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Most Important World Famous Educationists Theology Religion Essay

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Plato and Rousseau are the most important world famous educationists who have contributed much to the advancement of human civilization. Present education system of the world stands on both the above thinkers.

Plato’s educational philosophy was grounded in his famous work ‘The Republic’, ‘The Laws’ wherein the individual was best served by being subordinated to a just society. Rousseau wrote in his book ‘Emile’, ‘Discourse of Political Economy’, ‘The New Heloise’ and ‘Considerations on the Government of Poland’.

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In keeping in mind the philosophies, ideas of Plato and Rousseau on education theory discussed above, this study focuses on the similarities and dissimilarities between these two philosophers share in regard of philosophy of education. It also aims at finding out the influences among the education theories of Plato and Rousseau have on contemporary and succeeding generations. All over the world in general, and at measuring the influences reflected in planning and designing the national education policy in Bangladesh in particular.

1.2 Rationale of the Study

This research is mainly for gathering knowledge. Every movement or social situation has a chronology. Without understanding this chronology, it is difficult to understand the current situation of that movement. Plato and Rousseau’s Education theories contributed much to the salvation of their country men which is really praiseworthy. Their theoretical and practical efforts helped to break the long standing superstitions, blind faith and absurd ideas. This study will be a matter of great teaching for the present and succeeding generations that will fulfill the knowledge gap existing in this area. Their realistic and utilitarian views on education certainly will play an effective role in preparing modern citizens fit for modern world. The investigated information drawn from the comparative study on the education theory of Plato and Rousseau in planning and designing can be used in the formulation of national education policy of our country.

1.3 General Objective of the Study

The general objective of the study is to –

Analyze a comparative study on the educational theory of Plato and Rousseau.

1.4 Specific Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of the study are to –

Assess, evaluate and compare the philosophy of education developed by Plato and Rousseau.

Find out the influence of their philosophy of education on contemporary and succeeding generations.

Assess the role of Philosophy of Plato and Rousseau in planning and designing the national education policy in our country.

1.5 Research Questions of the Study

What did Plato and Rousseau mean by philosophy of education?

What roles did Plato and Rousseau play to the development of the philosophy of education?

What influences did the philosophies of education of Plato and Rousseau have on the contemporary philosophers and thinkers?

What are the results to be drawn from the comparative study between the philosophies of education of Plato and Rousseau?

What roles of philosophy of Plato and Rousseau in planning and deigning the national education policy in our country?

1.6 Definition of Key Terms


Etymologically, the word education is derived from Educare (Latin) “bring up”, which is related to Educere “bring out”, “bring forth what is within”, “bring out potential” and Ducere “to lead” (Source;


Some social researchers have meant by theory special ideas such as- concept, frame of reference, conceptual scheme, perspective, hypothesis, generalization, ideal type, paradigm, typology etc. (Alam, 1993, p. 107)

Education theory

Educational theory may refer to either speculative educational thought in general or to a theory of education as something that guides, explains or describes educational practice.


Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This research will cover Plato and Rousseau’s thoughts along with the Major writings on them. Available information on them from Magazines and newspapers of that time are also used to find out their actual philosophy of education. We shall discuss their philosophy of education along with the thoughts of other philosophers who have contributed much to the development of education in modern society. We shall assimilate the ideas of Plato and Rousseau with the ideas of other philosophers of education. In this way the researcher would make a comprehensive study on the philosophy of education.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

The study would be mainly based on printed documents such as various articles, essays, journals, books and research works done on the comparative study on the educational theory of Plato and Rousseau. Concurrently all information from individuals related to the present study needs more time and money. There are only few research work conducted on the issue and very few articles might be published on the journals but the researcher did not find any research work on that issue in Bangladesh.

