AskDefine | Define school

Dictionary Definition



1 an educational institution; "the school was founded in 1900"
2 a building where young people receive education; "the school was built in 1932"; "he walked to school every morning" [syn: schoolhouse]
3 the process of being formally educated at a school; "what will you do when you finish school?" [syn: schooling]
4 an educational institution's faculty and students; "the school keeps parents informed"; "the whole school turned out for the game"
5 the period of instruction in a school; the time period when schools is in session; "stay after school"; "he didn't miss a single day of school"; "when the school day was done we would walk home together" [syn: schooltime, school day]
6 a body of creative artists or writers or thinkers linked by a similar style or by similar teachers; "the Venetian school of painting"
7 a large group of fish; "a school of small glittering fish swam by" [syn: shoal]


1 educate in or as if in a school; "The children are schooled at great cost to their parents in private institutions"
2 train to be discriminative in taste or judgment; "Cultivate your musical taste"; "Train your tastebuds"; "She is well schooled in poetry" [syn: educate, train, cultivate, civilize, civilise]
3 swim in or form a large group of fish; "A cluster of schooling fish was attracted to the bait"

User Contributed Dictionary



scol, from schola, from σχολεῖον, from σχολή, later |.


  • a US /sku:l/|/ˈsku.əl/
    Rhymes: -uːl


  1. In the context of "US|Canada": An institution dedicated to teaching and learning; an educational institution.
    Our children attend a public school in our neighborhood.
    ''Harvard University is a famous American postsecondary school.
  2. An educational institution providing primary and secondary education, prior to tertiary education (college or university).
  3. Within a larger educational institution, an organizational unit, such as a department or institute, which is dedicated to a specific subject area.
    We are enrolled in the same university, but I attend the School of Economics and my brother is in the School of Music.
  4. italbrac considered collectively The followers of a particular doctrine; a particular way of thinking or particular doctrine; a school of thought.
    These economists belong to the monetarist school.
  5. A group of fish or a group of marine mammals such as porpoises, dolphins, or whales.
    The divers encountered a huge school of mackerel.
  6. The time during which classes are attended or in session in an educational institution.
    I'll see you after school.
an institution dedicated to teaching and learning
an institution dedicated to teaching and learning before college or university
college or university
a department/institute at a college or university
a particular doctrine
a group of fish


  1. To educate, teach, or train (often, but not necessarily, in a school.)
  2. To defeat emphatically, to teach an opponent a harsh lesson.
    • 1998, Leigh Jones, "National bar exam methods win in ADA regulation test," The Journal Record, April 13,
      A blind law graduate who put the National Conference of Bar Examiners to the test got schooled in federal court.
    • 2007, Peter David and Alvin Sargent, Spider-Man 3, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 1416527214, pg. 216,
      "You again?" Sandman demanded. "I guess you didn't learn your lesson."
      "This time I'm gonna school you."
  3. To control, or compose, one's expression.
    She took care to school her expression, not giving away any of her feelings.

Derived terms


educate, teach, or train




  1. school
  2. a group of fish


  1. first person present tense of scholen (to school)
  2. singular past tense of schuilen (to hide, take cover)

Extensive Definition

A School (from Greek σχολεῖον - scholeion) is an institution designed to allow and encourage students (or "pupils") to learn, under the supervision of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools. The names for these schools vary by country (discussed in the Regional section below), but generally include primary school for young children and secondary school for teenagers who have completed primary education.
In addition to these core schools, students in a given country may also have access to and attend schools both before and after primary and secondary education. Kindergarten or pre-school provide some schooling to very young children (typically ages 3-5). University, vocational school, college or seminary may be available after (or in lieu of) secondary school. A school may also be dedicated to one particular field, such as a school of economics or a school of dance. Alternative schools may provide nontraditional curriculum and methods.
There are also non-government schools, called private schools. Private schools may be for children with special needs when the government does not supply for them; religious, such as Christian Schools, Khalsa Schools, Torah Schools and others; or schools that have a higher standard of education or seek to foster other personal achievements.
In homeschooling and online schools, teaching and learning take place outside of a traditional school building.

