By Denise Wydra
Our public conversations about education are mired in the past. I’m not talking about the 19th century–I’m talking about the 5th century B.C.E.
Ancient Athens is perhaps an arbitrary starting point, but it fostered an early incarnation of the Western educational system, complete with professional teachers, formal schools, and familiar disciplines. A full education was reserved for free males, the obvious reason being that they were the only ones whose voices mattered. But don’t overlook the other assumptions: in this world, education was a limited resource (only so many tutors to go around) and a costly investment (every hour reading was an hour not working). And only some people could–or should–benefit from it.