Schools

(In the early ages most of the instruction of young children was by the parents. The leisure hours of the Sabbaths and festival days brought the parents in constant contact with the children. After the captivity schools came more into use, and at the time of Christ were very abundant. The schools were in connection with the synagogues, which were found in every village of the city and land. Their idea of the value of schools may be gained from such sayings from the Talmud as "The world is preserved by the breath of the children in the schools;" "A town in which there are no schools must perish;" "Jerusalem was destroyed because the education of children was neglected." Josephus says, "Our principal care is to educate our children." The Talmud states that in Bechar there were 400 schools, having each 400 teachers, with 400 children each and that there were 4000 pupils in the house of Rabban Simeon Ben-Gamaliel. Maimonides thus describes a school: "The teacher sat at the head, and the pupils surrounded him as the crown the head so that every one could see the teacher and hear his words. The teacher did not sit in a chair while the pupils sat on the ground but all either sat on chairs or on the ground." The children read aloud to acquire fluency. The number of school-hours was limited, and during the heat of the summer was only four hours. The punishment employed was beating with a strap, never with a rod. The chief studies were their own language and literature the chief school-book the Holy Scriptures; and there were special efforts to impress lessons of morality and chastity. Besides these they studied mathematics, astronomy and the natural sciences. Beyond the schools for popular education there were higher schools or colleges scattered throughout the cities where the Jews abounded.--ED.)