Education is the Key in Sir Thomas More's Utopia
Sir Thomas More's Utopia is a blueprint, not for a perfect society, but for a better one than what More saw and experienced in the 16th century. The goals in More's Utopia are social harmony, the good of all, and the contention of its citizens. Every institution in Utopia promotes these goals by fostering certain values and suppressing, as much as possible, certain vices. The main driving force in the creation and maintenance of the Utopian state and its goals is education.Education in Utopia Instills the Proper Purpose for Living
Every person, male and female, is given a formal, primary education. This education engrains in each citizen a behavioral code of conduct that is not written in stone, but rather on each heart. It is learned early in life that behaviors that promote the common good are not only the right ones, but reasonable and logical as well. The purpose is to create a certain kind of citizen who will look out for and be sensitive to the needs of the greater good, not the self.
Everyone receives vocational training. Because one of the principles of Utopia is that every person should contribute to the basic necessities of life, farming is considered the responsibility of everyone and is required learning. Also, each Utopian is taught a special trade. This is usually something that he or she has a natural feel for and it must provide something for the greater good.
Education is a Lifelong Pursuit
Education is a continuing pursuit for Utopians. They do not waste leisure time on idleness or self-indulgence. Outside of the primary and vocational training that everyone receives, there are public lectures provided every morning on various intellectual topics. This is important because Utopians believe that by intellectual pursuits, one can gain not only pleasure, but also a contented life. Moral training is put forth on a continual basis. Even games have an educational purpose to them.
Educational Philosophy Has Best Interest of Society in Mind
The philosophical argument that serves as Utopia's foundation is that in order for a society to exist wherein all are content, a special kind of citizen must be trained to act in a specific way. This training acts as a prod to encourage virtuous characteristics like diligence, tolerance, civic mindedness, belief in the equality of all, and compassion. At the same time, the goal is to suppress qualities like pride, greed, jealousy, sloth, and selfishness.
All of the training and education received by Utopians throughout their lives has one main goal in mind: to promote virtue and good conduct in a state where the good of the whole is the highest objective. The better the education, the less need there will be for a multiplicity of laws to order and rule a society. For Sir Thomas More, the key to a better society is not legislation, but education.
Sources: More, Sir Thomas. Utopia. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. 1964
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