Philosophers have had a huge impact on education. Education developed out of the human struggle for survival and intellectual enlightenment. Throughout our evolution, the form in which we have received our education has greatly changed. We have gone from receiving our education from under a grove of trees to inside a classroom. Philosophers have had a major influence in what our formal education should be. The way one receives an education today is more advanced due in major part to the ideas of great thinkers such as John Locke, Socrates, Plato and many others.
Before people even knew about reading or writing, people knew that they had to deal with many challenging obstacles. Ancient civilizations had to worry about their survival against nature, animals and even other humans. In order for a particular group to continue in the future, they needed to find a way to convey information to future generations. Through informal education, ancient civilizations taught children the skills they would need to survive. They communicated through their language. Eventually, by using their language, people learned to create symbols which inevitably led to the creation of a written language. Human beings made a written language which made an enormous cultural leap to literacy.
Historians have been able to link Greece to the beginning of Western formal education. The Greek philosopher Socrates had a major influence on education. Socrates sought to discover and teach many different ideas including, truth, beauty and knowledge. He sought for an emphasis on rational argument and would try to discover a general definition for things. Socrates would ask his "followers" an open-ended question and would spend the day discussing people's thoughts and idea. This is what we know today as the Socratic Method. According to Socrates's pupil, Plato, Socrates refused to be recognized as a teacher. In 399 BC, Socrates was convicted of corrupting the minds of the youth and sentenced to death. Before Socrates died in 399 BC, he claimed that knowledge existed within everyone and needed to be brought out by consciousness.
Plato was one of Socrates's students. He established a school in Athens called the Academy. Plato believed that knowledge was attainable and also that since true knowledge was the same in every place at every time, education, like truth, should never change (Mungazi 29). Plato had two ideas about knowledge. The first idea was that knowledge must be certain and without errors. The second idea was that an object must be unchanging. Plato used the myth of the cave to show the difference between true knowledge and opinion. Plato gave an example of a cave underground where there are men who have been prisoners since they were children. They were not able to move their head. All the prisoners were able to see was the shadow of men carrying things. Plato then goes on to state:
Then think what would naturally happen to them if they were released from their bonds and cured of their delusions. Suppose one of them were let loose, and
suddenly compelled to stand up and turn his head and look and walk toward the fire; all these actions would be painful and he would be too dazzled to see properly the objects of which he used to see the shadows. So if he was told that what he used to see was mere illusion and that he was now nearer reality and seeing more correctly,...