Ancient Egyptian education and schooling was very straightforward for most children. As in many ancient cultures, children inherited the job of their parents.
Children trained at young ages to become farmers, jewelers, potters and political figures. Class mobility in ancient Egypt was very difficult. Ancient Egyptian education and schooling also depended on the status of the family.
Rich families tended to educate everyone in the household while poor families educated only the boys.
Ancient Egyptian education and schooling began at home. Boys stayed with their mother within the home where she would instruct children to be respectful, honest and trustworthy.
Around the age of four years old boys were separated and began learning their father’s trade.
At seven years of age, boys would be sent to learn similar subjects as today such as reading, mathematics, writing and sports.
Books were quite different than today. Educational books also known as Kemty, had a unique writing structure which was written vertically. Books today are written horizontally left to right.
Lower and middle class boys were removed from formal education at 14 years old. At this time, the boys would begin to learn their father’s trade and work as an apprentice.
Jobs ranged from stone masons to farmers to jewelers to carpenters.
After the age of 14 years old, Ancient Egyptian boys from rich families or who were deemed as gifted received more education at the Prince’s School.
Subjects included music, history, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, science and geometry.
Girls like boys were first schooled within the home by mothers. They were taught a strict moral code like the boys.
This moral code emphasized right and wrong as well as punishments for bad behavior. When the boys left at age four the girls remained in the house learning how to take care of the cooking, cleaning and other household chores.
Household medicine was also taught to girls. Many medical remedies were a mixture of oils and herbs.
There were very few occupations available for girls. Options for employment outside of the home included being a dancer, baker, weaver or an entertainer.
Ancient Egyptian girls from rich families had the opportunity for more education. Many were taught to cipher hieroglyphics, read and to write.
These girls had different responsibilities then poorer girls. Ancient Egyptian girls were taught about history, the arts and politics.
The girls were taught to take care of the family business when it was necessary, to help entertain other rich families, manage slaves as well as servants within the home. Rich ancient Egyptian girls were expected to be a suitable wife for another rich family’s boy.
All ancient Egyptian children learned about religious education. Learning about religion and worshipping of the gods was integrated into other school work.
This was easy because all ancient Egyptians believed in the same gods. Religious education in ancient Egypt included harsh punishments when a student was not respectful or obedient.
Children of priests or priestesses received a more in-depth religious education as they would eventually become a priest or priestess.
Ancient Egyptian education included a special school for scribes. Becoming a scribe was one of the only ways for an individual to increase their status in society.
Scribes were usually boys but occasionally girls would become scribes.
Ancient Egyptian education for scribes was intricate. Scribes were known as the historians of ancient Egypt.
Scribes learned of historical events, every day events, births and deaths as well as day-to-day happenings of their town.
Scribes were taught how to read and write hieroglyphics. There were more than 3,000 symbols to learn.
Scribe students were expected to have good handwriting to make sure the hieroglyphics were legible. Students practiced writing on pottery, wood and stone.
Papyrus was the only paper available and was not regularly used in class.
Important facts about ancient Egyptian education and schooling
- Children were first educated within the home by their mothers.
- Honesty, trust and respect. Punishments for miss behaving were severe.
- Ketmy was an educational book written vertically and not horizontally.
- Scribes were considered to be one of the most important occupations.
- Ancient Egyptian girls were taught to take care of the house, cook, clean as well as make medical mixtures of oils and herbs.
- Religious education was taught to all students as well as within the home by parents.
- Children inherited the jobs of the parents such as stone masonry, priest or priestess, farmer and so forth.
- Ancient Egyptian education was different for rich and poor families. All children including girls from rich families had more opportunities or a better education.
- What educational book was written vertically and not horizontally?
- What did Ancient Egyptian education emphasize?
Respect, honesty and trust
- What were most ancient Egyptian girls not taught?
Reading and writing
- What was considered to be the most important job in ancient Egypt as well as the most difficult to learn in school?
- Back to – Ancient Egypt