The Renaissance was a time of great change and rebirth in Europe. It saw many advancements in the arts, sciences, and mathematics. New ideas and technologies emerged, and people were starting to think for themselves instead of just following the teachings of the Church.

But how did the Renaissance influence education?

It turns out that the influence was profound. It had to be, right? How else could the Renaissance produce such amazing works of art, literature and music, and make such strides in the sciences?

Let’s take a closer look at how the Renaissance influenced education and how it changed the way we learn today!

How Did The Renaissance Influence Education?

The influence of the Renaissance on education can be traced to the following aspects:

  1. The Renaissance instilled in people a spirit of inquiry and questioning
  2. The Renaissance revived Classical learning
  3. The Printing Revolution permitted knowledge to be disseminated widely and easily
  4. Many Universities were started during the Renaissance
  5. The Renaissance advanced the science of pedagogy itself

Now, let’s look closely at each of these ways that the Renaissance influenced education in Europe.

#1. Instilling a spirit of inquiry and questioning

The Renaissance was, first and foremost, a change in people’s mindsets. It instilled in people a spirit of inquiry, questioning, and free thinking. People no longer blindly accepted traditional knowledge; instead, they sought to learn more about how the world worked.

This spirit of inquiry was the driving force behind much of the advances made in education which in turn led to advances in science, art and literature.

#2. Reviving Classical Learning

The Renaissance also saw a revival of classical learning. Greek and Latin were given greater importance, as were ancient history, philosophy and literature.

Alongside Latin, students also learned Greek so they could study original works of literature by the likes of Plato and Aristotle. This was a significant shift from the Church’s traditional focus on Latin theology.

In fact, there was a time in the 14th century when a type of philosophy called Renaissance Platonism was in vogue. This involved studying the works of Plato as a way to understand how to live life in harmony with nature.

The study of the classics that started during the Renaissance is still in existence in European schools today with secondary school children in many countries choosing between Classical Studies or Technical Studies.

#3. The Printing Revolution

In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, which allowed knowledge to be disseminated widely. Before this, books were all hand-written and expensive to produce. But with the invention of the printing press, books became cheaper and more widely available.

The Printing press had a huge impact on the Renaissance and on education in particular, as it meant that all kinds of knowledge could be shared quickly and easily. Students had access to a wide range of information and opinions, which they could then question and debate.

And not just students, but all intellectuals were impacted by the Renaissance because now they had access to knowledge from different sources across Europe.

As a matter of fact, within 50+ years of the invention of Gutenberg’s movable type printing press, that is around the year 1500, there were more than 20 million volumes of books in circulation in Europe.

#4. New Universities

Europe had universities even before the Renaissance started. Famous universities Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Bologna, Padua, and others had been started in the Middle Ages. But during the Renaissance, new universities were founded across Europe in cities like Florence, Pisa, Avignon, Budapest, Dublin and Edinburgh.

These universities incorporated all kinds of knowledge from philosophy to medicine, with a focus on classical learning. Many famous people from the Renaissance would graduate from these Universities.

For example, Galileo attended the University of Pisa to become a doctor – but then found greater interest in mathematics, physical objects and astronomy. Likewise, Nostradamus studied at the University of Avignon and later at the University of Montpellier.

#5. Advances in pedagogy

Teaching methods also advanced during the Renaissance.

When students studied science they had to not only study what came before them but also perform their own research and develop their own theories. This pedagogical approach made sense given the spirit of inquiry that was the norm during the Renaissance.

As we saw earlier, Greek and Roman classics were standard curricula for students during the Renaissance. But how these classics were taught in schools changed too.

Teachers encouraged critical analysis and interpretation of classical works, encouraging students to come up with their own interpretations and opinions. One of the methods of pedagogy was Scholasticism.

Scholasticism focused on using a logical approach to examine and discuss different texts. It began with the study of an existing well-known and respected work. This was followed by reading a critique of the first work. Then finally, the student had to write their own analysis comparing point by point the contents of both texts.

Trade schools also developed during the Renaissance and became an integral part of how many Renaissance artists acquired their skills and gained experience. Working as an apprentice under a master was how many artists and artisans acquired their craftsmanship.

To Wrap Up …

But how did the Renaissance influence education?

The Renaissance had a profound impact on how education was approached in Europe. In many ways, the ideas and approaches that were developed during this period still influence how we think about education even today.

From the invention of the printing press to how texts were studied and how skills were acquired, the Renaissance left a lasting imprint on learning in Europe.