The most elementary level of education was conducted for boys aged between 5 and 7 at what was called a ‘ Petty School ‘. These lessons and general education were conducted not in a school but in the house of the teacher.
The word ‘petty’ probably derives from the French word ‘ petit ‘ meaning little or small. These Petty schools were usually run, for a small fee, by a local, well educated housewife, and were therefore also referred to as ‘ Dame Schools ‘.
Elizabethan Era Schooling Facts
It is important to note that a school’s curriculum and the Elizabethan education of children was dictated by the ruling monarch of the time which would, of course, also reflect the religion of that particular King or Queen. This must have caused considerable consternation due to the fanaticism of the followers of the Catholic and Protestant religions.
The primary study of a grammar school is Latin grammar, using Lily’s Grammar as the basic text, with Plautus, Terence, and Seneca as classical sources. Any history, literature, or drama is mainly a vehicle for illustrating the grammar.
Lantin language in Elizabethan Era
Latin is also the language of international affairs, and men of affairs are expected to be able to communicate in it. Or employ someone who does. Anyone who wants to make his way in the world must have at least a working knowledge of Latin.
Passages about being a good Christian were also taught and learned by heart by these children. A study of the works of great authors of classical literature such as Virgil was also part of the curriculum for children’s education.
Most likely literate were the gentlemen because of the chance to attend education in the two best universities in England, the Cambridge University and Oxford University. In these universities, they were able to study theology, medicine, law, philosophy, and classical literature in both Greek and Latin.
Queen Elizabeth also recognized the importance of the arts to the life and legacy of her nation. She was fond of the theater, and many of England’s greatest playwrights were active during her reign, including Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare.
Education During Shakespeare’s time
From the age of 10 the boys, including William Shakespeare, would leave the Ushers to study with the Masters at the King Edward IV Grammar School thus continuing with their translations and extending their Elizabethan education by studying the works of the great classical authors and dramatists, such as Ovid, Plautus, Horace, Virgil, Cicero and Seneca.
Formal schooling was not encouraged for girls unless they were the children of nobility. For those who were educated, schooling focused primarily on chastity and the skills of housewifery.