The Ancient Athenian philosopher Plato (427-438 BCE) wrote several works which have influenced political thought down to the present day. In two of these works in particular, the Republic (in Greek: Πολιτεία, Politeia) and the Laws (in Greek: Νόμοι, Nomoi) he offers opinions on the role of education within the state.
In the Republic, Plato’s character, Socrates (470-399BCE), who was also his mentor, states that a child belongs to the state and its education is the responsibility of the state. In the Laws, he puts forward the arguments that education must be compulsory for all, that state funds should pay for gymnasiums (schools), teachers and overseers in charge of both cultural and physical education. His goal for the education system in both texts is to inspire “a keen desire to become a perfect citizen who knows how to rule and be ruled” in turn.
Question: Do you think the goal of the state is to produce the perfect citizen through its programme of education?
Further Reading can be found at
- http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/civic-education/ (On Civic Education)
- http://www.enotes.com/topics/platos-republic/critical-essays/republic-politeia-plato (On Plato’s Republic)