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, Ethiopia

Education is the transmission of

mental states
and qualities of educated people. Additionally, it can mean the academic field studying education.

There are many types of education.

Non-formal education is also structured but happens outside the formal schooling system. Informal education is unstructured learning through daily experiences. Formal and non-formal education are divided into levels. They include early childhood education, primary education, secondary education, and tertiary education. Other classifications focus on the teaching method, like teacher-centered and student-centered education. Forms of education can also be distinguished by subject, like science education, language education, and physical education

Education socializes children into society by teaching cultural values and norms. It equips them with the skills needed to become productive members of society. This way, it stimulates economic growth and raises awareness of local and global problems. Organized institutions affect many aspects of education. For example, governments set education policies. They determine when school classes happen, what is taught, and who can or must attend. International organizations, like UNESCO, have been influential in promoting primary education for all children.

Many factors influence whether education is successful. Psychological factors include motivation, intelligence, and personality. Social factors, like socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender, are often linked to discrimination. Further factors include educational technology, teacher quality, and parent involvement.

The main field investigating education is called

writing was invented and the amount of knowledge grew. This caused a shift from informal to formal education. Initially, formal education was mainly available to elites and religious groups. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century made books more widely available. This increased general literacy. Beginning in the 18th and 19th centuries, public education became more important. It led to the worldwide process of making primary education available to all, free of charge, and compulsory
up to a certain age.


Theorists from various fields have tried to define education.[1][2][3] Many agree that education is a purposeful activity trying to achieve certain aims. These aims include the transmission of knowledge, skills, and character traits.[4][1][5] However, there are deep disagreements about its exact nature besides these general features. According to some theorists, it is primarily a process that occurs during events like schooling, teaching, and learning.[6][7][2] Others understand it not as a process but as the product caused by this process. This means that education is what educated persons have. It includes the mental states and dispositions that are characteristic of them.[6][7][2] The term may also refer to an academic field. This discipline studies the methods and processes taking place during teaching and learning. It examines the social institutions involved in these processes.[7] The term "education" is derived from the Latin term educare. It means "bring up, rear, educate", primarily in relation to the mind. It is also connected to the Latin term educere. It means "bring out, lead forth" and refers to the bodily level.[8]

Some theorists provide precise definitions by giving the exact features that are shared by all forms of education and only by them. According to

R. S. Peters, for example, education has three essential features. (1) It is concerned with the transmission of knowledge and understanding. (2) This transmission is worthwhile. (3) It is done in a morally appropriate manner in tune with the student's interests.[9][10][1] Such precise definitions often succeed at characterizing the most typical forms of education. But they are criticized because there are counterexamples.[10][11][2] These difficulties have led some theorists to develop less precise concepts. Some of them are based on family resemblance. This means that all the forms of education are similar to each other. But they need not share a set of essential features that all of them have in common.[1][12][13] Some theorists claim that the term "education" is context-dependent. This implies that its meaning varies depending on the situation in which it is used.[2] Having a clear idea of what the term means is important to correctly identify forms of education. It also matters when trying to measure or improve them.[14][15][16]

There is disagreement in the academic literature on whether education is an evaluative concept. This means that being good in some sense is part of the definition of education. So-called thick definitions affirm this. They may claim, for example, that an improvement of the learner is a requirement of education. Different thick definitions may still disagree among themselves on what kind of improvement is needed. Thin definitions, on the other hand, try to give a value-neutral account of education.[15][17] A closely related distinction is that between descriptive and prescriptive conceptions. Descriptive conceptions aim to describe how the term is actually used by regular speakers. Prescriptive conceptions try to express what good education is or how it should be done.[4][18]

Many thick and prescriptive conceptions rely on the

aims of education to explain their view. This means that they see education as an activity that tries to achieve certain aims.[19][20][21] These aims can be classified into different categories. There is one category for epistemic goods, like knowledge and understanding. Another category covers skills, like rationality and critical thinking. Additionally, there are character traits, like kindness and honesty.[15]

