The 3 Contributions Of The Ancient Greeks To Modern Education

Further ReadingPlato: His 3 Greatest Contributions To Education

Of the several things the ancient or classical Greeks gave to us none have been more impactful than the modern education system. Over 2,000 years ago ancient Greece contributed significantly to the modern education system. In fact little has changed to the modern education system since the ancient Greeks.

Today there are 3 major contributions of the ancient Greeks to the modern education system. First, the ancient Greeks prioritized education to help guide the state. Second, the ancient Greeks combined physical and mental education into their curriculum. Third, the ancient Greeks created the first hierarchy of the education system.

It is because of the ancient Greeks that we have universities and schools today. Plato in his Republic outlines the importance of education in the ancient city of Athens. However, across ancient Greece education was vital to the upbringing of children and even the furthering of adults.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 contributions of the ancient Greeks to the modern education system.

The Ancient Greeks Prioritized Education To Build Strong Future Leaders Of The State

One of the main contributions of the ancient Greeks towards our modern education system was placing such a high priority upon education to help build future leaders of the state.

Our best example of this process comes from Plato who discusses the role of education in a civilized society. In his book Republic Plato discusses how it is the primary objective of each generation to teach and instruct the younger generation.

Books alone won’t be enough to teach the younger generation. Having a teacher will give the younger generation the ability to learn from experience as well as from books. Eventually this younger generation will build upon the older generations’ knowledge and become even better citizens of the state.

Plato also discusses that the smartest in a generation will naturally rise to the top to become the leader of the state. As such each state must dedicate a significant portion of their energy to providing for an education to help create a better future.

Today this is our modern education. Across the world most children will be given a basic education to set them up for a lifetime of success. From there a student can continue their education as far as a PhD. These students will eventually be given massive amounts of responsibility within society.

In essence the most intelligent of society eventually become the next generation of leaders. This is because our modern society is built around the education system of the Greeks.

As such one of the main contributions of the ancient Greeks to our modern education system has been placing the importance of education within the center of our society.

The Ancient Greeks Combined Physical And Mental Education Into One Curriculum

Another major contribution of the ancient Greeks towards our modern education system was combining both mental and physical education into one curriculum.

All large Greek city-states combined a form of physical and mental education when teaching the next generation. In Sparta the next generation of citizens were given a rigorous physical education. Children were taught from an early age how to work in groups while also increasing their physical strength.

In other city-states such as Athens physical education took a backseat to the more mental form of education. In spite of this however, some of the best athletes of ancient Greece came from Corinth, Athens, and Thebes.

All the city-states would send athletes every four years to take part in the ancient Olympic Games. Here young athletes were given a chance to earn honor for themselves and for their home city-states. In some games statues would be erected of famous athletes who won multiple competitions.

Today our modern education system prioritizes both mental and physical education. It’s not uncommon to see amazing athletes also become amazing academics further on in their lifetime.

As such one of the major contributions of the ancient Greeks towards our modern education system was the combination of both physical and mental education.

The Ancient Greeks Created The First Hierarchical Education System

One of the major contributions of the ancient Greeks towards our modern education system was the creation of a hierarchy of education levels.

In the early part of Greek education there was no sense of a person having more education then another. People such as Socrates would begin the process of creating a higher education but they would not be referred to as ‘advanced’ academics.

However, during the 5th century BC city-states such as Athens would begin to distinguish people who had achieved high levels of academic success. In the city-state of Athens a hierarchy of academics would begin to develop at the Platonic Academy.

If you spent 3 years in the military, 10 years learning mathematics, 5 years learning rhetoric/law, and 15 years learning history you would be given the esteemed title of ‘philosopher king’ according to Plato. This demonstrated that by the time of Plato a hierarchical system of education had formed.

Today this system is seen in the concept of conferring education degrees upon people who had achieved educational successes. These degrees have a hierarchy to them depending upon the country you come from. Most degrees follow the attainment track of associates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral.

As such one of the major contributions of the ancient Greeks to our modern education system comes from the creation of the hierarchical system of educational degrees which still is in effect today.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article dedicated to the 3 contributions of the ancient Greeks to our modern education system.

The study of ancient Greek education is a fascinating subject. Each city-state of ancient Greece had a different style of education that reflected their needs. Historians have just started to look at the education system of these city-states as a method of projecting their values and beliefs. Prospective graduate students of history will find substantial amounts of material to build an amazing thesis or dissertation.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below.

Sincerely,

Nick