Jerry-Myers_12_26The term “Free Education” is a misleading term. A more accurate term would be “Public Education”.  Public programs are supported by the public at large through tax allocations.

From the 16th century education in one form or another was available to anyone that could afford it.  Some Noble Families sent their sons to Monasteries to get an education.  This did not necessarily mean that they would become part of the Clergy.  The first born son went to get an education so he could at some time become the patriarch of his family.

The second born son or the third was dedicated from birth to the Clergy.  Dedication of a son to the Clergy was in fact payment for all of their sons’ education.  This practice was in large part an effort on a church’s part, Catholic and Protestant, to ensure loyalty to that church through family bloodlines.

The printing press had a large impact on the Monasteries due largely in part to the main industry of those Monasteries, the reproduction of hand scribed editions of Illuminated Books.  Illuminated Books were commissioned by Royals and well-to-do families, and also copies of books for their own Monastery’s libraries, from collected original texts.  One book could take six months to a year to reproduce by a group of Monks.

Johannes Gutenberg perfected “Moveable Type” in or around 1450 AD, he crafted individual letters, upper and lowercase.  The apparatus that became known as the “Printing Press” most likely came out of the design for a winepress.

Moveable type individual letters in moveable type was an epiphany that allowed entire books to be printed using the same set of moveable type face.  Now a faster and less labor demanding form of production for books was possible.

Books became cheaper and more widely available.  Schools could now offer books for students and education became more open to those that could not afford an education before.  The newspaper started to make an appearance, much as we know them today.

Along with the mass-production of books came the novelist and storybooks, but more importantly came the text books for “Public Education”.  With the advent of affordable “Public Education” a third class emerged from out of the Upper Class and the Lower Class, the “Middle Class”.  The modern Middle Class is made up from the educated working public.  In historical terms a resent occurrence.

JL Myers is a retired Mesquite resident with several published books. His column, Art of Writing, appears weekly on You can contact Myers through his online column posted on Fridays or by emailing