Schools of the Italian Renaissance. Introduction

Schools of the Italian Renaissance Schools of the Italian Renaissance   Introduction It is apparent that schools of Italian Renaissance focused on...
Author: Hugo Simpson
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Schools of the Italian Renaissance

Schools of the Italian Renaissance



It is apparent that schools of Italian Renaissance focused on the teaching of other subjects other than religion. Most European Universities had great intellectual and religious influence in the Renaissance and reformation and exhibited considerable variety. Religion slowly gained entrance into the academic system of Italian schools from the 16th century as children were taught hand in hand with religious doctrines. This paper aims to chronologically indicate how schools of Italian Renaissance developed gradually and the introduction of religion into the Italian education system. This thesis statement aims at answering the questions of how the school system of Italy has developed from the Renaissance period and how the effects are felt to date. The sources used for the above study aim at supporting the thesis as it shows how the education system developed systematically over the time.


The Universities of the Renaissance and Reformation

Italian universities taught law and medicine to their doctoral students. The loose organization of Italian schools made it possible for the professors to produce original researches in the field of law, philosophy, medicine and the humanities. In 1947 for example the University of Bolognas, which was the largest university in Italy then, had over 04 law professors, 14 professors of medicine, 21 professor in the various humanity fields but noticeably their were not professors of theology. It is only in the last third of the sixteenth century that around one to four professors were found in the field of theology.


Schools of the Italian Renaissance

Smaller University in Italy such as University of Naples also concentrated on the teachings of law and medicine. The Italian Universities were also more advanced in the field of law and medicine such that by 1300, the medical students were conducting anatomies and dissection of human bodies (PDF 1262373, p6). In the periods from 1348 to 1506, Italian Universities had the largest number of students in the fields of law and medicine and the least number of students were accounted for in the field of theology.It was also noted that in the years from 1535 to 1555 a section of Italian authors rejected mush of the proposed Italian learning.


It was also noted that the teaching of Bachelor degrees had disappeared in the education curriculum of the Italian Universities. Italian Universities taught their students only at graduate and professional levels, this therefore meant that the students only sort university doctoral degrees.


Italian universities during the renaissance period did not have any organization and coherent academic communities; there was no faculty senate and no reactor with powers over curriculum and faculty in Italian schools. It is for this reason that Individual Italian scholars were able to write original researches as compared to the academic institutions in countries such as Germany. The professors who were mainly senior in age held doctorates and enjoyed lifetime tenure from their first annual contact. During examinations there were no undergraduate residence to supervise and the professors were not involved in degree examinations. Professional associations such as college of doctors of law/medicine and theology are the one’s that were in charge of the supervision of candidates. Another notable distinction is that Italian universities did not have institutional links with religious orders



Schools of the Italian Renaissance

Renaissance Universities especially from Italy led the way in terms of innovative research that led to changes in several fields of learning and whose effects have been felt to-date. Humanism was also a major agent of change in Italian Universities. Leading Italian humanist began to win university professorships in many of the Italian universities which are contrast with school in German where the theologians flatly opposed the entry of humanist in the academic fields. Adoption of Humanism enabled the Italian scholars to transform their own disciple through the adoption of linguistic, philosophical as well as historical skills so as to study the important works in their original Italian language. The professors of medicine used humanist values to cr3eate greater emphasis on the study of anatomy, clinical medicine and medical botany (1262373, p14).


The rejection of Learning in Mid-Cinquecento Italy

Humanistic in the qattrocento had wished to educate man for his active life In the 16th century humanistic education had taken the form of learning that str3essed on grammar, rhetoric, logic mathematics, history and literature which was based on both the Latin classics as well as the vernacular models like Petrarch. The main purpose of humanistic teaching was so that the patrician would be in position to serve his family, city, or authority in various aspects and affairs of the world (2857028, p230). This mode of education was met with sharp criticism as scholars that did not follow the humanistic approach to teaching and learning referred to the humanists as poligrafi. The plografi however we not deterred they were determined to criticize the learning th of the 16 century that mostly focused on the reading and interpretation of grammar, rhetoric history and poetry of the standard ancient writers in Latin and to some extent Greek. The plografi focused on training the school, going individuals to be able to fit in the different community settings that involve various aspects of human interaction. In the 16 th

century the vernacular literature grew in importance and the urban patriciate became a courtly society. The plografi propose the use of prose examples when learning in school. The students should first establish the foundation of humane letters after which he or she will be in a position to study other disciplines (2857028, p13)


Schools of the Italian Renaissance


Schooling in Western Europe

Schools of Italian Renaissance had the notable quality of independence. The school master was not subject to any institutional authority such as the church or the government. The teacher chose the curriculum and directed the school as he deemed best. Such schools were known as independent schools and comprised majority of the schools that were available in Renaissance period in Italy. It was up to the teachers to convince the parents to take the children to school and to gain the confidence of the parents with reference to their performance (2862790, p776). Another type of school found during the renaissance periods was the endowed schools, unlike the independent school, that 4xisted only if the master teacher was available. The endowed schools endured beyond the lifetime of the teacher/founder. Endowed schools were not common in Italy and were not seen until late 16th century. The third type of school was the church schools, they were however very difficult to find in the Italy especially after 1300. The reasons were that the Italian Monasteries and cathedral chapters had significantly declined in the Middle ages. And parents in Italy had significantly withdrawn their children from the task of educating their children (2862790, p780)


The coming of the 16th century also saw the introduction of Christian doctrines in the teaching of schools in Italy. The schools of Christian doctrine focused their teachings on the fundamentals of Catholism, reading and writing. Many clergy men and women offered to teach in these schools. Schools of Christian doctrine had the significant feature of being based on catholic reformation, a wide movement of catholic renewal that began in 1517. They based their teachings on religious orders, missionary activity and est6ablishing of institutions to caster for the sick and the homeless.



