The Centrality of Virtue in the Ancient Understanding of Education

In the contemporary discourse about education, discussion of virtue as the goal of education is strikingly absent. When “virtue education” is mentioned, it is generally treated as an add-on to the curriculum, not as the overarching goal of everything that is studied. This conception
of education, however, stands in stark contrast to the ancient understanding that the primary purpose of education is is the cultivation of students into virtuous human beings. While this understanding of education can be seen across a wide swath of thinkers throughout history, in this seminar we will examine two key ancient thinkers: Plato and Aristotle. In focusing on their understanding of the purpose of education, we will explore the central role that virtue plays in their thought and how we can apply their insights today.