Differences in Ancient and Modern Educational Systems

There are several differences in the ancient and modern educational systems. The ancient Greeks believed that knowledge is something you cannot be taught, it is something you must learn for yourself.  That knowledge is an ending point, not a journey. According to ancient thought, if you want to learn the knowledge that someone else has discovered, then be prepared to spend years studying their ideas and discoveries. In modern education this is taught in various ways including through reading books and lectures.

Ancient education emphasized critical thinking and originality, while modern education emphasizes memorization and regurgitation. In modern times students spend most of their days learning facts that they are expected to know by the end of each class period or exam period. For many teachers (and parents) this is an effective method for ensuring that students remember the key ideas taught during the school year; however, this is not always true. Students tend to focus on learning all the material presented in one lesson at one time rather than organizing it into  smaller “chunks” to be learned over time. This is because teachers often require students to do their own memorization of the material, rather than having it presented in a more interactive manner. Thus, while the education system does help us remember information for short periods of time (like exams), it does not really make it easy for us to think critically or piece ideas together without preparation ahead of time.

Critical thinking and originality are two qualities that can come from nearly any educational system if they are taught effectively, but they do seem more prevalent in ancient systems where learning was not so passive as in modern times. In ancient societies people were encouraged to question everything around them and even thought processes were considered controversial at times.

Ancient education was mostly in the form of apprenticeships where one learned by observing others. In ancient Greece, there were no schools for children to attend and learn under teachers’ supervision. Children learned from their parents, relatives or neighbors all around them at home or workplace with constant guidance of older people around them. If an adult learned a new skill, it was their duty to pass that on to others who wished to learn it too.

The earliest form of education in Africa was the telling of stories and myths by elders to the children in their community. These stories would be told orally and with dance and drumming accompaniment. Stories were often used to teach morals or lessons about life; some were even intended as entertainment for children or adults alike.

It is important to learn from ancient civilizations when looking to enhance modern educational systems.

Can you think of any more?  Let us know in the comments below.

a girl watching her dad make a christmas letter

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