This paper will examine Plato's theory on education as described in the Allegory of the Cave. This paper will defend the position that education is the turning of the soul in the direction of the Good, allowing people to reason for themselves. The reason why is that an individual needs to question the foundations of his or her knowledge to become enlightened, a process which is initiated through the turning away from ignorance and to the Good.
Plato's Allegory of the cave, which is his theory on education that ultimately leads to enlightenment, starts off deep in a cave where there are prisoners chained to a wall by their neck and legs, forced to look forward. In the cave, prisoners are displayed images of what they have come to believe to be true of their reality. It is only when the prisoners are freed from their chains that they have the opportunity to begin the process of education; a process that is described as a "turning of the soul." Let us examine how the allegory of the cave can be compared to a modern day classroom.
The cave is the classroom and the prisoners are the children in schools that are told to stay seated and look forward. There is a fire behind the prisoners and in between the fire and them on a higher ground is a path. This path goes across the cave and along this, a low wall has been built, like the screen at a puppet show hiding the puppeteers. They hold up objects such as artifacts, statues of men, reproductions of animals and much more that they project on to the wall that the prisoners can see. All the prisoners see are the shadows and all they hear are the voices coming from the puppeteers. Eventually, they reason that the voices come from the shadows and that becomes their reality, their truth. The shadows that are casted are the professors of the classrooms that teach the children. The professors tell the students what is correct and what is incorrect, so what the prisoners see is what they believe in, they don't know that the puppeteers are the ones talking but they don't know any better.