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The Roman News: Children’s Page – text only version


Illustrated by ANGUS McBRIDE


A WASTE OF TIME! That’s what one 12-year-old boy thinks about school. And he’s written to The Roman News, listing his complaints.


“EVER SINCE my seventh birthday, a slave has taken me to school at the crack of dawn five days a week.


Then I had to sit still all morning, and listen to my schoolteacher droning on, trying to teach my how to count, write, and read—not just in our own Latin language, but in Greek, too.


But then after my eleventh birthday, things became even worse! My 12-year-old sister stopped going to school because she got married, but I was sent to another teacher, called a Grammaticus.


Now I have to study poetry and history, as well as the works of great thinkers like Plato. But I can’t see the use of any of that old stuff. I have to learn everything by heart, too, and answer endless questions. And if I make a mistake, my teacher whips me!


Most Roman children my age don’t go to school at all. They work alongside their father, learning his trade. Why can’t I?”




At The Roman News we like to present both sides of a case, so we asked a teacher for his response to the boy’s letter.


“Well, for starters, this youngster should understand how lucky he is to get any kind of education. Most children don’t go to school at all, because their parents can’t afford it. His father must be a wealthy man.


What this boy doesn’t realize is that it isn’t just reading the great Roman and Greek authors that’s important—answering questions about their ideas teaches him the art of discussion.


This is the first step in learning how to speak in pubic—a vital skill if he wants to become a senator or some other politician once day.”


So there you ae, young man. School will help you to get a good start in life. Keep going to school, work hard, and stop grumbling!


<Image centre page of a blacksmith at his forge with his son working the bellows> SOME CHOICE: Children who don’t want to go to school have to work, like this blacksmith’s son.


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Extracts from The Roman News by Andrew Langley and Philip de Souza, Candlewick Press, reproduced with permission of Walker Books, text © Andrew Langley 1996.