Plato: Stages of Education

Stages of education and teaching methods suggested by Plato

Plato was a very important and famous educational thinker and Greek philosopher. He was the pupil of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle who have influenced the thinking of people from generation to generation. Plato has touched upon all the important problems and ideas that have ever aroused the interest of the human mind. Plato gave immense importance to education. In his treatise "The republic", Plato has dealt with education in details. In The Republic, he has discussed his aim of Education, his notion of how education should proceed at different stages of life, and about the content of education and a well defined curriculum. for it. In the republic he has drawn up a blue print of what our ideal society should be and what role education has to play in the maintence of justice and the functions of different social classes.

 In “Laws’ he says repeatedly:
“Education is the first and the fairest thing that the best of men can ever have”. (Khalid, 2005)
According to Plato the aim of education is the welfare of both the safety of the society and the food of individual. He was of the opinion that education should develop the sense of ideas in people in whom the ability is there, and should purpose and direct each one through the guidance of philosophers for the performance of those works which fits them naturally to perform.

Plato's model of education can be called “functionalist”: a model designed to produce competent adults to meet the needs of the state. He had definite ideas about a good life and what we call self actualisation which according to Plato formed the backbone of the academic curriculum.
According to Plato there are different stages of life and he has suggested proper education for these periods.
Stages of education
First stage: (0-6)
Plato believed that education began from the age of seven and before this children should stay with their mothers for moral education and genders should be allowed to plays with each other.

Second stage (7-17)
This stage is till the age of seventeen. The content of education comprises Gymnastics , literature, music elementary mathematics. Gymnastics is essential for the physical and mental growth.Music is chosen as the medium of education, an avenue for the spiritual growth,  and ideas are the contents of education for this stage.
The third stage (18-20)
This stage is meant for cadetship and is related to physical and military training. The youth are bought into the stage of battle in this age.

The fourth stage (20-30)
This stage is from twenty to thirty where advance mathematics and their relation to reality are taught. Here students undergo mathematical training preparatory to dialectic. Plato has highlighted the qualities needed for an individual to enter higher education. He proclaimed that preference should be given to the surest, bravest, fairest and those who have the natural gifts to facilitate their education.

The fifth stage (30-35)
This age is from ages thirty to thirty five.Plato restricted the study of dialectic to this age because he felt that an individual should be mature enough to carry on the study in dialectic,especially about ultimate principles of reality.
The six stage (35-50)
This age is from thirty five to fifty years,  when according to Plato,an individual is ready as a philosopher or ruler, to return to practical life to take command in war and hold such offices of state as befits him.
After reaching 50 one should spend the life in contemplation of “the Good” their chief pursuit should be philosophy and should participate in politics, and rule for the good of the people as a matter of their duty.

Method of teaching
According to Plato knowledge which is acquired under compulsion detains no hold on the minds of the bearers. Plato believed that there was no compulsion in teaching and it should be more of an amusement.

Plato says all elements of instruction should be presented to the mind in childhood, nor how ever, under any notion of forcing . He says that , " it is better for a learner to be a free man and not to a slave in the acquisition of knowledge."

Plato indicated towards the play way method.

Lobo, A.T. (1974). Educational ideas and their impact.Karachi: Rotti Press.
Tanveer, K. (2005).An Introduction to Educational Philosophy and History. Islamabad: National Book Foundation.


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