Global Studies 2A:Comparative Political and Religious Systems
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
VCS and Education
by: Rachel Smith
There are many different ways that schools go about education. Having been at VCS for 3 years now, I agree strongly with the way education is taught here. As Socrates explains in Book 3, to be sure of a good selection of “rulers” for this just society,the “guardians” had to go through many tests to
determine a loyalty to their utopia city. This is like all schools admissions process. Having gone to six different schools in my lifetime, I’ve seen the different questions and requirements that schools ask for. In the interviews you are asked questions about yourself, and they test you to see if you would be a good contributor to the community.
Socrates tells the fiction story of “the myth of the metals.” The myth persuades people to be loyal and patriotic. It claimed that the leader of the city must never be ruled by a “mix of metals” or the city will be ruined.This is like the principal or headmaster of the school. One who leads the
school must make sure that their school has guidelines and standards. If the headmaster doesn’t do its job of running the school, than the school will fail,
and the standards will not be met of a safe community.
The best education is when you are challenged to think about things you can build and relate to from your own knowledge base. When you work closely with others, you learn from yourself and you learn what others get out of it
too. Usually the answers you come up with as a group can be more at a higher level of thinking than you do individually. You also learn best when you are emotionally attached to a subject and can relate it to your own life.
I think VCS has a great education program. Having a close study environment with about 10 kids in a class really helps the atmosphere and attitude towards the work. The class structure and the purpose of the school speaks well in a clip from the web site on the curriculum. It quotes “The study of "place" affords the opportunity to discover and explore how one's environment,
community, and actions are interconnected with the rest of the world. In order to accomplish this goal, each discipline provides students with the opportunity to
develop the skills to describe, understand, analyze, communicate, and interact within their local and global communities. The classroom study in Science,Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Science, and Foreign Language allows
students to form the base for observation, inquiry, analysis, and communication.”
Vermont Commons School teachers care about their students. Having
experience in public school, most kids don’t even have the guts to speak up in
class or go to their teachers for help, because they are afraid and feel like
nobody cares. At Commons, everyone speaks up and everyone has a voice. It is
small, safe, and great education. As Socrates points out about the “guardians
training” he thinks that too much physical training will make them savage, but
focusing too much on music will make them soft. At Commons, we are giving the
chance to also express ourselfs through Research and Service projects,
Encounter Weeks, and community service. In other words, we work hard every day, with
much work, but we also have the time of day where we can still work hard but
be able to express it in a different sort of way, either hiking up a mountain
in Vermont, or helping out the community in our every day life.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
in response to your reflection paper i have to say that i do agree with you when you say that "education is what you want to make of it." But i have to ask you an honest question. Do you think this is our society's right approach at creating the best education, or should we enforce education upon our young? i ask you this because it feels like most people whether of higher or lower class take education and knowledge for granted. true there are people who value it, but if you look at the whole picture what is that percentage?
you were also speaking of censorship, and how Plato uses this as the key to his education. he says that with censorship he can mold the minds of the young any way he wants. do you think that this is right? giving them only one way to think? i personally can't say that it is wrong or right because in reality this "censorship" could and could not be effective. maybe we could use it in a way to enforce education, but at the same time wouldn't you agree that our education teaches us to think and explore on our own? john education shouldn't be just what we want to make of it. it also should help mold us into better people, better thinkers.
andy, i don't understand how u got a a number like 75%. I'm not saying that this is the only type of education either, all that i'm saying is that it is the type of education that will stick with u the longest and is usually they type of education that teaches u the more important guidlines for living.
Also, when i said that people should live an imperfect life, i meant that they shouldn't put all there focus on not making mistakes and trying to be perfect. im not saying that people should give up all of there values and do whatever the hell they want to (chaos, backstabbing, meddling, and murder).
Book III Reflection Paper
After reading the third book of The Republic, I was unsure if I was reading Plato’s masterpiece or a “Totalitarianism Guide for Dummies.” In numerous sections of the reading, one infers that Plato believes censorship and even propaganda were best for the state. While this is coherent with his belief that the good of the state overrides everything else, Plato does not see that censorship impedes upon education.