Chapter 2: Review of Literature

Reviewing literature means study of other literatures for finding out the research gap. So far as the researcher has surveyed, this is a new field to study. The researcher has gone through all the writings of Plato, as well as good number of books written on him such as: ‘The Republic’, ‘Laws’ etc. The researcher also reviewed books written by Rousseau. These are: Emile, Discourse on Equality, A discourse on political Economy, Social contract etc. Here, the researcher has presented some studies related to Plato and Rousseau’s education theory by different researchers like Patricia M. Lines, Shackling the Imagination: Education for Virtue in Plato and Rousseau. Many aspects of Plato’s recommendations for education resemble those adopted by constitutional democracies in different countries. According to him education must be compulsory and free to all, with government control and support. Plato identified four interdependent virtues (Wisdom, Courage, Discipline and Justice) as essential to be ideal in ‘The Republic’. Wisdom guides the philosopher-ruler. Courage moves the auxiliaries (the soldiers and the bureaucrats). Discipline, sometimes translated as moderation, assures that each class carries out its assigned role and that the governed obey the governors. Justice- the supreme ordering principle-ensures harmony and balance within the individual and the state. These virtues should lead to a full understanding of the Truth, the Good and the Beautiful, which according to Plato is the highest reality. Like Plato, Rousseau aims at creating an ideal citizen. Unlike Plato, he wants to prepare this citizen for democracy. Rousseau regards virtue as the ultimate goal of education. He offers a simple rule. Emile the ‘Hero’ in his book must never harm another. To achieve this goal, the tutor isolates the children from others. Both Plato and Rousseau offer a limited view of virtue. Still, both reveal a certainty that they fully understand and know how to encourage the right virtues. ( Samuel Scolnicov, ‘Plato on Education as the Development of Reason’. Plato stresses his Socrates’ new concept of reason (nous). Reason is not a tool for attaining goals independently thought worthwhile: possessions, honor, personal and political success; rather, rationality itself, expressed in the giving of reasons and the avoidance of contradictions, confers value to goals and opinions. The ultimate educational objective, then, is to bring about a revolution in the learner’s perception of the role of reason, namely the recognition of its normative, and not merely theoretical or instrumental nature. Plato’s theory of education aims at specifying the conditions of the growth of the Socratic man, whose soul is free from contradictions and whose excellence is justified knowledge.( Farhan Zainulabideen, ‘A Critical Review of the Aims of Education in the Western Tradition’. Plato is the earliest important thinker on education. He is also the first to have laid down a comprehensive outlook of education that was integrated with his views of society and its aims. In Republic, Plato’s primary aim of education is to produce the elites needed to govern the ideal city. The supreme product of the education process is the philosopher-king who rules the city. The highest aim of education for Plato is the knowledge of good, which in turn instills the four great virtues: wisdom, courage, discipline and justice. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s intellectual range and achievements are staggering. He made epochal contributions to political theory, literature and education. His educational tract, ‘Emile’, transformed the debate about children upbringing and was very largely instrumental in altering the Western perception of childhood. He overturned conventional wisdom on the nature of childhood and education with a radical discourse in this fictional novel. The fundamentals of Rousseau’s educational creed are ‘nature’ and ‘freedom’. He believed that children should develop their skill and capacity in nature and enjoy freedom. This goal in education was actually the first step in ensuring a more social society, where natural law is seen to accomplish harmony and balance and to get rid of artificial man-imposed coercive restrictions (http// education).

Plato was disturbed by condition of society, its corruption and shallow-dreams. In his famous work ‘The Republic’, Plato tried to teach Good and beauty to his students (Lee, 1987, p. 161). Jean-Jacques Rousseau convinced that men and women had lost their worth that can be revived in natural phenomena so that we might learn to live together in ways that foster a better ethics of citizenship (Bloom, 1979, p. 25). Rousseau believes that the primary goal of education is to prepare men and women to be moral agents who, while living autonomously, also live with each other.

Many researches have been done on various aspects of Plato and Rousseau. But no research has yet been done on the problem of education theory of Plato and Rousseau. So there may be some gap in this field. For this reason this problem may be an important issue of a research work. The present study is such an attempt.

