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Philosophy of Education

❶This is both their strength and their weakness. Employing constructivist methods of teaching in one's classroom forces students to take an active role in their education by making choices and assuming responsibility for intelligent inquiry and discovery.




What are the basic aims and ideals of the educational enterprise? What ought educators try to accomplish? It is worth noting that in the Western philosophical tradition at least, most of the major figures, with varying articulations and qualifications, regarded the fostering of reason or rationality as a fundamental educational aim.

It is impressive that most of the philosophically interesting issues touched upon above, plus additional ones not alluded to here, were addressed in one of the early masterpieces of the Western intellectual tradition—Plato's Republic. Whitehead somewhere remarked that the history of Western philosophy is nothing but a series of footnotes to Plato, and if the Meno and the Laws are added to the Republic , the same is true of the history of educational thought and of philosophy of education in particular.

At various points throughout this essay the discussion shall return to Plato, and at the end there shall be a brief discussion of two other great figures in the field—Rousseau and Dewey. But the account of the field needs to start with some features of it that are apt to cause puzzlement, or that make describing its topography difficult. These include, but are not limited to, the interactions between philosophy of education and its parent discipline.

There is a large—and ever expanding—number of works designed to give guidance to the novice setting out to explore the domain of philosophy of education; most if not all of the academic publishing houses have at least one representative of this genre on their list, and the titles are mostly variants of the following archetypes: The overall picture that emerges from even a sampling of this collective is not pretty; the field lacks intellectual cohesion, and from the perspective taken in this essay there is a widespread problem concerning the rigor of the work and the depth of scholarship—although undoubtedly there are islands, but not continents, of competent philosophical discussion of difficult and socially important issues of the kind listed earlier.

On the positive side—the obverse of the lack of cohesion—there is, in the field as a whole, a degree of adventurousness in the form of openness to ideas and radical approaches, a trait that is sometimes lacking in other academic fields. Part of the explanation for this diffuse state of affairs is that, quite reasonably, many philosophers of education have the goal reinforced by their institutional affiliation with Schools of Education and their involvement in the initial training of teachers of contributing not to philosophy but to educational policy and practice.

Some individuals work directly on issues of classroom practice, others identify as much with fields such as educational policy analysis, curriculum theory, teacher education, or some particular subject-matter domain such as math or science education, as they do with philosophy of education. It is still fashionable in some quarters to decry having one's intellectual agenda shaped so strongly as this by concerns emanating from a field of practice; but as Stokes has made clear, many of the great, theoretically fruitful research programs in natural science had their beginnings in such practical concerns—as Pasteur's groundbreaking work illustrates.

It is dangerous to take the theory versus practice dichotomy too seriously. However, there is another consequence of this institutional housing of the vast majority of philosophers of education that is worth noting—one that is not found in a comparable way in philosophers of science, for example, who almost always are located in departments of philosophy—namely, that experience as a teacher, or in some other education-related role, is a qualification to become a philosopher of education that in many cases is valued at least as much as depth of philosophical training.

The issue is not that educational experience is irrelevant—clearly it can be highly pertinent—but it is that in the tradeoff with philosophical training, philosophy often loses. And this is exacerbated by the absence of philosophy of education from the list of courses offered by many philosophy departments and of faculty members claiming it as an area of specialization or competence, so much so that far too many philosophy graduate students are unaware of the basic character of the subject or even that it constitutes a part of the parent discipline's portfolio [Siegel b].

But there are still other factors at work that contribute to the field's diffuseness, that all relate in some way to the nature of the discipline of philosophy itself. In describing the field of philosophy, and in particular the sub-field of philosophy of education, one quickly runs into a difficulty not found to anything like the same degree in other disciplines. For example, although there are some internal differences in opinion, nevertheless there seems to be quite a high degree of consensus within the domain of quantum physics about which researchers are competent members of the field and which ones are not, and what work is a strong or potential contribution.

If this bifurcation presents a problem for adequately delineating the field of philosophy, the difficulties grow tenfold or more with respect to philosophy of education.

It will not take long for a person who consults several of the introductory texts alluded to earlier to encounter a number of different bodies of work that have by one source or another been regarded as part of the domain of philosophy of education; the inclusion of some of these as part of the field is largely responsible for the diffuse topography described earlier.

What follows is an informal and incomplete accounting. While these topics certainly can be, and have been, discussed with due care, often they have been pursued in loose but impressive language where exhortation substitutes for argumentation—and hence sometimes they are mistaken for works of philosophy of education.

In the following discussion this genre shall be passed over in silence. Second, there is a corpus of work somewhat resembling the first, but where the arguments are tighter, and where the authors usually are individuals of some distinction whose insights are thought-provoking—possibly because they have a degree of familiarity with some branch of educational activity, having been teachers, school principals, religious leaders, politicians, journalists, and the like.

