What was a day at school like for Julius Caesar?
Release Date 06 November 2014
No homework, no set times for attendance and a slave to ‘tell' on children who skipped class. No, not Government's school reform proposals but a taste of what it was like for a pupil in an ancient Roman classroom.
Schoolchildren and families from across the region can find out first-hand what an ancient school was like at the University of Reading on the Wednesday 19th November. Organised by the University's Department of Classics, the Experiencing Ancient Education event will see pupils undertake a series of ancient-style school exercises, including reading poetry written without word division or punctuation, and doing multiplication with Roman numerals. Students, complete with Roman costume, will learn to write with a stylus on a wax tablet and as well as reading from papyrus scrolls.
The event will highlight the vast differences in the way classrooms were run then compared to today's schools. In ancient schools there were no raised hands and the teacher never spoke to the class as a whole, only to students individually.
Lecturers and students from the Department of Classics are currently swatting up on ancient teaching methods, including Professor Eleanor Dickey from the Department of Classics who has organised the event.
Professor Dickey said: "Our participants will experience an event which we believe is unique in modern times. The changes in the way children are taught now are massive, even going back 10 years. Well we are going back 2000 years! There was no set curriculum - parents paid for what they wanted their child to learn - no set classes, year groups or times for attendance. But children wouldn't get away with skipping lessons. The majority of parents sent their children to school with a slave who not only kept them safe on the way there but also reported back any errant behaviour."
Schoolchildren and visitors can also sample some authentic Roman food in the Classics Kitchen. The University of Reading's Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, home to nearly 2,000 fascinating Greek and Greco-Roman objects, will be offering a special look at its collections and the opportunity to handle certain objects.
Professor Dickey continued: "No Obelisk has been left unturned to create an authentic atmosphere, from Roman costumes to windows looking out on the River Nile. They'll be no need for pupils to pack their papyrus as we'll be providing all the equipment including tablets, the Ancient World kind, and reed pens. The Roman Empire is one of the most important periods in our history. The day promises to be fun and educational, for pupils and students alike."
Experiencing Ancient Education: Reading Ancient schoolroom runs from 10am - 5pm on Wednesday 19th November. It forms part of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities, a new initiative aiming to bring cutting-edge Humanities research to the general public in novel and interesting ways.
Tickets are free and still available but need to be reserved
The inspiration for this event has stemmed from Professor Dickey's work on The Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana, Europe's most ancient children's book.