Study Guide

The Republic Education

By Plato

Education

"But how, exactly, will [the guardians of the city] be reared and educated by us?" (376c)

Socrates isn't only concerned with who will rule; he's also concerned with how those rulers will be educated. Socrates is implying that political ability is directly linked to a solid education.

"What is the education?... It is, of course, gymnastic for bodies and music for the soul." (376e)

Definitely not the most specific educational curriculum we've encountered, but it's a start. Socrates really does care about the mind-body connection.

"Do we watch [potential guardians] straight from childhood by setting them at tasks in which a man would most likely forget and be deceived out of such a conviction?" (413c)

Socrates is describing an unorthodox aspect of the guardians' education: not only do they have a set curriculum, but their experience in school is also a kind of test. If these "tasks" end up making a potential guardian betray his convictions, well, he's not guardian material, after all.

"However, it is fit to be sure about what we were saying a while ago, that [the guardians] must get the right education, whatever it is, if they're going to have what's most important for being tame with each other and those who are guarded by them." (416b-c)

Notice a pattern here? Socrates is making it very clear that the education of the guardians is extremely important. Here, he specifically links this to the issues of community and behavior, suggesting that solid schooling makes people play nicer with others.

"If by being well educated they become sensible men, they'll easily see to all this and everything else we are not leaving out..." (423e)

For Socrates, this is the best part about education: if it's done right, it takes care of so many other things, too. What do you think? Is that how education works?

"At least it's likely, Adeimantus... that the starting point of a man's education sets the course of what follows too." (425b)

For a philosopher, it's kind of impressive that Socrates isn't only interested in the big, abstract aspects of education—he's interested in early childhood, too. That's something that even modern educators today spend a lot of time thinking about. It just goes to show you that for Socrates, education is totally serious business. It has to start even when children are very young.

"If... we use women for the same things as the men, they must also be taught the same things." (451e)

Socrates is all about equal education for women: same expectations = same education. Too bad it took more than two millennia for most other people to figure this out, right?

"....they'll lead all the hardy children to...war, so that... they can see what they'll have to do in their craft when they are grown up." (466e-467a)

This aspect of education in the Republic seems pretty suspect... taking children to witness the violence of warfare does not seem like a great educational practice. Speaking of which, what's up with war in the Republic? Isn't it a little strange that Socrates never really questions it here? He questions everything else, after all.

"Well, then, I suppose that if the nature we set down for the philosopher chances on a suitable course of learning, it will necessarily grow and come to every kind of virtue; but if it isn't sown, planted, and nourished in what's suitable, it will come to all the opposite..." (492a)

Using some nifty agricultural imagery here, Socrates explains that education can really make all the difference between virtue and its opposite. The connection between education and agriculture is actually an old one: our words for "culture" and "cultivation" come from the same root.

"Well then, my comrade... [a future guardian] must go the longer way around and labor no less at study than at gymnastic, or else... he'll never come to the end of the greatest and most fitting study." (504d)

Reiterating his dedication to healthy minds in healthy bodies, Socrates wants to make it very clear that wisdom isn't only accomplished intellectually; it needs to be physical, too. Do you think of wisdom as having a physical component?

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