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Discuss the influence of Plato’s philosophical ideas on ECD practice.

Discuss the influence of Plato’s philosophical ideas on ECD practice.

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Plato is viewed as one of the most influential and universally applicable philosophers of all time. His musings covered many areas, but in terms of Early Childhood Development (ECD), he outlined some of his key ideas in his book Republic (385 B.C.E). Firstly, Plato emphatically believed that play was an important way to help children make sense of their thought processes. This idea is undoubtedly at the core of worldwide ECD practices, which utilises a variety of techniques to mesh play and educational merit, the ultimate goal being to teach children lessons – educational, social, moral or otherwise – seamlessly through play. He attached much importance to this, going so far as to state that "no one in the state has really grasped that children's games affect legislation so crucially as to determine whether the laws that are passed will survive or not" (Plato, 1970, p. 795). Closely linked to this is the concept of storytelling, which Plato felt could be used as a tool through which to model concepts for children to internalize and ultimately imitate. Key moral lessons can be taught when embedded in stories alongside more specific knowledge and understanding about the world. Another core element of Plato’s philosophy related to observation, which he saw as being at the centre of ECD practice. In his view, watching and listening was an excellent way of ascertaining what children are interested in, which allows the curriculum to be planned accordingly. Numerous smaller practices, such as the teaching of Maths through games and puzzles, or the establishment of supervised playgrounds, are also attributable to Plato. Ultimately, while much has altered since the era in which he was writing, his contributions to current ECD practice are undeniably significant and many of his core values are still being enacted in contemporary settings. that


Plato. 1941 [385 B.C.E.]. The Republic of Plato. Trans. Francis Macdonald Cornford. New York: Oxford University Press.
Plato. 1970 [348 B.C.E.]. The Laws. Trans. Trevor J. Saunders. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.