In both The Republic and the Laws, Plato identifies education as one of the most important aspects of a healthy state. He lays out detailed education programs that start with exercises pregnant women should perform to ensure the health of the fetus, and he goes on to explain not only what children should study but also what values they should be exposed to and what kinds of art and physical exercise they should engage in. Plato apparently considered most of his fellow Athenians to be hopelessly corrupt, easily inflamed by hollow rhetoric, and seduced by easy pleasures.

One can achieve only so much by arguing with a corrupt soul that a virtuous life is better. Instead, Plato recognizes the need to teach children from a young age to live virtuous lives and to seek wisdom. Plato thinks that a child’s education is the last thing that should be left to chance or parental whim, since the young mind is so easily molded.

Popular pages: Selected Works of Plato