How and Why Formal Education Originated in the Emergence of Civilization

  •  Tyrel C. Eskelson    


The purpose of this study is to argue that formal education had multiple, independent origins in the emergence of ancient civilizations, for universally the same reasons. It uses socio-biological literature to outline the nature of human societies; ethnographic literature to show that no systems of formal education existed in small-scale hunter-gatherer communities; and evolutionary psychological literature, specifically the cognitive niche theory of human evolution, and domain-specific brain module theories, to show how children learn. The second section details the organizational changes that occurred in the emergence of civilization and why this required the development of formal institutions of education. The study uses four ancient civilizations—Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and Mesoamerica—to provide evidence for the paper’s argument. The study offers a theory for the relationship between the structural organization of human societies and the implications this has for social learning. Overall, it provides a working theory for how and why formal education first emerged in human societies, due to the administrative tools needed to keep a state-level society functioning.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-5250
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-5269
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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