played an important part in the societies of the ancient civilizations.
However, not everyone had the opportunity to be educated and those
who had the chance to go to school were highly respected by the
public. In most cases, only the boys and girls from rich families
had the right to receive education. In generally, girls were forced
to stay home to do the washing and cleaning.
In ancient Egypt, only a small percentage of Egyptian children went
to school, and these were usually from wealthy families. The rest
began working alongside their parents, many starting as early as
age seven. Boys in ancient Greece attended school to be taught not
only how to read and write, but also morals, manners, and wisdom.
They learned how to recite poetry and play the lyre, or the flute-like
aulos. They received physical training, too, in running, jumping,
wrestling. To the Greeks, who viewed man as whole, physical excellence
was as important as mental excellence. The girls, however, received
basic domestic education where they learnt how to take care of the
house and children. In Ancient Rome, boys were normally educated
at home by the father himself. He learnt to read understand the
Roman law, history, and customs.
the ancient civilizations shared a common method of learning, which
was by memorization. Those who did not do so received harsh physical
discipline. Archaeologists discovered an ancient Egyptian clay tablet
which proved this was true, as on the tablet was written: "Thou
didst beat me and knowledge entered my head". The early Chinese
scholars had to memorize chinese script which required lots of time
to master as they stressed on rote memory. In India, education was
limited to the upper classes and passed down from teacher to student
through oral means using the Sanskrit language. Every word said
had to be memorized by the student.
today, however, is no longer restricted to only males. Females,
too, in most countries, have equal chances of attending schools.
In fact, education is even made compulsory for all in some countries!
For instance, in my country Singapore, everyone, boy and girl alike,
are required to attend at least six years of primary education.
today still involves memorising facts and data, but it is no longer
the main method of learning. Instead, schools today stress more
on creative thinking and the student researching extra information
on his own. Those who are slow at learning do not receive harsh
punishment like the students in the past, instead, they are given
extra lessons by the teachers to help them catch up with the rest
of the students.
is the way of learning today much more efficient than that in the
past? Students today seem to have more freedom than those in the
past, in that they are not forced to memorise all that they are
studying which would be very taxing for the brain. However, with
less strict discipline in schools today, does it mean that the students
who do well in schools are actually fewer than those in the past?
How exactly does one define a "good" education? An education which
stresses on memorisation and strict discipline or an education which
involves more self-learning and guidance from the teacher?
Egyptian students studying from clay tablets
School boys studying Mathematics
woman studying on the floor using a laptop - see how women today
have educational opportunities as well? Education too has extended
beyond the classroom-people are now using the computer for help