PREVIOUS : PLATO : PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION (PART 1)
TEACHING METHODS :
Plato wanted motivation and interest in learning. He was against the use of force in education."Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind."
According to Plato "Do not then train youths by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each."
Plato wanted a place where children love to go and stay there and they play with things which enhance their education by playing. Plato gave importance to nursery education, as nursery education plays a vital role in the education of man and it helps to build his moral character and state of mind "The most important part of education is proper training in the nursery."
The Socratic method is a dialectic method of teaching, named after the Greek philosopher Socrates, in which the teacher uses questions to get the student to think about what he/she already knows and to realize what they do not know. This question and answer session stimulates the brain, engages the learner, and can bring new ideas to life.
Both the Didactic and Dialectic methods are necessary for teaching. There are many times when telling the student what he/she needs to know is the only way to impart information. However, the dialectic method is essential for engaging students in interactive learning, in giving them some ownership of discovery in the learning process. The dialectic method can provide an opportunity for debate of issues, exploration of ideas and use of higher thinking skills. Since the object of learning is to be able to discern and make decisions based on knowledge, the dialectic method is critical for growth of the knowledge
According to Plato it will be hard to discover a better method of education than that which the experience of so many ages has already discovered, and this may be summed up as consisting in gymnastics for the body, and music for the soul... For this reason is a musical education so essential; since it causes Rhythm and Harmony to penetrate most intimately into the soul, taking the strongest hold upon it, filling it with beauty and making the man beautiful-minded.
The above quotation of Plato show, how he sees education, he wants the total development of a man, mind, body and soul by using every possible mean.
Storytelling and literature: In Plato‘s view, Storytelling is the main tool for the formation of character. Stories should provide models for children to imitate, and as ideas taken in at an early age become indelibly fixed, the creation of fables and legends for children, true or fictional, is to be strictly supervised. Mothers and nurses are not to scare young children with stories of lamentations, monsters, and the horrors of hell, to avoid making cowards of them. (Republic, bk. 2, 377-383).
Play: In Plato‘s view child's character will be formed while he or she plays. One should resort to DISCIPLINE, but not such as to humiliate the child. There should be neither a single-minded pursuit of pleasure nor an absolute avoidance of pain–not for children and not for expectant mothers (Laws, bk. 7, 792). Luxury makes a child bad-tempered and irritable; unduly savage repression drives children into subserviency and puts them at odds with the world. Children and adults should not imitate base characters when playing or acting, for fear of forming a habit that will become second nature (Republic, bk. 3, 395).
Those being educated are to be restricted from wrong thought and action, until such time as they are able to understand why it is favourable to be in harmony with the good. At that time, they will be able to understand why corruption is an evil.
According to Plato Self discipline is essential, whereby a man should be temperate and master of himself, and ruler of his own pleasures and passions.
Teachers must provide children with miniature tools of the different trades, so that they can use the children's games to channel their pleasures and desires toward the activities they will engage in when they are adults (Laws, bk. 1, 643).
Children are to be brought together for games. The sexes are to be separated at the age of six, but girls too should attend lessons in riding, archery, and all other subjects, like boys. Similarly, both boys and girls should engage in dancing (for developing grace) and wrestling (for developing strength and endurance). Plato attached much importance to children's games: "No one in the state has really grasped that children's games affect legislation so crucially as to determine whether the laws that are passed will survive or not."
Change, he maintained, except in something evil, is extremely dangerous, even in such a seemingly inconsequential matter as children's games (Laws, bk. 7, 795-797).
Physical education: "Physical training may take two or three years, during which nothing else can be done; for weariness and sleep are unfavorable to study. At the same time, these exercises will provide not the least important test of character" (Republic, bk. 7, 537). Children who are sturdy enough should go to war as spectators, if one can contrive that they shall do so in safety, so that they can learn, by watching, what they will have to do themselves when they grow up (Republic, bk. 5, 466; bk. 7, 537). Girls should be trained in the same way and learn horseback riding, athletics, and fighting in armor, if only to ensure that if it ever proves necessary the women will be able to defend the children and the rest of the population left behind (Laws, bk. 7, 804-805,813).
Reading and writing, music, arithmetic: In Plato's educational system, a child, beginning at the age of ten, will spend three years on reading, writing, the poets and another three learning the lyre, and will study elementary mathematics up to the age of seventeen or eighteen, all with as little compulsion as possible, in order to learn "enough to fight a war and run a house and administer a state" (Republic, bk. 7, 535-541). Enforced exercise does no harm to the body, but enforced learning will not stay in the mind (Laws, bk. 7, 536). Special stress is next placed on the study of the four disciplines that prepare the student for philosophy: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and harmony. These disciplines lift the soul to the level of the immutable.
