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Plutarch and Education of Children

Plutarch was born in Chaeronea, but early went to Rome. He did not attach himself to any school of Philosophy, but was an independent thinker. He was conversant with history and physics. He applied his learning to the casualties of human existence. He held that the soul is imperishable. He is particularly famous for his “Forty-six Parallel Lives.” The author sets a Greek warrior, statesman, orator, or legislator side by side with noted Romans celebrated for the same qualities. Nearly all the lives are in pairs, but the work concludes with a few single biographies. His treatment is not always impartial; he sympathizes too much with the Spartan character to be free from impartiality. Plutarch ‘says in his “Opera Moralia,” “Kindness and advice better than blows; over-pressure in learning is to be avoided; gradual advance in virtue is like steady sailing over a wide sea, and can only be measured by the time taken and the force applied.”

In his treatise On the Education of Children, he says that the aim of education is the virtuous man, that education depends on natural gifts, training, and exercise, and that teachers of boys should have experience and have a blameless character.' Gymnastic exercise is necessary to a good education; scolding is needless and self-control is to be learned.

Plutarch writes only in behalf of the free-born. He believes that the state should not usurp the function of the family in the training of children. Contrary to Quintilian, he believes that the state does not exercise absolute sovereignty in society. He recommends an education that t is domestic. That this kind of training may be perfected, he exalts the condition of woman, who should instruct her offspring. Plutarch gave the world the first formal treatise on the education of children.


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