Regional Terms

The use of the term school varies by country, as do the names of the various levels of education within the country.

United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations

In the United Kingdom, the term school refers primarily to pre-university institutions, and these can, for the most part, be divided into pre-schools or nursery schools, primary schools (sometimes further divided into infant school and junior school), and secondary schools. There are various types of secondary schools which include grammar schools, comprehensives, secondary moderns and city academies. In Scotland school performance is monitored by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education. Ofsted reports on performance in England and Wales.
In the United Kingdom, most schools are publicly funded and known as state schools or maintained schools in which tuition is provided free. There are also private schools or independent schools that charge fees. Some of the most selective and expensive private schools are known as public schools, a usage that can be confusing to speakers of North American English. In North American usage, a public school is one that is publicly funded or run.
In much of the Commonwealth of Nations, including Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Tanzania, the term school refers primarily to pre-university institutions.


In much of continental Europe, the term school usually applies to primary education, with primary schools that last between six and nine years, depending on the country. It also applies to secondary education, with secondary schools often divided between Gymnasiums and vocational schools, which again depending on country and type of school take between three and six years. The term school is rarely used for tertiary education, except for some upper or high schools (German: Hochschule) which are used to describe colleges and universities.

North America and the United States

In North America, the term school can refer to any educational institution at any level, and covers all of the following: preschool (for toddlers), kindergarten, elementary school, middle school (also called intermediate school or junior high school, depending on specific age groups and geographic region), senior high school, college, university, and graduate school.
In the US, school performance through high school is monitored by each state's Department of Education. Charter schools are publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools. The terms grammar school and grade school are sometimes used to refer to a primary school.

Universal Terms

In many countries, Business Schools are colleges providing instruction in business, business administration, and management.
Boarding schools are schools where where students live full-time amongst their peers in dormitories. Some boarding schools are separated by gender.

School ownership and operation

Many schools are owned or funded by states. Private schools are those which are operated independently from the government. Private schools usually rely on fees from families whose children attend the school for funding; however, sometimes such schools also receive government support (for example, through School vouchers). Many private schools are affiliated with a particular religion; these are known as parochial schools.

Components of most schools

Schools are organized spaces purposed for teaching and learning. The classrooms, where teachers teach and students learn, are of central importance, but typical schools have many other areas which may include:
  • cafeteria (Commons), dining hall or canteen where students eat lunch.
  • athletic field, playground, gym, and/or track place where students participating in sports or physical education practice
  • auditorium or hall where student theatrical or musical productions can be staged and where all-school events such as assemblies are held.
  • office where the administrative work of the school is done.
  • library where students consult and check out books.
  • Specialized classrooms including laboratories for science education.
  • A Computer lab where computer-based work is done

