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Education in Elizabethan Times

Q & A about Education in Elizabethan Times

Who went to school in the Elizabethan Times?


Elizabethan Education was generally for boys of the Upper and Middle Classes. However, Upper-Class girls, often members of the Nobility were also given an education. However, the middle-class girls hardly ever got the opportunity to see the face of the schools. Of course, noble children get their education at home, from private tutors.

Young girls from wealthy families were often placed in the households of acquaintances where they would learn to read, write, keep accounts, and manage a household and estate. They were also trained in leisure skills such as music and dancing. Depending upon the age and class of the students, they would be sent to petty schools, grammar schools or be tutored at home.

Q & A about Education in Elizabethan Times

What was school like during the Elizabethan era?

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.

The Children of Noble birth were invariably taught by tutors at home but, from the age of 7 to 14, children of a lower standing went to Grammar Schools – the most common institute for Elizabethan education during the Elizabethan period. Many schools were financed by the local Guild.

Q & A about Education in Elizabethan Times

Between the ages of 7 and 10 boys would have spent their early childhood being taught by Ushers, a junior master or senior pupil at the Grammar School.

What subjects were studied?

Children were taught how to read and write using English, they are also to learn catechism as well as lessons on proper behavior. These things were considered to be the most important foundations in education and it should be taught during childhood. Education in Elizabethan England also focused on educating the children about the Christian Faith.

Lessons were given in Grammar, Music, Logic, Arithmetic and Geometry as well as Astronomy education. Also certain languages like Latin and French were taught. In the lower grades, boys studied Latin grammar and vocabulary. In the upper grades, they read the poetry and prose of writers such as Ovid, Martial, and Catullus.

What was a school day like?

The school day begins at 7:00 am in winter or 6:00 am in summer. After prayers, they work till about 9:00 when they are permitted breakfast, then they work till 11:00. Dinner is from 11:00 to 1:00. The school day ends at 5:00 or 5:30 pm. The usual schedule used to be as mentioned below:

7:00-7:30 Dancing

7:30-8:00 Breakfast

8:00-9:00 French

9:00-10:00 Latin

10:00-10:30 Writing and Drawing

10:30-1:00 Prayers, Recreation, Dinner

1:00-2:00 Cosmography

2:00-3:00 Latin

3:00-4:00 French

4:00-4:30 Writing

4:30-5:30 Prayers, Recreation, Supper.

Teaching techniques relied heavily on memorization and recitation. The language of literacy throughout Europe was Latin, and students were expected to be proficient in it. Classroom discipline was strict and often involved corporeal punishment.

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