Chapter 3: Methodology

The methodology of the present research is descriptive and qualitative. Generally descriptive research is done on education related problem, academic decision making, designing plan, changing the curriculum and etc.(Samad, 2010, p.21) Qualitative research is done on some qualitative events or topics (that are related with quality). Qualitative research is very important especially in behaviorism. Because through education the personality of a man changes. (Tapan, 1987, p.21)

The main characteristic of the descriptive research is to provide reasonable explanation of the topic through data analysis. So it is found that descriptive research not only includes the description of the event or situation/state/condition but also includes comparative discussion, classification, explanation and evaluation.(Ali, 1988, p.19) In a descriptive research a researcher does not control the data. Only the process of observation, description and analysis of data can be controlled.(Zaman, 1987, p.7)

Aristotle for the first time used deductive method in case of presenting descriptive method through argument and after a century later Francis Bacon used the direct observational method. This method is known as inductive method. In this method data are collected sequentially from every field and decision is made. Inductive method is from particular to general. On the other hand, deductive method is from general to particular. (Zaman, 1987, p.11, 12)

So, Qualitative and Descriptive method fits well in accomplishing the present research study from the selection of the materials till the completion of the research work. It includes the collection of material leaving no gap in the connected aspects of the study, the scanning of the materials, their systematization and synchronization so that clear vision becomes apparent to complete the dissertation. Moreover, this method also covers, while writing the thesis, the arguments in favor of and against the problem raised and then ratification of powerful opinion with convincing evidences and arguments. First the information has been collected from primary and secondary sources. The writings of Plato and Rousseau have been considered as the Primary data (Plato: ‘The Republic’ and ‘The Laws’. Rousseau: ‘Emile’, ‘Discourse of Political Economy’, ‘The New Heloise’, and ‘Considerations on the Government of Poland’) and the writings on Plato and Rousseau published in various books, journals, article and research works have been considered as the Secondary data. The researcher has identified the contradiction carefully among educational theory of Plato and Rousseau maintaining strict objectivity to fulfill the aims and purpose of the present study. The collected data have been analyzed in order to find out the similarity and dissimilarity between Plato and Rousseau and by their thinking what kind of philosophy developed and influenced the succeeding generations. The researcher has used the logical analysis for data analysis. The researcher has followed the American Psychological Association (APA) code and conduct for using the reference.

Chapter 4: Plato

Plato’s Philosophy of Education

Plato’s educational philosophy was grounded in his vision of the ideal ‘The Republic’, ‘The Laws’ wherein the individual was best served by being subordinated to a just society. “Plato proposes a thoroughgoing communism for the guardians, and (I think) also for the soldiers, though this is not very clear. The guardians are to have small houses and simple food; they are to live as in a camp, dining together in companies; they a re to have no private property beyond what is absolutely necessary (Russell, 1946, p. 127).” Socialism is now out-dated in the present world. Most of the people in the world now believe in individual freedom. The system that Plato has talked about for philosophers with a view to building an ideal state is not effective in most of the countries including Bangladesh.

The Educational Theory of Plato

Plato’s Theory of education was an indispensable necessity for mankind. It was a positive remedy for the problems and operation of justice in an ideal state. Rousseau says, Plato’s Republic’ is not a work on polities but the finest treatise on education that has ever been written. Nothing was more important to Plato in human life as education. He considers education the greatest thing in human life as he mentions in his famous book ‘The Republic’, ‘the one great thing”.

Major ideas in Plato’s educational theory are

Education for all: Plato would educate every boy and girl to the limits of their abilities.

State education: Education should be provided by the state, not by parents.

Plato’s suggestion was that the state will take the responsibility of educating the whole nation has been accepted in most of the countries. But it is not still properly implemented in Bangladesh because of her scarcity of fund and inability of parents but the country is trying to educate her all children.

Aims of Education

“To produce future civil servants for the state.

To produce virtuous, efficient and intellectual rulers for the country.

To glorify courage and military skill among the warriors.

To develop competent, obedient, and temperate workers.

To develop a social disposition among all citizens.

