a group of prisoners who have been chained from birth in a cave. They are chained so that they are unable to move. All they can see in front of them, for their entire lives, is the back wall of the cave. So, there are men, who pass by the walkway and carry objects made of stone behind the curtain-wall, and they make sounds to go along with the objects. These objects are projected onto the back wall of the cave for the prisoners to see.
The prisoners come up with names for the objects; they are interpreting their world to them. This is what the prisoners think is real because this is all they have ever experienced; reality for them is a puppet show on the wall of a cave, created by shadows of objects and figures. (Lodhi, 2017)The allegory of the cave represents the comparison Plato made on the effect of education and the lack of it on our own nature.
The allegory focusses on that we as humans tend to see the phantoms our absolute reality, our own perception. Plato says for most of all our life we are in shadows, phantoms of the real reality. No one chooses to be in the cave that’s just where we happen to begin.In our world the cave is a physical world, we blindly just accept things as is, as that is what we are taught from birth. From birth we are taught, what to do, how to act, how to speak as what is expected from us to become responsible full functioning adults in society. We do not seek further knowledge, we do not question, we stay confined in our cave of darkness.The images of shadows and chains, fire and light represent the forms of knowledge and truth. Shadows and chains refer to the darkness, the lack of truth and knowledge, our inability to break free from conformity. This is seen as the reality, the truth and real. Chains are symbols of ignorance. Fire and light are the truth set free, the realness exposed in the open, the hard reality. The understanding of the true reality of our world. To gain the true, real understanding of the world we need philosophical reasoning according to Plato. The light is the sun. The darkness opposed to the light refers to justice, bad versus the good. The metaphors in the allegory of the cave represents the educational process as students are ignorant about the possibilities the educational process has in store for them. They are like the slaves forced by the chains to face only the back of the cave, the darkness and only once they gain knowledge and a sparks light inside of them to enquire more about what they are learning, are they then set free from the cave to learn the reality of the world through knowledge. Plato suggest that education is personal, and it is the transition from darkness to the light. Plato suggest that education is seeing things differently. The process of active participation leads to ultimate transformation where one reaches your full potential. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning not filling the student with knowledge. A teacher can fill students with facts, but it is up to the student to understand them. According to Plato, education is active participation. Change is uncomfortable and overwhelming. However, we should embrace the change and endure that short while of discomfort it causes. The prisoners will need time to gradually adjust to the world outside the cave as their eyes are used to the dark, so the bright light causes sensitivity, which will gradually stop after a while in the sun’s light. Plato says that the prisoners does not want to progress in the way he sees and his understanding of reality. The prisoner’s whole mindset will also need to change as that which they took as the reality and truth was the darkness and, in the light, they will see that they only knew the phantoms of the whole reality. The prisoners will for the first time grasp the vastness and sublime nature of the universe. As Plato says: previously he had been looking merely at phantoms, now he is nearer to the true nature of being. By being free, the prisoner has reached enlightenment as he has for the first time seen the true reality, the light. The cave prisoners will do anything in their power to protect their perception of the truth. By telling the cave slaves they are wrong, the freed slave caused deep offence and endangered his life. The prisoners do not want to be free because they are comfortable in their own ignorance, and they are hostile to people who want to give them more information. (Lodhi, 2017) The process of progressing out of the cave is about getting educated and it is a difficult process; in fact, it requires assistance and sometimes force. (Lodhi, 2017)Education involves seeing the truth. Plato believed that you must desire to learn new things; if one does not desire to learn what is true, then you cannot force them to learn. The prisoner had to have the desire and persistence to learn. In the same way, students themselves must be active,nobody can get an education for you; you must get it for yourself, and this will sometimes be a painful process. According to Plato, a teacher’s job is to lead you somewhere, and to make you question your beliefs so that you can come to your own conclusion about things; thus, education is a personal journey. The purpose of education is critical thinking. (Lodhi, 2017)In my opinion I cannot agree more with Plato’s parable, to reach one’s full potential, we are required to be lifelong learners actively seeking the light, focusing on the truth which is knowledge. The physical world needs critical thinkers, not passive society members.