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A Comparison of Classic and Contemporary Philosophers

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A Comparison of Classic And Contemporary Philosophers

Why is it so important that young children in our society receive a good education? The answer to that question is very simple; because they are our future. The old saying "the youth of today are the leaders off tomorrow" holds more truth than many people realize. By giving children a good start at an early age we are only helping ourselves as well as the children. A good example of this is can be seen in our society. By the time a teacher in our society retires from his or her position their students will have made it out into the real world and taken jobs. This new generation will be the ones to make the decisions about laws such as Social Security, and Medicaid. The students will be able to turn these programs around and make them more beneficial to their recipients. These teachers who are now retired will be the ones who are collecting Social Security and reaping the benefits of the children's solid education. The idea of educating the youth is not even close to a new idea. Philosophers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau in the seventeen hundreds and even farther back than that to the time of Plato in three hundred eighty six B.C. and after. Both of these great men shared similar ideas on how children should be taught so that they can get the most out of their education. Though educational philosophy dates back thousands of years, there are still many great thinkers who are revolutionizing teaching with their philosophies today. In the later part of the twentieth century there was also Paulo Friere who is considered by some to be the greatest thinker of his time and also Maxine Greene who has also greatly changed education in today's society. Thanks to these great minds along with many others, modern day education was revolutionized. Many of the teaching techniques and ideals that are practiced in the classroom today originated from these philosophers. These four philosophers though from two very different time periods had some very similar ideas about education.

Jean Jacques Rousseau said that children are born innocent and pure, and become contaminated by the world, as they grow older. "Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Maker of the world but degenerates once it gets into the hands of man". (Cahn 163) This quote shows that Rousseau saw the world as an imperfect place that corrupted the youth. It was Rousseau's thinking that it is imperative to teach children what they need at an early age before they become corrupted. He said that children are like plants; they need to be nourished and for them to flourish and thrive. " Plants are fashioned by cultivation, men by education". (Cahn 163) The idea behind this is that children are given a good foundation from which to start and then there is nothing left that we can do. Rousseau said that aside from a human teacher people are also taught by nature and by things. " The internal development of our faculties and organs is the education of nature". (Cahn 163) He said that nature can teach us through internal growth and development and things teach through how they affect us. Something else that Rousseau strongly believed in was that the development of a child couldn't be rushed in the slightest. He said "let them be children when they are children, playing games and the like." Trying to force things on children would be bad for their development. Rousseau said that children should be left alone so that they can become more self-reliant, the more that they can achieve on their own the less they will have to come to others for help with. This is important because it will promote children to keep on educating themselves once they are out of school. If children or young adults rely on themselves they will go out and figure things out on their own instead of coming back to someone else for help. One other theory that Rousseau had was to let children learn from experience. He said to avoid verbal lessons if possible and let children follow what they feel is natural.

One other classic philosopher whose teachings are still used in modern day classrooms was Plato. Plato's views on education were centered around an idea of a perfect society and ideal citizens. Plato felt that children have an innate desire to learn. He said that people naturally want to find things out and discover things in the world. "The power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being..." (Educational Philosophy 1) Plato also felt that it was very important to teach mathematics to his students. He said that mathematics were the best way to train a person mind. "Let no one unversed in geometry enter here." (Plato 1) This quote was written above the entrance to Plato's school called the Academy. This shows how strongly Plato felt about math being incorporated into education. Virtue was also extremely important to Plato's way of educating his students. He felt that virtue must be instilled at a very early age so that students will not wander around but instead act upon their virtue and dedicate themselves to learning. Throughout Plato's Meno Socrates and Meno discuss the meaning of virtue and whether it can or cannot be taught. They come up with several definitions for virtue; each propose by Meno and rejected by Socrates. "For I shall esteem myself truly fortunate if I find that I have been mistaken, and that you and Gorgias do really have this knowledge, when I have been just saying that I have never met anybody who had." (Cahn 5)

On the other hand, there are more contemporary philosophers who also have very interesting views on education. One of those being Paulo Friere whose views has greatly changed modern pedagogy. One of the main points that Friere makes in his philosophy is that of the student teacher relationship. Friere says that it is imperative for students and their teachers to develop a dialogue in the classroom. It is Paulo Friere's thinking that students and their teachers must communicate with each other. He says that teachers must never just talk at their students. He says that it must be a give and take situation where the students are given information that makes them think about things and makes their mind work. "Through dialogue, the teacher-of-students and the students-of-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student with student-teachers." (Cahn 466) This shows how Friere thinks that the student teacher relationship

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