While discussing education, Socrates states that: “The beginning is the most important part of every work and that this is especially so with anything young and tender. For at that stage it’s most plastic, and each thing assimilates itself to the model whose stamp anyone wishes to give to it” (54, 377b). Socrates believes that the early years of a student’s life are the most important in the art of forming him into a successful man. He also articulates that at the early stages of life, the clay of a child’s thoughts are shaped most easily, and shall be by anything he comes in contact with. Due to the clay’s capability of rapid metamorphism, Socrates asks rhetorically: “Shall we so easily let the children hear just any tales fashioned by just anyone and take into their souls opinions for the most part opposite to those we’ll suppose they must have when they are grown up?” (54-55, 377 b). Socrates believes that censorship is best for the individual, which is in turn, for the betterment of the state.
By controlling which stories are told, Socrates is in essence controlling the propaganda. And by demanding that stories which are not in the best interest of the state be expunged, Socrates is partaking in censorship. This censorship of certain works of literature is displayed in the beginning of book III. Socrates argues that the seven quotes of Homer and other poems should not be used to educate. He argues: “It’s not that they
are not poetic and sweet for the many to hear, but the more poetic they are, the less they should be heard by boys and men who must be free and accustomed to fearing slavery more than death” (64, 387 b). Socrates is fearful that the poems might inspire the student to be afraid of death, and not be brave in battle. He therefore does not want the guardians to be educated using these poems. Socrates is impeding upon a student’s education by not giving him all the possible resources to help understand an issue such as death.
Vermont Commons offers the best education possible. Earlier in the school year, professor Rob Skiff advised his students: “Not to think what Plato thinks, but to think how Plato thinks.” In the Republic, Socrates educated the guardians so that they believed certain things. At Vermont Commons, we are supplied with materials that evaluate life by looking at it in different perspectives, thus letting the students create their own set of ideals. For example, consider Socrate’s previously mentioned intention to censor any writing which looked badly upon death, only offering one way for his students to look at the subject. Vermont Commons offers many ways for the students to consider the afterlife by educating them in Judaic, Christain, Hindu, and Islamic philosophies. Instead of stating to the students which philosophy to believe in, the school lets the students investigate into the way the philosophers thought.
The lyrics of “Another Brick in the Wall (part II)” display Pink Floyd’s opinion of education: “We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control [. . .] Teachers, leave those kids alone. Hey, Teacher, leave those kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.” Pink Floyd accuses teachers of partaking in mind control, similar to Socrate’s methods of educating. It can also be inferred that Pink Floyd considers this form of education, or brain washing, just another brick in the wall separating a student from the ultimate truth of life.
Concerning Mr. Bennett's piece: I think you need to look at the bigger picture here, you make several good points concerning the concept of, "learn from your mistakes," but you obviously need to take some more time to actually think about what you are saying. Many people who attend public schools learn through this, "learn from your mistakes," and it seems for about a good 75% of the population this, "method," is not working. You seem to believe that school is only an aspect of one's life to acquire life long lessons and maybe pick up an education as a sidedish, but you do realize that schools are designed to help you what you were talking about but as a more important focus, teaching a general education which touches on various subjects to create diversity. You say that the best way to obtain a quality education is to live an imperfect life, this does not impose morals and values which are shared by a community. If every lived by these rules, there would be a dramatic increase in chaos, backstabbing, meddling, and murder. It is almost like puting humans in an evolved natural state into groups, and just have them fight things out without any structure or logical bases. What you have created is a society without a purpose or system of any sort, its just a bunch of dudes chill'n and only being concerned with what affects themselves to better their situation in life. You're society is greedy, do you approve of this o' wise sam?
What is the perfect education?
Education is what you want to make of it. For certain people, everything is handed to them on a platter, and they take their fortunes for granted. Others do the exact opposite, start from nothing and earn themselves into everything they possess. People should take more advantage of the education that is offered to them, no matter where it is.
