Theaetetus is introduced by Theodorus, a teacher of geometery who praises Theatetus for being acute, manly, and above all, a man of unique and peculiar gentleness.
But is Theaetetus, a man of some nobility, a good student? Theodorus praises him for being like “the quiet flow of a stream of oil,” for a sort of placidness or docility that Theodorus marks out a good student. This tranquility of spirit seems impossible for any learner, especially for a learner who is yet young. The learning process is a difficult process–it demands tripping and falling, stopping and starting again, but Theaetetus apparently has not yet begun this process.

In this way, he resembles many of the homeschool students that I have met in my short years teaching. He is gentle, well-behaved, and noble, but lacks the spiritedness necessary for true greatness. It’s quite possible that his time with Theodorus, who lectures, has lulled his once noble soul to sleep. The entertainments my students are used to in learning, even in homeschooling, prevents them from entering the difficult disruptions of the learning process.
But this is what we will eventually see in Theodorus, who resists entering the conversation until absolutely compelled to by Socrates. He wants only to be entertained, and so he likes students who are similar.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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