Plato’s Homeschool of the Forms… and My Homeschool in the Cave

plato and aristotleI will regularly refer to the Homeschool of the Forms and the Homeschool in the Cave. Are you familiar with Plato’s Land of Forms? It is in that lovely place that the Homeschool of the Forms can be found. Let me explain.

Each of us has the ability to conceive an ideal in our minds. We can imagine a perfect circle. We can imagine a perfect cat, we can imagine perfect justice, and we can even imagine a perfect homeschool. For Plato, these ideals exist in the Land of Forms, and serve as the archetypes, or molds, from which all (imperfect) copies are generated in our world. To teach this concept, he used the allegory of the cave.

platon_allegorieHere we see a cave dweller, who has spent his life looking at a rock wall. On that wall, shadows of objects are presented. In this way, he has some idea of a vase, or a cat, or a face. He can grasp the idea, and identify another similar object that is presented through its shadow. But he exists in a world that does not contain the perfect Forms themselves. He can conceive of the Forms through their imperfect shadows in his cave world, but he cannot hold the Forms in his hands.

And so I, and you, homeschool in the cave. We strive to show our children the ideals of truth, beauty, and goodness, through the imperfect examples we have access to in an imperfect world. We work hard to educate our children through sickness, disruptions, lack of materials, and lack of our own knowledge.

Never forget that the Homeschool of the Forms does not exist in our world. We can conceive of it, we can strive for it, but we cannot have it. Our job is to lead our children toward the light; we don’t need to reach it to have done our job well.

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