Throughout her book, Eisenstein goes to great lengths to acknowledge the innumerable factors that combined to make the printing “revolution.” In educational terms, the printing press introduced a new way learners interacted with new material. She suggests the actual printing of instructional manuals for specialized trades or knowledge is perhaps the least important aspect of this educational revolution. The standardization of knowledge that was required before the type was set rewrote the way in which students learn.  

    The educational standard before the printing press was apprenticeship. Men were craftsmen of specialized trades and had no avenue of knowledge transmission other than oral and action. Learning was doing. But before the printing press could reproduce and spread copies of instructions and rules, those instructions and rules had to be codified. Standards of knowledge had to be established. For the first time in history, instruction could take place away from the site of a shop. So what for thousands of years was the standard of education, on-the-job training, had now been supplanted by comprehensive study in a classroom setting. The systematic ordering of knowledge once passed down from craftsman to craftsman “changed relationships between men of learning as well as between systems of ideas.” (49) Now, to be a learned student, a student must not only possess the practiced finesse of his craft, but also the greater theory and context to his craft. With the increased availability of knowledge, disseminated through paper, the expectation of a student increases. 

     This new standardization of knowledge created a new student. Discussion of theory could now take place without a scholar, as “the change extended to  bright undergraduates to reach beyond their their teachers’ grasps.” (38) Students were now self-impowered to research and investigate on their own. The common standard of education we maintain today, theory first, then action, began with the printing press. The modern student is also experiencing a shift in the individual-driven course of study. Instead of waiting for their teachers to reach subject in a book, they can now hop online to Wikipedia and research on their own. The movement towards student-empowerment began with the printing press. 

-Courtney Hernandez

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