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The Renaissance Period in Education

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The Renaissance Period in Education by : 3:37 pm On December 8, 2018

This word analytically viewed simply means “rebirth”. Under the aegis of the Renaissance, the people at the forefront pursued a course of the  revival of learning. They sought a reinstatement of the ancient ways of thought and practice as well as to give vent to their revulsion against the narrowness that characterized the medieval period from which had just emerged.


Factors affecting Educational Development in Nigeria

An ancient philosopher, Protagoras of Abdera, a sophist too, had declared to people of his time thus, “man is the measure of all things that are not, that they are not”. By this, he underlined that whatever knowledge man is able to attain is predicated upon, and limited to, his capacities beyond which he cannot venture. Such knowledge must serve man’s interest and no more. He denied that man had the capacity to know about the gods and, so, he should not be pre-occupied with those. The reason for advocating the contrary was due to the many factors impeding man’s effort to know much about them such as the obscurity of the subject matter and the shortness of man’s life. This type of reasoning is unarguably against any decipherable position of the church.

But this was what the renaissance stood for, namely setting free man’s spirit of inquiring, an ambition that was the hallmark of Greek civilization. Thus, the Renaissance was all out to assist man not just to arrest and reclaim his freedom but also to do oath and attain the optimum activation of his potentials. Pursuant TO this, many ancient manuscripts, including Aristotle’s, were not only discovered but this time around were interpreted with new insights conformable to the Renaissance spirit. This ushered in an era of scientific discoveries and inventions consequent on new perspectives in learning.

The mariner’s Compass, the cannon and gunpowder were invented. With the invention of fertilizer, an advanced system of agriculture evolved. With the Islamic scholars providing the world with Arabic figures, the study of mathematics became reinvigorated. Mathematics, subsequently, came to be applied to the study of physics and astronomy with tremendous results. At least for the first time, the size of the earth could be measured and the principle of capillary attraction and other natural phenomena were explained with exactitude. And what is more, with the manufacture of paper and a concurrent invention of the printing press both the production of literature and dissemination of information were immensely boosted and facilitated. The educational aspect of the renaissance movement is rather referred to as humanism.

The humanist perspective of the renaissance movement apart from providing the distinguishing character of the moment goes further to underline the feature that marked out Greek education system from the rest of the world. The feature of Greek education is its vision of man as the measure of all things in this world rather than the other-world: a view that contrasted sharply with the church’s doctrine and approach in the pursuit of education.

Consequent on this determination to revive and reinstate the ancient modes of thought and practices, education became adopted as a veritable instrument whereby to enable man to assume this position of pre-eminence in the new world order. The aim of humanistic movement in education was to produce a perfect man whose features would be the following: though not a professional soldier, he is first and for most a man of action; he is perfectly at home with such engagements as hunting, swimming, sports, dancing; he is an orator; and at the same time possessed of the wit and intelligence of a scholar. This is an all-round education with the principal aim of ensuring harmony between the composite natures of man.

The renaissance movement, though known to have given birth to an education aspect (the humanism) both led inexorably to the reformation which, though a religious movement, instigated a new a phase in education with telling consequential effect that impacted strongly on the future of the world. They were able to accomplish this in several ways:

  1. Consequent on the conjoint effect of the two movements, apart from schools springing up here and there (including the universities), without the nod of ecclesiastical authorities, even the older schools began to witness a transfer of authority in matters of education from church to the state. In other words, this ushered in an era of separation of state and religion.
  2. With the emergence of nation-states (already noted) coupled with the separation of powers, even private individuals could exercise unprecedented freedom of speech on matters opinions on which were hitherto declared/pronounced anathema and which effrontery in the past, could bring a person face to face with the court of inquisition. On such moments of canvassing views decidedly anti-dogma, private individuals readily had recourse to the king and the state for protection.
  3. With the invention of the printing press (a product of the renaissance movement ), not only that a wider audience came to command an unfettered access to information but also would keenly follow the trends of arguments and take whatever the position they wished without threat to their convenience.
  4. While it may be classified speculative to hold that the people who were at the forefront in the reformation wished simply to, while within the church still, get the church hierarchy to countermand herself for better on some of her positions on matters considered in conflict between tradition and the actual words and letters of the Bible (the holy book of Christendom), the resistance offered by the ecclesiastical authorities to such sober approach to reform did indeed deal the fatal blow that broke up the church.

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