Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Plato on Education


According to Mrs. Tanwir Khalid (2005) Plato was the most famous Greek philosopher. He was born in Athens, in a noble family. He was the pupil of the great thinker Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, the great scientist and thinker. All these are world famous philosophers and their thinking has influenced people from generation to generation. “The Republic” is the famous book of Plato about education. Plato says that “education is the first and fairest thing that the best of men can ever have.”
According to Mr. Khalid (2005, p.46) the aim of education according t Plato, is the welfare of both the individual and the society. To him education is for the good of the individual and for the safety of the state. His guiding principle is, “that nothing must be admitted in education which does not conduce to the promotion of virtue.” To him virtue consisted in knowledge or in whole thoughts as opposed to opinions. He was interested in the nature of those thoughts, and he carried his investigation much farther in this direction. To Plato, the power of attaining knowledge or the longing for the supreme good was to be found not in all, but only in a few. For this vision of external truth a special or sixth sense was needed to be present in people. He called this sense a “sense for ideas.” Education should aim at developing this sense for ideas in the individuals in whom the capacity exists and should prepare and direct each individual through the guidance of philosophers for the performance of those duties which by nature he is most fitted to perform. Thus education should prepare individuals to perform their duties well. The goodness of the individuals results in the goodness of the society.

According to Lobo (1974) the philosophers must arrange the life of the state, determine the principles of education, and distribute various tasks to different citizens. So they themselves must know what is true and good.
In “The Republic” Plato suggested the following stages of education. Plato has reckoned different stages of life and has prescribed proper education for there periods.
According to him education cannot begin too early, it should begin about age of seven years. Before this age children should stay with mothers or nurses and be educated in their company. The adults should tell them good moral tales to have good impressions upon their tender minds.
STAGE -2: (Up to 17 years)
At this stage the courses should comprise music and gymnastics. Sports and games were considered important for their physical and mental development.
STAGE -3: (18-20 Years)
The third stage is meant for cadetship. At this stage of education Physical and military training is important for the youth for the battle field.
STAGE 4: (20-30 Years)
For the training at this stage the choice characters are selected. They were to undergo the mathematical training preparatory to dialectic. This training continued for Ten years and at the age of thirty another selection was made.

STAGE 5: (30-35 Year)
This stage consists of five year that is from 30 to 35 years of age. Plato deliberately withholds the study of dialectic to this late age, because one has to mature enough to carry on the study in dialectic.
STAGE 6: (35 to 50 Years)
At the sixty stage, that from 35 to 50 years of age, one is ready as philosopher or ruler, to return to practical life to take the command in ware and hold such offices of state.
After the age of fifty the lines are to be spent in contemplation of the Good. When they are called up to the regulate the affairs of state, their knowledge of dialectic enables them to mould the lines of individuals as of their own. They were supposed to make philosophy and they were called upon to participate in politics, and rule for the good of the people as matter of their study.
According to Plato the development of the personality is the aim of education. There is no single and particular method of teaching according to idealism. Shahid (2000) discussed that idealist may stress on the child and achieving the aims of education. Plato emphasizes the use of ideal centered method of teaching. That is while teaching any subject emphasis is placed upon dignity of man, and worth of human life. In the classroom, the teacher must never feel importance. The teacher must not intervene too much. He/She should not under estimate the competencies of his pupils. The teachers are only the mediators between knowledge and students. Free response of children and initiative on their part mist be encouraged the job of the teacher is to gone the children and insight into deeper experiences them they already had the teacher should infuse faith and confidence on them. Children’s potentialities should be brought into play by providing stimulating experiences.
According to Lobo (1974) Plato says, “All Elements of instruction should be presented to the mind in childhood, not however under any notion of forcing our system of education. For a free man ought not to be a slain in the acquisition of any kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory does no harm to the body, but knowledge which is acquire under compulsion obtains no hold on mind. (Republic V11 536)
This passage indicates that Plato advocated the method of freedom propagated by Rousseau and the play way method so dear to Naturalists Besides this, Plato anticipated the Naturalists in stressing the importance of Natural Environment in Education in the following passage. He is like a plant which having proper nurture, must necessarily grow and mature into all virtue, but, if sown and planted in alien soil, becomes the most abnorous of all weeds” “(Republic, V1, 492)
But unlike the Naturalists, Plato gane due importance to discipline, efforts was more important than interest. “Our youth should be educated from the first in a sticker system”
Similarly, Plato was a forerunner of Dewey when he stressed the use of the experimental method for obtaining knowledge of particular things, and in giving priority to understanding and explanation over more information, the knowledge of things is not to be dived from names. No they must be studied and investigated in themselves.”

The system of education presented by Plato was supposed to discover the potentialities of an individual and to develop the qualities for the membership in that class for which nature has best felted him/her. Development of the personality according to the potentialities of the individual in an aim of education set up by modern educational psychology. (Mrs. Khalid 2005).
Upto 17 years: Literature and Music and Elementary Mathematics.
18- 20 years: Philosophy and Military Training
20-30 years: Advanced Mathematics and their Relation to Reality
30-35 years: Dialectic, especially about ultimate principles of morality.
35-50 years: Practical experience in some subordinate post.
50+ years: Those who .reach vision of God can divide time between standy and governing.

Lobo, A.T. (1974). Educational ideas and their impact. Karachi: Rotti Press.
Mrs. Khalid, T. (2004). An introduction to educational philosophy and history.
Islamabad: National Book Foundation.
Shahid, S.M. (2000). History and philosophy of education. Lahore: Majeed Book Depot.

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