Plato Likes Play for Education Too: Republic 536e6-537a11

Earlier, I put up a passage from Aristotle’s Politics where he mentions the importance of games for the education of children.  Plato was down with that too:

“And I said, “Certainly do not train children in their lessons by force, but have them play so that you will be better able to observe for what type of activity each has inborn ability.”

Then he said, “What you say has logic.”

I replied “Do you remember what we were saying, that it is necessary that children be taken to battle as observers on horseback, and that, if all were safe, they should be brought near to taste the blood just like puppies?”

“I remember” he said.

“Indeed,” I said “in all these practices—in labors, learning, and dangers—whoever appears to be the most suited for them ought to be enrolled in this very number.”

Μὴ τοίνυν βίᾳ, εἶπον, ὦ ἄριστε, τοὺς παῖδας ἐν τοῖς μαθήμασιν ἀλλὰ παίζοντας τρέφε, ἵνα καὶ μᾶλλον οἷός τ’ ᾖς καθορᾶν ἐφ’ ὃ ἕκαστος πέφυκεν.

῎Εχει ὃ λέγεις, ἔφη, λόγον.

Οὐκοῦν μνημονεύεις, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ὅτι καὶ εἰς τὸν πόλεμον ἔφαμεν τοὺς παῖδας εἶναι ἀκτέον ἐπὶ τῶν ἵππων θεωρούς, καὶ  ἐάν που ἀσφαλὲς ᾖ, προσακτέον ἐγγὺς καὶ γευστέον αἵματος, ὥσπερ τοὺς σκύλακας;

Μέμνημαι, ἔφη.

᾿Εν πᾶσι δὴ τούτοις, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, τοῖς τε πόνοις καὶ μαθήμασι καὶ φόβοις ὃς ἂν ἐντρεχέστατος ἀεὶ φαίνηται, εἰς ἀριθμόν τινα ἐγκριτέον.

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