Some theorists focus on a single overarching purpose of education and see the more specific aims as means to this end.

rational ability to critically reflect on those beliefs and question them.[25] But some theorists contend that some forms of indoctrination may be necessary in the early stages of education. It may be needed until the child's mind is sufficiently developed.[20]

Education can be characterized from the teacher's or the student's perspective. Teacher-centered definitions focus on the perspective and role of the teacher. They may claim, for example, that education is the transmission of knowledge and skills in a morally appropriate way.[26][2][9] Student-centered definitions, on the other hand, see education from the student's experience in the learning process. For example, they may define it as a process that transforms and enriches their subsequent experience.[27][10][28] Definitions taking both perspectives into account are also possible. This can take the form of describing the process as the shared experience of a common world. This shared experience involves discovery as well as posing and solving problems.[10][26][29]


There are many classifications of education. It depends on the institutional framework whether education is formal, non-formal, or informal. Levels of education are distinguished based on factors like the student's age and the complexity of the content. Some classifications focus on the learner or the topic. Others rely on the teaching method, the medium used, or the funding.[30]

Formal, non-formal, and informal

Photo of father and daughter cooking
Tutoring is an example of non-formal education while learning how to cook from ones parents belongs to informal education.

Education is often divided into types. The most common division is between formal,

non-formal, and informal education.[31] However, some theorists only distinguish between formal and informal education.[32] Formal education happens in a complex institutional framework. Such frameworks have a chronological and hierarchical order. For instance, the modern schooling system has classes based on the student's age and progress, all the way from primary school to university. Formal education is usually controlled and guided by the government. It is normally compulsory up to a certain age.[33][34]

Non-formal and informal education take place outside the formal schooling system. Non-formal education is a middle ground. Like formal education, it is organized, systematic, and carried out with a clear purpose in mind. Examples are tutoring, fitness classes, and the scouting movement.[35] Informal education, on the other hand, happens in an unsystematic way through daily experiences and exposure to the environment. Unlike formal and non-formal education, there is usually no designated authority figure responsible for teaching.[36] Informal education is present in many settings. It happens throughout one's life, mostly in a spontaneous way. This is how children learn their mother tongue from their parents or how people learn to prepare a dish by cooking together.[33][34][2]

Some theorists distinguish the three types based on the location of learning. Formal education takes place in school. Informal education occurs in places of everyday routines. Non-formal education happens in places that are occasionally visited.[36] There are also differences in the source of motivation. Formal education is mainly driven by extrinsic motivation for external rewards. Non-formal and informal education are closely linked to intrinsic motivation because the learning itself is enjoyed.[36] The distinction between the three types is normally clear for the typical cases. But some forms of education do not easily fall into one category.[33][36]

Formal education plays a central role in modern civilization. But in

primitive cultures, most of the education happened on the informal level.[23][37][38] This usually means that there is no distinction between activities focused on education and other activities. Instead, the whole environment acts as a form of school and most adults act as teachers. However, informal education is often not efficient enough to pass on large quantities of knowledge. To do so, a formal setting and well-trained teachers are usually required. This was one of the reasons why in the course of history, formal education became more and more important. In this process, the experience of education became more abstract and removed from daily life. More emphasis was put on grasping general patterns instead of observing and imitating behavior.[23][37]


Types of education are often divided into levels or stages. The most influential framework is the

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It covers both formal and non-formal education. It distinguishes levels based on the student's age, the duration of learning, and the complexity of the discussed content. Further criteria include entry requirements, teacher qualifications, and the intended outcome of successful completion. The levels are grouped together into early childhood education (level 0), primary education (level 1), secondary education (levels 2-3), post-secondary non-tertiary education (level 4), and tertiary education (levels 5-8).[39][40][41]

photo of a kindergarten lesson in Japan
Young children in a kindergarten
in Japan

