Explaining his conception of the nature of education in Book One of The Laws, Plato observes, “ . . . when we speak in terms of praise or blame about the bringing-up of each person, we call one man educated and another uneducated, although the uneducated man may be sometimes very well educated for the calling of a retail trader, or of a captain of a ship, and the like.” One who has been trained to be only a retail trader or a ship captain, Plato goes on, has received a training that is “mean and illiberal and is not worthy to be called education at all.”
Had there been an Athenian Naval Academy, Plato might have given consideration to the dilemma that confronts an institution of this sort. Should such an academy, which has as its purpose the formation of captains of ships, provide occupational training or should it educate? Should it attempt to do both? Can it do both?