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school, term commonly referring to institutions of pre-college formal education. It also properly includes colleges, universities, and many types of special training establishments (see adult education; colleges and universities; community college; vocational education).

Public Schools

In the United States, the standard school system developed from an uncoordinated conglomeration of dame schools, reading and writing schools, private academies, Latin grammar schools, and colleges into a well-organized system in which a child may progress from kindergarten to college in a continuous and efficient free public system. By 1890 there had evolved the now common twelve-grade system whereby the child enters kindergarten at the age of five, goes to grammar or elementary school for grades one through eight, high or secondary school for grades nine through twelve, and then enters college. Compulsory attendance at school has been legislated in all states, although standards of age and length of the school year vary considerably.

To meet the psychological and social stresses of early adolescence, the junior high school was introduced (1890–1920) in many systems for grades seven through nine. This organization, sometimes called the six-three-three plan, was designed to ease the transition period by having the junior high school introduce its students to many aspects of the high school, such as student government and separate classes for different subjects. Critics of the junior high school, however, contended that it merely copied the program of the high school, which they believed to be inappropriate for the age group that attends the junior high. In response, many districts have established intermediate, or middle, schools, usually encompassing grades five through eight.

To provide opportunity for advanced training beyond high school without a full college course, the junior or community college, which generally includes the first two years of college, has gained wide popularity. Not only does it prepare students for technical careers, it allows states and municipalities to fulfill their commitment to open enrollment, whereby any high-school graduate may enter a specified institution of higher education. More recently, a few high schools have combined a community college curriculum with the last two years of high school. Such a program is designed to encourage bright or disadvantaged students to remain in high school by enabling them to earn an associate degree in conjunction with a high school diploma.

Although in the United States schools are primarily the responsibility of state and local authorities, the federal government has passed a number of measures intended to assist schools and their students. The National Defense Education Act (1958) and the Higher Education Act (1965) were designed to provide financial assistance to college and university students. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965, amended 1966, 1967) was the first national general-aid education program in the United States. It provided funds for school library and textbook services, the education of poor and handicapped children, and educational innovations and construction by local school districts.

Public school services have been extended, in some communities, into the sponsorship of community centers, adult education, summer schools, and recreation programs. In addition, with the increase in the number of households where both parents work and in the number of single-parent households, programs such as Head Start have been established to care for preschool children. Special programs have been established for the deaf, the blind, and the mentally and physically handicapped and in some instances for the gifted. In large cities special high schools are sometimes set up to serve special student needs; e.g., there may be separate schools for artistic, industrial, scientific, and classical subjects. In the latter part of the 20th cent. public schools, particularly in economically depressed urban areas, suffered from economic cutbacks, an increase in student crime, and an inability to find qualified administrators and teachers. Efforts to revitalize public education systems have included such varied approaches as decentralized community control in large urban areas, privatization of public school administration, school vouchers, charter schools, and standards and testing revisions such as the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) and the Common Core State Standards Initiative (2010, 2011).

Parochial Schools and the English System

The free public school system is paralleled in many areas by private and parochial schools. Preparatory schools are private schools operated primarily to prepare students for college. They correspond to English public schools, which are in fact private, endowed institutions. The English system, which is roughly organized according to a six-six model, has been used as the basis for many school systems in developing countries. These educational systems usually provide primary education for children up to ages 11 or 12 and a secondary program for students up to age 18.


See E. P. Cubberley, Public Education in the United States (1919, repr. 1962); G. Graham, The Public School in the New Society (1969); A. Garr, The School in the Social Setting (1974); G. L. Gutek, A History of the Western Educational Experience (1984); J. R. Rinehart and J. F. Lee, American Education and the Dynamics of Choice (1991).

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An institution for instruction in a skill or business. The abandonment or deterioration of an old school, which is a symbol of continuity and stability from one generation to the next, can have a negative effect on an entire community.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in Russian, uchilishche), a type of educational institution. In the USSR there are schools of various levels and specializations. They include vocational schools and such specialized secondary schools as teacher-training schools, medical schools, and art schools. Higher educational institutions are also sometimes called schools, for example, higher military schools and the N. E. Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School. In prerevolutionary Russia, general-educational institutions were also called schools, for example, higher elementary schools, Realschule, and district schools.



in art, a trend represented by a group of students and followers of some artist, for example, the Venetsianov school, or by a group of artists who share similar creative principles and work in a similar style, such as the Stroganov school of icon painting. The term is also applied to the painting and sculpture of a city or region when the works in question date from a specific period and are stylistically distinguishable as a group, for example, the Bolognese school. The term may be extended to refer to the art of an entire country, for example, the Flemish school.



an institution for the organized education, instruction, and upbringing of the rising generation, as well as adults and young workers.

