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Ancient Greek Education

Greek civilization flourished from about 700 ΒΡ to about 330 ΒΡ. During this period, the Greeks made the greatest educational advance of ancient times. In fact, Western education today is based on the ancient Greek model.

Ancient Greece was divided into independent city-states. The educational system of each city-state aimed to produce good citizens. Athens and Sparta, two of the most powerful city-states, had different ideals of citizenship. In Sparta, a citizen was judged largely by his political and military service. The government controlled education. Boys received physical and military training, but few learned to read and write. In Athens, unlike Sparta, a citizen was judged more by the quality of his mind. But Athenian citizens were also expected to develop their bodies and to serve the state.

Athens made the greatest educational advances of any Greek city-state. But Athenian education was far from democratic. Education was limited to the sons of Athenian citizens. Only about a fifth of the Athenians were citizens. Most of the rest were slaves, who were not considered worthy of an education.

Athenian boys started their education at about age 6. But they did not go to schools as we think of schools today. A trusted family slave simply took them from teacher to teacher, each of whom specialized in a certain subject or certain related subjects. Boys studied reading, writing, arithmetic, music, dancing and gymnastics. As the boys advanced, they memorized the words of Homer and other Greek poets. Boys continued their elementary education until they were about 15 years old. From about ages 16 to 20, they attended a government sponsored gymnasium. Gymnasiums trained young men to become citizen-soldiers. They emphasized such sports as running and wrestling and taught civic duty and the art of war. Students held discussions to improve their reasoning and speaking ability.

Some Athenian gymnasiums became centres of advanced learning. By the 400s ΒΡ, advanced learning in Athens consisted of philosophy and rhetoric. Philosophy included the study of logic, mathematics, morals, and science. Rhetoric included the study of government, history, and public speaking.

During the 400s and 300s ΒΡ, Athens produced such great philosophers and teachers as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. About 387 ΒΡ Plato founded a school of philosophy that became known as the Academy.

Some scholars believe the Academy was the Western world's first institution of higher learning. Aristotle founded a similar school called the Lyceum* about 330 ΒΡ.

Most young Athenian women received no formal education. The Greeks believed girls could learn all they needed to know from their mothers – that is, how to prepare food, make clothing, and care for infants. However, some women belonged to religious organizations through which they developed skills in music, poetry, and dancing.


Date: 2015-04-20; view: 2914

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