Early childhood education is also known as

preschool education or nursery education. It is the stage of education that begins with birth and lasts until the start of primary school. It follows the holistic aim of fostering early child development at the physical, mental, and social levels. It plays a key role in socialization and personality development. It includes various basic skills in the areas of communication, learning, and problem-solving. This way, it prepares children for their entry into primary education.[42]

Primary (or elementary) education usually starts at the age of five to seven and lasts for four to seven years. It does not have any further entry requirements. Its main goal is to teach the basic skills in the fields of reading, writing, and mathematics. But it also covers the core knowledge in other fields, like

sciences, music, and art. A further aim is to foster personal development.[43][39][44] Today, primary education is compulsory in almost all countries. Over 90% of all primary-school-age children worldwide attend primary school.[45]

Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. It usually covers the ages of 12 to 18 years. It is commonly divided into lower secondary education (

vocational training.[39][46][47] In many countries, it is the last stage of compulsory education.[48][49]

A high-school senior (twelfth grade) classroom in Calhan, Colorado
, United States

Upper secondary education aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed for employment or tertiary education. Its requirement is usually the completion of lower secondary education. Its subjects are more varied and complex. The students can often choose between a few subjects. Its successful completion is commonly tied to a formal qualification in the form of a high school diploma.[39][50][51] There are some types of education after secondary education that do not belong to tertiary education. They are often similar in complexity to secondary education. But they tend to focus more on vocational training to prepare students for the job market.[52][53]

Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University

Tertiary education is also referred to as

doctoral level education. They often form a hierarchical structure with later levels depending on the completion of previous levels.[54][39][55]

Short-cycle tertiary education focuses on practical matters. It includes advanced vocational and professional training to prepare students for the job market in specialized professions.


Many other types of education are discussed in the academic literature, like the distinction between traditional and alternative education. Traditional education concerns long-established and mainstream schooling practices. It uses teacher-centered education and takes place in a well-regulated school environment. Regulations cover many aspects of education, such as the curriculum and the timeframe when classes start and end.[64][65]

Alternative education is an umbrella term for forms of schooling that differ from the mainstream traditional approach. For example, they may use a different learning environment, teach different subjects, or promote a different teacher-student relationship. Alternative schooling is characterized by voluntary participation, relatively small class and school sizes, and personalized instruction. This often results in a more welcoming and emotionally safe atmosphere. It encompasses many types like

alternative schools. Further examples are Escuela Nueva schools, free schools, and democratic schools.[66] Alternative education also includes indigenous education. It focuses on the transmission of knowledge and skills from an indigenous heritage. Its method gives more emphasis to narration and storytelling.[67][68][69]

Other distinctions are based on who receives education. Categories by the age of the learner are childhood education, adolescent education, adult education, and elderly education.

disabilities. It covers various forms of impairments on the intellectual, social, communicative, and physical levels. It aims to overcome the challenges posed by these impairments. This way, it provides the affected students with access to an appropriate education. When understood in the broadest sense, it also includes education for very gifted children who need adjusted curricula to reach their fullest potential.[73][74][75]

Some classifications focus on the teaching method. In

conscious education, learning and teaching happen with a clear purpose in mind. Unconscious education, on the other hand, occurs on its own without being consciously planned or guided.[77] This may happen in part through the personality of teachers and adults. Their personality can have indirect effects on the development of the student's personality.[78]

lifelong education, which is an ongoing learning process throughout a person's entire life.[80][81]

Forms of education can also be categorized by the subject and the medium used. Types based on the subject include

art education, religious education, and physical education.[82][83][84] Special mediums are usually used in distance education. Examples include e-learning (use of computers), m-learning (use of mobile devices), and online education. They often take the form of open education, where the courses and materials are made available with a minimal amount of barriers. They contrast with regular classroom or onsite education.[85]

A further distinction is based on the type of funding.

