|Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind. Plato (427-347 B C) The Republic. Book VII.|
Education in Sparta was primarily for the purpose of developing a strong military to both protect from and conquer neighboring states. Both boys and girls were subjected to a rigorous survival test of exposure to the elements during infancy to determine if they had the necessary capabilities to become warriors or mothers of warriors. Boys were then given physical and moral training to designed to develop a strong military. Development of the intellect was not considered to be of particular usefulness.
In Athens, the approach to education was designed to promote the development of both body and mind. Boys were formally educated from the age of eight to sixteen in various disciplines, which emphasized the principles of moderation and balance. From ages sixteen to twenty, the boys underwent military training. Girls were educated in the home.
Ancient Greece contributed much to our way of looking at and thinking about the concept of education. In particular, the philosophers, Socrates (470-399 BC), Plato (427-347 BC), and Aristotle (384-322 BC) had a profound influence on modern educational practice. All three believed that a person's most important purpose was to serve and improve humankind and that education was designed for this end.
Socrates developed a method of teaching called the Socratic method, whereby the teacher asks a series of questions that lead the student to a conclusion. This method is still commonly used in modern educational practice. Socrates believed that knowledge was a virtue and that it was essential to understanding. At times he was critical of the government and eventually chose to end his life rather than end his teaching.
Plato was a student of Socrates. He was the father of idealism and believed that the aim of education was to develop an individual's abilities to better serve society. He founded the Academy, the world's first university, and was one of the first people to advocate the formal education of both males and females.
As the father of Realism, Aristotle, who was a pupil of Plato, believed that knowledge exists independently in the world as opposed to Plato's belief that ideas are the ultimate reality. He was the father of the scientific method and taught logic as a formal discipline. His writings greatly influenced humankind (Parkay & Stanford, 1998).
The Romans conquered Greece in 146 BC and started to assimilate many of the concepts and educational philosophies from the Greeks into their own system. The Roman school system divided instruction into two levels, consisting of an elementary period or ludus from age seven to twelve, and a secondary school from age twelve to sixteen. Females were actually allowed to attend the ludus and receive a formal education. However, few girls received an education past age twelve.
Quintilian (35-95 AD) was one of the most noted and far-thinking of the Roman educators. His writings, which were discovered in the 14th century, became the basis for the humanistic movement in education (Johnson, et al., 1996). Quintillion believed that corporal punishment was not necessary, that school holidays were needed to refresh and encourage the student to further study, that instruction should reflect the development of the child and that children shouldn't be taught new material until they could master it.Think about It: