Ancient Greek History

Education System in the Ancient Greek City State of Sparta

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Most of us understand how unique the Spartan culture was since it was entirely focused on the success of their warriors. Every aspect of the society, including the education system, was focused on either raising warriors, or raising those who would support the warriors. Here’s a look at what the education system was like:

Spartan Education System for New Warriors Was Called “Agoge”

The ultimate goal of the agoge, or the Spartan education system, was to raise male soldiers who would be effective in the Spartan army. Training began at the age of seven and all male citizens, except the firstborn male of the household, was required to attend this training. The students would live in these communities until the age of twenty, when they could go on to become professional soldiers. However, females would also be shipped to community schools – they would just learn a different set of skills.

How Students were Grouped While Getting Educated

Students were organized into groups with each group choosing their own leaders. These leaders in consultation with his peers would then choose the 20 year old that they wanted as their instructor. These 20 year olds were in their last year of education. and it was their responsibility to train the younger students in what they had learned before they spent the next 30 years serving in the military.

What the Males Would Learn at School

As mentioned above, the ultimate goal was to turn the boys into soldiers and the training was comprehensive and also focused on physical training. They learned how to box, swim, wrestle, throw the javelin, track animals, hunt, fish, and hrow the discus. Learning survival skills such as tracking, hunting, and fishing were not only tools that would help them in war, but also assist them while traveling. They also had wilderness training such as first aid, what to eat while on the road, and how to build shelter.

Boys Had to Pass Tests In Order to Graduate

Before graduation each boy had to steal some food without getting caught. The purpose of this exercise was to prove that the boy could take care of himself if he had to while living life as a soldier. If he was caught, he was not punished for stealing, but he was punished for getting caught. It is believed that boys who were caught were often beaten with a whip which was a practice normally reserved for slaves.

How Spartan Women Were Educated

Women were educated as well as the boys. They received training in wrestling, gymnastics and calisthenics. The emphasis behind a girl receiving a great education was that strong women produced strong children who could grow up to be strong warriors. The goal was to teach them how to be strong because they were responsible for running the household while the boys were at war. This including protecting the household from attacks, so the women needed to be both physically strong and intelligent. Their education reflected this.


Learning to Respect Elders

Additionally, children were taught to have great respect for their elders. They were taught to address all their elders as father. In return, everyone had a responsibility for seeing that children were taught manners. If an adult saw a child doing something wrong, then they had the responsibility to severely scold, but not whip, the child.

Spartan education was built around the need for a strong military. While boys were taught how to survive as a soldier, girls were also educated so that they could produce strong offspring. Above all else, it was a respectful society where everyone was taught respect for the individual.


Wikipedia – Agoge

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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