Unlocking the Past: The Reading Ancient Schoolroom Experience

Unlocking the past - Photo by Claire Smith

Photo by Claire Smith

By Nadin Marsovszki, Associate Director, Reading Ancient Schoolroom

Imagine stepping into a time machine and being transported back to antiquity, where you find yourself in an authentic Roman schoolroom. The Reading Ancient Schoolroom, a charity supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, turns this thought into reality!

Founded by Professor Eleanor Dickey from the University of Reading and further supported by Associate Director Nadin Marsovszki, a Research Fellow also from the University of Reading, this project offers an educational experience that bridges the gap between modern and ancient learning.

We travel to schools with a re-creation of an ancient Roman schoolroom in which students participate in activities that were commonplace for learners in antiquity. This experiential education environment introduces students to Roman teaching practices, including one-on-one tuition, and the methods used in reading, writing, and arithmetic. From using ostraca as writing materials to working with wax tablets, styluses, and counting boards with Roman numerals, students engage with the past in a practical way.

Photo by Alex Wickenden

Photo by Alex Wickenden

The Reading Ancient Schoolroom is designed to cater to a wide range of students, from primary to secondary school levels. The activities are adjustable to accommodate varying ages and abilities, including students with special education needs, ensuring that the ancient world is accessible to all. With two versions of the schoolroom available, set in either Roman Egypt or Roman Britain, teachers can choose the historical context that aligns best with their curriculum.

Each schoolroom experience comprises three core activities: reading, writing on a wax tablet, and mathematics. These activities provide a window into ancient education, strengthening students' literacy and numeracy skills while fostering connections to the national curriculum. These core activities typically take around an hour to complete, making them easy to integrate into the school day. For educators seeking a deeper immersion into the ancient world, the Reading Ancient Schoolroom offers additional activities. These options include writing on ostraca, advanced maths exercises, Latin and spoken Latin sessions, Greek pottery activities, graffiti workshops, and even reed pen making.

Photo by Dal Singh, Reading School Community Relations Manager

Photo by Dal Singh, Reading School Community Relations Manager

For further details about the Reading Ancient Schoolroom, please visit our website (www.readingancientschoolroom.com) and reach out to Nadin Marsovszki (nadin.marsovszki@reading.ac.uk) if you have any questions or would like to discuss a potential date for hosting a Schoolroom.