A few weeks ago we talked about Morality in education using as a springboard the whole topic of homosexuality in the public school system. Core to the premise that the school is a proper place to teach right and wrong is the concept that the children belong to the state, not to the parents.
What’s strange is the parallels between this concept of “it takes a village” to raise children and Plato’s Republic. Two portions of Plato’s Republic I find scary (especially when you consider that Plato is thought to have lived between 427 and 347 BC).
Primary Education of the Guardians: Censorship of Literature
Plato begins to muse about educating the children of his new society. He states that in order to create the perfect society that they will have educate the mind and that they will need both fictitious and non-fictitious stories to do it:
It seems, then, that our first business will be to supervise the making of fables and legends, rejecting all which are unsatisfactory; and we shall induce nurses and mothers to tell their children only those which have approved.1
What’s interesting here in our discussion is the current trend that I see to erase some “incorrect things” in our current literature and replace it with “correct” things. It’s no longer “One little, two little, three little Indians…” and other such things. If the state were to be the only place for education, they would be free to be the only source of information, and could easily twist stories and truths to fit their purposes.
Some would even argue that the left-leaning colleges and high schools do just that– that they take and proclaim a message of liberalism and not a balanced presentation and are hoping to influence a generation this way.
The next segment is even more interesting.
Equality of Women
Many centuries before the women’s movement, Plato believed it to be a good thing for men and women to be equal. He stated that men and women should be trained equally for the role of Guardians with one difference from modern feminism: that the standard should be the same for a man and a woman:
We come round, then, to our former position, that there is nothing contrary to nature in giving our Guardians’ wives the same training for mind and body…
Now, for the purpose of producing a woman fit to be a Guardian, we shall not have one education for men and another for women, precisely because the nature to be taken in hand is the same.2
Once the distinctive features of womanhood are erased, it becomes easier to erase the concept of family…
Abolition of the Family For the Guardians
Here it is: a law which follows from that principle and all that has gone before, namely that, of these Guardians, no one man and one woman are to set up house together privately: wives are to be held in common by all; so too are the children, and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his parent.3
And what’s the advantage here? If children are taken away from parents, they are taken away from their parent’s ideals, morals, etc. and can be taught that of the state. They can look to the state as their source of morality, as the provider– and they can be molded into the perfect little citizens as long as they aren’t polluted by their parents.
Translate this to Today
If we look at today, we can see that this society that Plato desired really isn’t that far off from what we have in America today. Literature that is not approved is censored. Just take a look at how the Bible is treated in many classrooms around the country. And it’s not the only book. There are approved book lists for book reports, approved topics for papers, approved subjects for artwork.
The sexes continue to war about being equal. They’re encouraged by run away debt and class envy. They believe that it’s normal to have have a certain standard of living and they’re not above having two working parents to have every gadget they can possibly want.
And that leaves who or what to raise the children? If you think about the amount of time the average school aged child gets to see their parents if both work (by my rough calculations with a 10:00 pm bedtime they see their parents for five hours a day if not locked in their room) compared to the amount of time they are impacted by the state and their friends you can see why our society is the way that it is.
You can also see why people like Michael Farris get concerned about Parent’s Rights when looking at the state and its teaching. Homeschooling and Private Schooling provide different avenues for education, and allow for different thought.
- Ebenstein, William and Ebenstein, Alan O., Great Political Thinkers, Plato to the Present, Fifth Edition, p. 43
- Ibid, p. 64
- Ibid, p. 65