private education, which is funded and managed by private institutions. Private schools often have a more selective admission process. Many offer paid education by charging tuition fees.[86] A more detailed classification focuses on the social institution responsible for education. It includes categories for institutions like family, school, civil society, state, and church.[87][88]

Compulsory education is education that people are legally required to receive. It concerns mainly children who need to visit school up to a certain age. It contrasts with voluntary education, which people pursue by personal choice without a legal requirement.[89][90][91]

Evidence-based education uses well-designed scientific studies to determine which methods of education work best. Its goal is to maximize the effectiveness of educational practices and policies. This is achieved by ensuring that they are informed by the best available empirical evidence. It includes evidence-based teaching, evidence-based learning, and school effectiveness research.[92][93][94]

Role in society

Education plays various roles in society, including in social, economic, and personal fields. On a social level, education makes it possible to establish and sustain a stable

civic participation in the form of voting and organizing and through its tendency to promote equal opportunity for all.[95]

A further issue is to enable people to become productive members of society by learning how to contribute to it. Through education, individuals acquire the technical and analytical skills needed to pursue their profession, produce goods, and provide services to others. In early societies, there was little specialization and each child would generally learn most of the tasks relevant to help their group. Modern societies are increasingly complex and many professions are only mastered by relatively few people who receive specialized training in addition to general education. Some of the skills and tendencies learned to function in society may conflict with each other and their value depends on the context of their usage. For example, fostering a questioning mind is necessary to develop the ability of critical thinking but in some cases, obedience to an authority is required to ensure social stability.[96][97][98]

By helping people become productive members of society, education can stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty. It helps workers become more skilled and thereby increases the quality of the produced goods and services, which in turn leads to prosperity and increased competitiveness.[99] In this regard, public education is often understood as a long-term investment to benefit society as a whole. The rate of return is especially high for investments in primary education.[100][97] Besides increasing economic prosperity, it can also lead to technological and scientific advances as well as decrease unemployment while promoting social equity.[101]

Education can prepare a country to adapt to changes and successfully face new challenges. For example, it can help raise awareness and contribute to the solution of

massive open online courses.[111]

On a more individual level, education promotes

problem-solving and decision-making abilities.[112][113] It further has positive effects on health and well-being.[114] While education is of high relevance in childhood, it does not end with adulthood and continues throughout life. This phenomenon is known as lifelong learning. It is of specific significance in contemporary society due to the rapid changes on many levels and the need for people to adjust to them.[115][116][117]

The social importance of education is recognized in the annual International Day of Education on January 24. The year 1970 was declared International Education Year.[118][119]

Role of institutions

Organized institutions play a key role for various aspects of education. Institutions like schools, universities,

healthcare, law enforcement, media platforms, and political leaders. Many people are directly involved in the education sector. They include students, teachers, and school principals as well as school nurses and curriculum developers.[120][121]

Many aspects of formal education are regulated by the

policies of governmental institutions. They determine at what age children need to attend school and at what times classes are held as well as issues pertaining to the school environment, like infrastructure. Regulations also cover the exact requirements for teachers and how they are trained. An important aspect of education policy concerns the curriculum used for teaching at schools, colleges, and universities. A curriculum is a planned sequence of instructions or a program of learning that intends to guide the experience of learners to achieve the aims of education. The topics are usually selected based on their importance and depend on the type of school. For example, the goals of public school curricula are usually to offer a comprehensive and well-rounded education while vocational trainings focus more on specific practical skills within a field. The curricula also cover various aspects besides the topic to be discussed, such as the teaching method, the objectives to be reached, and the standards for assessing progress. By determining the curricula, governmental institutions have a strong impact on what knowledge and skills are transmitted to the students.[122]

Education for All initiative. It aimed to offer basic education to all children, adolescents, and adults by the year 2015. It was later replaced by the initiative Sustainable Development Goals as goal 4.[123] Related policies include the Convention against Discrimination in Education and the Futures of Education initiative.[124][125]

