How were children raised in ancient Greece?


Probably everyone knows that the word «pedagogy» came to us from the ancient Greek language, and the current educational system can be called the product of ancient «experiments». How were children raised in ancient Greece? We found a lot of interesting facts about this.

Ancient Greece, in fact, was called the union of several major city-states, between which there were different (and often very contradictory) relationships. Therefore, the pedagogical and educational models of each policy could differ markedly. The most notable differences can be noted between the Athenian, metropolitan, and Spartan models of child rearing. Let’s find out how the metropolitan Greeks raised their children?

Athenian education system: from birth to 7 years

So, in a happy ancient Greek family, a child is born. What happens to him next? Boys and girls from the first days to 7 years old lived with their mothers in a special part of the house (gynoecium).

Ginekey often occupied the second floor of the living space, and men were strictly forbidden to enter there. Up to 2-3 years old, babies of both sexes lived with their mother under the supervision of a nanny. Since the ancient Greeks had a mythological consciousness and paganism flourished, children were brought up with stories about the gods of Olympus and the need to worship each of them.

Later the separation began. The girls stayed in the gynaecium with their mother: there they were taught how to manage the household. They went out for a walk in a specially equipped courtyard. The girl could not go out into the street without an escort. Together with their mother and slave nannies, the girls mastered various crafts, for example, they learned to weave and spin.

The boy, in fact, had two paths: either to become a craftsman, if he grew up in a craftsman’s family, or to go to learn to read and write. Most often, the son of a blacksmith also became a blacksmith. In this case, the boy had almost no choice: he was doomed to take over his father’s profession and take over his business.

From 7 years and older

From the age of seven, Athenian boys left the gynoecium for the male half of the house under the supervision of their father. At the same age, the boy began to attend school. It was supposed to follow him a special slave (he was called — «teacher»), who took the child to school and took him away.

In comparison with other educational systems, the Athenian managed to maintain a balance between rigor and tenderness. The parents of the little ancient Greeks believed that children should not be pampered — because this makes the child quick-tempered, vulnerable, soft-bodied and weak-willed. But harsh methods of education (for example, physical violence) were excluded.

What shaped the personality of Greek children brought up according to the Athenian model? Of course, games and entertainment! And here they were clearly not in short supply. As a rule, children occupied themselves with modeling wax or clay toys, building sand castles, and carving figures out of wood. There were especially many outdoor games: Athenian children played tag and hide and seek, arranged interesting competitions: the competitive aspect was generally very strongly encouraged. And the kids were well known for kites, swings and balls.

In accordance with the Athenian pedagogical model, parents did not insist on compulsory schooling for their children. But everyone understood that literacy would open up great opportunities for children. In addition, the educational system in the capital was extensive.

From 7 to 12-14 years old, boys learned to count, arithmetic, and writing. Separately, the teachers developed them culturally and aesthetically. Children learned to play the cithara or lyre, sang in the choir, studied literature and eloquence.

After 12-14 years old, the boys attended the palestra — a gymnastic school. Here they developed and improved their physical abilities, competing in different sports: discus and javelin throwing, running at different distances, all-around.

Girls from the age of seven also learned to read and write, although in a significantly reduced volume. It was believed that a worthy wife of an Athenian citizen should be educated. In parallel, the girls were taught to dance and sing so that they could show themselves at the festivities dedicated to the gods of the Greek pantheon. Girls continued to study until about 15-16 years old — at this time they reached marriageable age, so they either got married or started working.

As for relations with parents, the main thing in the Athenian family was the father, whom the children unquestioningly obeyed and revered. It was believed that children should be brought up in such a way that they «do not disgrace the name of the father and ancestors.»

The parents of little Greeks encouraged restraint in the manifestation of feelings and emotions. It was believed that the child’s talkativeness was evidence of a superficial mind.

And what about the wealthy Athenians? Yes, everything is the same, only their children did not become artisans, and upon reaching a certain age they began to attend elite schools, gymnasiums and lyceums. In addition, the daughters of the Athenian aristocrats lived more freely, because they did not have to work.

The goal of the Athenian system was to educate a harmonious personality: literate, broad-minded and developed both spiritually and physically. «In moderation, but not too much» — that was the motto of the parents of ancient Athens.

Would you give a child to the ancient Greeks to raise?


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