Education in Sparta

Boys

Spartans believed all male citizens should become successful soldiers with stamina to defend Sparta, therefore education was based mainly on strength. Little importance was given to reading, writing or other academic learning.

Boys were removed from their families at about age 7 and sent to live in a barracks with other boys of the same age. This barracks would become their home for the next 5 years.

During these 5 years they undertook harsh training, involving foraging for food, stealing and enduring hunger. These were classed as necessary skills to equip them for battle.

At the age of 12, the children that had managed to survive the first 5 years moved onto the 2nd phase of training. The first 5 years were harsh, but the next years were harsher still. This involved constant physical training to build strength and endurance. Any signs of cowardice or disobedience caused severe punishment.

During this time the children were encouraged to fight each other and perform mock battles. This would build strength and improve discipline.

Military training was harsh for children, but they also spent time learning about music and dance. This was classed as important training as well as it would improve the ability to move gracefully as a unit while in battle.

General training ended at the age of 18. At this time to complete the training, they were then expected to hunt down and kill a Spartan slave (Helot) without the murder being discovered.

If the murder was discovered, the student would be convicted and severely punished. They were punished for being caught, not for the murder itself.

Students graduated at 18, however they would continue 2 more years training with a private organisation. At the age of 20 they were regarded as Spartan Soldiers.

Girls

The education of girls was managed by the state. It was strict and formal.

It was believed that strong athletic women would produce the next strong Spartan soldiers, therefore the education of girls was based around physical activities.

Up to the age of 18 girls were taught to run, wrestle, throw javelins and discus. They would compete regularly and test their skills. The stronger they became, the better future soldiers they would bear.

Girls would compete at the annual footrace at the Heraea of Ellis.

Girls were also taught to dance, sing and play instruments.

 

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