Some influential organizations are not intergovernmental but non-governmental. For example, the International Association of Universities promotes the exchange of colleges and universities around the world. The International Baccalaureate offers international diploma programs.[126][127][128] Many institutions, like the Erasmus Programme, facilitate student exchanges between countries.[129]

Factors of educational success

Many factors influence educational achievement. They include psychological factors, which concern the student as an individual, and sociological factors, which pertain to the student's social environment. Further factors include access to educational technology, teacher quality, and parent involvement. Many of these factors overlap and influence each other.[130]


On a psychological level, relevant factors include motivation, intelligence, and personality.[131] Motivation is the internal force propelling people to engage in learning.[132][133][134] Motivated students are more likely to interact with the content to be learned by participating in classroom activities like discussions, which often results in a deeper understanding of the subject. It can also help students overcome difficulties and setbacks. An important distinction is between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated students are driven by an interest in the subject and the learning experience itself. Extrinsically motivated students seek external rewards. They may strive for good grades and recognition by their peers. It is often claimed that intrinsic motivation is more beneficial by leading to increased creativity and engagement as well as long-term commitment.[135] Educational psychologists try to discover how to increase motivation. This can be achieved by encouraging some competition among students. Another factor is to balance positive and negative feedback in the form of praise and criticism.[132][136]

Intelligence is another important factor in how people respond to education. It is a mental quality linked to the ability to learn from experience, to understand, and to employ knowledge and skills to solve problems. Those who have higher scores in intelligence metrics tend to perform better at school and go on to higher levels of education.

IQ, a standardized numerical metric for assessing intelligence. However, it has been argued that there different types of intelligences pertaining to distinct areas. According to Howard Gardner, some affect the areas of mathematics, logic, and spatial cognition. Others concern language and music. There are also distinct types for interacting with other people and with oneself. These forms are largely independent of each other. This means that someone may excel at one type while scoring low on another.[138][139]

A closely related factor concerns


Unlike psychological factors, sociological factors focus not on the mental attributes of learners but on their social status and environment. They include

cultural background as well as gender. They are of interest to researchers since they are associated with inequality and discrimination. For this reason, they play a key role in policy-making in attempts to mitigate their effects.[145]

Socioeconomic status depends on

student loans. Low socioeconomic status also has many indirect negative effects because it is linked to lower physical and mental health. Due to these factors, social inequalities on the level of the parents are often reproduced in the children.[146][147][148]

Ethnic background is linked to cultural differences and language barriers, which make it more difficult for students to adapt to the school environment and follow classes. Additional factors are explicit and implicit biases and discrimination toward

racist, which can lead them to grade comparable performances differently based on the child's ethnicity.[149]

Historically, gender has been a central factor in education since the roles of males and females were defined differently in many societies. Education tended to strongly favor males, who were expected to provide for the family. Females, on the other hand, were expected to manage the household and rear children, which severely hampered the educational opportunities available to them. And while these inequalities have improved in most modern societies, there are still gender differences in education. Among other things, this concerns biases and stereotypes linked to the role of gender in education. An example is that subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are often presented as male fields. This discourages female students to follow them.[150][151][152]

One aspect of many social factors is given by the expectations associated with stereotypes. On the one hand, they work on an external level based on how people react to a person belonging to a certain group. On the other hand, they also affect the internal level because the person internalizes them and acts accordingly. In this sense, the expectations may turn into

self-fulfilling prophecies by causing the educational outcomes they anticipate. This can happen both for positive and for negative stereotypes.[153][154]

Technology and others

Technology plays another significant role in educational success. Educational technology is commonly associated with the use of modern digital devices, like computers. But understood in the broadest sense, it involves a wide range of resources and tools for learning, including basic aids that do not involve the use of machines, like regular books and worksheets.[155][156]

photo of a group of children being introduced to a laptop
The OLPC laptop being introduced to children in Haiti