Plato talks about molding the minds of the youth; censorship is key in this philosophy. The theory is that you can train the younger kids to what you want them to be. If you want your child to be very aggressive and violent, sit him/her down and let him/her watch The Scream Trilogy. The whole idea of these, “ thoughts” popping into their heads I don’t buy. Thirteen year old girls aren’t wearing belly shirts because that thought just popped into their head. They saw some idol of there wearing it, and they want to be just like them. The idea of, “ Do not try this at home,” and a huge concept when is comes to TV shows. If you don’t want the viewers to re-enact what is happening, why would you show it in the first place?
"No serious friendship should give even the appearance of going beyond that, to avoid reproaches of lack of education and taste." (403C) Plato talks about with education should come no distraction. Basically, what he is trying to say is not let yourself fall in love because it will upset your internal balances. You are supposed to stay clear minded, and stay strictly focused on learning.
The Vermont Commons School offers you the best education in Vermont. It is your choice though, whether you take advantage of it. There are kids that come to this school that are forced to, or just don’t want to be here. Therefore, they won’t want to learn. Education is what you want to make of it, and this school tries its hardest to teach you what you need.
What is the best kind of education? In order to figure out what the best kind of education is you’d have to figure out what the point of education is. According to most people the point of educating kids is to prepare them for their future in society. Plato definitely sees this as the sole purpose of education. He has a very long discussion about the education of the guardians. Everything that the guardians learn has to directly influence the way the guardians are supposed to act and anything that contradicts that has to be left out so that they never even hear of it. “About the gods then, it seems there are things hat should and should not be heard, from childhood on, by men who would honor gods and ancestors and not take lightly their friendship with each other.” (386) This is because the gods have faults too, and there are many stories about them that emphasize these faults. The guardians can’t hear these stories because it doesn’t show them how to act and it will promote different characteristics in them that are not what Socrates wants.
Also he puts down other people and makes the guardians look at them like they are stupid, so that the guardians won’t do things that these kinds of people would do. “We won’t allow those…who must themselves become good men to imitate women.” (395e) “Nor must they in any event imitate slaves, women or men who are doing slavish things.” (395e). Socrates whole view on education is that they must only see and hear things that will give them the kind of personality they need for their profession.
I do not agree with Plato. The best kind of education is not the kind that perfectly prepares you for your job, later in life. Firstly that makes it so that all of the guardians are going to act the same way. They’ll think the same way and always make the same decisions the other ones would probably make. If everyone in the same profession pretty much thinks the same way they are going to make the same mistakes over and over again. In that kind of system there is no room for innovation. To a certain extant it is certainly good to be trained in a way that helps you to excel in your chosen profession, but if you start when you are very young you are never going to get a chance to think on your own. The system Socrates talks about sort of reminds me of communist Russia in that if a young child showed an aptitude for something they would often be pulled away from their family and learn only that. This doesn’t present any diversity in a society just armies of people who are exactly trained for whatever their profession is supposed to be.
Over the summer I read a book called, My Ishmael, one of the chapters in this book was titled school daze and it is about what the real point of schools in America is. It explained why schools don’t teach things that are going to help us in or professions later in life. Since this kind of education obviously isn’t the best kind, because all it does is pelt information at kids that they are never going to need or even remember later in life. The book proposed a new system of education. That is to let kids explore on their own. Obviously young kids learn a lot about the world before they go to school by exploring a lot on their own. If society let kids continue exploring or learning on their own, they would most likely latch on to something they like to do and learn all about it because they want. When they got older they would probably chose a profession in that area and excel because they enjoyed it. Wouldn’t they be better at their job because they had learned as much as possible about it and they enjoyed it.
Of course there is a flaw in that that some jobs people would never want to do and would never learn about willingly. There will also be kids that really have no motivation to learn about any particular subject. That is where school comes in. It makes it so that all kids have to learn basic knowledge. Kids that don’t really care about a particular subject would paired up to the kind of jobs that aren’t terribly interesting, and they have the education to do well in these jobs. I would say that the best kind of education is a mixture between school and exploring on your own, and to a certain extent VCS does provide, because students her get to explore particular topics that interest them, while learning the basic stuff that everyone is expected to know. Students at VCS who feel passionate about something have the chance to learn more about it and that prepares them to work in that are later, kids who don’t are given all the information the need to be able to choose what they want to do later and excel in it. Not having to learn only certain information that directly relates to their career is not the best kind of education. Being able to explore, find something that you want to do, and then learn information to do well in whatever you chose, is.
