Roman history

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Children have been getting to grips with reed pens, papyrus and wax tablets in an immersive ancient schoolroom experience conceived by Eleanor Dickey, Professor of Classics. Here she tells us about the project – and what we can learn from the teaching practices of antiquity.

Children from Dolphin School taking part in the Ancient Schoolroom experience (photo credit: Alex Wickenden)

What did ancient children actually do in school? How did they act? Did they all arrive at the same time, listen to lectures from the teacher, and raise their hands when they wanted to speak, as schoolchildren often do today?

Until recently, the murky evidence we had suggested that ancient schools were probably not like modern ones – without making it very clear how ancient education worked in practice. So I was excited to discover, while studying an ancient Latin textbook, a set of detailed descriptions of a child’s day at school.

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