Educational technology can benefit learning in various ways. In the form of media, it often takes the role of the primary supplier of information in the classroom. This means that the teacher can focus their time and energy on other tasks, like planning the lesson and guiding students as well as assessing educational performance.

developing countries and many efforts are made to address it, like the One Laptop per Child initiative.[160][161][162]

A closely related issue concerns the effects of school infrastructure. It includes various physical aspects of the school, like its location and size as well as the available school facilities and equipment. For example, a healthy and safe environment, well-maintained classrooms, and suitable classroom furniture as well as the availability of a library and a canteen tend to contribute to educational success.[163][164]

The quality of the teacher also has an important impact on educational success. For example, skilled teachers are able to motivate and inspire students and are able to adjust their instructions to the students' abilities and needs. Important in this regard are the teacher's own education and training as well as their past teaching experience.[165]

An additional factor to boost educational achievement is parent involvement. It can make children more motivated and invested if they are aware that their parents care about their educational efforts. This tends to lead to increased self-esteem, better attendance rates, and more constructive behavior at school. Parent involvement also includes communication with teachers and other school staff, for example, to make other parties aware of current issues and how they may be resolved.[166][167][168] Further relevant factors sometimes discussed in the academic literature include historical, political, demographic, religious, and legal aspects.[169][170]

Education studies

photo of the cover of the title page of John Locke's 1693 book "Some Thoughts Concerning Education"
John Locke's book Some Thoughts Concerning Education from 1693 is one of the foundational works of education studies.[171]

The main discipline investigating education is called education studies, also referred to as education sciences. It tries to determine how people transmit and acquire knowledge by studying the methods and forms of education. It is interested in its aims, effects, and value as well as the cultural, societal, governmental, and historical contexts that shape education.[172] Education theorists integrate insights from many other fields of inquiry, including philosophy, psychology, sociology, economics, history, politics, and international relations. Because of these influences, some theorists claim that education studies is not an independent academic discipline like physics or history since its method and subject are not as clearly defined.[173][174] Education studies differs from regular training programs, such as teacher training, since its focus on academic analysis and critical reflection goes beyond the skills needed to be a good teacher. It is not restricted to the topic of formal education but examines all forms and aspects of education.[175][176][177]


sample size and tries to get an in-depth insight into more subjective and personal factors, like how different actors experience the process of education. Mixed-methods research aims to combine data gathered from both approaches to arrive at a balanced and comprehensive understanding. Data can be gathered in various ways, like using direct observation or test scores as well as interviews and questionnaires.[178][179] Research can be employed to study basic factors affecting all forms of education, examine specific applications, look for solutions to concrete problems, and evaluate the effectiveness of projects.[180]


Education studies encompasses various subfields like

economics of education, comparative education, and history of education.[181][182] The philosophy of education is the branch of applied philosophy that examines many of the basic assumptions underlying the theory and practice of education. It studies education both as a process and as a discipline while trying to provide exact definitions of its nature and how it differs from other phenomena. It further studies the purpose of education and its types as well as how to conceptualize teachers, students, and their relation.[183] It includes educational ethics, which examines various moral issues in relation to education, for example, what ethical principles underlie it and how teachers should apply them to specific cases. The philosophy of education has a long history and was already discussed in ancient Greek philosophy.[184][185][186]

The term "pedagogy" is sometimes used as a synonym for education studies but when understood in a more restricted sense, it refers to the subfield interested in

character traits, can be realized.[188][189][190] It is interested in the methods and practices used for teaching in regular schools and some researchers restrict it to this domain. But in a wider sense, it covers all types of education, including forms of teaching outside schools.[191] In this general sense, it explores how teachers can bring about experiences in learners to advance their understanding of the studied topic and how the learning itself takes place.[188][189]

The psychology of education studies how education happens on the mental level, specifically how new knowledge and skills are acquired as well as how personal growth takes place. It studies the factors responsible for successful education and how these factors may differ from person to person. Important factors include intelligence, motivation, and personality. A central topic in this field is the interplay between

neuropsychological processes and changes brought about through learning.[195]