Global Studies 2A
The best kind of education isn’t directly provided by VCS. It isn’t in the material that we learn, it’s the life lessons that we gradually attain through personal experiences. When we make mistakes, we usually learn something from them. Thoughs things are what helps us throughout our whole lives, and not just through a small span of time.
VCS helps us indirectly like all schools. There perpous isn’t to teach them, but they happen anywise. Since know one is perfect, there is always something to learn. The best way to get the best kind of education is to make mistakes, and learn from them. If you do nothing bad, will go through your whole life blind to certain valuable knowledge that you can’t read about in a book.
It is imposable to say that any one thing can provide this education. Just living an imperfect life is the only way to do it, and everything in your life collaborates to teach this. VCS could be just one component to it.
If you have a bad experience with something, or you make a big mistake, you will remember it for the rest of your life (hopefully). This experience could very well be far more important then years at school. When I’m fifty, I know that I’m not going to remember what a coordinating conjunction is. I needed it for about half a year. Most of the information like that will be forgotten over time. But if I learned about the dangers of fire, because I burned down my house, I’m going to remember it. That would be imbedded into my head. And when I looked back at that time of my life, I’m not going to see how to best structure a paragraph. I’m going to see the ashes of my old house, with all of my families most prized, and uninsured possessions.
“Then we must assume a control over the narrators of this class of tales as well as over the others, and beg them not simply to but rather to commend the world below, intimating to them that their descriptions are untrue, and will do harm to our future warriors.” (The Republic of Plato, By Plato, book 3) I disagree with this quote from Plato. If you restrict all chances for curiosity, then there is know way that the you can learn this type of education. By restricting all of this information, than there is know way that anyone could formulate there own opinion. There would just be a bunch of clones of one person, or more specifically there ideas. How could you have the best warriors if you didn’t have them learning the best type of education.
Monday, September 08, 2003
Plato Reflection Paper: “What is the perfect education? Does VCS provide it?”
What is the perfect education? According to Plato, through Socrates, the perfect education is based around totalitarianism. Through the dialect in Plato’s third book, the message delivered deals with the methodology of propaganda and all that goes with it. Plato elaborates time after time through careful examples dealing with the specifics of propaganda their purposes versus their reality to existence.
Socrates speaks of techniques concerning the meddling of what the population, youngsters, elders and everyone in between, can and cannot hear or experience through the arts of music, story telling, poetics, etc. Socrates can be quoted,
“Just leave that mode which would appropriately imitate the sounds and accents of a man who is courageous in warlike deeds and every violent work… leave another mode for a man who performs a peaceful deed, one that is not violent but voluntary…” (399, a) This quote shows evidence of his intensions in using music as propaganda in order to accentuate certain qualities in the individual. Through these examples, a number of tests are run in order to ensure the validity of their conclusions. These tests are aimed to guarantee the themes of courage, flawless core to one’s soul, justice, peaceful deeds, and moderation. Likewise, the stories and examples commonly condemn all types of drunkenness, softness, and idleness. Socrates uses all these conclusions to shape the perfect society and guardians who will keep it in tact. Morals and the essentials are decided and agreed upon, and they are represented through virtually everything in the society, from philosophy, interactions with others, to the specifics concerning which melodies and rhymes will be acceptable for the population to endure.
In opposition to Socrates’ model of a Utopian society, the reality of the current world we live in has minimal resemblance to that of the one modeled by Socrates. Although many of the same morals and beliefs of this Utopian society are advocated in modern reality, but they hardly enforced to the degree of Socrates’ model. Rather, minimal propaganda is put in place merely for the encouragement of order, morals, and themes of courage and such are put in place to guide peoples into what a collective belief agrees upon as the right path for the general individual to begin exploring. Unlike the totalitarian setup of the modeled society, reality in the local community, concerning the Vermont Commons School, general laws decided by the democracy of the peoples, make outlines as to the information a student needs to obtain to be successful. Unlike the laws of the Utopian society, reality allows individual schools to accommodate their own teaching styles or methods to anything or anyhow they wish; as long as the student is able to pass a national standard test which certifies them for college, where new doors will be opened for them.
