Ancient Greek Education

In Ancient Greece, only boys went to school. The subjects taught depended on where you lived. School life in Sparta was very different to school in other areas of Greece.

Facts Ancient Greek Education

  • Boys started school at the age of 7
  • Subjects taught at school included reading, writing, and maths
  • Physical exercise was as important as other subjects
  • Sons of tradesmen learned the family trade
  • Rich boys went to military school
  • Girls were taught domestic skills at home
  • Spartan boys started military school at the age of 6
  • Spartan girls were taught to be warriors

Starting School

Only boys went to school. Education began at home and then they went to school from the age of 7. Most continued until they were 14.

Getting an education cost money, so only wealthy families could afford to keep their boys in school for longer than 7 years.

Did you know… A male slave was sent to school with some boys.

This was to ensure the boy behaved himself. If he misbehaved, the slave would beat him.

School Subjects

Reading, writing, and maths were taught first. Other subjects included music, literature, poetry, science, politics, debating, and philosophy.

They had no school books, so everything the teacher taught them had to be memorised.

Did you know… Most boys could play the flute or the lyre before they left school.

Physical Exercise

A typical school day would be classroom lessons in the mornings and then wrestling school in the afternoons.

The Ancient Greeks believed that a healthy body was just as important as a healthy mind. Boys took part in a variety of athletic activities, including boxing, javelin throwing, and running.

Did you know… Boys trained and took part in athletics events in the nude.

Learning a Trade

The sons of fathers with a trade would often leave school at 14 to learn the skills of the trade or to learn a trade of their own. Wealthier boys stayed in school for another 4 years.

Did you know… Rich boys attached themselves to philosopher-teachers to continue their studying. Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle were important philosophers.

Military School

At the age of 18, wealthy families sent their sons to military school.

School education was all about learning how to be a good citizen, and military school was all about learning how to be a good warrior.

Did you know… Boys were 20 years old before they had finished their education.

Education for Girls

Girls did not go to school. In wealthier homes, girls may be taught to read and write by their mothers. Some were taught by educated slaves.

The most important part of a girl’s education was to learn how to cook, weave cloth, look after the home, and care for children.

Did you know… Some girls were married at the age of 12.

Spartan School for Boys

Spartan boys left home at the age of 6 or 7 to begin their warrior training. They moved into army barracks where they were toughened up with regular beatings.

Food was in short supply and boys were encouraged to steal to be able to eat. If they were caught, they’d be beaten.

Being a good warrior meant learning how to steal and not be caught.

Did you know… Spartan children didn’t belong to their parents, they belonged to the state of Sparta. Education was free, but it was brutal.

Spartan School for Girls

Spartan girls also went to school at the age of 6 or 7. They moved into female barracks where they learned how to read and write and be a warrior.

Girls took part in tough physical training, including wrestling, gymnastics, and combat training. Spartans believed that tough women would go on to have tough babies.

Did you know… Spartan girls took a physical skills test at the age of 18. If they passed, they were able to return home and get married. Their husbands remained in army barracks.

Questions and Answers

At what age did boys go to school?

7 years.

True or false: Boys were taught cooking skills at school.

False. Girls were taught how to cook at home.

True or false: Spartan boys were well fed at school.

False. Boys were encouraged to steal food.

At what age were Spartan girls able to leave the army and marry?

18 years.

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