Schools of the Italian Renaissance

Schools of Christian Doctrine

The introduction of the catholic doctrine began with the introduction of religious principles to the school going children of elementary education from the poor families. One proponent of the Christian teaching was Angela Merici who gathered a group of young girls’ into her home so as to teach them the basics of Christianity (3166272, p320).


Father Castellino also managed to recruit several children to his religious school and over time the numbers increased so mush and the numbers of teachers and the students became every large. This was so after the Council of Trent endorsed the schools and the bishops supported them. One of the main benefits of having schools that were ran with religious doctrine was that religion was now in charge of the populace and that it did not only involve the school going children but also involve the adults as well.


In the beginning the schools only lasted for two hours per day and this was so because it was stated that the children needed to have ample time for relaxation. The teachers who were mainly also volunteers had many things to do and could therefore not spend the whole day in the school. The religious school administration took advantage of the available time after school to involve the school children in church errands where in the process of it they could learn different things. The Milanese document indicates that the school put up a series of signs that assisted the children to learn the alphabet, read the summmario, read and memorize the Interrogaorio, learn and count as well as learn about the holy communion. Most of the school-going children in the 16th t century were raised with deep knowledge of the catholic doctrine (3166272, p323). The school guideline also advocated for the presence of joy in the school setting. Singing, processions, contests and prizes were used to make the learning environment more enjoyable; this was a tactic that was applied so as to encourage the children


Schools of the Italian Renaissance

to always come to school.


The schools of Christian Doctrine taught reading, writing as well as religion. School going children were taught the ten commandment in which they were to memorize it and recite the commandments and various prayers that they had been taught in school. Arithmetic and grammar was also taught. The schools focused on reading, religion and writing mainly because the first of these schools were founded with the aim of teaching the orphans as well as informing them of the religious doctrines. The second reason to the application of this mode of study was because learning to read and write fell under the same fundamentals of the faith/religion. School children learned to read and write by reading writing and memorizing the basic prayers of Catholism. Children basically learned how to read and write so that they could be able to read and know the prayers and the commandment of God. This way we can say that religion and class education in the 16th century was intertwined.


One of the notable scholars of Italy was Jacob Burckhardt who was considered a theorist of modernity. He brings forth a new synthesis of objectives and research through openness, progress and enlightenment. Burckhardt is unique in his analysis as he strives for an abstract analysis of the modern society though his analysis is time bound. The scholar is interested in the emergent of the state which he calls the Renaissance as well as the associated forms of consciousness. His analysis of the state in the renaissance centers on the conclusion that in the renaissance, the customary forms of political life took a back seat and were gradually replaced by consciously created institutions (202194, p51). The catechetical principle originated with Augustine and talks of the fear of God as the first step towards achieving wisdom. The fear of the Lord will induce students to learn that which is righteous and good for the spiritual health of an individual. It proposes the fear and total avoidance of evil (3166272, p14).authors such as Tomasino de Banchi continued the writing of the diary that his father had left behind and as a result records are there that give the family chronology of that family.


Schools of the Italian Renaissance


The Profession of the Historian in the Italian Renaissance

When discussing the profession of the Historian in the Italian Renaissance, history has been recognized as one of the most important disciples introduced into European culture by the humanists of the Italian Renaissance. The above source is therefore relevant as it gives us the limelight of the use of history to preserve different concepts and ideologies of the past.


History was written with the main purpose of preserving the family or histographical tradition. During the advent of humanism in Italy over 150 authors of diaries and chronicles were discovered. Historic events were also written down as a desire to avoid idleness which was a source of all evil according to humanists, people also wrote as a means of seeking relief from the pressures of the busy civic or professional life (3787313, p54). People also made chronologies as a form of patriotism. This was particularly common among the historians of those cities of northern Italy which during the 124th and 15th centuries had become subjects to a more powerful metropolis. Historians were also responsible for the rapid increase in the number of chronicles written in and about subject cities all through from the 9 th

to the 15 th


The reasons for writing of history were found in its promotion to a position of honor among the other humanist disciplines that cam e to dominate the culture of the Italians at that time. This way several humanists found positions in professional careers such as teaching in Universities all of which established chairs of rhetoric or of Latin, Greek and Tuscan letters during the course of the 15 th and the 16th centuries. Others were hired as teachers in elementary schools in northern Italy. Secretaries also contributed in the writing of history. Since they were regularly expected to demonstrate competence in their professional qualifications they opted to write


Schools of the Italian Renaissance

about different literary journal that were sanctioned by humanist. Some of then such as Giorgio Stella began to write about a humanistic history of Genoa when he found out hi predecessor as a chancellor had written various chronicles of Genoa (3787313, p9)



It is evident that school development in Italy began long time ago and the development into intense spheres of study such as medicine and law were first felt in Italy before they gradually developed to other countries in Europe. Various factors such as religion contributed to the development of schools and education in general in Italy.