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Greek Education V.S Roman Education

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Autor:   •  October 29, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  6,431 Words (26 Pages)  •  3,313 Views

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Similarities and Differences:

Ancient Greece vs. Ancient Rome

Many qualities of the Ancient Roman civilization were undoubtedly borrowed from their predecessors of the Greek culture (Bonner 1). Roman education, however, is only a reflection of the Greek education system. Ancient Roman education tactics differ from the education methods used by Ancient Greek instruction. Nevertheless, these two different approaches contain many similarities. Although the Romans made an effort to reproduce the style of education maintained by the Greeks, their attempts failed; however Rome managed to adopt many principles of Greek education in the process. This is made apparent by comparing and contrasting Greek and Roman education methods as well as the explanation of the worldly problems and expectations each culture was facing during this era.

It was not until Rome conquered the small Greek society, Tarentum, in 272 B.C. that they could see the importance of being intellectuals (Dobson 92). This contact with Greek culture allowed Romans to employ the Greek values of education that could be observed within this small culture (Dobson 92).

Prior to the creation of state maintained schools and academies in Greece, higher education was mainly reserved for the elite persons of a community (Handbook: Greece 253). Training for these citizens consisted of instruction in the areas of music, poetry, numeracy, and religious ritual (Handbook: Greece 253).

Unlike the Greeks, Roman education was practically nonexistent before the development of official school systems in the Roman culture (Dobson 91). By law, early Roman education required that the father be the only schoolmaster of his son (Dobson 94). The mother would teach children basic principles until age seven (Avi-Yonah 176). Afterward, the father was in charge of the upbringing of his child (Avi-Yonah 176). Aside from teaching basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, the primary subject of instruction consisted almost entirely of battle tactics and farming procedures (Avi-Yonah 176).

Ancient Greece developed the idea of school systems around mid seventh century B.C., one century after writing was introduced (Handbook: Greece 253), however, it was not until the Hellenistic age that these schools were founded or maintained by the city (Devambez 404). Before the Hellenistic age parents were encouraged to send their students to school, but were not forced by law (Devambez 404). The parents of a student would pay a fee to the teacher in exchange for tutoring (Devambez 404). The fees were typically very low because most of the teachers were slaves or very poorly paid (Handbook: Greece 254). The only children that lacked proper education were those from impoverished families that could not afford to pay the teaching fees (Devambez 404).

Roman education began much differently than Greece education. After centuries of war between Rome and its neighboring countries, Romans finally found enough time for studying the arts (Dobson 92). It is unclear when the Ancient Romans originally established a school system because there is no much controversy over the different accounts (Dobson 96), however the first documented account was in the third century B.C. (Handbook: Rome 211). Romans strived to achieve the same level of education system as Ancient Greece; however, the few educated Romans that attempted to establish the Roman education system were generally unsuccessful in their efforts (Avi-Yonah, 177). Roman education topics were similar to those in Greece, yet the approach of education was very dissimilar. The short- lived earlier Roman style of teaching involved much different concepts than the systems used by the Ancient Greeks (Handbook: Rome, 211). The instructors for these subjects were generally Greeks that had been enslaved and forced to teach (Bonner 165). This explains the similarities between the subject matter taught in both Roman and Greek schools.

The main areas of instruction for both Ancient Roman and Greek pupils were composed of basic arithmetic and reading and writing skills until at least age eleven (Handbook: Rome 211). With the exception of Sparta, Classic Greek schools taught these basic skills to practically all young children, but only the sons of the rich would continue their studies up to age eighteen (Handbook: Greece 253). Classical Athens consisted of three basic forms of education: reading, music, and gymnastics (Handbook: Greece 253)

Athenian schools consisted of reading, writing, and arithmetic taught by a grammatiste, which was a tutor for young children (Handbook: Greece 253). Reading in schools of Classical Athens typically involved the works of Homer (Dewald 1099). Homeric literature created a basis for teaching the basic reading and writing skills as well as literary expertise (Dewald 1078). Progress was recorded by how many Homeric works a student had read as well as which ones (Dewald 1079).

Music and poetry was taught by a kithariste, or lyre player (Handbook: Greece 253). Music was a very important aspect of Greek education and a great deal of importance was laid on the instruction of singing and musical instruments in both Sparta and Classical Athens (Devambez 173). They created a new durable science and aesthetic of music that was applied to mathematics and used for psychological insight into the performer (Levi 151).

A paidotribe, or trainer, taught sports and physical education (Handbook: Greece 253). This aspect of education was enforced more in the Spartan society than in Athens (Handbook: Greece 253). Unlike Athens, Spartan schools enforced a militaristic type of education (Handbook: Greece 253). Boys between the ages of seventy and twenty were taken from their homes and trained in combat with an emphasis on music and dancing, sports and physical education (Handbook: Greece 253). The girls were also trained in these subjects in order to be fit mothers of future warriors (Handbook: Greece 253).

During Hellenistic times, the children were broken into three age groups (Handbook: Greece 254). This is the period in which secondary education emerged, along with the structuring of public school buildings, gymnasiums, and libraries (Handbook: Greece 254). Almost every community held these buildings and public schooling was practically enforced by common law (Levi 154). The Hellenistic period gave way to new teaching principles and higher education (Dewald 1090).

Children were split into age groups that consisted of children up to age fourteen, children fourteen through eighteen, and those over eighteen (Handbook: Greece 254). The second group of students would continue their education and further their knowledge of unknown subjects (Handbook: Greece 254). Due to increased research on certain


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