The perfect education, obviously the methodology expressed by both Socrates and Glaucon cannot be of any use to the realities of the modern society. This is so because, in order to accomplish the mutual feats of both the model and reality, if one were to utilize specifically the modeled techniques of intense propaganda because it would be imperative that the peoples of the society be subjected to a skewed reality as youngsters. The city must first be stripped of all age, and replaced with youth in order to obtain any effect. If this stage were to be skipped, chronicles and stories and knowledge of history would be passed down through generations and the city’s purification process would seize to exist. So plainly, these methods could and will not be put in place because the conditions are not and cannot be present.
Under the conditions that are present in today’s society, there is almost an unlimited amount of freedoms in the ways of teaching education. In the public schools there comes a rubric of education, every student encounters the same challenges in the same way; and the techniques to teach them are all the same, designed for the average student. As an average per capita, students are able to excel under these conditions, but for most students they slip by with minimal effort, care, and enthusiasm. For the average student, the potential for excellence is lost in a dark room absent of a key, but this potential can be discovered through methods used in some private schools. To generalize, if everyone were to attend private schools; wouldn’t those simply turn into present day public schools? Not necessarily, they could use private school techniques or there could be an increase in schools, resulting in an increase in faculty. To grasp the idea of, “private school techniques,” one refers to specialists in human understanding, people learn differently and the teacher needs to accommodate for that.
Ideally, the teacher and student can obtain maximum performance through strong student-teacher relationships, fluctuation in teaching styles, and a low student to teacher ratio creating a more frequent one-on-one friendly atmosphere. Besides this, the school or class as a whole should further their bond with each other through non-educational activities and settings of the, “norm,” according to the student and teacher. In some cases students feel left out or discriminated in a way because their learning styles and backgrounds do not comply with those of the public schools. Through this discrimination it can be noted that tension and frustration builds between the student-teacher relationships, so it becomes a more of an, “us, and them,” based community; “us,” being the children, and, “them,” being the faculty. In Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” Album, such things are expressed. Through the song, “Another Brick In The Wall,” such lines can be quoted,
“…We don’t need no education,
We don’t need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teacher leave the kids alone…
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall…” (Pink Floyd, “Another Brick In The Wall)
This is a superb example of children feeling controlled through attempting the methods of Plato in the public schools, hence, “We don’t need no thought control,” meaning that they can think for themselves provided guidance, brain washing.
These students are not receiving the individualized education they need to perform to their full potential in life. The student and teacher should feel a degree of comradeship to one another in order for them to trust each other and take risks in the classroom.
Through these bonds and friendships, both students and teachers alike will carry these values home with them and they will reflect through their everyday practices, thus improving the state of the society. Peoples all around should be taught to value the same morals in order to obtain a common within a group of people.
So ultimately this is the ideal education which one could offer a population, for a perfect education does not exist. There is no perfect education for if there was one, it would have to be specifically designed to fit a specific individual but this is not possible. Nearing this goal, it can be resolved by increasing the number of schools and their teaching styles. By doing this, the individual can pick a school which best fits him or her so that they can explore their individuality with more freedom because their path has somewhat narrowed in their favor.
The Vermont Commons School (commonly known as ‘VCS’) has done a wonderful job in creating an environment for education, and the love of it to flourish. This prosperous atmosphere best fits the enthusiastic individual who enjoys learning and being active in it and in the community. The Vermont Commons School achieves these goals through creating a community involve the pre-discussed strong student-teacher relationships. This can be obtained through everyday school life, after school activities, or through encounter weeks. Once the comforts of camaraderie are set, the individual is allowed to then proceed in finding and identifying themselves through experiences and interactions with the atmosphere around them.