Virtue is knowledge and education is the main thing to acquire virtue.” (Bhuiyan, 2010, p. 269)

“It (Plato’s theory of education) is an attempt to cure a mental malady by mental medicine (Barker, 1967, p. 314).”

Element of Plato’s Education System

The first thing should be considered in education, which is divided into two parts-


‘Music’ used in broad term for drama, history, art, letters, philosophy, oratory and music in real term. “Music means everything that is in the province of the muses (Russell, 1946, p. 126).” Plato had made Protagoras speak of children’s training in music as introducing rhythm and harmony into their souls and having a socializing influence; ‘for the whole life of man stands in need of rhythm and harmony’. ‘Music’ is almost as wide as what we should call ‘culture’ (Cornford, 1941, p. 86). Music is not taught as a compulsory subject in our country as it was advocated by Plato. Nevertheless there are individual departments of Music and Theatre in public universities where students with special interests can study music.

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“Gymnastic means physical training and fitness” (Russell, 1946, p. 126). ‘Gymnastics’ is somewhat wider than what we call ‘athletics’. The physical training suitable for a citizen soldier is briefly contrasted with that of the professional athlete. Finally, it appears that physical training, no less than education in literature and the arts, really has to do with the soul (Cornford, 1941, p. 90). Physical exercise is not taught as a compulsory subject in our country as it was advocated by Plato. But there are individual departments of Physical Exercise in public universities where students with special interests can study physical exercise. Physical exercise is of paramount importance in Bangladesh Army. In every institution in Bangladesh there is a course on physical exercise which is mandatory in military institutions only. Plato writes in his book ‘The Republic’. I believe, gymnastic, for the body, and music for the mind.

The Curriculum of Plato’s Education System

Plato define different stages for the organization and curriculum

Primary Education: Primary education mainly consisted of reading and writing (‘Grammatic’); learning and reciting epic and dramatic poetry, lyre-playing and singing lyric poetry, the rudiments of arithmetic and geometry (‘Music’); and athletic exercises (‘Gymnastic’) (Cornford, 1941, p. 65). Co-education at primary level till the age of eighteen years.The age that Plato has advocated for primary education is not totally accepted in our country. Rather it is confined within 6 to 11 years. In our country primary education is free and compulsory. The compulsory primary education law what Plato has talked about has been passed in Bangladesh in 1992.

Military Training: After elementary education two years of Physical education should be given to them and be selected for higher education to prepare for the future guardians of the state.

Military education is not compulsory in our country as Plato has proposed. It is only compulsory for those who are physically fit and interested in taking military training.

Higher Education: Higher education should be given from twenty to thirty-five years of age. At this stage a student will study mathematics, arithmetic, geometry, solid geometry, astronomy, harmonics, dialectic, program of studies, literature and philosophy. Later on he would be fit for a minor administrative position to get experience for the future more important governing positions. (Cornford, 1941, p. 230).

Our education system is not very lengthy as Plato has advocated. In our country one can enter into any profession after completing one’s higher education or can study for getting M.Phil and Ph.D degree.

Plato has divided his educational curriculum into two levels. They are as follows:

Primary level of education

Higher level of education/ Higher education.

Primary Education

First stage (0-06)

Up to 6 years children will be provided with education to flourish his/her latent talents. Meanwhile they will be taught politeness, mannerism and good taste.

Second stage (06-18)

From 6 to 18 years children will be taught only literature, music, and preliminary education on mathematics. Meanwhile children will be able to attain the great qualities such as self-control, disciplinary, punctuality, and the belief on the God.

Third stage (18-20)

Age from 18 to 20 years will be fixed for students’ physical exercise and military education. There will be no chance to teach any other subject within this time. The main purpose of this stage is to keep body fit and strong. Those who will succeed in the test at the end of the primary level will get the opportunity of receiving higher education.

Higher education

First stage (20-30)

This stage covers from 20 to 30 years. In this stage human beings will acquire knowledge on astrology, higher math, geometry, and music. In this stage they will be taught very carefully on these subjects and there will be an attempt to establish the relationship between math and reality.

