How does Plato describe the education in his Republic or in his cretan city?
Book III is where you will find large discourses on proper education, but here is a concise summary:
"Its central concern is an emphasis on achieving the proper balance of many disparate components—physical training and musical performance along with basic intellectual development.
One notable feature of this method of raising children is Plato's demand for strict censorship of literary materials, especially poetry and drama. He argued that early absorption in fictional accounts can dull an person's ability to make accurate judgments regarding matters of fact and that excessive participation in dramatic recitations might encourage some people to emulate the worst behavior of the tragic heros (Republic 395c). Worst of all, excessive attention to fictional contexts may lead to a kind of self-deception in which individuals are ignorant of the truth about their own natures as human beings. (Republic 382b). Thus, on Plato's view, it is vital for a society to exercise strict control over the content of everything that children read, see, or hear."
In The Republic, Socrates outlines the education that should be given to the guardian which will help them escape the cave (cave analogy). Socrates says we only need use our thought or reason when our sens give us ambiguous information.
He then goes on to explain that mathematics is the best starting point of education. Studies should begin simply moving through increasingly complex forms of mathematics ad abstract thought so that finally the guardians are ready to learn about the forms. The pinnacle of objective, yet abstract knowledge, which leads to the most true and evident form - the form of the good. This final level of training, concerned with the forms, is known as the dialectic. However, Plato's description of the dialectic is imprecise and ambiguous. Put simple, it is the discussive method used throughout the book by Socrates, that of questioning and answering. As such the dialectic results in an understanding of the realm of forms and in particular the form of the good.
A detailed outline of the education system (step-by-step):
- Until 18, basic intellectual study and physical training
- Followed by 2 years of miltary training
- Followed by ten years of mathematics
- At 30, five years of dialectic
- Followed by 15 years as leaders, trying to 'lead people from the cave' (note, this is figurative, not literal)
- Upon reaching 50, they are fully aware of the form of the good and totally mature - ready to lead!
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