Perhaps Cicero would have disapproved of how widespread education is today. After all, education is compulsory for every child in Britain, and around half of all students go into higher education of some sort. The idea of everyone going to school would probably have shocked Cicero and his contemporaries a great deal. Cicero proved that he was no revolutionary when he renounced land and class reforms in public. By comparison to our education, very few Romans received any formal education, as only the wealthy could afford the fees of a tutor. Most Romans would instead have learnt the skills they needed on the job, quite closely resembling our own system of apprenticeships, and I think it's quite likely that Cicero would have approved of these, as he remained a traditionalist in many respects - it's doubtful that he'd have approved of education for the 'plebs'.
Cicero would probably have been more supportive of the excellent facilities available to students now. For example, the University of Manchester's library contains over 4 million books, and is one of the largest collections of academic works in the country - I'm sure Cicero would have heartily approved. It was he, after all, who said that 'a room without books is like a body without a soul'
Quite frequently in the news we tend to see stories of educational reforms and government interference in the system - clearly an important issue in education today, what would Cicero have thought of this? Probably not a lot. Roman education was not a formal institution as it is today, but rather a hired tutor who would teach small groups at most, and so the senate had little influence over education. That was probably quite fortunate, because the Roman constitution meant that the office of consul was held for one year only, therefore there would have been no consistent stance on education by the government. Were he alive today, Cicero would probably disapprove of state interference (other than his own, of course - Cicero always saw himself as acting in the state's best interests); an astute politician, he'd be able to see this for what it often is, an attempt to use education as a political chess piece.
For many, university is a good chance to have fun with friends and to enjoy life - as well as studying. But it's quite difficult to answer whether Cicero would have approved. In one of his speeches that is famous among Classicists, he attacked a woman named Clodia for her excessive partying and loose morals, so it'd be tempting to think that he'd be turning in his grave at the thought of Freshers' Week. However, that wouldn't be the whole story. Cicero's client, a young man named Caelius, was actually being accused of stirring up trouble of his own, not too differently from Clodia, and Cicero excused it on account of the fact that 'boys will be boys.' So he'd probably be fine with the lads going out to have a good time, but he'd be pretty shocked that the women could as well, and he'd probably be pretty vocal about it too.
What would Cicero have made of today's education system? He probably wouldn't have liked it that much, although there are a good few elements that he might have supported. Perhaps we shouldn't mind that Cicero wouldn't have liked modern education terribly much - as L. P. Hartley said, 'the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.'
My next post on here will probably be in around two weeks time, as I have Odyssey coursework and an Intensive Greek test coming up soon - but I'll try to fit in a post about one of those if I get a chance. In the meantime, thank you for reading, as I know that was another of my relatively long posts. At least there's a good picture of Cicero at uni (although originally I was just going to Photoshop the mortarboard on, I seem to have gotten a little too involved in it...).