A School of Predetermination

The idea that children are told what they are going to do for the rest of their lives may seem oppressive and cruel to some and to others the best way to educate. In the Republic by Plato the idea that each child is predestined to fulfill a role in a ‘perfect’ society is not an uncommon subject. Socrates and his cohorts discuss how each person has either gold, silver, or bronze in their bodies which will help to determine what their role in society will be and how they should be educated. The concept of a predetermined future and education based on how you were as a child is a concept people may cringe at believing there is no freedom in it. However, there are countries in the modern world that do use a method similar to the early educational description Socrates and his contemporaries put forth. Countries like Germany have an educational system in place that is totally run by the state and after the age of 10 children are split into different schools based on their skills. The most popular and traditional streams of German education are Gymnasium, Hauptschule, and Realschule. Children who show great promise and success will move on to Gymnasium to complete their Abitur which qualifies them for a higher education; these children would possess gold in the Republics perfect society. Realschule tends to turn our children who pursue steady employment and would, therefore, contain silver in their bodies. Lastly, the children who show skill in a certain area will move on to Hauptschule to help nurture that skill, but after graduation stigma towards the lowest ranked secondary school will make it harder for children to find jobs; these children would contain bronze. The German school system may seem harsh from an outsiders point of view but because of the separation, there is a greater overall success compared to schools from other nations. Although the school system Socrates and his contemporaries described sounds oppressive and cruel there is solid proof that their form of education leads to a better country and society.

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