London: Printed by John Daye, 1571 . Third edition. Bound by Riviere & Son in full crushed morocco stamped in gilt. All edges brightly gilt. Inner dentelles gilt. Marbled endpapers. Binding rubbed at extremities; repair to front joint, rear joint rubbed. Quarto collating , 67, : complete. Few foliation errors with small holograph pencil corrections. Title page with decorative woodcut border, large historiated and decorative initials, ornamental tailpieces, and woodcut illustration to colophon. Small edge tear in front endpaper. Textblock trimmed with loss of some running headlines and a few page numbers. Some light edgewear, foxing and smudging to pages. A pleasing early copy.
The most famous text by the tutor of Elizabeth I, Ascham's The Schoolmaster is a foundational work on English education. According to Ascham's introduction, the seed for the book was planted during a 1563 dinner at Windsor Castle "in the chamber of William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth's Principal Secretary" during which privy council members discussed the atmosphere of abuse and fear shaping Eaton College (Clark Library). Later, Sir Richard Sackville would approach Ascham and suggest that he "put in some order of writing the chiefe pointes of this our taulke, concerning the right order of teachinge, and honestie of liuing, for the good bringing vp of children." Among these points was a more humane style of education, in which flogging and fear played no role.
Divided into two books "the first of which describes the nature and habits of the ideal teacher and student...and the second book, most likley incomplete, explains the pedagogical technique of double translation, whereby students translate classical exemplars into English and then back into Latin" (Cambridge). In addition to asserting the importance of memory arts to a humanist curriculum, The Schoolmaster also asserted the role of psychology in pedagogy. For while schoolmasters might believe they are right "to favour quick wits instead of hard ones," by overlooking students who learn at a slower rate they are failing in their duties; "quick wits are quick to forget, while hard wits, like inscriptions made in stone, require effort and retain things the longest" (Cambridge). Similarly, a love of learning should be fostered in all students, because trauma in the classroom can induce resistance or forgetfulness.
ESTC S100263. (Item #4520)