Plato, an educational thinker was born in an upper class family in Athens which was the leading city state in thought, art and government. He was interested in political career but after the death of his teacher Socrates, Plato pursued his teacher philosophy. For the purpose of education, Plato traveled to Egypt and Italy where he learnt mathematics. After returning home he established an academy to teach moral values to the elite youth of Athens to make them better leaders of society.
The early Athenian Education did not recognize the education for girls. Education was meant for only boys. Plato believed that women were equal to men and though some are physically smaller or weak in size, some women are physically equal to men therefore, those women who are physically strong should be allowed to learn the same skills that do. In his book `REPUBLIC’, Plato describes how male and female should receive the same education and be given the same duties and responsibilities in the society as given to the male member.
In the same manner the girl-child education is emphasized in the modern educational systems and theories. Almost all the governments in the world are trying as much as possible to ensure that the girl-child is educated since all societies currently requires the elites. This has been the case in most institutions in Kenya whereby the entrance or admission to public universities favours much the education of women to ensure that more women are capable of acquiring university education just like men. This is bearing fruits whereby in all sectors in all sectors of government, there are women who are carrying out the same duties as men, may it be in the military, the higher government offices or even in the constitution. This is to show both can carry out any duty according to their individual talents. This has helped in the development of society and state as it goes with Plato’s idea that educated individuals should serve the state. This has also assisted in reducing the dependency ratio among citizens. Therefore the idea of Plato to educate both men and women has played a great role in the development of individuals’ society and states in general. Plato suggested that ‘No man should bring children into the world that is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nature and education’. Therefore, this is to show that getting a girl child, one should be ready and willing to educate her.
Plato recommended play method at elementary level. He said that children should learn by doing and when they reached a higher level of education they would be trained in the processes of thinking and abstracting. Plato wanted a place where children would love to go and play with things which enhance their education.
This is relevant to modern educational systems and practices where children at lower levels of education are taught through practical means such as counting by means of sticks, molding by use of clay and memorizing through singing. This is very important to the child as it makes learning interesting and enjoyable. Plato also recommended motivation and interest in learning. He was against the use of force in education. He said that ‘knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind’. Therefore, he said ‘do not then train youths by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds so that you may better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar genius of each’.
Education For All:
Education is not only a right but a passport to human development. It opens doors and expands opportunities and freedoms. Plato wanted everybody to be educated to the limit regardless of their social status, gender, race, or age.
This is relevant to modern educational theories and practice whereby has a right to education regardless of who they are in society. This has been emphasized by the government through the introduction of free primary and secondary education to ensure that both the rich and the poor can access education. Also this has been demonstrated in modern day education especially where aged people are going to school to access education or to complete from where they had left. This has contributed greatly in promotion of social needs for national development whereby education has the responsibility of preparing children for the changes in attitudes and relationships which are necessary for the smooth process of a rapidly developing modern economy. Also education for all has contributed to the economic needs of society by producing citizens with skills, knowledge, expertise and personal qualities that are required to support the growing economy. Apart from social and economic benefit, education for all has contributed in the promotion of technological and industrial needs of society by providing learners with the necessary skills and attitudes for industrial development.
State Education: Plato suggested that education was supposed to be provided by the state and not private educators. Sophists were considered as educators. They were selling wisdom and in their schools they admitted only pupils who were able top pay the fees. Consequently poor families could not manage to pay the fees. Sophists moved from one town to another. This situation did not please Plato since they were not the best channels of education neither second best because they desired money and fame rather than knowledge. Plato’s attitude towards these itinerant teachers made him proposed the state to be responsible for education rather than to leave it to the private individuals as had always been the case. So, Plato proposed to have a minister for education. This was considered as the most important minister, and his office was considered the greatest one.
This is relevant to modern educational theories and practice whereby although there are private institutions that offer education , the state is the one that is charged with the overall responsibility of providing the curriculum and national examinations for both the public and private institutions. The state has also made sure that the poor and the rich would acquire basic education in public schools. Also there is a minister for education who oversees the implementation of education policies.
Plato’s education idea was primarily intended for those who were to be statesmen. What made him to emphasis the statesmen education was to avoid blind leaders; because these statesmen were to be given a state and if they not educated, would lead the state into a terrible situation. Therefore, Plato was convinced that education would help one know many things that he/she will be able to know what to do in his or her state in order to avoid disaster in the state. On this he said “the ruler of the state should be the one who has the peculiar abilities to fulfill that function’’. He also said that the ruler should be the one who has been fully educated, one who has come to understand the difference between the visible world and the intelligible world, between the realm of opinion and the realm of knowledge and between appearance and reality. He believed education must promote a new type of leadership for the betterment of state. Relevance This has contributed to modern educational theories and practice in that many of the leaders that we have today and those who have different tasks in the state have acquired at least basic education.
Plato also proposed that education should be carefully planned as it is universal, with the subject matte , admissible candidates, age levels, examinations and rewards being taken up as pressing considerations in state supported and state-administered schooling. Relevance This is relevant to modern educational theories and practice whereby the government provides a well planned curriculum and national examinations to both public and private schools and sponsors students who meets the requirements to be admitted in public. Also students who perform well are given various presents to encourage them to do even better.
According to Plato, education was to be controlled by the state. He recommended that the curriculum forwarded by the state should initiate the subject to be taught and were to be selected carefully. He said that right action implies acting in the light of knowledge of the good. Knowledge of the good is perfection of education hence true education implies right action. The subjects taught were to be able to induce the student with the power to make the right decision resulting to taking the right action. Secondly, the subjects should not be studied in isolation, but should have some relevance to each other. This idea is echoed many times among modern educational writers as a plea for integration of the curriculum. Another idea on curriculum was about frequent testing of students. Plato argued that frequent testing of students was an appropriate measure and a proof on the progress and ability of a student. He therefore proposed that students were to be examined several times so as their educators to understand the progress and ability of their students. Lastly, Plato argued that preservation of high standard of education depends on a proper study of science. To support his argument, Plato says that, the study of science provides an individual with a more positive knowledge than that of arts.
Due to advancing world, subjects selection is done carefully , whereby it focuses on subjects for economic valuation of life and subjects for the aesthetic valuation of life. In Kenya, students are fully guided on the subject selection and the appropriate subject combination in secondary schools. This shows that the idea of subject selection is relevant to modern educational theories and practices. In modern world, idea on integration of subjects is stressed among modern educational writers. In Kenya, most subjects that are taught are inter-related in the sense that, a concept in one subject can be applied on another subject. A subject like physics is related to mathematics. These two subjects relates in that, physics uses some mathematical principles and formula. For example, Pythagoras theorem. Also mathematics borrows some ideas from physics. The integration of subjects have enhanced students understanding. Plato’s idea of frequent testing is very crucial and highly practical in the modern world. Students are usually given assignments and continuous assessment tests on particular topics, marking is done and the teacher is able to tell the understanding and progress of each student on these topics. Modern school curriculum lays a lot of emphasis on science subjects. This has been done by inculcating them in the school curriculum. Organizing science congress to improve students’ power of innovation and also the government is promoting science by promoting science projects. These have promoted scientific innovation all around the world hence promoting better living.