Education is an important aspect of improving life. Traditionally, the word itself is derived from a latin word that means, “a breeding, a bringing up, a rearing.” Which in itself, seems to mean that it was primarily the duty of your family.
Starting back 1000 years ago, there was no printing press. All documents were hand-written, copies had to be transcribed by hand, making all documents expensive, and mostly for the wealthy. Knowing how to read and write itself was uncommon and the bodies of knowledge that existed at the time were much shallower than today, as a result of less sharing and building on top of previous research by others. Most education was by word of mouth, and storytelling. Taught by your relatives to you, in order to learn how to do the work that your family has done for generations.
To dig deep for a benefit of education back then that is better than modern education, it would have to be that if you were one of the rare few scholars, or wealthy, your education was in small class sizes, with likely a lot of personal interaction with your teachers. However, so few people received the privilege of schooling, that it’s not much of a net benefit to society.
Moving on several centuries to a hundred years ago. That puts us in 1919. World War I had ended, and it had been roughly 50 years since all states had adopted tax-subsidized elementary schools. The printing press existed, so textbooks were cheaper, and more widely available to deliver knowledge. The knowledge base of the last 900 years in mathematics, grammar, history, and science had grown considerably. The availability to learn knowledge that your parents or family didn’t have for lower class families had been happening for a couple generations, and new inventions and creations were starting to happen at a rate that wasn’t previously seen. In 1870, there was around 31,000 patents filed, by 1919, there was roughly four times that amount! Partly as a result of a better educated society.
Compared to 1000 years ago, it’s likely that students were getting less individualized instruction, as a side effect of more children attending school, however, the number of subjects, and the wide availability of study materials were on an entirely different level than prior.
If we fast forward to 10 years ago. We’ve added the invention of the internet, and smartphones, like the iPhone are 2 years old. The instant availability of researching nearly any topic is now possible. Videos can be sent and recorded quickly and easily. High quality learning materials are forming as a result. In between the learning of the theoretical practices that schooling provides, some sites are filled with practical examples of applications of science, medicine, natural history, and just about any topic imaginable is within reach, regardless of who you know.
The downside of the more modern education if there is any by comparison to the previous stages of history, is the class size. As more people than ever are attending schooling, it’s become obvious that the number of teachers available isn’t growing as rapidly. However, with strong educational videos forming, and being cheaply (freely) available to anyone with internet access, those who take their education into their own hands are being provided with the most, and likely the best information that has ever existed for becoming more education.
Today, YouTube is filled with educational videos for those who are looking. They are available to anyone with internet access, or even just access to a public library. For those who want to learn, it’s hard to say that education today isn’t stronger than it was in the past. That’s a good thing too, because as society continues to grow more technologically savvy, there is a rising technical overhead to overcome, and it takes a longer education to reach the state-of-the-art.