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History hardly existed, but some tales of Roman grandeur would have been transmitted orally. If the boy grew up in the country he would, early on, be introduced to farming and its market economy. Music was not regarded as necessary nor the gymnastics once so important to the Greeks. Cicero I BC , who thought that education should concentrate on rhetoric, was contemptuous of certain Greek traditions: music and gymnastics were no preparation for war or government.

Above all, traditional Roman morality stressed the family and the importance of education within the family.

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Gravitas means possessing qualities of seriousness, earnestness, responsibility and probably a certain rigidity and distrust of innovation. Pietas was a devoted loyalty to family, nation and the gods. Bearing in mind those values and the possibility of their disappearance, Tacitus AD , described traditional education in the following way: In the good old days, every man's son, born in wedlock, was brought up not in the chamber of some hireling nurse, but in his mother's lap, and at her knee.

And that mother could have no higher praise than that she managed the house and gave herself to her children. Again, some elderly relative would be selected in order that to her, as a person who had been tried and never found wanting, might be entrusted the care of all the youthful scions of the same house; in the presence of such a one no base word could be uttered without grave offence, and no wrong deed done. Religiously and with the utmost delicacy she regulated not only the serious tasks of her youthful charges, but their recreations and their games.

At the age of seven the child's education passed from mother to father who would be particularly concerned with values: as well as gravitas and pietas, he would seek to inculcate justitia love of justice and moderation , fortitudo manliness , constantia steadfastness or constancy and 24 The Romans prudentia practical judgement.

As with the Greeks, academic studies would be a much lower priority than what we might now call social and moral education. At about the age of 1 6, the boy's name would be placed on the list of citizens, he would be allowed to wear the adult toga, and would become available for military service. He would probably be placed under the tutelage of a respected man outside the family, a custom that survived into the middle ages as the squire-knight relationship. This kind of regime lasted until the child was aged about 1 2. For the more affluent it was followed by a grammar school where the curriculum included Greek and Latin grammar, and later on literature: Homer, the fables of Aesop, in Greek, plus some Latin authors such as Horace, Virgil and Livy.

Memorisation was the standard teaching method. Some practical geometry and simple ciphering would also be included. At around the age of 1 6 the major subject became rhetoric, either with a private tutor or in a school of some kind. At this point Roman education was much indebted to Greek tradition and also to teachers who were often Greek and taught in Greek, despite the protests of conservative Romans such as Cato who objected to that kind of foreign influence.

In 1 6 1 AD the Senate even attempted to ban foreign philosophers and rhetoricians but not for very long. The later emperors, Hadrian, for example, set up scholarships to encourage the teaching of rhetoric. It was not uncommon for the sons of the rich to go overseas to attend a famous school: Caesar went to Rhodes, Brutus to Athens; Cicero, perhaps the greatest of the Roman orators, went to both.

Such education, at home or abroad, was very much an experience reserved for a wealthy elite.

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The title may give a 25 A History of Western Educational Ideas misleading impression of the book which concerned the ideal upbringing of a young man, destined to play a part in government. Cicero emphasised the importance of the family and early child-rearing as well as the kind of education required to produce an orator who was imbued with the traditional values of a Roman statesman. Despite his emphasis on Roman traditions, it is clear that Cicero was greatly influenced by some of the Greek philosophers, particularly Isocrates BC , a leading Athenian teacher of rhetoric.

Cicero advocated the imitation of traditional Roman virtues as well as the acquisition of the best of Greek literature and philosophy. The key word in the text was humanitas which conveyed more to the Romans than the English word 'humanity' : humanitas signified all the best qualities of civilised and well-educated men courtesy, unselfishness and generosity as well as pietas and gravitas.

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De Oratore was a philosophical text, setting out a prescription for a good, worthy life in an almost ideal society. It was left to Quintilian about 1 50 years later to translate that philosophy into a teaching programme.

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  5. He was the son of a teacher of rhetoric and not only followed his father's profession but established a very successful school. Little is known of his own education, except that he made some reference in his writing to his good teachers.

    Higher education and opinion making in twentieth-century England

    Although he was in many respects very Roman, he was steeped in Greek literature, and was particularly influenced by Aristotle. Quintilian was not simply a teacher but a practising rhetorician - he pleaded professionally in the courts in Rome. He then established his own school, receiving an imperial salary. He continued pleading in the courts, and was apparently successful in both careers. He attempted to retire from teaching in 88 AD, and on the strength of 20 years experience he wrote The Institutes of the Orator. While writing this major work he was recalled to teaching and given the task of tutoring two of the Emperor Domitian's great-nephews.

    He nevertheless managed to complete his book, which was published in 96 AD shortly before his death. It was based partly on the pedagogical ideas of Domitius Afer of Nimes, and partly on the philosophical writings of Cicero. The result was much more than a treatise on the training of orators; it has been regarded by successive generations as a classic text on 26 The Romans early education theory.

    Quintilian's successful rhetorician was not simply a skilful orator but a wise man. The book is about education for wisdom rather than training for verbal skills. According to Quintilian, the perfect orator would be a man of integrity - a good man as well as a clever pleader. To achieve this end, Quintilian postulated three stages of training: up to the age of seven at home; general education at grammar school up to the age of around 1 6; finally, specific instruction in the art of rhetoric for several years.

