Classes Compared to Plato's Styles of Gov't

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Dexter Luu

“A State is as the men are; they grow out of human characters” (Glaucon, “The Republic”). In Plato’s “The Republic,” Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus discuss five forms of government - aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny - and the individuals the five systems create. These forms of government are not solely used to define societies, however. They can be used to characterize anything, such as courses offered at a school. Hercules High School is a good example of this. Courses offered at the high school can be classified as one of Plato’s governments and can create students that influence the political systems of other classes.

Virginia Hernandez’s Spanish 4 class is a timocracy, the government of honor. Socrates says that a timocracy is “a mean between oligarchy and the perfect State…[with] some peculiarities” and Hernandez’s class is just that. The oligarchs are the students that take the course because it grants an extra grade point. The aristocrats are the few that are in the class to learn the material. The peculiarities that Plato speaks of are the students that take the class to be recognized. Spanish 4 goes beyond the requirements for the prestigious UC’s that students desire to go to so taking the course makes them stand out, as if they are wearing a badge that others are not wearing. Another thing that makes the students more honorable is that timocratic classes tend to be an AP or honors class which give an extra grade point. A desire for even greater status would cause high schoolers to take more honor or AP classes to boost their GPA. “The great mass of citizens become lovers of money,” or GPA in the case of the students, and they become oligarchs.

These oligarchs are likely to be in English Honors. Jessica Jones’ class is definitely an oligarchy because it is an easy A and it grants a bonus grade point. The “lovers of money…invent illegal modes of expenditure,” such as cheating on tests, copying...
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