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What was the learning process in the 1600-1700's?
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Post What was the learning process in the 1600-1700's? 
Forgive me if the subject title is poorly worded after you read the below; can't think of another, brief way to introduce my subject.
I am very interested in the context in which our ancient brethren learned - not just the Ritual, but any subject. As I understand it, it requires a shift in OUR thinking to understand the process back in the Middle Ages up to the 18th century.
A part of my interest is that I want to use it in a Masonic Education talk for my lodge, and as part of our Grand Lodge's Education Symposiums. I have a rough idea on the learning process back then, but would very much appreciate you input. I'd like websites and/or print resources I can go to for further reading. I'd also like to stimulate some discussion on this topic.

As a starting point, I'd like to include a snippet from an article I found the other day at that discussed the historical context that Jesus' followers used to learn and preserve his words and deeds:

"5. How was passing on traditions done in this context?

In the Reliability of the Gospel Tradition, Birger Gerhardsson lists some of the methods by which the teachers and their disciples passed on and received oral teachings. These practices and methods are general enough to occur throughout the development of the oral traditions in Jewish laws and stories (p. 10). This last sentence means that we do not need to overemphasize the destruction of the temple in AD 70, as if these practices and methods suddenly appeared in a vacuum after that date (see the previous Q & A).

Memorization: this was essential before the art of writing became common. It was "not some sophisticated academic specialty but rather a decidedly popular means of retaining articulated knowledge" (p. 10, emphasis original).

Text and commentary: "First of all, an oral text must be, as it were, written on the student's memory; only then can exegesis begin. The principle was: First learn, then understand" (p. 10).

Brevity: teachers must not be wordy, but teach tersely and incisively (p. 10).

Poetic and didactic devices: teachers made use of them to clarify their ideas, such as "picturesque or pointed formulations" (p. 10). The teachers often used parables (meshalim in Hebrew) (p. 43). . . . "Everything suggests that devoted disciples memorized [parables and logia (pithy sayings or legal rulings)] already at the time their master taught them during his ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem" (p. 45).

Repetition: "the teachers would repeat their points word by word, several times, and the students would then reiterate those same points over and over until they knew them by heart" (p. 11). "In light of the ancient Jewish methods of teaching, it seems clear to me that Jesus presented such a saying two or more times in an effort to impress it upon the minds (‘hearts') of his hearers. Among the rabbis we can see how evident it was that a teacher would repeat the texts until his pupils knew them by heart; four repetitions seem to have been common" (p. 44). See Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Joshua 1:8; and Psalm 1:1-2.

Recitation: this was not done in an ordinary way, but rhythmically and melodiously. In the ancient world, reading was normally done out loud with special intonation (p. 11).

The art of writing: the Pharisees and the teachers of the law distinguished the written Torah (first five books of the Bible) from the oral torah or traditions (the interpretations and opinions on the written one). The Pharisees and teachers of the law did not accept any written books containing oral torah in New Testament times, before the destruction of the temple in AD 70. But they did make "private notations of material found in the oral tradition" (emphasis original). Private notations were also taken in the schools or intellectual circles in the Hellenistic world (pp. 11-13). If I may add a comment, the larger Hellenistic world takes our study out of the Jewish context. This strengthens the claim that at least some of the earliest followers of Jesus likely wrote things down, if only in notes. The followers were fitting into their larger historical context. Indeed, it would be strange if they did not write things down, particularly since they believed that Jesus spoke words of the utmost importance, of life and death. All of this will be clarified in a future article.

Struggle against lifeless knowledge: a student should enter into the study of tradition, so that he understands and is in agreement with it. He lives according to it. "A living bearer of the tradition is to be like a torch which has been lit by an older torch, in order that it might itself light others" (p. 14).

See Gerhardsson, pp. 72-74, for cautionary notes on over-applying these methods. In the next article, however, we shall see that Richard Bauckham advances or finds additional evidence to support some of Gerhardsson's conclusions."

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