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Education of the Old Man: A Perspective

Education is an important sphere of social life. In the process of education pupils get knowledge and experience of other people. Without education it is hard to imagine normal functioning of an individual in the society. Plato, John Dewey and Rousseau lived in different times but each of them dedicated much time to the study of the concept of education.
In his famous work Republic Plato presents one of the most influential early accounts of education. His concept of education mainly based on the method of dialog. Since Plato was Socrates’ pupil his concept of education reflects Socrates’ method. In his Republic Plato makes an attempt to describe an ideal society. He describes its political and educational system in great detail. Plato believes that educators must care about their pupils. He believes that moral duty of educators is to put their pupils on the way of wisdom and true moral virtues. He believes that educators have responsibility for those they teach. Socratic method introduced by Plato assumes that both, teacher and his pupil know the limits of their knowledge. Plato strongly believes that “knowledge will not come from teaching but from questioning' (Plato 154). Plato states that educational requirements depend on the life stages of pupil development. Plato underlines the great role of exercise and discipline. He also describes speaking and games as important methods of education. Plato believes that children should enter school at the age of six. Firstly they learn to count, to write and to read. Later music and sports are added to the list of necessary disciplines. Plato’s educational system is developed for people till they turn 50 years old. When people turn eighteen they get to military and physical training. Higher education starts after 21 years old. People start leaning philosophy only after they turn 30 years old. Plato believes that younger minds will not be ready to perceive complicated philosophical categories. Along with this study people can serve in the army or dedicate themselves to civil service. Plato’s educational model presents life-long education. The society described by Plato is based on this model. He depicts a learning society, where education plays an extremely important role. Plato believes that society can grow and develop only if its members constantly study and develop as well.
Dewey in his experience and Education makes an attempt to combine ideas of traditional and progressive education taking the best from both approaches. First of all he proves that both systems taken separately can not provide good educational system. The main reasons of this he sees in the fact that none of the systems is based on the philosophy of experience. Dewey himself believes that philosophy of experience should become the main driving tool for educational system. He believes that all teachers and educators who want to perform successfully and bring use to the educational process should be concerned about the essence and ultimate goals of educational process. Dewey also believes that philosophy of education must be directed not on the labels but rather on use education can bring to students. Dewey describes a principle of continuity, which helps” to distinguish between experiences with educational value and those without; included in this principle of continuity is his definition of growth when and only when development in a particular line conduces to continuing growth does it answer to the criterion of education as growing” (Dewey 36). By these words Dewey underlines that educators should be aware that not all experience can be useful for pupils and the goal of educators is to distinguish experience which will bring only use to the students. An experience is the main point in Dewey’s educational theory and philosophy of education. He gives it a primary place in the educational system. That it the reason choosing the right experience becomes so important for creating a correct system of education. Dewey does not treat all experiences as equally educative and believes that teacher’s task should be to choose the best ones for his pupils. Connection between knowledge and experience is another important feature of Dewey’s educational concept. Dewey criticizes educational methods which present knowledge without a context where it can be applied. In this way knowledge does not become meaningful for students and this way does not satisfy to the main purpose of education. Dewey criticizes traditional education stating that: “was no demand that the teacher should become intimately acquainted with the conditions of the local community . . . in order to utilize them as educational resources” ( Dewey 40). Dewey wants everything taught to have direct practical meaning. He believes that only this way students will be able to learn successfully and will be able to apply knowledge achieved in the classroom. Dewey also underlines the importance of intellectual freedom. At this point he criticizes to certain extent the idea of progressive education, which sacrifices, to his mind, intellectual freedom to the physical freedom.
Educational concept of Rousseau is described in his famous work Emile or on Education. Five books describe the life and development of imaginary boy since birth till childhood. Rousseau uses this image in order to create a picture of “noble savage”, who lives in the city and perfectly performs in the society without loosing connection with nature. The main idea of Rousseau is not a directed teaching but rather creating a life situation where the child learns himself. For Rousseau creating learning situation where the pupil learns himself is the main root of education. Rousseau believes that meeting cruelties of life is an important part of education. He thinks that this way the child will become prepared for hardships of life. “People raised too delicately no longer find sleep elsewhere than on down; people accustomed to sleep on boards find it everywhere. There is no hard bed for him who falls asleep as soon as he lies down” (Rousseau 129). Rousseau wants Emile to live healthy and strong. He believes that closeness with nature will help the child to get such characteristics. “The only useful part of medicine is hygiene. And hygiene is itself less a science than a virtue. Temperance and work are the two true doctors of man. Work sharpens his appetite, and temperance prevents him from abusing it” (Rousseau 55). Nature according to Rousseau should be the first source of education. The best thing which a teacher can do for this purpose is not to interfere with the natural process of education but only direct his student to necessary realizations in necessary time. Things become the second source of education according to Rousseau. After man gets his knowledge of nature he can pass to the knowledge of things which surround him. Rousseau organises his talks with Emile in such a way that he can learn the way things are build. Rousseau stresses that man-made things should be carefully selected for study. Another important object of study is ethics and morals. He believes that morals should be taught to children. At the same time he also underlines that morals should not be taught in the form of preaching. Children can get moral rules and regulations if the see the way they work in life. “The only lesson of morality appropriate to childhood, and the most important for every age, is never to harm anyone. The very precept of doing good, if it is not subordinated to this one, is dangerous, false, and contradictory’ (Rousseau 104). Rousseau underlines that empathy is an important factor of education. He states that educators try to teach from their grown up positions. At the same time this way they often ignore child’s inner world and feelings. They create a big distance between students and themselves. Under such conditions successful education is not possible. “We never know how to put ourselves in the place of children; we do not enter into their ideas; we lend them ours, and, always following our own reasoning, with chains of truths we heap up only follies and error in their heads” (Rousseau 170). Ideas expressed by Rousseau became a very important step for the development of education. It gave new understanding to the goals of education.

Works Cited
Dewey, John Experience And Education, Free Press, 1997.

Plato, The Republic, trans. by H. P. D. Lee, London: Penguin 1955
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Emile Or On Education, Basic Books, 1975.

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