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Milestones of Learning

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c. 1500 Almost 80 universities have been established in Europe, and primary schools begin to appear.

1564 The graphite pencil debuts in England.

1596 "The English Scholemaister" by Edmund Coote is one of the first books about teaching the English language. It includes a table of about 1,400 words, which is later expanded upon in the first English dictionary.


17th century

When the colonists come to America, they set up schools based on European models. Many are run and supported by the church. Only 1 in 10 children attend school.

1630 In Japan, a school is founded in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) that would grow into the official Confucian University. Similar Confucian schools are established throughout Japan.

1635 The Boston Latin School opens as the first "grammar," or secondary, school in Britain's American Colonies.

1636 Harvard, the first college in the American Colonies, is founded.

1637 French philosopher Ren Descartes proposes mathematics as the perfect model for reasoning and invents analytic geometry.

1658 Czech education reformer John Amos Comenius publishes the first-ever children's picture book, "Orbis Sensualim Pictus" (The Visible World in Pictures). The book is a bestseller in all major European languages.


18th century

Schools in the American Colonies begin to teach more practical subjects, like bookkeeping, navigation, and algebra. After the Revolutionary War, church control over schools declines in the United States and most other Western countries.

1731 Benjamin Franklin founds the Library Company of Philadelphia, the first subscription library in America - funded by fees people paid to join.


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