The Republic': Philosophy of Education

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In 'The Republic' Plato uses the main character, Socrates to explore various issues that societies face and ways in which they should be confronted. For Plato, education was a fundamental to his idea of what it meant for a society to be proper and simple. Ahead of his time, he laid the foundation for various education practices that then and even now still hold great value. Promoting unity and functionality rather than self expression and individualism, Plato's thoughts on education were rigid and indelible.

Education is touched upon in every book in 'The Republic' thus far, emphasizing the importance of the topic. However in Book Three, it is the main discussion between Socrates and several others. Plato believed education was essentially the key to achieving justice within society. Without knowledge, an individual would be unable to prevail in life and therefore virtue could not be obtained. Socrates describes the education that city guardians should receive and reciprocate. He lays rules regarding many different aspects such as diet and sex, emphasizing to keep consumption as well as discussion to a minimum and simplistic. He believes that there are various levels or branches to education that should be tailored as the individual continues to grow but notes that teachings should be simple and focus on the individual's achievement of natural aptitude. An example of this relative to how the education system is set up now is the transition from elementary to middle and then from middle to high school. He understood the importance of allowing children to play and essentially allow their innocence to grow into moral.

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Exposure to evil, including the teachings of anything evil or negative could lead to corruption, Socrates says '...And therefore let us put an end to such tales, lest they engender laxity of morals among the young.' and '...And we must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike out these and similar passages, not because they are unpoetical, or unattractive to the popular ear, but because the greater the poetical charm in them...' (Bloom 72), these quotes highlights Plato's strict ideals in what is and is not to be taught. It also reflects on how he believed such things could lead to the corruption of the youth as many of them portrayed Gods and citizens doing questionable and unjust things. Therefore, various teachings by Greek and Roman scholars or artist were forbidden in Socrate's ideal society.

Upon reading 'The Republic' it is easy to understand why Plato focused on the society rather than the individual. Overall he believed that encouraging harmony and stability within the society would provide a structured and desirable life for those living in it. He also believed that they only way to accomplish such a thing was through education. Through the development of a perfect educational system, perfect citizens would be produced, and in tune the perfect society could be established. He also highlighted the idea that members who are unable or unwilling to play their role in society should be eliminated as the good of the city/society is always above the good of the individual.

Today's education system is based on the idea of equality, ensuring that everyone has access to the relatively same education starting at a young age. Plato believed in the idea of equal education however many of his ideals suggested customization to the natural abilities of the individual as he or she grew. According to Socrate's, for education to be affective it must transform and develop the individuals character to make them someone capable of employing technical abilities when necessary, hence his idea was very individual and singular. Who you study with, where you study, and for how long you study were all vital aspects to consider as according to Plato, the purpose of this process was to mold loyal, responsible, and honest members of society. Then and now, education's goal is not to teach just technical aspects, it is to help individuals cultivate their natural aptitude in order form them to distinguish when and how to use those technical aspects. (Rollins, 00:00:01 - 00:06:00) Still, his idea focused on the betterment of society. Harmonious relationships were a vital aspect as well. Believing that if all individuals were about to cultivate their natural aptitude, then in tune everyone would have ample access to each others knowledge.

I believe the similarities in education that have derived from the teachings of Plato's 'The Republic', are overall beneficial to society and the individual. Plato's philosophy of education was primally concerned with the society's full potential. He valued both genders as contributors to society as he encouraged the educating of both men and women. Although it is a concept that some developing countries or counties where men are considered the dominant gender struggle with, they slowly but surely allowing women their right to an education. He also highlighted the importance of physical and and mental education equally. The ability to battle as well as understand the depth of art in all forms was equally as important. I feel today this is something we are beginning to understand as schools continue to develop art programs. Educators today and Plato's ideas of a city guardian are similar. Each were to guide individuals to their full potential by providing a foundation based on goodness and care. Hence, we see that many of contemporary cultures educational aspects have derived from Plato's philosophy.

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