The following is my own adaptation of a portion of the Platonic dialogue, Phaedrus. I have exercised some artistic license in insinuating myself into the dialog, but I have respected the thrust of Plato’s original dialogue. I am grateful to Roger Shank for first pointing out the significance this selection.

Socrates: "I cannot help but feel, Crawford, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the image of life, but if you ask them a question, they are silent. The same may be said of words. You would think them to be intelligent, but if you want to inquire further, and put a question to the words, you always get the same words for an answer. Once words have been written down, they are scattered everywhere, among people who may not understand them, and may not know whom to ask about them. If these words are misused or misinterpreted, their creator cannot protect or explain them, and they cannot protect or explain themselves."

Crawford: "True, but the expository form remains our most popular means of communication."

Socrates: "But is there not another kind of communication far better and more powerful than the expository form, related to the written word, but truer?"

Crawford: "What do you mean?"

Socrates: "I mean the intelligent word that is part of the mind of the learner, which can defend itself, and knows when to speak and when to be silent."

Crawford: You mean the living or interactive word, animated with intelligence, of which the written word is nothing more than an image?

Socrates: "Yes that is exactly what I mean." ...[there follows an extended analogy comparing the planting of seeds with the education of young minds]

" the garden of knowledge, the philosopher will sow and plant, but only for the sake of amusement; he will write down his words as protection against the forgetfulness of old age; he will savor their growth..."

Crawford: "A noble pastime, Socrates, the pastime of a man who takes joy in serious talk, and revels in discussions of justice and truth."

Socrates: "True, Crawford, but even nobler is the serious pursuit of the teacher, who, finding congenial students with whom to interact, sows and plants living words which, brought up in different mental soils, bear immortal fruit that confers the greatest kind of human happiness."

Crawford: "Golly!"