The sociology of education is concerned with how social factors influence education and how it leads to socialization. Social factors differ from mental factors studied by psychology and include aspects like socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender. The sociology of education studies how these factors, together with the dominant

conflict theory. Consensus theorists hold that education benefits society as a whole by preparing people for their roles. Conflict theories have a more negative outlook on the resulting inequalities and see education as a force used by the ruling class to promote their own agenda.[198][199]

The economics of education is the field of inquiry studying how education is produced, distributed, and consumed. It tries to determine how resources should be used to improve education. An example is the question to what extent the quality of teachers is increased by raising their salary. Other questions are how smaller class sizes affect educational success and how to invest in new educational technologies. In this regard, it helps policy-makers decide how to distribute the limited resources most efficiently to benefit society as a whole. It also tries to understand what long-term role education plays for the economy of a country by providing a highly skilled labor force and increasing its competitiveness. A closely related issue concerns the economic advantages and disadvantages of different systems of education.[200][201][202]

education indices
to compare systems of education in different countries.

Comparative education is the discipline that examines and contrasts systems of education. Comparisons can happen from a general perspective or focus on specific factors, like social, political, or economic aspects. It is often applied to different countries to assess the similarities and differences of their educational institutions and practices as well as to evaluate the consequences of the distinct approaches. It can be used to learn from other countries which education policies work and how one's own system of education may be improved.

authoritarian regime to a democracy.[207][209]

The history of education examines the evolution of educational practices, systems, and institutions. It discusses various key processes, their possible causes and effects, and their relations to each other.[210]

Aims and ideologies

A central topic in education studies concerns questions like why people should be educated and what goals should guide this process. Many aims of education have been suggested. On a basic level, education is about the acquisition of knowledge and skills but may also include personal development and fostering of character traits. Common suggestions encompass features like

religious faith. An important discussion in this regard is about the role of critical thinking. It asks to what extent indoctrination forms part of education. On a social level, it is often stressed that education should socialize people. This way, it turns them into productive members of society while promoting good citizenship and preserving cultural values.[211] A controversial issue in this regard concerns who primarily benefits from education: the educated person, society as a whole, or dominant groups within society.[212][213][214]

Educational ideologies are systems of basic philosophical assumptions and principles. They cover various additional issues besides the aims of education, like what topics are learned and how the learning activity is structured. Other topics include the role of the teacher and how the results are to be assessed. They also include claims on how to structure the institutional framework and policies. There are many ideologies and they often overlap in various ways. For example, teacher-centered ideologies place the main emphasis on the teacher's role in transmitting knowledge to students. Student-centered ideologies give a more active role to the students in the process. Product-based ideologies discuss education from the perspective of the result to be achieved. They contrast with process-based ideologies, which focus on the processes of teaching and learning themselves. Another classification contrasts

encyclopaedism, and pragmatism. There are also distinct types for authoritarian and democratic ideologies.[215][216][217]

Learning theories and teaching

mnemonics and constructivists tend to employ collaborative learning strategies.[218]

An influential

developmental theory of learning is due to Jean Piaget. He outlines four stages of learning through which children pass on their way to adulthood. They are the sensorimotor, the pre-operational, the concrete operational, and the formal operational stage. They correspond to different levels of abstraction. Early stages focus more on simple sensory and motor activities. Later stages include more complex internal representations and information processing in the form of logical reasoning.[219][131] Various theories suggest that learning is more efficient when it is based on personal experience. An additional factor is to aim at a deeper understanding by connecting new to pre-existing knowledge rather than merely memorizing a list of unrelated facts.[220][221]

The teaching method concerns the way the content is presented by the teacher, for example, whether group work is used instead of a focus on individual learning. There are many teaching methods available. Which one is most efficient in a case depends on various factors, like the subject matter as well as the learner's age and

methodologies is to ensure that the learner remains motivated, for example, because of interest and curiosity or through external rewards.[188][223]

