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Egyptian
Education

The ears of a boy are on his back,
He hears only when he is beaten.
Anonymous

he Ancient Egyptians had schools but these were exclusively for males who were in training to be scribes and officials for the priesthood or civil administration. The royal family had their own special tutors and the ordinary people were educated at home. A son would receive training in the professional secrets of his father's trade or craft.

Relief showing young scribes at work

The subjects taught at school were chiefly reading, writing and arithmetic. These were essential not only for priests and artists but also for government officials who dealt with the complicated tax system.

Good handwriting was considered essential and copy practise was set regularly for this purpose. Writing was practised on cheap materials until the budding scribe could be trusted with papyrus. Young artists and scribes would begin on pieces of limestone picked up in the desert or shards of broken pottery from the village rubbish tip. For a brush a piece of reed was used with the fibres of one end frayed a little.

Lessons began early in the morning before the heat of the day and finished by noon. Punishments were much the same as today with 'lines' being given regularly. This, in many cases, meant copying out classic stories of the time. For idleness the chief punishment was a good beating, which teachers seem to have administered with some relish.


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