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The Renaissance was a period of rebirth and transition in Europe. It began in Italy around the thirteenth century and spread gradually to the north and west across Europe for the next two centuries.
It was a time of vast growth in learning and culture. Through contacts with the Arab world, the Western world was rediscovering many long-lost classical writings of the Greeks and Romans. Islamic scholars had preserved many of the ancient writing, and European scholars retranslated them from the Arabic and shared them across Europe.
The classical writings become very popular, and many of their teachings were imitated by the Europeans. The universities, which were first established during the late Middle Ages, were growing into a potent intellectual force.
Universities also were developing in other areas of Europe, especially in Germany, as the orientation toward church-controlled education lessened and secular education grew. The humanist scholars studied the classics closely because the ancient writings expressed humanistic ideas about education.
This study of ancient writing, which the Church considered clearly pagan, created many scholarly problems in reconciling the humanities, or humanistic studies, to religion, which was still a dominant force in European life.
Europe also was making the transition to "modern times. Europe was changing from a system of many small personal alliances to one in which the nation was the dominant unit. The governments were gradually being centralized, and the people were beginning to think of themselves as English or French or German, rather than as Londoners or Parisians or Hessians.
The birth of nationalism wholly changed the complexion of European affairs.
Towns were becoming the new centre of life as the economy began to edge away from its old feudalistic, agrarian orientation. The invention of gunpowder changed the face of feudalistic military tactics. It helped to blow Europe into modern times, for with it a small force of men was vastly superior to a much larger force of bowmen.
The availability of books enabled knowledge and information to spread rapidly across Europe and provided a great impetus to education, for the need to be literate had increased immensely.
The Renaissance was a period of discovery of the outside world as well, for people began to question the old teachings about the nature of the world and what lay beyond Europe and northern Africa. They undertook voyages west across the Atlantic Ocean and south and east around Africa to India and beyond.
The circumnavigation of the world showed how limited human knowledge had been. The education of the period began to develop along the lines of the Greek ideal; it stressed a classical education combined with physical education.
A major early leader was Vittorino da Feltre, who founded a school for the children of nobility that imitated the Athenian model of classical studies taught according to the model set by Quintilian.
The subjects included Greek and Latin Literature, swimming, fencing, riding, and dancing. Education was primarily for the men, though women were treated as relative equals in Italy.
The Renaissance ideals were the "universal man," who had many talents and interests in the arts and literature, polities, games and sports, and the social graces. He was supposed to be interested and moderately skilled in almost every aspect of contemporary life.
The goal of Renaissance educators was to develop an "all-around" person with a balanced education. Education was beginning to be considered valuable for its own sake, regardless of how immediately practical it was.The fourth essay, again on Cistercian monks, elaborates themes of the first three.
Its subsidiary goals are to provide further evidence on distinctively Cistercian attitudes and to elaborate the Cistercian ambivalence about vocation that I delineate in the essay on conceptions of community. The University of the State of New York REGENTS HIGH SCHOOL EXAMINATION GLOBAL HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY Tuesday, August 16, — to .
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