Ancestors At Work
Social historian Sue Wilkes takes a look at the different ways that our ancestors worked in education
Our forebears’ varied careers in the classroom
For centuries, teachers have moulded the minds of young people – from princes to paupers. Britain’s earliest known teachers in the sense of regular instructors were attached to religious houses, and Canterbury may be England’s earliest known centre of learning: Saint Augustine is said to have founded two schools there around 597. For several hundred years monasteries, nunneries and cathedrals were the main sources of education for both sexes.
The first Oxford colleges appeared in the 12th century, followed by Cambridge in the early 1200s. Masters (tutors) imparted the required skills for careers in the church, law, teaching and so on to teenage boys. The 16th century saw the advent of charity and endowed (grammar) schools like St Paul’s, founded in 1509 ( stpaulsschool. org.uk/about/history), and Christ’s Hospital ( chmuseum.org.uk). More opportunities for teachers arose in the late 17th century, when the Society for Promoting Christian
Female pupils learn how to brush their teeth in the late 19th century