Schools may be classified according to who organizes them and where they get their funds as state, municipal (local-government), or private; private schools are supported by social or religious organizations or by private individuals. Depending on their course of instruction, schools may be classified as general or vocational (specialized); the level of education offered may be primary, incomplete secondary, secondary, or higher. With respect to religion, schools may be secular or sectarian. They may be classified according to the students’ sex as boys’ (men’s), girls’ (women’s), or coeducational. The aims, tasks, and nature of schools depend on the society’s level of development and its class structure.

The first schools originated in the countries and states of the ancient East, such as Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, and India. They included temple schools for priests, palace schools for the education of the aristocracy, and schools for scribes, who were needed in administrative and economic management. In the classical world, the school was a highly important part of the Spartan, Athenian, and Roman systems of upbringing (seeSPARTAN UPBRINGING; GREECE, ANCIENT: Education; and ROME, ANCIENT: Education).

In the feudal period, schools in the East developed under the influence of the dominant religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam—and served the interests of the feudal lords. In India, for example, schools were attached to large temples and were intended mainly for the children of Brahmans and Kshatriyas. In addition to reading and writing, instruction was given in the sacred books, epic poems, mythology, grammar, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. The children of the lesser landowners were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic in their local language at “communal” Hindu schools attached to rural temples. At Buddhist monasteries in the East there were, in addition to primary and secondary schools, higher theological schools, at which religious subjects and such sciences as mathematics and astronomy were taught. In Muslim regions and countries there were maktabs (Muslim primary schools) and madrasas (Muslim secondary and higher schools).

In medieval Western Europe the Catholic Church established a monopoly over education, and all schools came under the control and ideological direction of the church. Beginning in the fifth century, elementary parish schools for boys were created at some churches, monastic schools were established at monasteries, and bishop’s schools, also known as cathedral or episcopal schools, were founded in episcopal sees. The growth of the medieval cities was accompanied, in the 12th century, by the founding of the first universities. In the 13th and 14th centuries, to provide an alternative to the church schools, craft and guild schools were opened, which evolved into municipal schools in the 15th and 16th centuries. As the system of church schools developed, new schools were established for the children of secular feudal lords, such as the aristocratic grammar and public schools in England, the Ritterakademien in Germany, and the classical Gymnasiums in Germany and other countries (seeCLASSICAL EDUCATION). The children of the townspeople studied at burgher schools, Realschulen, trade schools, and technical schools.

With the rise of capitalism in Western Europe, the social-estate school became the class, bourgeois school, in which, as V. I. Lenin pointed out, “education is organised in one and the same way, and is equally accessible to all the wealthy” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 2, p. 476). In developed capitalist countries, laws were passed in the 19th century to establish universal compulsory primary education for children of both sexes, and schools were declared uniform and secular. In practice, this legislation was never fully implemented. In addition to classical secondary schools, Realschulen and vocational schools continued to be established; these schools met the needs of the bourgeoisie for trained personnel in trade and industry (seeREALSCHULE EDUCATION). The natural sciences were gradually added to the curricula of the classical schools.

Schools in the colonized countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America served the interests of the ruling classes of the respective mother countries, notably Spain, Great Britain, and France. The need for auxiliary personnel from the indigenous (“aboriginal”) population that would be loyal to the colonialists made it necessary to establish a variety of schools for the “coloreds” with instruction in the language of the mother country. In addition to primary schools, these included a small number of advanced primary schools; secondary schools, such as secondary grammar schools, colleges, collèges, and Iycées; and higher educational institutions, including universities. Instruction was given in the language of the respective mother country.

The institutions established by the colonial powers trained future overseers and civil servants, as well as soldiers and junior officers for the “colored troops.” Students included the children of the local aristocracy and bourgeoisie; the sons of tribal chiefs attended closed privileged schools. The rise of national liberation movements hastened the establishment of higher educational institutions; India, for example, had 18 universities before World War II. The schools were, however, strictly controlled by the colonial powers. The bulk of the indigenous population remained illiterate. This harsh legacy of colonialism is being overcome in the countries that have achieved independence.

Before the October Revolution of 1917 the emergence of the first schools and the development of school systems among the peoples who make up the USSR were determined by the particular historical features of the development of these peoples. In Armenia and Georgia, information on the first schools dates from the fourth century and in Azerbaijan from the fifth century. In Middle Asia and Azerbaijan, Muslim maktabs and madrasas were established beginning in the seventh century and remained unrivaled until the October Revolution.

