ΑΠΟ: mmichalar - Ιαν• 27•15


By Marios Tsoukalas

It is a fact of language that words change over time. In English for example, some words have changed semantically i.e. when they first came into use they meant something different than they do today. There is one word however, that constitutes the most striking case of all:  What do you think  the word “school” meant when it was first created and how close to its original meaning is what we call school today?

The word school comes from the ancient Greek σχόλη which meant a break from physical work or  labour and engaging in learned conversation. Accordingly, the place used for such pleasant and rewarding pastime was  named σχολείο,σχολή. So school was ACTUALLY  free time and discussion! Can you believe it?  Ancient Greek society considered school as a place that allowed people to choose how they would spend their time both creatively and pleasantly.

In time, the Greek word via Latin travelled into most European languages and, at the same time, it underwent a striking change in meaning. This semantic change reflected an ideological change too . As medieval society was developing its ideas about education and discipline, school became an institution of strengthening and enforcing uniformity of thought and the status quo.

In the same way, whereas σχολαστικός in ancient Greek described those who pass their time at ease, in modern Greek it denotes someone boring and obsessive and  in English a scholar is merely a learned person or a professor.

So, the historical change in the idea of what school is,  resembles, in a way, the  process of growing up… like a child who is born carefree  to dream and play the games of his choice  but  is then forced by grown ups to conform and become a dutiful member of society…

One thing is for sure though,that the kind of oppressive ‘schooling’ described in “The Logical Song” of 1979 would have made no sense to an Athenian school goer of the 5th century BC! So what can we conclude about the evolution of  thinking in society?



One Comment