First and foremost obvious there are a lot of famous philosophers in the painting which enlightens the title "School of Athens". The two main figures are Plato and Aristotle who basically started the revolution in theology and philosophy are of key focus. There are many other people portrayed, but what I found interesting were the sculptures being of Greek gods. The painting is located in the Vatican which could pose a conflict between religions. Also, there are other religious references in this painting (such as the building), which offer more of a balance between pagan and christian beliefs. To suggest that they coincide into one.
The people in the room are of different eras in time, but are all the greats in the progression of knowledge. To put this into another perspective, this would be like Babe Ruth, Emmitt Smith, Joe Montana, Joe Jackson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Deon Sanders, and countless other great athletes in one frame.
I mentioned the title a little bit earlier but after further thinking about it, it is our "school". There is no doubt that anybody in the academic realm today have learned or at least heard about the figures in this photograph. For us to progress further in knowledge further than wheat we already are, we must know from where we have came. And that, I feel is what is happening in this painting. Mr. Raphael is taking us to school.