Education in Ancient Rome

Education in ancient Rome influenced the development of educational systems throughout Western civilization. In the span of a few centuries, Rome went from an informal system of education in which knowledge was passed from parents to children, to a specialized, tiered system of schools inspired by Greek educational practices. Rome's rise to the status of world power ensured the perpetuation of its methodology and curriculum throughout the provinces it ruled. From the founding of Rome, dated traditionally to 753 BC, to the middle of the 3rd century BC, there is little evidence of anything more than rudimentary education. A child's primary educators were likely to be his or her own parents. Parents taught their children the skills necessary for living in the early Republic, namely agricultural, domestic and military skills. Most important, however, were the moral and civic responsibilities that would be expected of citizens of the Republic, the inculcation of the qualities of the vir bonus, "good man". In its earliest stages, Roman education thus not only provided the basic skills necessary for survival, but also conveyed the mos maiorum, the traditional social code that created a coherent society. The first schools in Rome arose by the middle of the 4th century BC, coinciding with the rise of the plebeian class to political power. These schools were called ludi (singular: ludus), the Latin word for "play," and like modern "play schools" were concerned with basic socialization and rudimentary education for young children. In the second half of the 3rd century BC, an ex-slave named Spurius Carvilius is credited with opening the first fee-paying ludus, thereby creating a teaching profession in ancient Rome. Organized education remained relatively rare, and there are few primary sources or accounts of the Roman educational process until the 2nd century BC. [edit]Later Roman Education At the height of the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire, the Roman educational system gr

dually found its final form. Formal schools were established, which served paying students; very little that could be described as free public education existed. Both boys and girls were educated, though not necessarily together. Following various military conquests in the Greek East, Romans adapted a number of Greek educational precepts to their own fledgling system. Roman students were taught (especially at the elementary level) in similar fashion to Greek students, sometimes by Greek slaves who had a penchant for education. But differences between the Greek and Roman systems emerge at the highest tiers of education. Roman students that wished to pursue the highest levels of education went to Greece to study philosophy, as the Roman system developed to teach speech, law and gravitas. In a system much like the one that predominates in the modern world, the Roman education system that developed arranged schools in tiers. The educator Quintilian recognized the importance of starting education as early as possible, noting that "memory not only exists even in small children, but is specially retentive at that age". A Roman student would progress through schools just as a student today might go from primary school to secondary school, then to college, and finally university. Progression depended more on ability than age with great emphasis being placed upon a student's ingenium or inborn "gift" for learning, and a more tacit emphasis on a student's ability to afford high-level education. We should recognize important contrasts to formal education from as we know it today. In the modern world, a student generally pursues higher levels of education to gain the skills and certifications necessary to work in a more prestigious field. In contrast, only the Roman elite would expect a complete formal education. A tradesman or farmer would expect to pick up most of his vocational skills on the job. Higher education in Rome was more of a status symbol than a practical concern.