Region's schoolchildren casear chance to experience a Roman School Day
Release Date 20 November 2014
What was a school day like for Julius Caesar? Schoolchildren from across the region found out first-hand at an Experiencing Ancient Education event at the University of Reading this week.
Organised by the University's Department of Classics, the day saw 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, learnt to write with a stylus on a wax tablet as well as reading from papyrus scrolls.
The event highlighted the vast differences in the way classrooms were run then compared to today's schools. In ancient world 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 swatted up on ancient teaching methods, including Professor Eleanor Dickey who organised the event.
Professor Dickey said: "The event was a huge success. No Obelisk was left unturned to create an authentic atmosphere, from Roman costumes to windows looking out on the River Nile. There was even a Classics Kitchen which served up some delicious ancient recipes. The children seemed to really engage in the exercises and enjoy what ancient learning was all about.
"The changes in the way children are taught now are massive, even going back 10 years. Well we went 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."
Over 100 children from at least three schools packed their papyrus and attended the event, including Farnborough Hill School.
Danni O'Laoire, Head of Classical Civilisation at Farnborough Hill School, said: "The girls absolutely loved the experience. They learnt how different teaching styles were in the ancient world including how pupils had to work more on their own compared to now. It's fantastic to have such interactive days, it makes so many things come to life - and lovely to have it at a University where current GCSE/A Level students can see what a degree in Classics could be like. We enjoy coming to all events held by the University's Department of Classics."
The event formed 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.