Education in Athens

Education in Athens varied depending on social status.

There was both formal and informal education. Children could attend a public school or have a hired tutor. Some poorer families would have an unpaid teacher or be taught by a member of their family.

Wealthy children were taught reading, writing, mathematics and poetry, by a Pedagogue (teacher of social skills and culture), before moving onto a tutor. This was mainly for male children. Girls were taught little more than reading, writing and duties to manage a household. Most of the girls education would be taught by their mother.

At 14 children could attend school. Here they were taught Biology, Chemistry, Rhetoric, Geometry, Astronomy and Meteorology. At the age of 18 they could move onto Military Training.

Children were also taught Physical Fitness as this was believed to be very important. They were taught at home by a Paidotribe (private teacher), before moving into training at the Gymnasium. This was to train them to compete in public games. Students over 18 would take part in physical exercises overseen by Gymnastai (coaches and trainers).

The Gymnasium also held lectures on subjects such as philosophy, literature and music.

The Gymnasius was managed by Gymnasiarchs (public officials) who managed and supervised gyms and were in charge of public festivals, sports and games.

The education of poorer children often depended on the extent of their parent’s knowledge as they were taught informally at home. This education was limited, as children were often needed for daily chores in the house and on the land.

Parents of poorer children were encouraged to teach their children a trade, and they often carried on the same trade that their father had. This made them productive members of Athenian society.


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