Athenian Education

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  • Created by: MaaB
  • Created on: 31-05-16 15:16

Elementary School For Boys

  • Taught how to behave at home until they were 7 and learnt Aesop's Fables.
  • Sent to elementary at age 7, all schools were private but fees were low so even poor citizens could afford this.
  • Boys of different ages/abilities would be taught in the same room. Quality of education depended on what parents could afford, poor families may want to keep their boys at home to work for them so class sizes were small.
  • Schools were one room areas and would often open directly onto the street. There wasn't much equipment - students would sit on benches and place work on their laps. Teachers could refer to a book but students couldn't (no chalkboards). The work would begin at dawn and finish at noon.
  • Teachers had often been in the military; they would be strict and give beatings for bad behaviour/ mistakes. They had no training, just experience.
  • No exams - the focus was on physical education and learning things off by heart.
  • No girls - parents were pleased about because it meant less distractions.
  • Paidogogus were given to act like a private tutor. Their job: protect boy from bad influence, help him pick good friends, oversee his behaviour and progress; they would sit in the back and watch, carry bags, help with homework, regularly update the boy's father on his progress.
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Subjects - Grammar

  • People who taught this were known as grammatistes.
  • The main purpose was to produce citizens who could read and write and they would learn how to count and draw too.
  • Reading and writing were taught at the same time: students would write using a stylus with which they would etch onto a wax-covered board and when children were ready to begin reading whole works, they would often be given poetry to memorise & recite (e.g. Iliad + Odyssey)
  • Learnt poetry because they hoped to make moral lessons from the poetry. They would be able to understand what it meant to be a Greek, and being inspired to be brave (so they would join the army when they were older).
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Subjects - Gymnastics & Music

  • Having a physically fit body was extremely important to the Greeks so Greek boys would begin PE during or after beginning their elementary education by a paidotribe.
  • Eventually, they would begin training at the palaistra (modern gym/sports club with changing areas, playing fields and buildings for exercise).
  • They would rub down in olive oil before they started training.
  • Physical training was seen as necessary for: improving one's appearance, preparation for war (every Athenian citizen was expected to fight in the army), and good health at an old age.
  • Played sports like swimming, javelin, discus throwing, wrestling, team games (field hockey)
  • Music was important as it was thought that if a man could not play an instrument, they were not properly educated.
  • Kitharistes would teach the lyre and to sing the poems of Homer.
  • Boys would then be able to entertain friends at social gatherings. Boys were made to listen to good music because it was thought to have had a purifying effect on the soul and would help them be excellent citizens.
  • Singing was the sign of a well-educated man; they believed music had a great effect on the mood and character of the listener.
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Secondary School & Education For Girls

  • Boys would be sent to secondary school at 14 (if the family could afford it).
  • Subjects: natural science (biology, chemistry), rhetoric (the art of speaking or writing effectively), geometry, astronomy, meteorology (understanding and predicting the weather).
  • The teaching of these subjects were highly valued, because the Athenians believed the intellectual education was a key part of a person's identity, making up a significant part of a person's reputation.
  • Doing well academically, could help an individual gain the respect of their peers.
  • Girls did not have a formal education but still learnt for their future role by their mothers on how to run a household.
  • These skills included spinning and weaving to make clothes, cooking, and looking after the slaves. They would help their mothers with younger children to help them be mothers when they were older. Some families hired paidogogus but wasn't seen as necessary for her adult life.
  • Basic maths was often taught to help the girl manage the household accounts (after marriage).
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Sophists

  • Sophists (expert or 'wise man') were lecturers who travelled from city to city, teaching rhetoric (the art of public speaking) which was most popular, and other important subjects not taught by schools.
  • They generally came from outside of the city and would charge for their teachings so only the wealthy could afford this. This would happen after an elementary education.
  • This was because after the 5th century, Athens became a democracy which meant the important decisions were made by all of the male citizens in an assembly.
  • Rhetoric became more popular as it was important to speak well: to persuade people you were right, it was often more important to win an argument than to reach the truth.
  • The teaching was intended to produce men who would make successful statesmen
  • Literature was studied to improve the student's ability as a public speaker.
  • However, they were criticised because it was only open to the wealthy and many people who were taught, used their skills negatively - they would dishonestly win arguments.
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