Aristotle on Educating Younglings
In my quest to uncover Philo of Alexander’s thought concerning the education of young people (my PhD Thesis topic), I found some interesting things in Aristotle’s Politics I thought I would share.
Aristotle thought the soul had two parts. The first was the irrational (αλογον) part. The second the rational (λογον) part. His idea was that the irrational part of the soul needed to be trained and tempered before the rational part could engage in the important work of philosophy. So, in his conceptual development of the ideal city, he prescribed the following things that should happen to the child in his/her different developmental stages. Overseeing all of this child development was an official of the city dubbed the Children’s Tutor (παιδονομοις). He was the CT of the City:)
Newborns to 5yrs old:
- Needed to keep moving so their limbs don’t twist up.
- It was a GOOD idea to expose them as much as they could handle to the elements (i.e giving them a cold bath in the river right after birth and leaving them uncovered when nursing). This served to toughen them up from the start and prepare them for life’s hardships. (Pol. 1336a. 20)
- Let them play BUT:
- Only games appropriate to their civil status. And it would be best if these games were designed to imitate their later life occupations. (1336a. 35-36) [I shudder to think what the playground rules for Castrate the Cow would be!]
- They were not to engage in compulsory labor because it would put undue strain on their fragile bodies. (1336a. 25) [Take that Industrial Revolution!]
- Tell tales and stories to them. But these must be approved of by the CT (1336a. 30)
- Go ahead and let them throw massive tantrums when they don’t get their way. This improves their lung capacity and makes them ready for a life of hard labor. (1336a. 35) [My kids get to take part in hard labor when they throw tantrums, a win for both parties!! Clean those dishes!]
- Don’t let them associate with slaves
- Don’t expose them to indecent talk or images. And while you are at it Mr. CT, give those that intentionally expose children to these kind of things a good beating! (1336b. 1-35)
Remember, all of these things we designed to create the ideal citizen who would then be an important part of the ideal city. The CT was a little bit of a teacher and a lot of a Moral Policeman. Can you imagine seeing an add for this positon on Monster.com?
What do you think?