Contributors to Education - Socrates

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Today we talk of education and practice it as well. But we shouldn't forget that there were people who devoted their time to giving a strong foundation to education. This article seeks to discuss a few of the educational contributors and the relevance of their thoughts and philosophies.

The history of educational thought began many centuries ago. As remote and archaic as that time was, the ideas of these great men of old have continued to influence our learning even in this present age. From that time on, other educational thinkers and philosophers have continued to add to the long chain of educational philosophers whose educational ideas will ever continue to be relevant in education.

There are many educational contributors but the earliest of them were Socrates, Plato, John Locke, John Dewey etc.

Socrates (470 - 339)

According to research, he was born about 470 BC in Athens and his major goal in life was to be a philosopher (teacher) of which he became. Socrates wasn't much of a writer but most of the things we know about him today are from the writings of his students - Plato and Xenophon.

About Socrates' major educational ideas, his teachings were largely on ethics or moral and it was aimed at solving the problems created in Athens then by the teachings of the Sophists. The Sophists who were the non-Athenian teachers taught that people come to know the truth by mere sense feeling/ impression. This teaching implies that knowledge is attained by perception. According to them, whatever seem to be right is right.

But Socrates' theory of knowledge opines that knowledge is derived through concepts and since reason is the source of concepts, it follows that reason is the source of knowledge. In essence, Socrates opinionated that since reason is a common quality of all men, people should no longer depend on what they "feel" in trying to come to the truth. Instead, people should depend on "reason" which is the closest source of all knowledge or truth.

Also, he taught that virtue is knowledge and that it can be taught. He believed that a man cannot act rightly unless he first knows what is right. Moral action is thus based on knowledge according to him. He went ahead to say that if a man possesses knowledge, he cannot do wrong because all wrong-doings spring from ignorance.

But, it is important to point out the weakness of this theory. Many people's actions are governed not by reason, but by emotions or feelings. People also deliberately do wrong even when they know what is right.

The next contribution by Socrates is his teaching on "remembering". He noted that we learn by remembering or recalling what we know already. Therefore, the duty of the teacher is to bring out such knowledge by making the learner to think through questioning. Hence, students should be taught to think for themselves.

Socrates made several other useful contributions to education. From the little discussed, we come to see that his philosophies have relevance and applications in our practice of education today. For example,today we say that character, moral training and the development of sound attitudes is the focus and objective of education. Similarly, our educational system encourages reasoning.

I strongly believe that these education contributors deserve to be remembered and emulated as their their teachings gave a strong foundation to education.


I am hearing about Xenophon for the first time. Thank you for the information :)

Glad you found the piece informative

Xenophon of Athens was a student of Socrates, a soldier and an historian. He was known for his writings.

Nice piece here buddy. No doubt, Socrates made much contribution to philosophy, which also has application in education.
Thanks for sharing

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