring cultural uniformity that severely prohibited deviations from instituted patterns. As results, each nation was able to preserve their respective culture and form their own traditions. Methods of preservation employed writing and memorization drills.
Education at this stage advanced beyond knowledge about methods of survival. Teachings imparted by priests included application of knowledge as means of improving way of life.
Egyptian priests taught practical subjects such as medicine, mathematics, geometry and science. Development of skills related to engineering, architecture and sculpture were outside of formal schooling, as they were learned in the environments in which the subject matter actually transpired. Mesopotamian priests on the other hand delved into higher forms of learning pertaining to astrology, medicine