Further aspects of teaching methods include the instructional media used, such as books, worksheets, and audio-visual recordings, and having some form of test or assessment to evaluate the learning progress. An important pedagogical aspect in many forms of modern education is that each lesson is part of a larger educational enterprise governed by a syllabus. It often covers several months or years.[188][224] According to Herbartianism, teaching is divided into phases. The initial phase consists of preparing the student's mind for new information. Next, new ideas are first presented to the learner and then associated with ideas with which the learner is already familiar. In later phases, the understanding shifts to a more general level behind the specific instances and the ideas are then put into concrete practice.[225][226]


The history of education studies the processes, methods, and institutions involved in teaching and learning. It tries to explain how they have interacted with each other and shaped educational practice until the present day.

oral communication and imitation. It could take the form of storytelling and singing to pass knowledge, values, and skills from one generation to the next.[229][230]

The earliest

invention of writing and the development of formal education.[231][232] The invention of writing had a significant influence on the history of education as a whole. Through writing, it was possible to store and preserve information and make it accessible to more people. This enabled various subsequent developments, for example, the creation of educational tools, like textbooks, and institutions, like schools.[233]

Mosaic from Pompeii depicting Plato's Academy
Plato's Academy is often seen as the first school of higher learning. (Mosaic from Pompeii

Another key aspect of ancient education was the establishment of formal education. This became necessary since the amount of knowledge grew as civilizations evolved and informal education proved insufficient to transmit all knowledge from one generation to the next. Teachers would act as specialists to impart knowledge and education became more abstract and further removed from daily life. Formal education was still quite rare in ancient societies and was restricted to the intellectual elites. It happened in the form of training

Great Library of Alexandria in Ancient Egypt. Many see it as the most prestigious library of the ancient world.[237]

In the medieval period, religious authorities had a lot of influence over formal education. This applied specifically to the role of the

Oxford University.[238] Another key development was the creation of guilds. Guilds were associations of skilled craftsmen and merchants who controlled the practice of their trades. They were responsible for vocational education and new members had to pass through different stages on their way to masterhood.[239][240]

The invention and popularization of the

Johann Gutenberg had a profound impact on general education. It significantly reduced the cost of producing books, which were hand-written before, and thereby augmented the dissemination of written documents, including new forms like newspapers and pamphlets. The increased availability of written media had a significant influence on the general literacy of the population.[241]

These changes prepared the rise of public education in the 18th and 19th centuries. This period saw the establishment of publicly funded schools with the aim of providing education for all. This contrasts with earlier periods, where formal education was primarily provided by private institutions, religious institutions, and individual tutors.[242] Aztec civilization was an exception in this regard since formal education was mandatory for the youth regardless of social class as early as the 14th century.[243][244][245] Closely related changes were to make education compulsory and free of charge for all children up to a certain age.[246][247][248] Initiatives to promote public education and universal access to education made significant progress in the 20th and the 21st centuries and were promoted by intergovernmental organizations like the UN. Examples include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Education for All initiative, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Sustainable Development Goals.[249][250][251] These efforts resulted in a steady rise of all forms of education but affected primary education in particular. For example, in 1970, 28% of all primary-school-age children worldwide did not attend school while by 2015, this number dropped to 9%.[45]

A side effect of the establishment of public education was the introduction of standardized curricula for public schools as well as standardized tests to assess the students' progress. It also affected teachers by setting in place institutions and norms to guide and oversee teacher training, for example, by establishing certification standards for teaching at public schools.[252][253][254]

A further influence on contemporary education was the emergence of new educational technologies. For example, the widespread availability of computers and the internet dramatically increased access to educational resources and made new types of education possible, such as online education. This was of particular relevance during the

video conferencing or pre-recorded video lessons to continue instruction.[255] A further contemporary factor is the increased globalization and internationalization of education.[256][257]

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