Plato and Aristotle are some of the most important figures in the development of philosophy of education (Morgan 43). Although Plato taught and inspired Aristotle, their views on education show a number of differences. Arguably, Plato and Aristotle’s views of education differ in that Aristotle considers education as a ‘virtue by itself’ that every person must obtain in order to have ‘happiness and goodness in life’, while Plato advocates for a ‘good education for the elites’.
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Plato’s views of education are found in his descriptions of an ideal ‘Republic’. In the ‘Republic’, Plato argues that an individual is well served when he is a subject of a ‘just’ society (Morgan 78). He considers education as a ‘virtue’ whose aim is to provide a ‘sound body’ with a ‘sound mind’. He believes that education must start early in life.
Therefore, he considers children as ‘wards of the state’. He argues that children must be removed from parental care early in life and instead be brought up as ‘wards of the state’. Then, Plato advocates for differentiating the children according to their future endeavors and roles in the society. Under the care of the state, the children should be distinguished according to how they fit into social ‘castes’.
Those fitting the highest caste must obtain the highest level of education to ensure that they assume the roles of ‘guardians of the state’ (Morgan 92). According to Plato, good education is holistic. It should include both formal and informal training. He advocates for inclusion of physical discipline, facts, handcraft, arts, and music in the education system.
Plato believed in the virtue of selective public education. For instance, according to his views, a child’s capacity in achieving education and talents are not hereditary.
He argues that all children, regardless of their social class, have the capacity to get education and talents and join a higher social caste. However, Plato advocates for providing ‘the highest level’ of education to those children who are more suitable to become future guardians of the state. This means that he advocates for training a ‘small group’ of children who then proceed to be the elite class.
In Plato’s virtue of education, elementary education is confined to children below the age of 18. Those between 19 and 20 years must undergo vigorous military training before proceeding to get higher education. According to Plato’s views of education and society, elementary education has an important role in making the soul of an individual ‘responsive to the environment’. In addition, he argues that higher education helps the soul in its search for the truth.
On the contrary, Aristotle’s views of education are based on purposefulness. He believes that education is a virtue that every person in a society must obtain. He views education as a way of attaining ‘goodness and happiness’ in life. Increased teaching, training, and experience can help one achieve ‘goodness of intellect’.
While Plato believed that the state has the role of educating small children, Aristotle believes that parents had the largest responsibility in early childhood education. The state comes in once the child has grown up from early to middle and late childhood.
Although Aristotle, like Plato, emphasized on ‘gymnastic’ as a form of education, he believes that one of the role of this form of training is to develop a ‘spirit of sportsmanship’ and therefore develop ‘good habits’ in a child.
Finally, Aristotle differed with Plato in that he believed in both inductive and deductive methods of teaching, arguing that both are logical procedures in a subjective and objective training.
Morgan, Michael. Classics of Moral and Political Theory. New York: Hackett publishing company Inc, 2005. Print.