Plato’s Philosophy of Education: its Implication for Current Education

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To conceive the ideal city and individual, we would need to have the ideal education. Education gives us a knowledge of the world around us and changes it into something better. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have points of view on things in life. The current education faces a lot of challenges and we would not be well-balanced individuals without an ideal education. Therefore, having a proper education is important to keep the components balanced. This research shows the philosophy of Plato implication for current education.


Plato believes that education is a means of achieving justice, including individual justice and social justice. According to Plato, when each individual dedicates the most of their abilities, they can gain personal justice. In this sense, justice means excellence, which means virtue for the Greeks and Plato. Socrates believes that virtue is knowledge and it must be fair. Plato concludes that virtue can be obtained through three stages of knowledge development: knowledge of one's own job, self-knowledge, and knowledge of the Idea of the Good.

According to Plato in The Republic, social justice can be achieved when all social classes in a society, workers, warriors, and rulers are in a harmonious relationship. In the Republic, all people can easily remain in harmony when the society gives them equal educational opportunity from an early age to compete fairly one and each other. An unfair society will emerge without equal educational opportunity. Under this circumstances, it will lead to timocracy, oligarchy, defective democracy, or tyranny.

Modern education in western countries has greatly contributed to developing their societies in economic terms. Nevertheless, education in those countries has its own problems. In particular the college entrance examination in China, Korea and other East Asian countries caused serious social injustices and problems: unequal educational opportunity, lack of character education, financial burden on parents, and so on.

Therefore, to achieve justice, modern world needs Plato theory education as Plato's educational philosophy will provide a comprehensive vision to solve these problems in education. There is also some controversy about the relationship between education and the economy. Enterprises should indirectly control and even take over education in order to compete economically with other countries. However, Plato disagrees with this view because business is primarily concerned with profit, while true education focuses on the common interests of rational principles based on individual and social justice.

Women Education

First, everything always begins with man and ends with man, include education. This is a patriarchal world since ancient times. Man is the center of education, just like the sun is the center of the solar system. However, the Republic of Plato emphases on women education. Plato considers the same education for both man and woman. Women should get the same physical and educational training. The main aim of Plato was that each member of the society should undertakes his or her work and responsibility.

Plato believed that women and men are equal although some women are physically smaller or weak. Therefore, those women who are physically strong should be allowed to receive the same education that men do. In the Republic, Plato describes how male and female receive the same education and be given the same duties in society as given to the male member.

Here is the proof of Plato’s ideas in women education. According to the U.S statistics it shows that women have high rating in education. Women who graduate with a bachelor's degree achieved 23.7 percent and men achieved 27.5 percent. This proves that women in general are able to do as well as men even in academics and thus have the right to be treated with equality.

Unfortunately, education access is still unequal in many countries across the world, where women are often denied access. Although there has been notable progress in women’ education around the world, research shows that millions of girls are still unable to receive education. In 2013, UNESCO estimated that 31 million girls of primary school age and a further 32 million of lower secondary school age did not access school. The situation is worse in developing countries such as those in Sub-Saharan and South and West Asia.

Women deserve to have a quality education in order for them to prove their worth in society, to maximize their potential and to develop their talents to be an important contributor to mankind and to have a productive and peaceful life in the community. Accourding to Plato, a country‘s success depends on the equality of education. Plato holds that, to protect and maintain the new city, both men and women should receive the same education.

“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.” Lebanese academic and Philosopher Charles Malikleo said.

The Arts

Plato's educational proposals is aimed at promoting this sort of society for citizens and protecting themselves from all threats foreign and domestic. For this reason, he says that the most important courses for young children are gymnastics and music.

Physical training is to lead to overall health, and in particular to fitness for military service. Therefore, Plato says that all athletic competition and training must be in realistic armor, and must focus on martial skills such as archery, riding, running, throwing javelin and so on. Besides that, he also includes dancing in physical education, seeking here to teach grace and agility of movement. Furthermore, as he says earlier, dancing is an essential element in the chorus, which is essential as a religious and communal activity. A good soul produces a good body, and that a healthy intellect ensures a healthy body. Therefore, by eating and drinking moderately and undertaking a simple physical exercise plan from youth, the body will be as fit as is needed. Gymnastics is mainly responsible for preventing illness and the need for medicine in the city.

