School Was Required By Law
When it came to school, the Aztecs felt it was very important for all children to attend. Unlike other cultures of the period, both boys and girls of all levels of society (including slaves) were expected to attend school. Starting at the age of 5, children were taught by their parents. They would learn of sayings known as the huehujetlatolli, which the children would be regularly tested on and expected to recite.
When the children reached the age of 15 they would be sent to school. Noble children would be sent to the calmecac, which would prepare them for noble life and duties. Especially bright commoners might also be given the honor of attending the calmecac. Here boys would learn literacy, history, geometry, calendrics, military arts, and religious rituals. The commoners school was known as the telpochcalli, and it was there that boys would learn history, religion, agriculture, fighting techniques, and either a craft or trade that they showed promise in.
Girls did not attend the calmecac or the telpochalli, instead they were sent to a school that taught them household skills as well as religious rituals, singing, dancing, and crafts. If a girl was particularly talented she would receive the full training of a healer so that she could become a midwife. Girls who were talented in singing or dancing would be sent to a special school to refine those skills.
Education for the Aztecs was compulsory for all citizens, as it was believed necessary for a functioning society for everyone to be as well-educated and prepared for their role in life. Even commoners were given choice in the craft or trade they would learn, and women, though they were subordinate to men, could improve their position in life by excelling in their studies. A commoner could move up to being an important person in their city if they truly excelled in school.