In conclusion, there is not a perfect education, for it is seen through the modeled society and through the reality of the world that there are different values and morals within a population for a reality put aside an idealization. One can customize the ideal education for a specific society and make a conscious effort to turn that into a reality, but even at that, one has to further narrow the focus to a group of individuals with a common learning style. So multiple schools can be formed to contain all of these different learning styles.
What is the best kind of education? Does VCS provide it?
The best education, I think can be defined as an education that you can learn the most out of your time. Itâ€™s defined as, â€œThe action or process of educating or of being educatedâ€�(Merriam-Webster). I donâ€™t think that VCS is providing, the best possible education that is in theory accessible, according to Plato or myself.
The best kind of education is where you are in a learning environment everyday. Itâ€™s where all you do is eat, sleep, and learn. Itâ€™s where you have every bit of knowledge at your fingertips. Itâ€™s where there are no distractions to learning. We obviously donâ€™t know the ultimate truth about the best kind of education, but we can all come to a universal agreement. We can try to define what is more important to know and what isnâ€™t, we can try to figure out what subjects are better to know, and what bits of information are better to know, but we never really know, we donâ€™t know the ultimate truth. We can prevent people from thinking about these questions, and do as Plato does and censor anything that can harm the best education, and make people think that there kind of education is the best. Plato uses an analogy to prove his point very clearly, â€œâ€™Do you suppose anyone who believes Hadesâ€™ domain exists and is full of terror will be fearless in the face of death and choose death in battles above defeat and slavery?â€�â€™(The Republic, 386 b) This is talking about censorship, about making people think only one thing, which hopefully makes them the â€œstrongest.â€� Which, come to think of it is so true in my life, people always say, â€œhell is a hot place where all you do is work for the rest of eternityâ€�, so just as Plato said I would rather become a prisoner and a slave then murder somebody, and go to this horrific place. You can try to limit what people know, and make them think otherwise, as shown with the hell thing, and succeed, but this isnâ€™t the ultimate truth. Perhaps the ultimate truth is what the individual thinks is right, and the ultimate truth is able to change through other influences, or perhaps thereâ€™s just this one truth, but we donâ€™t even know if there is an ultimate truth, so the ultimate truth could be anything and anywhere. Perhaps the ultimate truth is in a fortune cookie, or in one of those National Geographic magazines under the Ping-Pong table.
In order for VCS to get this perfect kind of education, they would have to be extremely harsh, and ensure that no one distracts or hinders any one else from learning. As Plato says, â€œif he catches anyone else in the city lying, heâ€™ll punish himâ€� (The Republic, 389 d). There must be harsh punishments to prevent things like lying to happen in the future. In order for this to work everyone would have to agree that there shouldnâ€™t be any distractions, also everyone would have to agree on everything that is said with no doubts. This makes it quite hard for VCS because everyone comes from different learning environments, and perhaps from different cultures altogether. Also VCS doesnâ€™t censor any information, or at least Rob doesnâ€™t, I think Rob is trying to give us our best possible shot of finding the ultimate truth, and letting us choose our own ultimate truth. Plato disagrees with this little piece though, â€œâ€™And what if they are to be courageous? Mustnâ€™t they also be told things that will make them fear death least? Or do you believe that anyone who has terror in him would ever become courageous?â€™â€� (The Republic, 386 a) This doesnâ€™t have anything to do with education, but you can apply the same thought process to education. If you donâ€™t want people to think different or question what you say, then only let them know one thing, this way, how could it be possible for them to think differently? They would be convinced that this is the ultimate truth. Just like the death quote above, if you donâ€™t let your men know much about death, or only tell them good things, like youâ€™ll come back as something better then they will be â€œcourageous.â€� Also this is the United States where you have â€œfreedom,â€� so even though you could get a better education if the teachers where in charge, it doesnâ€™t matter because the people are in charge. If the people say they need two breaks everyday, they get two breaks, if the people say they only should go to school five days a week then thatâ€™s what happens, if people say that they only have to go to school six hours a day then this is the case. If the people say that they only have to go to school 175 days a year, then this is done. So no matter how much the teachers do or donâ€™t want to give the best kind of education to their students, they have constraints with which they have to work with.
