For millennia, when a person referred to education or formal schooling, it was understood, that only male children were students. In some societies only the eldest male child was granted this privilege. The purpose of education was to function as a citizen of the economy. Young boys were taught in the classical manner; with subjects falling under the umbrella of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Reading, writing, arithmetic lay the basis of Grammar school years. During this time, the young men are also trained in the “masculine” Latin or Greek languages in addition to their native tongue. In the 1800s, French was the haute language of choice, but considered “feminine” although some teachers instructed young men in French as well. Boys were taught geography, history, and the basis of politics. They were encouraged to be physical in their play and to use their heads to arrive at solutions. Much of the 19th century education system was based on rote memorization and the scrutiny of classic literature, but the boys were allowed their own experiments and adventures in art and science. The ideology was the head master was training young lords and treated them as such, with expectations of responsibility. However, the reality seems to be a stark contrast of the ideal. Dickens recounts the horror, shame, and pain in Victorian school children of poverty. It is a more gloomy albeit realistic view of the circumstances.
Perhaps more than anything, formal schooling of boys allowed them to get out of the manor, expand their world view, and forge connections and friendships that would last a life time. A school boy was “free” in a sense, though the rigorous study, constant correction, and bullying in the yard may not have seemed like a luxury at the time. It was the foundation of success.