Ancient Maya Educational
The Old World civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and North China
The history of started in the about 3000 bce, whereas the North civilization began about a millennium and a half later. The and civilizations flourished almost simultaneously during the first civilizational phase (3000–1500 bce). Although these civilizations differed, they shared monumental literary achievements. The need for the perpetuation of these highly developed civilizations made , a powerful intellectual elite in the Egyptian theocracy who also served as the political bulwarks by preventing cultural diversity. The as well as such practical subjects as , , , and were in the hands of the priests, who taught in formal schools. Vocational skills relating to such fields as , , and were generally transmitted outside the context of formal schooling.
Egyptians developed two types of formal schools for privileged youth under the supervision of governmental officials and priests: one for scribes and the other for priest trainees. At the age of 5, pupils entered the , which boys entered at the age of 17; the length of training depending upon the requirements for various priestly offices. It is not clear whether or not the practical sciences constituted a part of the systematically organized curriculum of the temple college.
Rigid method and severe discipline were applied to achieve uniformity in cultural transmission, since deviation from the traditional pattern of thought was strictly prohibited. Drill and memorization were the typical methods employed. But, as noted, Egyptians also used a method in the final phase of the training for .
As a civilization contemporary with Egyptian civilization, Mesopotamia developed education quite similar to that of its counterpart with respect to its purpose and training. Formal education was practical and aimed to train and priests. It was extended from basic reading, writing, and religion to higher learning in , , and . Generally, youth of the upper classes were prepared to become scribes, who ranged from copyists to librarians and teachers. The schools for priests were said to be as numerous as temples. This indicates not only the thoroughness but also the supremacy of priestly education. Very little is known about , but the advancement of the priestly work sheds light upon the extensive nature of intellectual pursuit.
As in the case of Egypt, the priests in Mesopotamia dominated the intellectual and educational domain as well as the applied. The centre of intellectual activity and training was the , which was usually housed in a temple under the supervision of influential priests. Methods of teaching and learning were memorization, oral repetition, copying models, and individual instruction. It is believed that the exact copying of scripts was the hardest and most strenuous and served as the test of excellence in learning. The period of education was long and rigorous, and discipline was harsh.
In North China, the civilization of which began with the emergence of the era, complex educational practices were in effect at a very early date. In fact, every important foundation of the formation of modern Chinese character was already established, to a great extent, more than 3, 000 years ago.
Chinese ancient formal education was distinguished by its markedly secular and . Its paramount purpose was to develop a sense of moral sensitivity and duty toward people and the state. Even in the early civilizational stage, harmonious human relations, rituals, and formed the curriculum.