Plato was born in Athens in 427 B.C in a wealthy and influential family. Plato began his philosophical career as a student  of  Socrates. When the master died, Plato travelled to Egypt and Italy, studied with students of Pythagoras, and spent several years advising the ruling family of Syracuse. Eventually, he returned to Athens and established his own school of philosophy at the Academy.
About 387 BC, Plato founded a school in Athens, in a grove sacred to the demigod Academus, called the Academy (which is where we get the word academics from today).


It was, in effect, a university of higher learning, which included physical science, astronomy, and
mathematics, as well as philosophy. In addition to presiding over the Academy, Plato delivered lectures, which were never published. The site of the academy was sacred to Athena and other immortals and contained a sacred grove of olive trees. Plato possessed a small garden there in which he opened a school for those interested in receiving his instruction. Details of the organization of the academy are unknown,  but  it  appears to have employed a method of teaching based on lectures, dialogue, and seminars.


Republic is a dialogue which discusses the education necessary to produce such a society. It is an education of a strange sort – he called it paideia. Nearly impossible to translate into modern idiom, paideia refers to the process whereby the physical, mental and spiritual development of the individual is of paramount importance. It is the education of the total individual.

He discusses early education mainly in the Republic, written about 385 B.C.E., and in the Laws, his last work, on which he was still at work at the end of his life.


Plato argued that reality is known only through the mind. There is a higher world, independent of the world we may experience through our senses. Because the senses may deceive us, it is necessary that this higher world exist, a world of Ideas or Forms -- of what is unchanging, absolute and universal. In other words, although there may be something from the phenomenal world which we consider beautiful or good or just, Plato postulates that there is a higher unchanging reality of the beautiful, goodness or justice. The task of education is to live in accordance with these universal standards -- to grasp the Forms is to grasp ultimate truth.


He distinguishe between the reality presented to us by our senses – sight, touch, taste, sound and smell – and the essence or Form of that reality. In other words, reality is always changing – knowledge of reality is individual, it is particular, it is knowledge only to the individual knower, it is not universal.

There are 3 sources of knowledge:

                  Knowledge obtained from senses,i.e. knowledge of objects , colours, taste, touch etc. But Plato does not consider this as real knowledge.

                  An opinion regarding any object , but this knowledge cannot be relied upon as the views of every person differs regarding the same object.

                  Knowledge through mind or wisdom – it is the highest degree of knowledge which includes virtues like truth , goodness and beauty. This knowledge is idealistic and is based on original thinking. The characteristic of knowledge is that it is found in the form of universal truth.

The highest goal of education, Plato believed, is the knowledge of Good; to nurture a man to a better human being, it is not merely an awareness of particular benefits and pleasures.


Plato argued that societies are invariably formed for a particular purpose. Individual human beings are not self-sufficient; no one working alone can acquire all of the genuine necessities of life. In order to resolve this difficulty, we gather together into communities for the mutual achievement of our common goals. This succeeds because we can work more efficiently if each of us specializes in the practice of a specific craft: I make all of the shoes; you grow all of the vegetables; she does all of the carpentry; etc.

Thus, Plato held that separation of functions and specialization of labor are the keys to the establishment of a worthwhile society.

When each of these classes performs its own role appropriately and does not try to take over the function of any other class, Plato held, the entire city as a whole will operate smoothly, exhibiting the harmony that is genuine justice. (Republic 433e) it leads to ideal state.
But the smooth operation of the whole society will require some additional services that become necessary only because of the creation of the   social   organization   itself—the   adjudication   of disputes   among members and the defense of the city against external attacks, for example,

Plato proposed the establishment of an additional class of citizens, the guardians who are responsible for management of the society itself.

While Plato's methods were autocratic and his motives meritocratic, he nonetheless prefigure much later democratic philosophy of education. Plato's belief that talent was distributed non-genetically and thus must be found in children born to all classes moves us away from aristocracy, and Plato built on this by insisting that those suitably gifted were to be trained by the state so that they might be qualified to assume the role of a ruling class. What this establishes is essentially a system of selective public education premised on the assumption that an educated minority of the population are, by virtue of their education (and inborn educability), sufficient for healthy governance.


Faced with the problem of determining the class of each individual, Plato suggested various kinds of tests to be conducted at different age levels.

In the first place, primary education will be given to all between the ages of seven and twenty, following which a test shall be administered to everyone. Those who fail the test are to be sent to labour in the various occupations and productive trades.

The successful candidates will be sent to the armed forces where training will be imparted to them for the next ten years. This will again be followed by a test, the failures will be compelled to remain in the armed forces while the successful ones will be sent to join the government.

Then this governing class will be subjected to further education in science. Later on, one from among the governing class will be elected as the philosopher administrator whose task will be to look after government and education of the state.

This individual will occupy the highest position in the land, his word will be the law of the land. Apart from this supreme individual, all other members of the governing class will continue to receive education throughout their lives, most of this education consisting of teachings in philosophy. It is thus evident that Plato was granted highest place


Children enter school at six where they first learn the three Rs (reading, writing and counting) and then engage with music and sports. Plato's philosopher guardians then follow an educational path until they are 50. At eighteen they are to undergo military and physical training; at 21 they enter higher studies; at 30 they begin to study philosophy and serve the polis in the army or civil service. At 50 they are ready to rule. This is a model for what we now describe as lifelong education (indeed, some nineteenth century German writers described Plato's scheme as 'andragogy'). It is also a model of the 'learning society' - the polis is serviced by educators. It can only exist as a rational form if its members are trained - and continue to grow.

The object of Platonic education is therefore moral and political. it is not an apprenticeship for know-how but an education in life skills.

Since the health and beauty of both body and mind are essential goals of Platonic education (see Laws, 788c), education, in keeping with Greek custom, is divided into two parts: gymnastics and music (i.e. culture).

1.               Physical  education  begins  before  birth.  Pregnant  women  are advised to walk around and move about as much as possible.


Birth to 3years
Bodily growth, sensory life, no fear, child reacts to pleasure and pain
4 to 6 years
Play, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, myths, get rid of self-will
6 to 13 years
Elementary school
Play,    poetry,    reading,    writing
,singing,       dancing,       religion, manners, numbers, geometry
13 to 16 years
Instrumental Music
Play the cithara, religious hymns, memorize poetry (esp  religious and patriotic), arithmetic (theory)
16 to 20 years
Gymnastics and the military
Formal  gymnastics  and  military training. No intellectual training.
20 TO 30 years
Coordination of reason and habits; interrelating the physical sciences
30 to 35 years
Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, government, law , education
35 t0 50 years
Service to State

50 to end
Higher Philosophy


1.Elementary. All boys and girls would be educated together. They would study mathematics, literature, poetry, and music until they were eighteen years of age.

2. Military Training. The next two years of the youth's life would be devoted to physical education alone. Thereafter, the best youths would be selected for the higher education given to future guardians of the state.

Higher Education. Between the ages of twenty and thirty-five, the future guardian would receive a higher education to prepare him for ruling the state. His studies would include mathematics, music, and literature. At the age of thirty he would have enough maturity to begin his study of philosophy. At thirty-five, his formal education would cease and he would enter upon a minor administrative position, prior to undertaking more important governing position.


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