Posted in Miscellaneous

Plato and Play-Doh

play-doh1Here’s another post from one of our guest bloggers, Jessica Lyon. Check out her previous post here!

In my final semester of coursework here at BYU, I am currently taking a classical traditions course by Dr. Stephen Bay (CL CV 201). As I sat in lecture today my professor contrasted Plato and Aristotle – both students of Sophocles. While they both had the same teacher, they had vastly different opinions on how people learn. Aristotle believed that to learn about something, you needed to become an expert on it. Plato believed that we learn by experimenting with the world around us.

I am in agreeance with Plato. Aristotle became an expert on almost everything, but when he died, most of what Aristotle had determined as “facts” proved to be completely incorrect. To me, this proves that knowledge cannot be transferred without having some sort of experience. In my last post, I talked about how in order to teach, all we need to do is facilitate, or encourage, knowledge. Plato echos those same sentiments.

Plato understood that in order to learn you just need to wonder and ask questions. Sophocles never formally taught or lectured Plato and Aristotle; they learned by asking him questions and experimenting with his philosophies. Wouldn’t it make sense to teach our students the same way the Greek philosophers were taught? Think of what our students could accomplish.

Here’s a challenge for you. Give each student in your class a piece of Play-Doh. Ask them to use the Play-Doh to prove to you if a sphere has sides or not. You don’t need to tell them how or what you expect to see, just let them go. I guarantee your students will come to the conclusion that there are no sides on a sphere. Probe their knowledge. Extend their knowledge. Encourage their knowledge… for that is your role as an educator.

Jessica Lyon is a senior from Cedar Hills, Utah studying Elementary Education. In her spare time she enjoys preparing her 3rd grade classroom for the Fall and learning about learning.

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