Second stage (30-35)

This stage ranges from 30 to 35 years. In this stage students will be taught philosophy, logic and metaphysics etc.

Third stage (35-50)

This stage covers the time from 35 to 50 years. In this stage the students will acquire practical knowledge by combining their acquired knowledge and their real life experience, and they will be vested with small responsibilities of the state (Talukder and Awal, 2011, p. 95, 96). Plato classified the stages of education 2500 hundred years ago which has been adopted and differently categorized in four stages to meet the demands of the modern time. These stages are primary education, secondary education, higher secondary education and higher education.

Plato’s View on Women Education

Plato also gives emphasis on women education and he prescribes the same kind of education for women like men. Women should have the same physical and educational training; they should know the art of war. The main aim of Plato was that each member of the society should undertake his work and responsibilities. Plato believed that women are equal to men and in some cases women are physically weaker than men or may not. He suggested that those who are equal to men should be allowed to learn the same thing like men. In his book ‘The Republic’ Plato describes how male and female receive the same education and be given the same duties in society. Thus the male and the female should be given the same duty of ‘The Republic’. (Cornford, 1941, p. 141) Plato’s opinion regarding women education has received the attention of the people of all over the world and the present world has accepted the ideas of Plato. It has also been accepted in Bangladesh which has enormously enriched the nation. As a result, there is seen the empowerment of women folk. Plato’s opinion about women education has been received almost in many countries in the present world. The outcome of women education is as we see that many women, the Prime Minister, foreign minister, opposition party leader are in various important positions in Bangladesh.

Teaching Methods

Plato suggested different ways to educate the children such as through telling stories, play and imitation. Plato gives importance to nursery education, he thinks nursery education plays a vital role in the education of man; it helps to build his moral character and state of mind “The most important part of education is proper training in the nursery.

Enforced exercise does no harm to the body, but enforced learning will not stay in the mind. (Nath, 1979, p. 57) In our country Plato’s material for education is used for the development of education. Besides, multimedia projector and visual sound system are used in higher level educational institutions, and maps, charts and models in primary level.

Plato’s View on Moral Ethics

Plato presents his ideas for an ideal society in the ‘The Republic’ and he provided details about the curriculum and system of education. According to Plato the ideal society should care for their youth and the guardians would be responsible for the moral education of their children. Every person would know his duty and his responsibility. (Bhuiyan, 2010, p. 269) Plato talked about moral education in 427 BC, which is of paramount importance still in the perspective of Bangladesh. We teach our children moral lessons from the very beginning which is started by the parents, grandfathers and grandmothers. Moral institutions are also imparted to the student by their teachers in the schools, colleges and universities. Besides these, ethics is included in many disciplines in our country. Moral deterioration is very acute in everywhere. The only way to get rid of this problem is to practice or nourish moral education properly.

Chapter 5: Rousseau

Rousseau’s Philosophy of Education

Rousseau’s philosophy of education is called the philosophy of Naturalism. Rousseau’s philosophy of life and society has been reflected in his philosophy of education. Proper education is achieved through the understanding of natural objects and beauties. In this system, nature itself is the teacher. According to Rousseau, children will learn from three sorts of teachers such as nature, human being and objects. Having influenced and taught by this three sources is called an educated man by Rousseau. We can control human being and objects. But we cannot control nature. So education should be confined to the rules of nature. “Go back to the lap of nature” this idea is closely associated with Rousseau. In his book ‘Emile’, (Nurnobi, Fouzia and Champa., 2006, p. 277) he used nature in three senses. Psychological Nature, Physical Nature, Biological Nature

Rousseau’s views on the aim of education

Rousseau opines that the aim of education is not only to acquire knowledge but also to help flourishing of children’s talents.

The aim of education for children will be different on the basis of its age. In childhood, education should build up its physical development. There is no need of moral and social teaching.

The education in boyhood should aim at the exercise of sensual and mental development.

