How Invention Begins ch. 12

What was the impact of the printing press on education?

Education in the middle ages, before the printing press:
Impact of the printing press, first 100 years
Jump to mid 1700s, industrial revolution is beginning:
Industry was spreading, particularly with the development of the
Factory System, and that led to a wider interest in science and technology.

 Spinning Jenny
and then to weaving 1786-1788

PEM photo--power loom (Slater Mill)
Because of industrialization people are very aware of living in a new kind of world.  How do you adapt to living in an industrial society?  You had better learn more about technology if you want to get ahead.  The industrial revolution creates a demand for books about technology and science.

By the early 19th century books were being published designed to help people learn for themselves, so education wouldn't be limited to those who could afford to go to schools and universities.  Learning was being democratized.  We need to look more carefully at that how that happened.

Self-education by books was possible partly because of improved printing presses made possible cheaper books
People wanted to learn about science and technology by reading books.
Lienhard gives you a good example.

Few people remember the books students read in the 19th century, but they tell us a lot about what knowledge was available, how it was taught (and how that was changing) and what people thought of science and technology.  Technology (how machines worked) was actually a bigger part of education before the mid-19th century.  After that science began to be taught in a more theoretical way.

Consider another example of the earlier thinking (late 18th early 19th century) about living in a new technological age: what do people need to know?

 Amos Eaton
The history of Rensselaer Polytechnic shows the struggles of early engineering schools

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
HIST 122
last updated 7/10/07