Education in Ancient Rome

The Roman Empire was around in one form or another for over 1,000 years. To attempt to try and cover the educational approach of an empire over such a long period is not practical in a blog post. Instead, certain key ideas will be highlighted to provide a brief picture.

Background

The Romans had a war-like spirit due in part to the context in which they found themselves. They were surrounded by enemies on all sides and had no choice but to fight for their survival. This war context influence education in that the Romans were focused on a practical utilitarian education for their children. This is in stark contrast to the aesthetic education of the Greeks who loved beauty for beauty sake.

Another unique characteristic of Roman society was the status given to women. Women in Roman culture were often viewed as Queens of the Household and wielded tremendous power behind their husbands.

What they Taught

The Romans taught the same basic subjects of many other ancient cultures. Some of the subjects included reading, writing, math. grammar, poetry. However, due to their practical nature, the early Roman empire did not have a strong aesthetic culture. This came later as Rome began to absorb and imitate Greek life.

How Learning was Organized

Education was divided into three main stages of life. The first stage lasted from birth until about the age of 7 and was under the mother. Basic life skills were taught and not too much in terms of academics. Later, the mothers would reject this responsibility and leave their children in the care of a pedagogue but this did not happen until Rome began to decline.

From ages 7-12 a child went to elementary school and studied under a literature. Being a literator was often viewed negatively as someone who had failed in life. Therefore, primary education was full of washed up men. Corporal punishment was common as well and stern discipline was instilled.

From age 12-16 a boy would receive advanced training under a literatus. Unlike the primary teacher, the literator, the literatus was highly respected and could earn a great deal of money from his occupation.

At the age of 16, a boy was considered an adult and would pursue his life work which could be anything such as agriculture, law, politics, military, etc. were some of the many options available.

Conclusion

Roman education was focused on what was necessary to improve the practical life of the people. There quest for conquered lands help them to spread their influence over the entire planet.  Therefore, Rome is remembered for their sense of independence that is still remembered until this day.

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