Are you in school right now?  Are you grateful for the opportunity to learn how to read and write and be ready to go out into the world with more knowledge to do better, cooler things?  In that case, you have one place to thank . . . the church.  No, I'm not kidding.  During the Middle Ages, people were doing a lot less reading and writing.  But these practices were kept alive by monks who lived in churches and monasteries.  Churches and schools may seem like very different places today, but a long time ago, one kept the other safe. 

When you finish high school, you may want to keep studying so you can become really, really good at one thing.  If that's true, you will want to go to college where, even though classes cost a lot, it will help you get a job that earns you a lot more money.  A university is a place where students go for higher learning.  Believe it or not, churches from the Middle Ages gave rise to the world's first universities, many of which are still around today.  People in these universities studied many of the same things that people study today. 

Of course, that does not mean you would be able to go back in time and understand what they were teaching.  Most of those schools taught classes in a different language.  Latin is the language first used by the Roman Empire that is not very much in use anymore.  In fact, we call it a dead language, because not very many people speak it.  Some people use it in churches, while others learn how to read it so they can understand books from other times.  If Harry Potter were written in Latin, would you want to learn a language you would never be able to use in day to day life, just so you could read the book?  

Fun Fact!
 Latin is still part of many English words, like the words "transfer" (trans = across), "bicycle" (bi = two), and "international" (inter = between). 

There's one church thinker who people really like to still read in Latin.  Thomas Aquinas is well known for using reasoning to work out ideas about truth and religion.  He believed that all laws made by man should try and follow natural law.  This is such a big idea that even though he was writing many, many years ago, we still read him to try and learn things about the world.  In fact, many of today's philosophies came from this man's ideas.  He was that smart. 

So what were his big ideas?  Natural Law is the thought that all people know the right ways to act from nature, not from writing or making up laws.  People can make choices to make things happy and nice, and we all know what it means to be happy and nice.  If things are not happy and nice, we know that we should change our choices.  Some of the most important thinkers in history thought a lot about this.  Thomas Aquinas was one of the first people to think about the ways that natural law changed choices. 

Believe it or not, school and church used to go hand in hand.  When most people left reading and writing behind in the Middle Ages, people in churches kept using it to spread the word of God.  This gave rise to universities, higher schooling.  It also gave us one of the best thinkers, Thomas Aquinas.  He believed that we could tell whether God was happy by looking at the world around us and changing how we act to make more happiness.  Most of his works are written in Latin, which is thought of as a dead language, but holds some of the greatest thinking people have ever come up with.  So!  Do you want to learn Latin so you can read one of the world's best thinkers?  I guess you might need a bit more schooling . . . 


History for Kids.  "Thomas Aquinas", 2014.  <>

The Basics of Philosophy.  "St. Thomas Aquinas", 2008. <>