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#Shakespeare400 - 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Education in Shakespeare's Time

21 April 2016

#Shakespeare400 - 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Education in Shakespeare's Time


William Shakespeare, one of the greatest English writers of all time, was a poet, playwright and actor. His work consisted of 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems. He created almost 2,000 English words and he wrote one-tenth of the most quoted lines in the English language. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death we have put together nine facts you (probably) didn’t know about a Shakespearean education.

  1. The key purpose of education was to teach children appropriate behaviour for their social class in order to make them useful members of society.
  2. Students were expected to become fluent in Latin as it was regarded as the language of the educated.
  3. Boys started grammar school from the age of six or seven. Grammar schools were open to everyone, but poor children did not attend school because their labour was economically valuable to their families.
  4. Except among daughters of the nobility and the puritans, formal education for girls was discouraged. For those who were educated, subjects focused on encouraging chastity and developing skills of housewifery.
  5. A typical school day would run from 6am to 5pm.
  6. Discipline was strict and often involved beatings.
  7. For girls, the learning of social skills such as singing and dancing were important. As universities would not admit women, the future for most girls involved marriage, children, and household duties.
  8. By the end of the 16th century, at least one third of the male population could read, though the proportion of literate women was certainly less!
  9. Long after Shakespeare’s death, the end of the 17th century, was there a real interest in education for the poor with the development of charity schools. Charity schools, also known as blue coat schools, were a type of elementary school supported by voluntary contributions of the inhabitants for teaching poor children to read and write.

Luckily, today education is much more useful and compassionate. But it can still difficult to decide what’s best for your child and their future. Gabbitas, part of the Prospects Group, the global experts in British independent education can help you find the right school for your child, provide guardian and tutoring services along with much more support and help to give your child the best start in life.

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