How did the teaching methods of Plato and Aristotle differ?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Aristotle was a student in the Platonic Academy in Athens for over 20 years before moving on to found his own school after Plato's death. Artistotle's teaching career, in fact, started when he began teaching rhetoric in the Platonic academy.

Plato wrote exclusively in dialogue form, never appearing in propria persona in his own writing. In his teaching career, he only lectured once, delivering a single public lecture "On the Good," which has not been preserved, but apparent dealt primarily with the idea-mathematicals. Otherwise, teaching at the Platonic Academy was conducted primarily in dialogue form. It is possible that the Platonic dialogues were used as starting points for discussion at the Academy, but no actual accounts of Plato's teaching have survived, other than Epistle VII, Unfortunately, it is not certain that Epistle VII is authentically Platonic, and thus, while its contribution to assessment of Plato's pedagogy theories is quite important, we cannot state with any certainty whether the theories contained in it are Platonic or neo-platonic.

Aristotle's early works, including the Protrepticus, which has been prefserved in fargments quotes in later authors, and several philosophical dialogues, which have not been preserved (but which are mentioned by Diogenes Laertius, Cicero, and other ancient soucres), appear to have been moderately Platonic in style and pedagogical approach. In his subsequent career, Aristotle seemed to favour lecturing, and a monologucal rather than a dialogical style of presentation.


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