More thoughts on education from Plato’s Laws:
But if you ask what is the good of education in general, the answer is easy-that education makes good men, and that good men act nobly, and conquer their enemies in battle, because they are good.
And Plato continues:
According to my view, any one who would be good at anything must practise that thing from his youth upwards, both in sport and earnest, in its several branches: for example, he who is to be a good builder, should play at building children’s houses; he who is to be a good husbandman, at tilling the ground; and those who have the care of their education should provide them when young with mimic tools. They should learn beforehand the knowledge which they will afterwards require for their art. For example, the future carpenter should learn to measure or apply the line in play; and the future warrior should learn riding, or some other exercise, for amusement, and the teacher should endeavour to direct the children’s inclinations and pleasures, by the help of amusements, to their final aim in life. The most important part of education is right training in the nursery. The soul of the child in his play should be guided to the love of that sort of excellence in which when he grows up to manhood he will have to be perfected.
To be a good man, one must be trained in goodness from childhood. Cultivating virtue, moral excellence, begins in the nursery and this creates good men, and Plato reminds us of the importance of the earliest years of life.