Plato’s most celebrated treatise, the ‘Republic’ put forth a concept of an ideal state. The book discusses a range of virtues and their importance for the society. Knowledge is one of the most important virtue on which enormous emphasis has been laid down. Education is a way to get knowledge. Plato is considered as the earliest educational philosopher. He termed education as of primary importance for his ideal state, the ‘Utopia’. He proposed to establish a state-owned ‘academy’ and all children were to be admitted to it an early age and educated there.
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The educational structure of the ‘academy’ was such that it picked out children according to their aptitudes, merit and natural abilities and classified them in different categories-the guardian, the military and the producers/consumers. The guardian class was the one responsible to rule the state and was supposed to be the most educated of all three categories. Wisdom, truth, goodness and beauty were the virtues held by the guardians and these virtues were the result of the high education they had received. According to Plato, a just state can emerge when the state instills good habits among its citizens through enough education.
The education system advocated by Plato called for an evaluation of children according to their natural capabilities and was made to select their future field. On the other hand, most of the students today are forced to study subjects against their aptitude and desires. Education has been made compulsory to a certain standards but it does not aim at stimulating human values. There is less room for the study and application of history, philosophy and religion.
Monetary gains are essential to a greater extent but should not be emphasized on so much that it can overshadow human values. Thus, the philosophy of Plato does not have any significant effects on present American system of education. The system is more towards utilitarianism, capitalism and materialism instead of moralities and basic human values. In Plato’s system, the guardian or rulers were trained for the very purpose and thus educated accordingly. Presently, there is no such system and a ruler can come from any background and on criterion that are not at all in accordance with Plato’s standards.
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