The purpose of female education should be preparing a woman fit for her male counterpart. Excessive learning is not necessary for the womenfolk. (Dali and Imam, 1999, p. 42)

Curriculum of Rousseau

The education curriculum of Rousseau is not definite and well planned. Rousseau launched a war against the conventional education. So he was against the traditional curriculum. Rousseau did not like reading books. He said, ‘Books teach us to talk about something on which we have no practical knowledge.’ Nonetheless, he selected the novel ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as mandatory for Emile. According to him, this book can help Emile to be self-confident and self-sufficient. According to curriculum, physical exercise and health education have been given much emphasis in adolescence. Importance has also been given on the arts of hand made goods and vocational works. He has also talked about religious and moral education. But he was against Female education. Household chores will be learning tasks of women. Rousseau’s education related curriculum is not precise and well planned. (Uddin and Das, 2006, p. 247, 248)

His education system which he advocated about 200 years ago is not fully coherent with the exiting education curriculum of Bangladesh. Nevertheless, the appeal and the necessity of his education about nature are still effective. For example, novel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore has established Shanty Nike ton in the midst of nature. Even in Bangladesh, Rajshahi, Chittagong, and Jahanggirnagor universities are established in the midst of natural beauties so that students and teachers can learn from nature.

Teaching style of Rousseau

His teaching method was inventive. In this method, a children is kept in the place of invention. A children learns through the process of examination. (Dali and Imam, 1999, p. 43) In fact, through the process of Rousseau’s thinking laboratory method, invention method, education through work, sensual experience method were emerged.

Rousseau’s discovery method of learning is relevant to the existing creative method of Bangladesh. Because in the creative method, there is always a riddle or a story where students are to discover or find out the answers.

Educational Framework

“Rousseau suggested two types of education framework based on different conditions

Firstly, education framework for a state and society

Secondly, education for preserving survival of civilization

Stages of Education in Emile

He divided education systems in five stages. Such as-

Stage 1 Infancy (0-5): Education in infancy must be based on physique so that the limbs of a children should be developed proportionally. No need to develop any habit at this time. He said “A children is bad because he is weak; make him strong and he will be good.” Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man (Bloom, 1979, p. 37).

Stage 2 The age of Nature (5-12): No particular traditional education should be given now. No education on language, history, geography needs to be provided now. Even religious education is not necessary. Rousseau said, “Exercise the body, the organs, the senses and powers, but keep the soughing follow as long as you can.” (Cited in Bhuiyan, 2010, p. 313).

Stage 3 Pre-adolescence (12-15): Before adolescence a children needs not to read any special book. In this stage, Rousseau has advised to include physical lesson or any sort of education related to art and culture so that he can develop a sense of respect towards Labour (Dali and Imam, 1999, p. 43).

Stage 4 Puberty (15-20): Rousseau has advised to start social education in this stage. Here children can develop a habit of social responsibility, co-operation, respect, love, and fellow feeling. Rousseau said, ‘we are born twice once for existing and again for loving; once for the species and again for sex’. (Cited in Bhuiyan, 2010, p. 317)

Stage 5 Adulthood (20-25): The adult ‘Emile’ is introduced to his ideal partner, Sophie. The final task of the tutor is to ‘instruct the young couple in their marital rights and duties’. (Boyd, 1911, p. 130)

5.11 Rousseau’s View on Women Education

Rousseau has negative opinion about women education, which is the result of his experiences in his personal and family life. His attitude towards women education is not accepted by any modern state of the world. A nation can not prosper keeping half of the population uneducated. So Rousseau’s attitude towards women education is totally unacceptable and unrealistic in the modern perspective. This is a huge drawback of his philosophy of education.

Expart 1 said that “Rousseau has proposed to keep women under male domination for children bearing because women become inactive in that time; according to Rousseau, this is the main reason of not giving the supremacy of women over men. There is another reason behind this that is the father has to be sure of the true identity of the new born children. This is the secret of Rousseau of not accepting the equality of men and women. Rousseau has been affected by the fear of women from the civilization; he has seen women as devious. In a poem Rousseau says about women, ‘Enchante


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