Ancient school in Athens

Schools of the Past

Image Credit: Flicker User Eustaquio Santimano, via CC

Have you ever wondered how the schools in the ancients times appeared or what their method of teaching was. By schools of the past we mean the schools of Romans, Greeks or middle ages. Surprised? Hmm. Even those kids had to go to school. Do you want to know what those kids studied? They did not study to be doctors, engineers or astronauts. They studied to be good citizens, priests or warriors.

In the pre-historic times ( times that we do not have a written record of) all the education was imparted through songs, hymns, chants or stories. There was no written work. Hmm.. interesting times huh! Most of the Vedas in ancient India were passed from generation to generation by the method of memorization through recitation.

And then someone invented writing. Around 3500BC, the Egyptians were the first to invent  hieroglyphs. After almost 2500 years later the Phoenician alphabet originated in the 11th century BC. Our alphabet evolved from this Phoenician alphabet. The Greeks altered the letters as they wanted and Romans also changed the alphabet as it suited them. The alphabets then spread throughout their empire, alongside that of the Greek.

Once the writing was more organised, people thought of schools.  In ancient Greece, schools were private. However, the ruler or the state controlled them. There were no special buildings, an educated teacher could take lectures anywhere. Only boys over seven years of age went to school. There were subjects like grammar, music, poetry, mathematics in ancient Greece. The lectures were open air lectures, the great philosopher Aristotle loved to study in the open.


The Romans were very particular about the schooling of their sons. There were many educated Greeks that came to Rome as  teachers when Greece was conquered. In those times, Greece was a great education center. The Roman schools believed in strict discipline. Lots of punishment and no summer holidays. Oh my, those times would have been so harsh on the kids, but the Romans believed that strictness will make their kids tough.

After the downfall of Roman empire, Europe was constantly plagued by wars. There was no time for studying. All the people could do was establish churches and monasteries so that the culture and religion could be preserved. After two centuries of no school people felt the need of setting up schools that taught more than religion and culture. They set up private schools to learn “latin,” the official language of Europe and also the local language.

So, these were the schools of the past or the “old schools.”  Do you want to know who invented a modern school? Something that looks like your own? Read here.

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