The chronicles do not provide a complete picture of schools in Kievan Rus’, which were established between the tenth and 13th centuries at monasteries, in parishes, and at the courts of princes. The beresto writings of the 11th–15th centuries contain information on the methods used to teach reading and writing, and they show that literacy in ancient Rus’ extended to the feudal aristocracy, the clergy, and the townspeople, as well as to the posadskie liudi (urban merchants and artisans) and other merchants and artisans.

In prerevolutionary Russia various primary schools existed for the broad masses. The wealthy classes educated their children at Gymnasiums, Realschulen, commercial schools, and higher educational institutions, including universities. Elements of the system of social estates were preserved in the school system, notably in the restricted educational institutions for the nobility: the cadet corps, the Iycées, the Corps of Pages, and the institutes for wellborn girls. In addition, the educational system did not provide for a transition from the primary (public) schools to the Gymnasiums. Entry into schools was subject to national and religious restrictions.

The church was charged with inculcating loyal sentiments and piety in the youth. In addition to special schools for training the clergy, the Synod directly controlled the system of literacy schools, parochial schools, and eparchial schools. Religion was a compulsory subject in all schools. The level of literacy in Russia lagged behind that in the developed capitalist countries, and illiteracy was prevalent among the working people. Lenin noted in 1913 that “four-fifths of the rising generation are doomed to illiteracy by the feudal state system of Russia” (ibid., vol. 23, p. 127).

Schools in the USSR and other socialist countries. After the October Revolution of 1917, schools were declared public and open to all, irrespective of social status or nationality. Coeducational instruction was introduced in 1918. Schools were separated from the church and became state controlled and secular. The goal of the schools, as stated in the Program of the RCP(B) of 1919, was to “educate a generation that will be capable of fully establishing communism” and to produce well-rounded and harmoniously developed individuals with firm communist beliefs. The structure, curricula, and organization of Soviet schools undergo changes as socialist society develops and as science and culture advance, but they rest on principles that remain constant.

General-education schools train their students for labor and provide a polytechnical education (seeSECONDARY GENERAL-EDUCATION SCHOOL and POLYTECHNICAL EDUCATION). In addition to vocational training, specialized secondary educational institutions offer a general education. Instruction is free at all types of schools, and at such institutions as boarding schools and vocational-technical institutions some students are maintained at state expense. Students at specialized secondary educational institutions and higher educational institutions receive government stipends (seeHIGHER EDUCATION).

The school system is uniform, and the various types of schools represent a continuous series, so that a student may advance from the primary to the highest level. The children of each nationality of the USSR have the right to be taught in their native language. Universal primary education was made compulsory in 1934, and universal eight-year education in 1962. By 1976 the transition to universal secondary education had essentially been completed.

The other socialist countries have looked to the USSR as a model for building an educational system; at the same time, they have taken into account their own specific historical conditions and national characteristics. The socialist countries conform to a common pattern in the construction of a new society and the education of well-rounded individuals capable of becoming builders of socialism and communism. The schools of the socialist countries operate according to uniform principles, although they may be of different types and may have different designations and structures; in addition, the length of instruction and the level of compulsory universal education may vary.

Schools in modern capitalist countries. An aspect of the general crisis of capitalism is the educational crisis in bourgeois countries, which is manifested in their inability to restructure the educational system to meet the needs of industrial development. The bourgeois school system, whose goals remain unchanged, seeks to create for the bourgeoisie “useful servants, able to create profits for it without disturbing it” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 41, p. 303).

State appropriations for education in the capitalist countries are not sufficient to operate a school system in a proper fashion. In several countries, such as Great Britain, the USA, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Japan, secondary schools are becoming more widespread, and measures are being taken to reorganize the school system, its curricula and instructional methods, and its management. Existing legislation on universal compulsory education for the poorest strata of the population is not being implemented, however, because of widespread unemployment and racial and national discrimination; equal secondary education is not universally available. Subtle methods for preserving class inequalities, reflected in the material being taught and in the quality of instruction, exist in schools of various types. There are also sophisticated ways of selecting by class the students who will advance to the higher educational levels and who will specialize in prestigious areas of study; this selection is accomplished through the track system, the existence of expensive private schools, and special tests.

(Schools are also discussed in the sections on education and cultural affairs in the articles on Union republics, autonomous republics, and foreign countries.)


