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The Schoolboys of Athens

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Page 3

Character Building the Aim of Athenian Education

 

    The true education is of course begun long before the age of seven. character not book-learning, is the main object of athenian education, i.e. to make the boy self-contained, modest, alert, patriotic, a true friend, a dignified gentleman, able to appreciate and participate in all that is true, harmonius and beautiful in life. To that end his body must be trained, not apart from, but along with his mind. Plato makes his character Protagoras remark, "As soon as a child understands what is said to him, the nurse, the mother, the pedagogue, and the father vie in their efforts to make him good, by showing him in all that he does that 'this is right,' and 'that is wrong'; 'this is pretty,' and 'that is ugly'; so that he may learn what to follow and what to shun. If he obeys willingly—why, excellent. If not, then try by threats and blows to correct him, as men straighten a warped and crooked sapling." Also after he is fairly in school "the teacher is enjoined to pay more attention to his morals and conduct than to his progress in reading and music."

 

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