Dec 05 2011
I’m reading Plato’s The Republic and Socrates has very interesting ideas on education. He believes that the Guardians of the city (whether it be the intellectual guardians or the military guardians) must be educated. Disorder, or order, in the souls of the guardians originate from the education they receive. This disorder in their souls is the source of injustice in society. I was surprised that Socrates believes that men and women should receive the same education. After admitting that men are physically stronger than women, he suggests that women are equal in their reasoning abilities and should be able to perform the same tasks in society as men. Therefore, they should receive the same type of education. He splits up education into music and gymnastics and explains the subjects that relate with music develop the soul and the subjects that relate with gymnastics develop the body. However, he explains we must understand that gymnastics develops the soul in some ways as well. Playing sports teaches us virtues such as perseverance and justice. Additionally, Socrates explains that young children should be thought through play rather than formal education. Socrates also believes that we must filter what is taught to the young philosophers. When they are young, students learn myths about the gods and the evils that they perform. Socrates believes that these kind of stories help disorder enter the souls of the young children. They must be told stories that teach that the gods only did good and never performed evil.
Considering The Republic was written so long ago, I wondered why women continued to receive little or no education compared to men until very recently. It also made me wonder why schools do not put as much money into physical education programs. Even Socrates believes that children learn better through playing. Making students develop good virtues at a young age may be more beneficial than helping them develop a hatred for learning. I am not sure if I agree with only telling stories of the gods’ good deeds. That would be analogous to only teaching students about the good deeds our national heroes performed and not educating them about the bad things. Is it correct to intentionally leave out the stories we do not want to tell? The reason that Homer and other poets wrote stories about the gods was to teach a lesson. Will those lessons be lost?
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