History and development of schools

The concept of grouping students together in a centralized location for learning has existed since Classical antiquity. Formal schools have existed at least since ancient Greece (see Academy). The Byzantine Empire had an established schooling system beginning at the primary level. According to Traditions and Encounters, the founding of the primary education system began in 425 A.D. and "… military personnel usually had at least a primary education …". The Byzantine education system continued until the empire's collapse in 1453 AD.
Islam was another culture to develop a schooling system in the modern sense of the word, largely brought about by conquests of Greek, Roman and Persian cultures, revealing a wealth of knowledge. Emphasis was put on knowledge and therefore a systematic way of teaching and spreading knowledge was developed in purpose built structures. At first, mosques combined both religious performance and learning activities, but by the tenth century, the Seljuks introduced the Madrassa, a proper school built independently from the mosque. They were also the first to make the Madrassa system a public domain under the control of the caliph. The Nizamiyya madrasa is considered by consensus of scholars to be the earliest surviving school, built towards 1066 CE by Emir Nizam Al-Mulk.
Under the Ottomans, the towns of Bursa and Edirne became the main centers of learning. The Ottoman system of Kulliye, a building complex containing a mosque, a hospital, madrassa, and public kitchen and dining areas, revolutionized the education system, making learning accessible to a wider public through its free meals, health care and sometimes free accommodation.
The nineteenth century historian, Scott holds that a remarkable correspondence exists between the procedure established by those institutions and the methods of the present day. They had their collegiate courses, their prizes for proficiency in scholarship, their oratorical and poetical contests, their commencements and their degrees. In the department of medicine, a severe and prolonged examination, conducted by the most eminent physicians of the capital, was exacted of all candidates desirous of practicing their profession, and such as were unable to stand the test were formally pronounced incompetent.
In Europe during the Middle Ages and much of the Early Modern period, the main purpose of schools (as opposed to universities) was to teach the Latin language. This led to the term grammar school which in the United States is used informally to refer to a primary school but in the United Kingdom means a school that selects entrants on their ability or aptitude. Following this, the school curriculum has gradually broadened to include literacy in the vernacular language as well as technical, artistic, scientific and practical subjects.
Many of the earlier public schools in the United States were one-room schools where a single teacher taught seven grades of boys and girls in the same classroom. Beginning in the 1920s, one-room schools were consolidated into multiple classroom facilities with transportation increasingly provided by kid hacks and school buses.

School security

The safety of staff and students is increasingly becoming an issue for school communities, an issue most schools are addressing through improved security. After mass shootings such as the Columbine High School massacre and the Virginia Tech incident, many school administrators in the United States have created plans to protect students and staff in the event of a school shooting. Some have also taken measures such as installing metal detectors). Others have even taken measures such as having the children swipe identification cards as they board the school bus. For some schools, these plans have included the use of door numbering to aid public safety response.
Other security concerns faced by schools include bomb threats and the presence of gangs. Bullying is of major concern in many schools.

School health services

Online schools/classes

Some schools offer remote access to their classes over the Internet. Online schools also can provide support to traditional schools, as in the case of the School Net Namibia. Some online classes provide experience in a class so that when you take it you have already been introduced to the subject and know what to expect, and even more classes provide High School/College credit allowing you to take the class at your own pace. Many online classes cost money to use but some are offered free.

Schools in the Media

Schools and schoolchildren are frequently portrayed in fiction and the media, ranging from Harry Potter and Grange Hill to Battle Royale. See List of fictional schools


As a profession, teaching has very high levels of Work-Related Stress (WRS) which are listed as amongst the highest of any profession in some countries, such as the United Kingdom. The degree of this problem is becoming increasingly recognised and support systems are being put into place. Teacher education is increasingly recognizing the need for new entrants to the profession to be aware of and trained to overcome the challenges that they will face on the 'mental health' front.


Schools and their teachers have always been under pressure — for instance, pressure to cover the curriculum, to perform well in comparison to other schools, and to avoid the stigma of being "soft" or "spoiling" toward students. Forms of discipline, such as control over when students will and will not speak, and normalized behaviour, such as raising one's hand to speak, are imposed in the name of greater efficiency. Practitoners of critical pedagogy point out that such disciplinary measures have no positive effect on student learning; indeed, some would argue that disciplinary practices actually detract from learning since they undermine students' individual dignity and sense of self-worth, the latter occupying a more primary role in students' hierarchy of needs.



  • Dodge, B. (1962). ‘Muslim Education in the Medieval Times’, The Middle East Institute, Washington D.C.
  • Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools, edited by Kenneth J. Saltman and David A. Gabbard, RoutledgeFalmer
  • Makdisi, G. (1980). ‘On the origin and development of the college in Islam and the West’, in Islam and the Medieval West, ed. Khalil I. Semaan, State University of New York Press
  • Nakosteen, M. (1964). ‘History of Islamic origins of Western Education AD 800-1350’, University of Colorado Press, Boulder, Colorado,
  • Ribera, J. (1928). ‘Disertaciones Y Opusculos’, 2 vols. Madrid
  • Spielhofer, Thomas, Tom Benton, Sandie Schagen. “A study of the effects of school size and single-sex education in English schools.” Research Papers in Education Jun. 2004:133 159, 27.
  • Toppo, Greg. "High-tech school security is on the rise." USA Today 9 Oct 2006.
  • Traditions and Encounters, by Jerry H. Bentley and Herb F. Ziegler

