I don’t hate Plato.
But, Sweetgirl thinks I do.
This misunderstanding all came about because of a discussion that Sweetman and I were desperately trying to have over pancakes this past weekend.
Unfortunately, we forget that little ears, though they may be engaged in another activity entirely, are always listening.
And, oftentimes, misconstruing.
I was innocently sharing about a radio segment that I had recently heard about an intriguing new book, titled “Plato at the Googleplex” by Rebecca Goldstein. I immediately loved the premise (Plate goes on a multicity speaking tour in the 21st century). But I loved, even more, the interviewers take on how Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is such an apt description of our current society’s fascination with social media – to the exclusion of face-to-face interactions. (If your eyes didn’t just glaze over – we really ARE meant to be the best of friends!)
Sweetman immediately jumped in to share of an article that he’d recently read in The Atlantic, titled “Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers”. If the above book didn’t hook me, this article definitely would have! The author, currently a Community College Professor, was retelling about a letter he received from a former student, who was now a factory worker. The professor had used one little quote from Schopenhauer, during one of his courses. The student was so struck by it, that he went in search of it. By reading each and every one of Schopenhauer’s books! Essentially, the student was thanking the teacher for introducing him to Schopenhauer. Even though, the class the author taught was on Plato.
It served to remind me of the great power each teacher holds to shape thinking.
Whether at Harvard, or the local community college.
Or, in my child’s Kindergarten classroom.
And so, as Sweetgirl’s Kindergarten teacher was sharing about how Sweetgirl seems smitten with any opportunity to play with playdough, I had to explain, again, how I detest playdough. I keep it well-hidden in our home. I only bring it out in case of extreme emergency. I can’t even think of an emergency that extreme. But, that I do, indeed abhor it, and so she only plays with it if I’m able to stand at the ready with a vacuum in one hand and a broom and dustpan in the other.
Back to our breakfast conversation, when Sweetgirl asked why we were talking about playdough, I tried to explain Plato to a six year old.
I quickly realized that is above my pay grade.
I left it at, “Plato was a wise person who lived a long time ago. PlayDOUGH is an awful thing that mama lets you play with once in a while.”
Philosophical simplification at it’s very best.
“But, why do you hate Plato, Mama?”
“I don’t” I foolishly answered.
“Can I play with it when we get home, then” she asked.
Well played, child.
I’d rather dig up Plato.