This chapter, entitled “Learning From the Ancients: Education Through Movement” begins with the suggestion that in the process of change and innovation, we have taken movement and music, two front pieces to a quality education in years gone by and thrust them aside. This chapter takes a look at education in different ancient era and cultures.
Ancient Orient – this section details the merging of Confucian philosophy with Buddhism and Taoism into what children were taught about the “five relationships”: sovereign and subject, parent and child, husband and wife, brother and brother, friend and friend. The family was the first place children were educated about these five relationships. Elementary education, yes, geared to boys, was to instruct in the “language and literature of the ancient texts” from memory and oral recitation to writing; math was done in practical real-life activities.
Ancient Greek Education – training in music and gymnastics to develop “control of passion and command of reason.” Games at home progressed into the Pentathlon, which included jumping, running, throwing the discus, throwing the spear, and wrestling. (Some of you will recognize the Pentathlon as a hallmark of the fifth grade in Waldorf Education). This section, and how the marrying of Platonic philosophy and Oriental aestheticism helped form Christian monasticism, was fascinating.
The Roman mode of education and the Dark Ages, the Nestorians and science are in the next section of this chapter, followed by a section on the Age of Chivalry. Lastly, the contributions of the McMillan sisters, Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner are discussed.
The general themes for most of education throughout the centuries has included movement as learning, speech, music (including singing and chanting), rhythm and routine and community.