Lenin, V. I. O vospitanii i obrazovanii, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1973.
Narodnoe obrazovanie v SSSR: Obshcheobrazovatel’naia shkola: Sb. dokumentov 1917–1973 gg. Moscow, 1974.
Konstitutsiia (Osnovnoi Zakon) Soiuza Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik. Moscow, 1977.
Brezhnev, L. I. Leninskim kursom: Rechi i stat’i, vol. 2. Moscow, 1973. Pages 220–38.
Konstantinov, N. A. Shkol’naia politika v kolonial’nykh stranakh (XIX–XXvv.). Moscow, 1948.
Konstantinov, N. A., and V. Ia. Struminskii. Ocherki po istorii nachal’nogo obrazovaniia v Rossii, 2nd edition. Moscow, 1953.
Korolev, F. F. Ocherki po istorii sovetskoi shkoly i pedagogiki, 1917–1920. Moscow, 1958.
Korolev, F. F., T. D. Korneichik, and Z. I. Ravkin. Ocherki po istorii sovetskoi shkoly i pedagogiki, 1921–1931. Moscow, 1961.
Narodnoe obrazovanie v SSSR, 1917–1967. Edited by M. A. Prokof’ev [et al.] Moscow, 1967.
Beliaev, V. P. Latinskaia Amerika: Narodnoe prosveshchenie i problemy sotsial’no-ekonomicheskogo razvitiia. Moscow, 1971.
Mal’kova, Z. A. Sovremennaia shkola SShA. Moscow, 1971.
Goncharov, L. N. Shkola i pedagogika SShA do vtoroi mirovoi voiny: Istoricheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1972.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about school?

As a place to learn, to “brush up” on subjects previously studied, or to further one’s education, a school in a dream may indicate inadequacy, especially if related to unpleasant early school experiences. If the dreamer is a teacher, the dream may symbolize authority. In some esoteric groups it is said that during sleep the soul attends classes “on the inner planes” (in the spiritual realm), so that dreams about being in a classroom would be interpreted as reflecting this type of “spiritual learning” experience. (See also Class, Seminar).

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


An educational institution offering studies at differentiated levels to groups of pupils of various ages; instruction may be given by one or more teachers. It may be contained in a single structure or a group of separate buildings; may be under private or public auspices.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a. an institution or building at which children and young people usually under 19 receive education
b. (as modifier): school bus
2. any educational institution or building
3. a faculty, institution, or department specializing in a particular subject
4. the staff and pupils of a school
5. the period of instruction in a school or one session of this
6. meetings held occasionally for members of a profession, etc.
7. a group of artists, writers, etc., linked by the same style, teachers, or aims


a group of porpoises or similar aquatic animals that swim together
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


This dream may be interpreted on several different levels. If you are the student, you may be feeling inadequate or lack self confidence. Either way, going to school or attending class in a dream is your unconscious reminder that there is a need for new learning and that you may have not learned an important lesson. School may not always be a positive experience, but it is always necessary. Ask yourself what do you need to learn more about? If you were a teacher in your dream, you may be dealing with issues of authority. From a spiritual point of view, some believe that in the dream state an individual may travel to an inner plane or the spiritual realm, where they can attend classes which assist in spiritual growth and development.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
References in classic literature ?
Tom imbibed a fair amount of Latin and Greek at the school, but somehow, on the whole, it didn't suit him, or he it, and in the holidays he was constantly working the Squire to send him at once to a public school.
However, finding both father and son against her on this point, she gave in, like a wise woman, and proceeded to prepare Tom's kit for his launch into a public school.
Neither have I room to speak of our private schools. What I have to say is about public schools--those much-abused and much-belauded institutions peculiar to England.
Now the theory of private schools is (or was) constant supervision out of school--therein differing fundamentally from that of public schools.
Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly, because Anne was at that moment totally oblivious not only to the very existence of Gilbert Blythe, but of every other scholar in Avonlea school itself.
She SHOULD look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren't like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.
It was asking too much of flesh and blood to expect her to tell before the whole school that she had been called "carrots." Gilbert it was who spoke up stoutly.
When school was dismissed Anne marched out with her red head held high.
Ruby Gillis, who got a glimpse of it as it went down, told the others going home from school that she'd "acksually never seen anything like it--it was so white, with awful little red spots in it."
When school went out Anne marched to her desk, ostentatiously took out everything therein, books and writing tablet, pen and ink, testament and arithmetic, and piled them neatly on her cracked slate.
"I am not coming back to school any more," said Anne.
She's sent ten children to school and she ought to know something about it.

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