Teacher's Guide for Rome

Rome Teacher's Guide

The first question that comes to mind for most people about ancient Rome is, how did they conquer such a big empire? and the next question, for most people, is why did it fall? These two questions have interested people for thousands of years, and they're still good questions. Modern students may be interested in considering this from the point of view of imperialism/colonialism studies, rather than from a purely military standpoint.

Another way to approach Roman history is to look at how it was different for different parts of the Empire. Maybe each student could research a different part of the Empire: Roman Egypt, Roman North Africa, Roman Germany, and so on. Or you could compare Rome with what was going on in China, India, West Asia, and Africa at the same time.

One problem with studying ancient Rome is that we tend to think of ourselves as like the Romans, and we want them to be like us. It would be interesting to look at the ways that the Romans were like us (they had a Republic, they had sewers and public bathrooms and libraries and schools), and also at the ways in which the Romans were NOT like us (they owned slaves, their laws treated poor people differently from rich people, they did not allow women to vote, they didn't have modern medicine, most people believed in many gods, for example).

Some good activities for a whole class might include

-building a model (or a computer model) of a Roman city (you could use David Macaulay's book City)

- performing a Roman play by Plautus or Terence

- re-enacting a debate in the Roman Senate about what to do about the war with Carthage

Note: I have had a lot of requests recently from kids who have an assignment to build a model of the Colosseum. It's hard to do, and I don't really understand what they gain from it. For what it's worth, people seem to have the most success by using sugar cubes and icing, though Legos are also possible.


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