Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Republic, Plato's Statement on Education

Plato, the most famous Greek philosopher, was born in Athens, in a noble family. He was the student of the great thinker and philosopher Socrates and the teacher of the Aristotle. One of the greatest contributions in education is the book of Plato, “The Republic”. As Plato was the student of Socrates so, as a gesture of respect and admiration towards his teacher, he wrote the books in which he used the name of Socrates. In the book, Republic, there are dialogues of Socrates with Glaucon, Adeimentus, Cephalus, Polarmarcus and Thrasymacus. Plato discussed in his book how education should be given to the children. He also discussed in his book how a good guardian of a state should be. But he did not get any attention for his work in Athens. So he went to Sicily where he lived for twelve years. After twelve years he came back to Athens and started his school for philosophers called “Academy”. One of Plato’s students was Aristotle. Plato died at the age of 82 in 347 B.C.
In the book 6 of the Republic, Plato discusses that the ruler should be a philosopher. But his fellows would not agree with him, for they thought that the philosophers were useless. Then he describes the true philosopher is the one who always searches truth and knowledge, and for this love of knowledge and wisdmon, a philosopher is the right person to be the guardian. He tells them that sometimes a person, who is born with a philosophical nature; with a good memory and the ability to reason, is used by his family and friends, who take advantage of his skills and send him in the politics to earn money. These are, however, false philosophers.

Good philosopher, on the other hand, is always after knowledge and not money. He describes three types of people  to further clarify the disposition of a philosopher.First, there are the people who always look for money, who pursue desires. These are the peasents, tradesman and service providers , and they form the working and business class. These people should practice the virtue of temperance, for their nature is more disposed towards appetites and desires, therefore they should better be able to control them to strike balance.

The second type of people are those who look for honour and they are called warriors. These people are responsible for maintainig the and guarding the interst and the requirements of justice. These people require courage, for the disposal of their duties.

The last type are the people who look for the knowledge and they are called philosophers. They are love wisdom and knowledge, and are not interested in wealth or honor, though honor automatically comes to them for the service of truth. Socities are formed by these three classes of people.

 Plato holds justice as the supreme good for the society. To maintain the justice, warriers should control the masses according to the law and reason. Warriors, who have the courage and passion to maintain justice in the society, cannot act with the guidance of the wisdom, and this wise guidance can only be provided by the wise people , philosophers. 

Each class of people performs its function in the society. The working and business class produces wealth and services. The warrior class defends the society and the law . The courage of the warrior class should always be governed by reason. The ruling class, comprising philosophers, is responsible for rationally guiding the society. And to ensure that each class performs its functions, its members should be meritoriously selected and educated. Thus, education is the backbone of Plato's social system.

Book 7 of the "Republic" is related to the education. In this book he starts with the parable of the cave. In this cave people are chained and they only see the wall before them. Behind them there is a bridge on which people walk. The other thing in the cave was the fire which produces shadow of the people on that wall and people only can see that shadows. The people in the cave show the people with the limited knowledge. Then one of the man is able to escape from the cave first he sees the fire his which causes pain in his eyes he gradually adjust with the light of the fire then he go outside the cave where he sees the other things and the light of the sun again his eye feels the  pain. When he go back to the cave he cannot see so his fellow men consider him blind. The man who went out of the cave to see the things is like a man who gained knowledge. The real things he sees are the real knowledge and sun represents the truth. Now if one person gains knowledge he/she should go to the other people to spread this knowledge. Furthermore in book seven Plato discusses the seven stages for education. In his opinion education should not begun before the age of seven. The child till the age of seven should stay at home and learn from his/her mother. Till the age of seven boys and girls can play together but after this they should be separated boys should play with boys and girls should play with girls.

Till the age of the seventeen they should be taught music, early education and sports because sports and games are essential for physical and mental growth of the child. Mathematics is also very important education of the child according to Plato everything is always occur in numbers. He emphasised on two fields that is geometry and astronomy. From the age of seventeen to twenty year student should brought into battle field to learn from the nature and gain real life experiences. From the age of twenty to thirty the student gets the education of mathematics. After the age of thirty the person selected for the dialectic. They get more education for five years and at last they must rule the city and their duty is to educate the other people. 


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