    For the first stage, Quintilian recommended that both parents should be 'cultured' and the nurse should speak well. Boyhood companions should be chosen carefully with a view to the development of good language habits. If any of these factors were in doubt, Quintilian recommended hiring a good 'master of language' to correct any faults. Quintilian believed strongly in developing good habits, especially in language, at an early age, however, little formal instruction was envisaged before the age of seven, just the correction of errors and bad habits of speech.

    The repetition of rhymes and even the beginnings of reading and writing might start before the age of seven, but in the form of a kind of game. He was clearly operating with an early version of a 'stages of development' theory which cautioned against making difficult demands before the child was ready. For the second stage, Quintilian favoured education at home with a tutor rather than what was beginning to be provided by the State in schools.

    The reason for this preference appears to be moral as well as pedagogical: at the time Roman schools were generally of doubtful quality and lacked adequate supervision, both in terms of behaviour and learning. Quintilian was unhappy about large classes and other aspects of public schools, although he also pointed out the limitations of a boy learning alone with a tutor.

    At school a boy could learn from what others were taught. Quintilian had a good deal to say about the grammar school: he subdivided his advice under two headings, moral and intellectual.

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    At a time when corporal punishment was common, Quintilian strongly expressed his dislike of 'the whipping of children'. It was also counter-productive educationally: children should be encouraged to learn because learning was useful and enjoyable, not for fear of punishment. If children lacked interest that was at least partly the fault of the teacher. He did not use a word for 'motivation' but he had a good intuitive feel for the concept. He also understood the need to be aware of individual differences and aptitudes.

    Quintilian's curriculum emphasised language: both Latin and Greek were essential; poetry was a high priority, as well as clear speaking and 27 A History of Western Educational Ideas arguing. Children should be exposed only to material that was beautiful as well as eloquent: Homer and Virgil came first, then others who were considered to encourage the habit of reading.

    Music was also strongly recommended, partly because it was associated with poetry and therefore reinforced the teaching of language. Geometry too was essential. Physical education would have received separate attention in a specialist school for physical culture, where deportment and possibly dancing would be taught. As for converting this curriculum into a timetable, Quintilian favoured switching from subject to subject during the course of a day, partly to provide variety and partly to enable the co-ordination of learning.

    Finally, the boy proceeded from the grammar school to the school of rhetoric. Once again, the character of the master was all-important. This was much more important to Quintilian than the quality of the facilities in the school. Quintilian listed the qualities of a good teacher: severe but not harsh; affable but not lax familiarity breeds contempt ; moderate in both criticism and praise, but prompt in responding to questions. He thought that the plainest methods were always the best.

    The final sections of the Institutes dealt in detail with the technicalities of rhetoric. How influential was Quintilian? Pliny, Juvenal and Suetonius all referred to his work with respect, but his writings may not have been widely read in the Roman Empire itself. In 1 4 1 6 a complete manuscript was discovered by the Italian humanist Gian Poggio at St Gall, Switzerland and became a classic text on education during the Renaissance.

    In 1 5 1 2 Erasmus even apologised for mentioning teaching methods because he thought Quintilian had settled such questions long before. The ideals of Epictetus have been compared with those of Christ although at this time Christianity was still forbidden in Rome and Christians were from time to time persecuted. A central theme was the brotherhood of man which included slaves.

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    Pleasure was not a worthy aim in life: the Stoic ideal was to achieve happiness even when immediate pleasures were lacking. As emperor, Marcus Aurelius led a life that avoided luxury and pleasure-seeking, performing his duties conscientiously. He reflected on his life in the Meditations, written in Greek. Stoic philosophy was 28 The Romans fashionable among a minority of Romans before and after Aurelius but, unlike Christianity, had little appeal as a mass movement among the poor.

    Recently, Carcopino has criticised the schools for failing to educate the young in a way that might have enabled them to save society, but was it fair to expect teachers to salvage a society in decline? Was the problem that Roman society had generally lost any sense of purpose? It may also have been the case that rhetoric became debased: instead of being a philosophy of life based on high principles and ideals, it became a game to be played and won, judged in terms of criteria concerned with verbal trickery, rhetorical devices and superficial debating skills rather than sound philosophical ideas.

    Seneca may have struck the right note when he criticised teachers for concentrating on the classroom rather than on life, but there were certainly very deep-rooted problems in society itself which schools and teachers could not be expected to solve. The poor quality of schools may have been a symptom rather than a cause of the decline of Roman standards. Rome must take some of the credit - or the blame - for the spreading of the notion of the school.

    The Emperor Agricola AD exported the idea of the school to Britain, and it is very probable that by then it was general policy to introduce schooling into conquered regions in order to Romanise the population. In later years, the Emperor Diocletian wanted the State to take complete control of schools, and by the time of Theodosius, in AD, all education was supervised by the State and teachers were only permitted to teach if licensed.

    This was another idea which was to spread throughout Western Europe. The Roman 'grammar' schools did not survive the Barbarian invasions but the model was remembered and revived in the eighth and ninth centuries AD, particularly at the time when Charlemaigne wanted to revive learning and improve the quality of the clergy. Castle, Ancient Education and Today Penguin, 1 96 1 , p. Quoted by Castle, p.