Education was an essential component of a person’s identity in ancient Greece, and the type of education a person received was based strongly in one’s social class, the culture of one’s polis, and the opinion of one’s culture on what education should include. – Education is always a class education. The goal is to bring up a person of the same class as the parent. Compare: education in Columbia vs. education at CUNY vs. no formal education. Women’s roles included managing the household, raising children, preparing food, and making textiles. One exception to this was in Sparta, where women were expected to run the polis while the men were away at war. Women in Sparta also received an informal physical education.
Greek education focused heavily on training the entire person, which included education of the mind, body, and imagination. The specific purposes of Greek education differed from polis to polis. The Spartans placed a high emphasis on military training, while the Athenians traditionally gave more attention to music, literature, dance, and later also to the natural sciences, such as biology and chemistry, as well as philosophy, rhetoric, and sophistry-the art of presenting an argument using deception and reason to persuade the public to agree with a certain point of view. The Spartans also taught music and dance, but with the purpose of enhancing their manoeuvrability as soldiers.
“Children were taught how to read and write, as well as how to count and draw. Children were taught letters and then syllables, followed by words and sentences. 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. When children were ready to begin reading whole works, they would often be given poetry to memorize and recite”
Gymnasium – originally for training the body, gym. For war.
Secondary education included subjects such as natural science (biology and chemistry), rhetoric (the art of speaking or writing effectively), geometry, sophistry, astronomy and meteorology.
Solon, an Athenian leader who lived during the 7th to mid 6th centuries BC, did much to reform his polis, and encouraged poor fathers to provide their sons with a vocational education. By teaching these children a trade, they could also be regarded as productive members of Athenian society.
the Spartans structured their educational system as an extreme form of military boot camp, which they referred to as agoge. The pursuit of intellectual knowledge was seen as trivial, and thus academic learning, such as reading and writing, was kept to a minimum. A Spartan boy’s life was devoted almost entirely to his school, and that school had but one purpose: to produce an almost indestructible Spartan phalanx. Formal education for a Spartan male began at about the age of seven when the state removed the boy from the custody of his parents and sent him to live in a barracks with many other boys his age. For all intents and purposes, the barracks was his new home, and the other males living in the barracks his family. For the next five years, until about the age of twelve, the boys would eat, sleep and train within their barracks-unit and receive instruction from an adult male citizen who had completed all of his military training and experienced battle. The instructor stressed discipline and exercise and saw to it that his students received little food and minimal clothing in an effort to force the boys to learn how to forage, steal and endure extreme hunger, all of which would be necessary skills in the course of a war. Those boys who survived the first stage of training entered into a secondary stage in which punishments became harsher and physical training and participation in sports almost non-stop in order to build up strength and endurance. During this stage, which lasted until the males were about eighteen years old, fighting within the unit was encouraged, mock battles were performed, acts of courage praised, and signs of cowardice and disobedience severely punished. During the mock battles, the young men were formed into phalanxes to learn to maneuver as if they were one entity and not a group of individuals. To be more efficient and effective during maneuvers, students were also trained in dancing and music, because this would enhance their ability to move gracefully as a unit. Toward the end of this phase of the agoge, the trainees were expected to hunt down and kill a Helot, a Greek slave