Thursday, February 01, 2007

inspiring words

From Daniel:

I am reading the seventh book of the Republic by Plato. I found a nice comment from Socrates that I thought all of you educators would find at least interesting if not, I hope, inspiring:
Socrates: "Now, all this study of reckoning and geometry and all the preliminary studies that are indispensable preparation for dialectic must be presented to them while still young, not in the form of compulsory instruction."
Glaucon: "Why so?"
Socrates: "Because, said I, a free soul ought not to pursue any study slavishly, for while bodily labors performed under constraint do not harm the body, nothing that is learned under compulsion stays with the mind."
Glaucon: "True," he said.
Socrates: "Do not, then, my friend, keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play. That will also better enable you to discern the natural capacities of each."
Glaucon: "There is reason in that," he said.

YOU THINK? Often I am tempted to mold or guide my children while forgetting that there is an essence, a budding life, that I must first nurture and acquaint myself with, before attempting to lead. Socrates words caught my attention for that ingenious combination of simplicity and profundity. How can you guide what you do not know? Where will you lead what you are ignorant of? As educators we must first create an environment of life where the child feels free to begin to become. Then we must attune our senses to the recognition of the many and varied ways a child can become in order to rightly nurture and care for the way they begin to grow. Once we have "discerned the natural capacities" we can begin to provide a curriculum or environment further suited to those capacities.

This is obviously a very idealistic picture which would be almost impossible to implement on a "mass" scale in our current educational system. But I think Socrates' words speak well of the type of "education" are children need. At this stage it is the educator who is being educated about the child in order to later provide the education the child will need.


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