Thursday, January 16, 2014

Education in Ancient Athens

In ancient Athens, boys started going to school at about the age of six or seven. They had to go to three different schools – one for sport, one for music, and one for reading and writing. If they could afford it, a family also had a special slave called a paidagogos who would accompany their sons to all of their schools, making sure that they were safe, that they turned up and that they behaved. Paidagogoi might also help the boys with their work. If there was more than one boy in the family, then they would share one paidagogos between them. These special kinds of teachers were often very good friends to the boys they looked after.

The Three Kinds of Schools
Boys did physical education at the palaistra – an open field. Men trained there at the same time. You had to take all your clothes off to do any sport. At the palaistra, boys learnt javelin, discus, long jump, running, boxing and wrestling.
In music lessons, boys mostly learnt the lyre, which is a small harp. They were also taught how to sing along with the lyre.
At their third school, boys learnt to read and write and to do arithmetic. They also studied literature, learning passages from poets like Homer off by heart. The poetry was mostly selected to teach the boys about right and wrong. Sometimes boys were also taught drawing and painting. The teachers could be very strict – students who misbehaved were hit with sandals!
Athenian girls were not as well educated as boys. Some of them were taught by their mothers at home, others seem to have gone to special girls' schools. Some girls may have learnt to read and write, but they were probably mostly taught how to do housework.

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