Plato on Education

A study of the U.S. education system from Plato’s perspective of thought.

The paper looks at the history of education and then explains Plato’s understanding of education. The paper discusses how Plato’s view involves liberation from the prevailing understanding of reality in the interest of transforming, rather than preserving, the social and political order. The paper considers today’s education system and shows how to make the system as Plato preached would be idealistic and unrealistic. The paper does point out, however, that we must set high standards for our students like Plato believed.
“The industrial revolution changed the nature of work. In the pre-industrial world, the average worker only needed a pair of hands and a strong back. It didn’t matter if farm laborers couldn’t read or write. In fact, many landowners preferred an illiterate workforce. If peasants couldn’t read they were less likely to learn about such revolutionary ideas as democracy, equality, and justice. But, the factory owners needed a different kind of worker. They wanted people who could read simple instructions and operate a machine. So, the doors of schools were being opened to all. But, those who entered were really only being trained; they weren’t being educated. The goal of education was seen as the passing on of the best that has been known and thought. But, some people began to question this. They argued that filling a student’s head with a bunch of sterile knowledge did not add up to a meaningful education. And, who decides what is the best that is known and thought anyway?”