Throughout history there have been great empires who eventually challenged each other for dominance in a variety of areas. One of the most interesting historical rivalries was between Athens and Sparta.This PBS chart details the differences:
Population & Map
Approximately 140,000; Approximately 40,000 men were citizens; and slaves (about 40,000). By 432 BC, Athens had become the most populous city-state in Hellas. In Athens and Attica, there were at least 150,000 Athenians, around 50,000 aliens, and more than 100,000 slaves.
Approximately 8,000 Spartiates (adult male citizens) ruled over a population of 100,000 enslaved and semi-enslaved people.
Government & Political organizations
Usually classified as a “direct democracy” (because everyone, not just politicians attended the Assembly), Athens claims to be the “birthplace of democracy”.
Elected officials including 10 generals (strategos), magistrates (archons), and others.
Council of 500 was charged with administering decisions made by the Assembly.
The Assembly open to all citizens (all citizens were eligible to attend such meetings and speak up). They passed laws and made policy decisions. The Assembly met on the Hill of the Pnyx at the foot of the Acropolis.
During time of Pericles citizens were paid for jury service so not only the wealthy could participate.
Women did not participate in the political life of Athens.
Spartan Government: Usually classified as an “oligarchy” (rule by a few), but it had elements of monarchy (rule by kings), democracy (through the election of council/senators), and aristocracy (rule by the upper class or land owning class).
Two kings who were generals in command of the armies and with some religious duties.
Five overseers (ephors) elected annually ran the day-to-day operations of Sparta. They could veto rulings made by the council or assembly.
Council or Senate (apella) of 28 councilmen (men over 60 and elected for life by the citizens) and the 2 kings. They acted as judges and proposed laws to the citizens’ assembly.
The Assembly of all Spartan males aged 30 or over could support or veto the council’s recommendations by shouting out their votes.
Women did not participate in the political life of Sparta.
Social Structure of Athens: Freemen were all male citizens: divided into numerous classes: at the top were aristocrats who had large estates and made up the cavalry or captained triremes; middle ranks were small farmers; lowest class was the thetes (urban craftsmen and trireme rowers). Metics – those who came from outside the city; they were not allowed to own land, but could run industries and businesses. Slaves were lowest class, but less harshly treated than in most other Greek cities. Slaves had no rights, and an owner could kill a slave. Slaves varied in status: some were given important roles in Athens, like policemen. Women were rarely seen outside the home and had no rights in the Athenian democracy.
Social Structure of Sparta:
Three classes: Spartiates (military professionals who lived mostly in barracks and whose land was farmed by serfs; they served in the army and could vote).
Perioeci or “neighbors/outsiders” who were freemen; they included artisans, craftsmen, merchants; they could not vote or serve in the army; foreigners could be in this class.
Helots (serfs descended from those peoples who had resisted subjugation by Sparta and who were constantly rebelling. They were treated like slaves and gave 1/2 of their produce to the Spartiate citizens who owned the land.
Women had few rights, but were more independent in Sparta than elsewhere in Greece.
See, PBS’ The Two Faces of Greesce: Athens and Sparta for the complete table.
David Barboza has an interesting article in the New York Times, Shanghai Schools Push Students to the Top of Tests
“Who in this class can tell me how to demonstrate two lines are parallel without using a proportional segment?” Ms. Li called out to about 40 students seated in a cramped classroom.
One by one, a series of students at this medium-size public school raised their hands. When Ms. Li called on them, they each stood politely by their desks and usually answered correctly. They returned to their seats only when she told them to sit down.
Educators say this disciplined approach helps explain the announcement this month that 5,100 15-year-olds in Shanghai outperformed students from about 65 countries on an international standardized test that measured math, science and reading competency.
American students came in between 15th and 31st place in the three categories. France and Britain also fared poorly.
Experts said comparing scores from countries and cities of different sizes is complicated. They also said that the Shanghai scores were not representative of China, since this fast-growing city of 20 million is relatively affluent. Still, they were impressed by the high scores from students in Shanghai.
The results were seen as another sign of China’s growing competitiveness. The United States rankings are a “wake-up call,” said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.
Although it was the first time China had taken part in the test, which was administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris, the results bolstered this country’s reputation for producing students with strong math and science skills.
Many educators were also surprised by the city’s strong reading scores, which measured students’ proficiency in their native Chinese.
The Shanghai students performed well, experts say, for the same reason students from other parts of Asia — including South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong — do: Their education systems are steeped in discipline, rote learning and obsessive test preparation.
Public school students in Shanghai often remain at school until 4 p.m., watch very little television and are restricted by Chinese law from working before the age of 16.
“Very rarely do children in other countries receive academic training as intensive as our children do,” said Sun Baohong, an authority on education at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. “So if the test is on math and science, there’s no doubt Chinese students will win the competition.”
See, Test Scores From Shanghai Stun Educators A couple of observations about the test results are the discipline which is stressed in Chinese schools and the legacy of Confucian thought which gives Chinese culture an appreciation of education.
Information about the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) test can be found at the PISA site. What PISA is describes the test:
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally standardised assessment that was jointly developed by participating economies and administered to15-year-olds in schools.
Four assessments have so far been carried out (in 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009). Data for the assessment which took place in 2009 will be released on 7 December 2010.
Tests are typically administered to between 4,500 and 10,000 students in each country.
Other relevant sites are:
What PISA Assesses
What PISA Produces
It is worth reading about the Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War reshaped the Ancient Greek world. On the level of international relations, Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to the war’s beginning, was reduced to a state of near-complete subjection, while Sparta became established as the leading power of Greece. The economic costs of the war were felt all across Greece; poverty became widespread in the Peloponnese, while Athens found itself completely devastated, and never regained its pre-war prosperity. The war also wrought subtler changes to Greek society; the conflict between democratic Athens and oligarchic Sparta, each of which supported friendly political factions within other states, made civil war a common occurrence in the Greek world.
Perhaps, more than education supremacy is at stake.
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at [email protected]
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Dr. Wilda says this about that ©