Only in a â€œperfectâ€� society could you give the best kind of education. Otherwise for example with VCS, the teachers have to compromise with the parents of the society, the studentâ€™s emotions, the studentâ€™s fun life, and social life, the environment, and many more things to further degrade the best kind of education.
Online Dictionary copyright Â© 2002 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
The Republic, by Plato
For my own conscience: Thereâ€™s no such thing as the best kind of education, you can agree on how to measure whose getting the best education but you never know if thatâ€™s the ultimate truth. Your always learning something, whether itâ€™s important or not, your always learning something, how can you top that, how can you learn more then always learning something? Also it would take a lifetime or more to satisfactory answer this question correctly.
So quick and so fast.
There is not one specific way, or rather perfect way to teach a whole. Instead, every different society has their own “thought process,” and each form of education serves its purpose for that individual community. Whether the education is provided for the youth themselves or for the states vocational purposes, neither form is considered wrong. Except we cannot say that either one is right because there is no such thing as a perfect education. Each form of instruction is designed specifically for the way the society desires their populace to be. In some instances, we could say that there never will be one uniform way to teach our youth because everyone has their own motives for how life should be structured.
In the Republic, Plato’s education is based around “preordained vocational.” In other words, the education of a destine artisan. Right from childhood one is trained, or taught if you will, in their destined job, or rather “art specialty.” Plato’s education is structured in this form for the purpose of eliminating “Pleonexia: it goes on wanting more and more.” (Waterfield, Plato Republic). More specifically, in Plato’s version of Utopia every man is taught one specific skill, and no other. One can only be a farmer, but not a cobbler at the same time. This is done to eliminate greed and immoral behavior. When Plato forms this perfect Republic he is doing so in a time of destruction. A time of war and greed. In the republic there was corruption in the government, which inflicted immoral acts. “Immoral behavior brings one into conflict with others, and so is disruptive of external unity; and immoral behavior is an external manifestation of internal disunity.” (Waterfield, Plato Republic). In this quote it is said that immoral actions bring one into many conflicts with others. Plato realizes this error of immoral actions and decides that if he were to create his own Utopia, he would teach the young in a restricted manner so when they become of age there would be no questions asked. An example of a society who educate their young in this similar method are the Hassidim; a sect of orthodox Jews. The Hassidim believe in restricting their youth from reading, or seeing, anything but the Bible or the Torah. By instructing their children in this way they will not be influenced by the media or any other outside “force.” This is how Plato wants to teach his people.
In Plato’s Utopia, he divides the citizens into three groups. The rulers, which are a sect of the guardians, but are considered having higher recognition, the auxiliaries, and the farmers and other craftsmen. By dividing the populace in to different sections Plato is able to give the youth their predestination according to the specific skills they must have in order to be educated in their future “arts.” Plato’s ability to control the destiny of the people enables him to control what they comprehend. He makes a great analogy describing the way in which he chooses who belongs where, and when. “ ‘But the god, in fashioning those of you who are competent to rule, mixed gold in at their birth; this is why they are more honored; in auxiliaries, silver and iron and bronze in the farmers and the other craftsmen” (415 b). He uses metals as a way of separating the youth, but when doing so he is sure to inform them they are all “brothers,” especially the guardians. “If anyone attacks, and they must think of the other citizens as brothers…” (414 d). This quote conveys a message, or a lesson, to the guardians. It tells them in times of attack not only to protect their state, but also their fellow citizens, their “brothers.” By delivering a statement such as this, Plato is structuring the guardians’ education in a specific way so that they know who to act upon, and who to protect.