OBJECTIVES AND FUNCTIONS OF EDUCATION
• The first objective was state unity:
The first objective of education must be to develop esprit de corps, that is , the sense or feeling of community life, for the state is superior to the individual. Every citizen must be trained to dedicate himself unreservedly to the state and to forgo private interests. All people must be ideal citizens.
• Second objective was to develop virtue or civic efficiency:
Education should instill habits of temperance, courage and military skill into the youth. Plato aimed to prepare for the higher duties of civil and social life by imparting to the youth accurate knowledge of the government and of the absolute truth. Education should train an individual in his duties and rights as a citizen.
• The next objective is to establish the rule of reason in the growing life of a child.
• Another function is the development of the aesthetic sensibility. Education must aim to produce a love for the truth, the beauty and the goodness. The child should be kept in a beautiful environment.The higher soul must learn to place the ideal above the actual, the abiding above the transient, the eternal above the temporal. The child must become a man with passionate interest in ideal reality.
• Another function of education is to teach children to live in harmony. The school should be the greatest humanizing and socializing agency.
• The aim of education is achieving human perfection. It involves the total training of character and aims at producing a morally mature individual. It is, in other words, fundamentally moral in nature. It involves the total training of character. Its goal is to produce people who are attracted to the good and repulsed by the evil.
―The object of education is to turn the eye, which the soul already possesses, to the light. The whole function of education is not to put knowledge into the soul, but to bring out the best things that are latent in the soul, and to do so by directing it to the right objects. The problem of education, then, is to give it in the right surrounding.‖ This is the insight model of philosophy.
ROLE OF THE TEACHER :
In Plato‘s plan of education , the educator is considered to have greatest importance. He is like torch bearer who leads a man lying in the dark cave, out of the darkness into the bright light of the outside world. The teacher is thus the constant guide of the students. The teacher must be a person of high integrity and must possess high self worth. He must have pleasing personality, indepth knowledge and professional training. He should be deeply committed to his profession, have high sense of responsibility and a true role model. Teachers should lead a true moral life. They should practice what they preach.
Plato also emphasised on women education. Women should have the same physical and educational training; they should know the art of war. The main aim of education was that each member of the society should undertake his work and responsibilities.
In Socrates opinion, in an ideal city men and women will be used for the same purposes. 'We educated the men both physically and intellectually; we shall have to do the same for women, and train them for war as well, and treat them in the same way.'
Plato believed that women are equal to men and that, although some women are physically smaller or weaker and some women are physically equal to men. Therefore those women who are physically strong should be allowed to learn the same skills that men do. In his book Republic Plato describes how male and female receive the same education and be given the same duties in society as given to the male member. These people are the ones who will be in charge his republic which would be an ideal society, where philosophers are the kings. In other words, who know what is good for the people and for the mankind and take their decisions based on that knowledge.
EDUCATION AS A STATE FUNCTION
According to Plato, education is primarily a state function. Therefore, the philosophy of education forms the heart of any discussion of government. In the Republic and the Laws, Plato emphasized that the education should be completely under the control of the state. The state provides the teachers, buildings, and controls the curriculum and methods of teaching.
The failure of the old Athenian education was due to the failure of parents to inculcate the virtues and training the children. Plato he was intolerant towards tender sentiments and individualising tendencies of family life. His conclusion was that the family training cannot be trusted; the good of the state demands public control of breeding, nursing and training of the children.
In a nutshell, Plato‘s polis (state) is essentially an educational community.
a) It is created by education. It can survive only on condition that all its citizens receive an education that enables them to make rational political decisions.
b) It is up to education to preserve the state intact and to defend it against all harmful innovations.
The aim of education is not personal growth but service of the state, which is the guarantor of the happiness of its citizens for as long as they allow it to be the embodiment of justice.
This state is a strict meritocracy, where the citizen body is divided into the functions (commonly but erroneously called "classes") of producers, auxiliaries (in charge of internal and external security), and philosophers, the last two jointly referred to as "guardians."
The Republic is concerned with the education of the guardians, but in the Laws, where Plato draws up an actual system of laws for a state conforming as much as possible to that standard, the same education is provided to all citizens, according to their abilities.
As such, he believes that the child belongs to the state and its education is the responsibility of the state (Republic, bk. 2, 376.)
Education must be compulsory for all. State funds should pay for gymnasiums and for instructors, officials, and superintendents in charge of education, both cultural and physical.