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.
Dewey, John Experience And Education, Free Press, 1997.
Plato, The Republic, trans. by H. P. D. Lee, London: Penguin
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Emile Or On Education, Basic Books,