See also

sisterlinks School
school in Arabic: مدرسة
school in Aymara: Yatiña uta
school in Azerbaijani: Məktəb
school in Bulgarian: Училище
school in Catalan: Escola
school in Chuvash: Шкул
school in Cebuano: Ecole
school in Czech: Škola
school in Welsh: Ysgol (addysg)
school in Danish: Skole
school in German: Schule
school in Estonian: Kool
school in Spanish: Escuela
school in Esperanto: Lernejo
school in Basque: Eskola
school in French: École
school in Korean: 학교
school in Indonesian: Sekolah (institusi)
school in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Schola
school in Inuktitut: ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕈᑎᒃᓴᓕᐅᕐᕕᒃ/ilinniarutiksaliurvik
school in Icelandic: Skóli
school in Italian: Scuola
school in Hebrew: בית ספר
school in Georgian: სკოლა
school in Latin: Schola
school in Lithuanian: Mokykla
school in Malayalam: വിദ്യാലയം
school in Malay (macrolanguage): Sekolah
school in Dutch: Schoolgebouw
school in Japanese: 学校
school in Norwegian: Skole
school in Low German: School
school in Polish: Szkoła (oświata)
school in Portuguese: Escola
school in Romanian: Şcoală
school in Quechua: Yachay wasi
school in Russian: Школа
school in Scots: Schuil
school in Albanian: Shkolla
school in Sicilian: Scola
school in Simple English: School
school in Slovenian: Šola
school in Serbian: Школа
school in Finnish: Koulu
school in Swedish: Skola
school in Tamil: பள்ளிக்கூடம்
school in Thai: โรงเรียน
school in Turkish: Okul
school in Ukrainian: Школа
school in Vlaams: Schole
school in Yiddish: שולע
school in Contenese: 學校
school in Samogitian: Muokīkla
school in Chinese: 学校

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

American, Art Nouveau, Ashcan school, Barbizon, Bauhaus, Bolognese, British, Cobra, Dutch, Flemish, Fontainebleau, French, Italian, Mannerist, Milanese, Modenese, Momentum, Neapolitan, New York, Paduan, Parisian, Phases, Pre-Raphaelite, Raphaelite, Reflex, Restany, Roman, Scottish, Sienese, Spur, Suprematism, The Ten, Tuscan, Umbrian, Venetian, Washington, Weltanschauung, academic, adherents, advance, affiliation, approach, army, art schools, articles of religion, body, branch, broaden the mind, bunch, catechism, catechize, church, circle, civilize, class, classroom, clique, coach, college, collegiate, colony, communion, community, confession, control, coterie, credenda, credo, creed, cult, cultivate, demonstrate, denomination, direct, disciples, discipline, division, doctrinal statement, dogma, drift, drill, drive, drove, eclectic, edify, educate, educational institution, enlighten, equip, extramural, faction, faith, fashion, fellowship, flock, followers, form, formulated belief, gam, gang, genre, give instruction, give lessons in, gospel, ground, group, groups, guide, herd, host, ideology, illumine, inculcate, indoctrinate, inform, institute, instruct, interscholastic, intramural, ism, junior high school, kennel, kind, kindergarten, lead, lines, litter, manage, manner, middle school, mould, movement, offshoot, open the eyes, opinion, order, organization, pack, party, pencil, persuasion, philosophy, plein-air, pod, political faith, political philosophy, prepare, preschool, pride, prime, principles, private school, public school, ready, reeducate, religion, religious order, schism, scholastic, sect, sectarism, segment, seminary, set, set right, shape, sharpen the wits, shoal, show, show how, skulk, sloth, society, style, system of belief, teach, teach a lesson, teach the rudiments, teaching, the grand style, train, trip, troop, tutor, university, variety, version, view, way of life, world view
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