Plato decides the most efficient way to provide a proper education for the cities’ guardians, one where they will value their virtues and not intemperance, is by having an equal balance, or “harmonized” mixture, of music and gymnastics. When discussing music, Plato is very specific in what the youth can and cannot hear, but also how it is and is not related to them. For instance, Plato introduces another way in which stories are told to the youth, which is by imitation. He questions whether or not this is a beneficial way to narrate a story. Considering the fact that when in childhood, one cannot tell the difference between good and evil. Meaning a child might believe that the so-called “bad-man” is the better, therefore the child reacts the injustice mannerisms. This is exactly what Plato does not want to happen. That is why he alters the way in which imitators act. “When the sensible man comes in his narrative to some speech or deed of a good man, he will be willing to report it as though he himself were that man and won’t be ashamed of such and imitation.” (396 c). If an actor imitates a good deed or man, then the young will follow the same, but that’s only to say if the imitator does not act in the opposite. Plato realizes this and also say’s, “as for the man who’s not of this sort, the more common he is, the more he’ll narrate everything and think nothing unworthy of himself.”(397 a). By declaring this rule, the young will not think of imitating the injustice, but rather the justice. Plato’s education for the young is deliberately made in a way to value only morals and virtues, and to dispose of the intemperance.
A society in the modern world who’s structured education is similar to that of Plato’s, is the Asian’s. Their education is focused more on the sciences, mathematics, and engineering rather then studies of literature. Like Plato, Asian’s direct their studies in this direction to focus on one goal. The expansion of their industry of technology. Asian’s societies such as China have progressed with this ideal, which will eventually make them more superior than other societies in the world. In schools, starting from a young age, they teach physics as part of a regular curriculum, and not an elective. “At lower levels physics is taught as part of general science, integrated science, or environmental science.” (Trends and issues in physics education, www.iop.org). Besides physics, other predominate sciences include computer sciences. “ A sizable number of graduates ranching out to other areas, e.g. computer science.” (www.iop.org). As Asians succeed in more sciences, so will their goal of being the leader of technical industries.
Our education system is designed to maximize our horizons in order for us to direct our own future. In Vermont Commons School, we are taught to think for ourselves and on our own rather than have our destiny handed to us. Our education provides us with guidance. Where as Plato’s does not. Instead, a path is already planned out for the youth’s future. Plato’s goal in his education is also not to have his youth to conceive on their own, risking a fault in his Utopia. We at VCS are taught in a way that lets us act as an individual rather than a “group.” With this knowledge that has been given to us we are able to make our own decisions in life. The choice is ours, and only ours as individuals to make.
These forms of education cannot be considered wrong or right because they are productive in each of these societies. Whether or not they fit the needs of other societies such as Plato’s form of education, in our society of VCS, is another question all together. The main goal of these systems of discipline is to fit the needs of its own society. They must serve a purpose. In these instances, the educations do serve a purpose, but only to their own societies. Is there one perfect form of education? That is a question that might never be answered.
Sunday, September 07, 2003
What is the best kind of education? The best kind of education really depends on the individual being educated and on their outlook on the world.
In my opinion, the best education is the kind that challenges you mentally and physically. The Vermont Commons School provides this type of education. A VCS education does challenge you physically and mentally. The amount of work that I do challenges me physically. I am challenged mentally in all my work particularly when I am asked to think on my feet in class. It is important to receive this type of education when you are young to prepare for college, career, and life beyond. As you get older and become more mature, you are required to think more and more on your feet about complex and challenging issues. Plato believed that the same type of challenging education was important.
It is Socrates and Glaucon that explain the best type of education. They explain in lines (411e through 412a) that the best kind of education is a mix between philosophy, and music and gymnastic. In other word’s philosophy and physical training. Socrates explains that, “god gave two arts to human beings for these two things, as it seems- music and gymnastic for the spirited and the philosophic- not for soul and body, except incidentally, but rather for these two. He did so in order that they might be harmonized with one another by being tuned to the proper degree of tension and relaxation.”(411e-412a) he then goes on to say on line (412a) “wont we also always need some such man as overseer in the city, Glaucon, if the regime is going to be saved.” Thereafter they both agree that their Guardians in the city must be balanced between physical training, and philosophy in order for the guardians to work. On line (412c) Socrates and Glaucon both agree that the guardians must be older rather then younger. This is important because according to them the older are bound to be the wisest.
In conclusion, I would say that the Vermont Commons School provides the best education, because of the balance between physical training, and philosophy. With this type of education, I could develop the mind to help me travel through life.