Neil. E and Keith 02.05.08 icon-house(1).gif

How the Ancient Greeks got Education Introduction

A long time ago, in ancient Greek it was mandatory for everyone to go to school and have an education. Kids were sent to school when turned six or seven years old. The ancient Greeks had a diverse way of making kids go to school. Since the reason for school is to make good citizens, only boys could go to school. Most girls couldn't go to school because they were prohibited from citizenship. Some girls were lucky, and were home schooled by their mothers who also were home schooled. Girls also had to learn how to run a house and play a musical instrument. All schools including public ones charged high fees, so only boys with rich parents could attend school. And the poor boys sadly couldn't go to school. The ancient Greeks also had different schools for separate subjects. For example, if a boy wanted to exceed his skills in mathematics, he would go to a school that teaches math. In Sparta, education was very different there. People were mostly aimed for being good, strong soldiers and Athensaimed for the arts, cultures and writing.

Boys' Education in Ancient Athens

Most boys first attended school when they were seven. They were taken by a slave called a "Pedagogue". These slaves also helped with the housework and took care of the kids for families. If parents couldn't afford their boy to go to school, these boys would just work on the land instead. In school, they didn't have pencils, rulers or erasers. Instead, children learned to write on soft wax. A stylus engraved letters on to a wax tablet. Books were not very common and very expensive. At school boys learned to read, write and count. They learned to count using beads on an abacus. There were three kinds of schools in ancient Greece, a "Palaistra" and a musical school. When boys turned fourteen, they went to a "Palaistra", which was a wrestling and physical education school. There, boys learned to jump, run, wrestle and throwing the javelin. This was supposed to make them strong enough to fight. Singing and playing musical instruments were required in musical schools. An Instrument like the lyre, which was kind of a small harp easy enough to carry around, was played by students. The third and last school, boys were taught how to write, solve math problems and studied literature. Like schools today, teachers had consequences for kids who were disobedient, but teachers actually hit students with objects to punish them if they weren't doing what they were supposed to do. If not in school, many boys worked for their fathers. Boys like these were called apprentices. When a boy turned 18, he would be sent to military school for two years of hard training. Not every boy stayed at school for a long time. Since schools charge fees, parents had to decide how long their child was going to stay in school and what type of school they should go to. The less fortunate boys with no money just get traded for a living.

The image shows a school
boy writing on a piece of
wax tablet using a stylus

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This image shows the Greek alphabet in Greece, do you see a similarity
between their letters and our letters

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Girls' Education in Ancient Athens
Even though most girls weren't aloud to go to school, they were still taught how to read, write and count by their wise mothers. They especially had to learn to play musical instruments like the lute, harp, lyre and violin. Girls were also taught how to cook, dance and make cloth. Some people did build up a school just for girls, but it wasn't like the education for boys. All the Greeks agreed that school was not the most important thing for their kids.

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Boys Education in Ancient Sparta
There was a difference in education between Athens and Sparta. Sparta was more aimed for military boys. Boys who were healthy were sent to a junior military school at the age of seven. There they were trained sport and tough soldier training. Boys slept in barracks that had awful food, and they suffered severe pain and loneliness. After thirteen years of training, at the age of twenty they became soldiers. In the end they would become the best soldiers in all of Greece. Every boy, man, women or girl had to be a warrior and had to be prepared for war. A child had to be born strong; any newborns that were weak were left to die.

This is a map of ANCIENT GREECE, not modern Greece
This is a map of ANCIENT GREECE, not modern Greece


Education: knowledge acquired from instruction and learning.

"Pedagogue": In ancient Greece they slaves hired by families. They do house cleaning and they take care of the kids.

Lyre: A small harp, light and easy to carry around. it was also one of the first instruments with strings.

Stylus: A thin stick used to write stuff on a wax tablet.

Palaistra: A school where boys do military training, gymnastics, and physical education.


Rees, Rosemary The Ancient Greeks
, Heinemann Library, Chicago Illinois

Steele, Christy Ancient Civilizations Greece, Steck- Vaughn Company

Fagg, Christopher
Ancient Greece, Warwick Press