Plato may never have devoted a dialogue to music, but music suffused his entire work. Music, include singing is important for mental training, just as physical culture is essential for bodily training. Music trains the people to be patient and skill, and it trains the character by its stirring rhythms as much as by its words: valorous songs to encourage bravery, hymns to foster piety, gentle songs to promote caring and mutual support. While choral singing in particular honors the gods and brings community members together in harmony. Therefore, Plato considered choral singing so important that he suggested it should be mandatory for all citizens from childhood through old age.

In the anthropological dimension, the body is confronted with the soul, the latter being educated by music, the former by gymnastics, thus taking as the basis of body education the principles of harmony, rhythm, i.e., of order, from musical education. The word ‘music’ should not, however, be understood in its current sense, as in The Republic it represents the totality of the formative means for the soul, translatable into notions such as harmony, melody, rhythm, order, measure, and number, which form the beautiful education.

In this modern society, people often neglect music and gymnastics in order to finish the homework. We can see that the teachers cancel music and gymnastics class for the preparation of college entrance exam. Under this situation, the teenagers did not receive the education of music and gymnastics that he supposed to know.

Clearly, we are never going to adopt the legal system Plato advocates, where music is regulated by the state and only government approved tunes, rhythms and lyrics are allowed. Plato believed that music has an influence on the soul. By making it compulsory to learn music, people's soul can be good and just. Learning music is not a goal in itself, however, but a means of attaining goodness, and it should be combined with gymnastics.

What we need to learn is Plato's knowledge of music and gymnastics, which can help us better understand why we need to learn. The implementation of music and gymnastics education depends on different countries.

Teaching Methods

Plato recommended play method at elementary level. He encourages that student should learn by doing. When student reached the higher level of education, his reason would be trained in the processes of thinking and abstracting. We can see that Plato wants motivation and interest in learning. He is against the use of force in education.

Plato writes in the Republic “Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body, but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind” and “The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”

Plato gives importance to nursery education. According to Plato, nursery education plays a vital role in the education of people which will affect the whole life. It helps to build his moral character and state of mind. Plato writes that ""The most important part of education is proper training in the nursery.""

Plato describes the different stages of his education in the Republic. According to Plato, children's education should be start at the age of seven. Before this stage, children should stay with their mothers or elders and learn moral education.

After the age of six years both girls and boys should be separated. Under this situation, boys should play with boys and girls can only play with girls. Besides that, they should be taught the use of different arms to both sexes. This stage goes up to the age of seventeen years. During these years, music and early education for them is mandatory. After the age of seventeen years, the youth should be brought to battle filed to learn real life experiences.

The four stages start at the age of twenty five to thirty years. In this age, they get the training of Mathematical calculation and last for another ten years, after the completion the selected one’s are admitted in the study of dialect.

During fifth stage they study dialect for another five years and after that, at the sixth stage one is ready to become a ruler and philosopher and the one enter in practical life.

The Chinese saying ""Three years old fixes eighty""  means roughly: From the character and personality traits revealed by a three year old, one can infer that he will have similar traits as an eighty year old. As the child's brain development has been completed 80% at zero to three years old, and 90% at the age of six. After the age of three, the way children talk, the way of personality has been formed. Children from zero to three years old can understand, feel, but not express. This stage is the process of absorption and accumulation of wisdom. What education gives to children, what they absorb.

In our society, we can see that the parents really give importance to the early education of their children. They don’t want to lose at the starting line so they put a lot of time and money for finding the best education for their children. Besides that, most of the children under pressure of learning as parents force them to learn some skills such as piano, violin, sketch and others since their childhood.

According to Socrates, he encourages playing methods for a child and discipline methods for a teenagers. Study under pressure may leads to physical problem. Every parents should consider to find a suitable method for their children.


The certain world is complicated as people don’t care about education too much. Win at the starting point is more important for them as they can reach their goals in the college entrance exam.

However, this is not the Republic of Plato. Plato's philosophy of education aims at preparing learners for future life. The college entrance exam or a payable job will not be the only future life. The aim of education is to enable a person to acquire the knowledge of this cause of the causes, the absolute good. Education prepares a man for the vision of absolute reality. That is the reason that education right from the beginning is a preparation for the future.

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Plato's Philosophy of Education: Its Implication for Current Education. (2019, Jun 19). Retrieved February 29, 2024 , from

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