Plato Theory of Education & View of Education

Fri, 12/23/2011 - 07:45 -- Umar Farooq

Who is Plato

Plato is known to be authority on idealism and philosophical interpretation of material and metaphysical realm. He is Greek intellectual, the pupil of Socrates, and the tutor of Aristotle.

The early Greek society

The Greek society is socially, politically, and religiously corrupts. That’s why Plato’s teacher Socrates wants to correct the social evils through the knowledge in order to know the virtue. Socrates is non-conformist and ultimately is sentenced to death. That event shocks Plato.  Plato, like his tutor, wants to reform the Greek society. Therefore he presents an ideal state in his famous book “Republic”.

Plato Analogy of Individual and Society

According to Plato an individual basically is the combination of three powers. That is mind, heart, and desires. And the same is the case with the society. The mind (the ruler) should rule; the heart (soldier) should defend; and the desires and needs (workers/common people) should work for social services. This division is the justice in society and in ideal state, where everyone would get his/her due role to play in the society.

Plato View of Education

Plato view of education is for the good of the individual and for the safety of the state. The aim of education, according to Plato, is the welfare of both the individual and the society. His guiding principle is that, "Nothing must be admitted in education which does not conduce to the promotion of virtue. Moreover, Plato's treatment of education in the "Laws" is different from that of his "Republic". Education in the "Laws" is to be universal and not restricted, as in the "Republic", to the guardian class and is to be compulsory. Children should come to the school not only if their parents please, but there should be compulsory education.

Plato’s Scheme of Education

Plato in his famous book "The Republic" has suggested appropriate kind of education for the ruling and the military classes of community, but he does not mention anything about the education of the industrial class.

Plato prescribes a general type of Greek education for both the military and governing classes. It includes the two main divisions of Greek education-music and gymnastics. He says that the first (i.e. music) is necessary for the training of soul and the other (i.e. gymnastics) for the training of the body. Plato also asserts that we should begin education with music and go on to gymnastics afterwards, mental education is thus to precede physical education.

Plato’s View of Curriculum

Plato prescribed a general type of curriculum prevailing in Greece at that time. The curriculum for the early training, that occupied first seventeen years of life, was comprised of music and gymnastics. The word music was used in a much broader sense than we use it today. It included poetry, drama, history, oratory and music in its more limited sense.

The education of these two subjects aimed at producing an improved soul and a healthy body. Even moral results were obtained through them. Music helped the child to grow gentle, graceful and harmonious. Gymnastics helped him to develop, courage, patience, reason, consideration, and temperance and whole mindedness.

At the first stage of life i.e. before the age of seven years, the child should not be educated formally. He should stay with his mother or nurse and be educated in their company. At this stage the mother or the nurse should tell him the authorized tales about the gods and heroes of the nation to develop the trait of noble character in them.

For the early education, Plato recommends the inclusion of dances, hunting and field exercises in gymnastics.  

For higher education he emphasizes the study of numbers and geometry. This will sharpen the minds of students. Astronomy is another subject recommended by Plato for higher education. Lastly, music was also included.

Plato’s View of Women Education

Plato does not suggest separate curriculum for women. Women should also be educated in music and gymnastics as well as the art of war. He says that women and girls should undergo the same gymnastic and military exercises as men and boys.

Plato’s  Method of instruction

Plato is in favor of education in a free atmosphere without any compulsion or check. In this respect he is the predecessor of Froebel and Montessori. The concept of Kinder Garten finds its roots in the principles laid down by Plato. Plato is of the opinion that there should be no compulsion in teaching; rather, it should be a sort of amusement.