In The Republic By Plato
In The Republic by Plato, main character Socrates embarks on a hunt to define “justice”. After hearing various definitions of the word from his friends, Socrates begins to define it on a “larger scale and larger surface” (55, 369 e). He “builds” a community based on the principle of specialization. Every person possesses a diamond within themselves that they can reach if only they perfect their talent through education. The education in this community would coincide to a specific talent. For example, a blacksmith would only take classes that will help him perfect the art of blacksmithing. Learning anything different would be a distraction and a waste of time. It could lure someone away from their natural talent or could tempt them to choose a secondary talent not aligned with their strength. Education is the most important thing in this community, as it is meant to help individuals bring out inherited strengths and transform their potential into actual abilities.
In order for rulers, guardians, and kids to have the right education, certain things must be censored. For example, literature that portrays God as evil or corrupt must not be told or read. Therefore stories like zeus morphing into a bull and raping women must be banished. If stories like this were public, it would show people that someone with
great power can use it to exploit the weaker. God can never be portrayed this way, and “in reality of course god is good and he must so be described.” (pg 71, 378 b) Instead of these morbid sories, education needs to show that “God is therefore without deceit…. with visions or words or special signs” (75, 383 a). God doesn’t have to alter himself because he who is most powerful does not need to change. Another very important censor needs to be the fear of death because it is vital to the guardians.
A guardian’s job is warfare and security. In order to preform their job well, they need to perceive death in a certain way. All literature and poetry that indicates death and the afterlife as unpleasant cannot be published. It is in the individuals own interest to become fearless through structured education therefore leading to bravery. With warfare and security may come death, and if guardians believe it to be negative, they will try to avoid it, resulting in poor job performance. This way they will never reach their diamond or benefit the community.
Socrates also believes in establishing the virtue of temperance or self control. Stories of the Gods and Heroes being drunk will only corrupt the younger children because they will begin to glorify the behavior. This will be censored by using the stories to portray what negative activities NOT to partake in. The law is to never portray intemperate behavior as positive, for fear that an individual may imitate this behavior.
One may wonder, could someone be free in such a society where education is strictly censored? It may seem like focusing education to ones diamond may restrict the individual and narrow their potential, but it frees them, and their diamond from the mind. Why would education be different otherwise, since it may threaten the diamond to stayed buried, and no one could participate at the community table. The Guardians are liberated from any anxieties or worries. Everyone will be happy and glad to do their job in order to benefit the community.
In todays society, there are many things that are also in fact censored such as the media, and like in Socrates’s community, education. If our world was as ideal as Socrates’s, I would agree with his views. Although, our world is very different from that of Socrates’s utopia and education should not be censored. As Thomas Jefferson once stated, censorship is like "tyranny over the mind” (NCAC). Censorship is a very controversial topic today because everyone has different perceptions of it. Most of all, censorship “is the suppression of an idea…because it offends or disturbs someone, or because they disagree with it” (NCAC). Professional educators take classes to learn all aspects of teaching, communication, expression and more. Teachers should be trusted enough to impose their knowledge in school settings to help a student academically and socially. Censoring not only deprives students of knowledge but refrains “teachers’ ability to explore all possible avenues to motivate and ‘reach’ students” (NCAC). Although many things are “hidden” from students, Selection and censoring are two different things.
Censoring is when the School administration constantly makes decisions on what can or cannot be taught due to content, or to hide some sort of truth. When a teacher simply chooses not to read a book from the curriculum, it should not be because they want to hide information, rather, they simply don’t believe it will provide any educational benefit. Sarah Courchesne, a certified Veterinarian and Biology professor believes that there are “no [ideas] too dangerous to censor”. Obviously we keep kids from being exposed to certain ideas until they have developed cognitively enough to process it. This is okay because the topic isn’t being kept from them, it is simply just not being taught at that specific age level. Certainly other professionals like Doctors can censor information, although their job is not to keep knowledge but “to give a person the tools [they] needs to receive that information and interpret it logically” (Courchesne). She also states that ideas “are not the danger”, but the outcome and consequences are what we try to “prevent”.
Kids and people everywhere are exposed to the very things we try to censor such as inappropriate pictures, swearing, etc. Eventually, children will learn one way or another so why not properly educate them in school? Censoring enforces a strict perception of something because that is how they “should” think. It blocks creativity and new ways of processing information. Teachers are “[sripped]…of their professional judgment, [and] forfeit the educational vitality we prize” (NCAC). I believe it is better to control WHEN to teach somehow rather than WHAT to teach them and for these very reasons education should not be censored.