Langland and Education.
WL shows the conventional medieval attitude that baptism, not birth, is the chief childhood event. He sees the parents as the most important agents of the children’s upbringing, and understands the parents’ responsibilities to be those of maintenance, education, discipline (including corporal punishment), and endowment of their children. He is especially sensitive to the hardship of the poor and, like John Bromyard, sees the chief remedy of the situation in private charity. He criticizes the tendencies of apprentices to learn the wicked practices of their masters, not the good ones. WL’s recounting of his own childhood and schooling is itself remarkable in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. WL sees the school curriculum centered on Latin; he is especially impressed by the Distichs of Cato. He feels, however, that schoolboys at the time of his writing were not achieving the standards of his youth. He criticizes grammarians who know only Latin and English, yet the grammatical analogy of C.4 shows that he was himself influenced by the rise of English in the schools and the terminology of English grammar that had been called into being. Unlike Chaucer, he shows no interest in specific universities, and his own knowledge of scholastic learning is subject to nagging doubts of its values by the highest Christian standards. He sees the literate often fall short of the illiterate in godliness.
History of Education 11 (1982): 251-66.