Ian Maxfield is quite right to highlight the role of the Roman Catholic Church in maintaining learning throughout the so-called Dark Ages and its current work in providing education (Letters, 9 June).
However, I would also point out the importance of the 16th century Reformation in furthering education, free enquiry and questioning of authority. The Reformers wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible in their own language and not rely on mere human authority.
John Knox’s ideal of a school in every parish was thwarted to some extent by greedy landowners, though the Church did its best to bring education within the reach of ordinary people.
This the Reformed churches continued to do until they handed their schools over to the state in 1872 on the understanding that they would continue to provide an education based on Christian principles.
Knox and his successors refused to be cowed by the absolutist claims of the Stuart monarchs and so gave a boost to the development of the free speech and democracy which we so take for granted today.
(Rev Dr) Donald M MacDonald
Blackford Avenue, Edinburgh