Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Women of Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, boys were educated in schools while girls were educated at home. In fact, evidence supports that women were educated at home except for music and dance lessons. Often educated by their husbands, brothers, or fathers some Greek women became famous throughout history due to their advanced education level. But this was not common. Women in ancient Greece were considered essential in order to take care of their families' well-fare, but education was not something they were allowed to invest time in pursuing. The main idea behind this concept was that women did not need a formal education because they did not need to compete with men. The fallacy of this is that women need to support the work of the men and if they are not educated then they cannot provide support and will not be able to educate their children.

A specific category of ancient Greek women, who attended special schools where they learned entertaining, conversation, and rhetoric, was the Hetaera group. Since these women kept company to men while they discussed and enjoyed long food festivities, they needed to be better educated so as to converse with the privileged men, but were not considered citizens. The ones who never received the privilege of being educated were slaves (men or women). The interesting thing is that in case they had been educated before they became slaves, they were able to work and be considered to win back their freedom.

In principal boys learned grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic; these were selected so as to help students communicate effectively. Moreover, the classic ancient educational system included a study of literature and language, apart from arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy. On the other hand, girls were taught weaving and other household chores, like dancing, music, and physical education. The girls that were intended to become hetaerae-as mentioned above-also learned grammar, rhetoric and dialectic.

Although today's women who read the educational system of ancient Greeks can be lead to believe that Greeks did not care about their women, historic evidence suggests that in fact Greek women seem to have been the best educated women of any culture up until fairly recently, into the 19th century. As sociologists and anthropologists support, culture involves skills that are passed on by education and training and are developed by discipline and practice. Ancient Greek women have always been involved with their own culture related to the family and child upbringing. But the interesting fact remains that they have always been involved in early childhood education as well. According to evidence, other societies involved women in later aspects of education later in history, but in ancient Greece the distinction between women and men in education emphasized a separate women's culture that had its special religious holidays and festivals devoted to the worship of the female spirit. In fact, music was one of the main subjects for the education of women and some ancient Greek women became important in the area of entertainment-not in ancient Greek theater where all the roles were played by men. In relation to music, ancient Greece laid the theoretical foundation for contemporary polyphonic music so it is probable that the women of Greece enjoyed success in that field.

Furthermore, before the Trojan War women in Greece were permitted to vote, but they lost this privilege because men felt that they voted irresponsibly. Unfortunately, Greek women did not regain their voting privileges until the twentieth century as a result of various political, cultural and social misjudgments.

Finally, it should be noted that the schools of ancient Greece were so effective and well-known that they have been widely copied. This is true even for today's schools. Like ancient Greek schools, the day is divided by subject periods and a teacher presents his or her subject matter to students, who are divided by age.


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