While these works frequently touch on philosophical issues, they are not pursued in any philosophical depth and can hardly be considered as contributions to the scholarship of the discipline. Huxley, and the writings on progressive schooling by A. Neill of Summerhill school. Some textbooks even include extracts from the writings or recorded sayings of such figures as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and Jesus of Nazareth for the latter three, in works spanning more than half a century, see Ulich , and Murphy Third, there are a number of educational theorists and researchers whose field of activity is not philosophy but for example human development or learning theory, who in their technical work and sometimes in their non-technical books and reflective essays explicitly raise philosophical issues or adopt philosophical modes of argumentation—and do so in ways worthy of careful study.

Their work might be subjected to scrutiny for being educationally important, but their conceptual or philosophical contributions are rarely focused upon. Philosophers of the physical and biological sciences are far less prone to make this mistake about the meta-level work of reflective scientists in these domains.

The educational theorists and researchers who are relevant as exemplars here are the behaviorist psychologist B. Fourth, and in contrast to the group above, there is a type of work that is traditionally but undeservedly given a prominent place in the annals of philosophy of education, and which thereby generates a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about the field. These are the books and reflective essays on educational topics that were written by mainstream philosophers, a number of whom are counted among the greatest in the history of the discipline.

The catch is this: Even great philosophers do not always write philosophy! The reflections being referred to contain little if any philosophical argumentation, and usually they were not intended to be contributions to the literature on any of the great philosophical questions.

In Russell's case the royalties were used to support a progressive school he was running with his then-current wife. Locke, Kant, and Hegel also are among those who produced work of this genre. It should be noted that Russell also made serious contributions to philosophy of education of the technical sort discussed below.

John Locke is an interesting case in point. He had been requested by a cousin and her husband—possibly in part because of his medical training—to give advice on the upbringing of their son and heir; the youngster seems to have troubled his parents, most likely because he had learning difficulties. Locke, then in exile in Europe, wrote the parents a series of letters in which alongside sensible advice about such matters as the priorities in the education of a landed gentleman, and about making learning fun for the boy, there were a few strange items such as the advice that the boy should wear leaky shoes in winter so that he would be toughened up!

The letters eventually were printed in book form under the title Some Thoughts Concerning Education , and seem to have had enormous influence down the ages upon educational practice; after two centuries the book had run through some 35 English editions and well over thirty foreign editions, and it is still in print and is frequently excerpted in books of readings in philosophy of education.

In stark contrast, several of Locke's major philosophical writings—the Essay Concerning Human Understanding , and the Letter on Toleration —have been overlooked by most educational theorists over the centuries, even though they have enormous relevance for educational philosophy, theory, policy, and practice.

It is especially noteworthy that the former of these books was the foundation for an approach to psychology—associationism—that thrived during the nineteenth century. Fifth, and finally, there is a large body of work that clearly falls within the more technically-defined domain of philosophy of education.

Three historical giants of the field are Plato, Rousseau, and Dewey, and there are a dozen or more who would be in competition for inclusion along with them; the short-list of leading authors from the second-half of the 20 th century would include Israel Scheffler, Richard Peters and Paul Hirst, with many jostling for the next places—but the choices become cloudy as we approach the present day, for schisms between philosophical schools have to be negotiated.

It is important to note, too, that there is a sub-category within this domain of literature that is made up of work by philosophers who are not primarily identified as philosophers of education, and who might or might not have had much to say directly about education, but whose philosophical work has been drawn upon by others and applied very fruitfully to educational issues. A volume edited by Amelie Rorty contains essays on the education-related thought, or relevance, of many historically important philosophers; significantly the essays are written almost entirely by philosophers rather than by members of the philosophy of education community.

This is both their strength and their weakness. We turn next to the difficulty in picturing the topography of the field that is presented by the influence of the last-mentioned category of philosophers. As sketched earlier, the domain of education is vast, the issues it raises are almost overwhelmingly numerous and are of great complexity, and the social significance of the field is second to none.

These features make the phenomena and problems of education of great interest to a wide range of socially-concerned intellectuals, who bring with them their own favored conceptual frameworks—concepts, theories and ideologies, methods of analysis and argumentation, metaphysical and other assumptions, criteria for selecting evidence that has relevance for the problems that they consider central, and the like.

No wonder educational discourse has occasionally been likened to Babel, for the differences in backgrounds and assumptions means that there is much mutual incomprehension. In the midst of the melee sit the philosophers of education. It is no surprise, then, to find that the significant intellectual and social trends of the past few centuries, together with the significant developments in philosophy, all have had an impact on the content and methods of argument in philosophy of education—Marxism, psycho-analysis, existentialism, phenomenology, positivism, post-modernism, pragmatism, neo-liberalism, the several waves of feminism, analytic philosophy in both its ordinary language and more formal guises, are merely the tip of the iceberg.

It is revealing to note some of the names that were heavily-cited in a pair of recent authoritative collections in the field according to the indices of the two volumes, and in alphabetical order: Although this list conveys something of the diversity of the field, it fails to do it complete justice, for the influence of feminist philosophers is not adequately represented.

No one individual can have mastered work done by such a range of figures, representing as they do a number of quite different frameworks or approaches; and relatedly no one person stands as emblematic of the entire field of philosophy of education, and no one type of philosophical writing serves as the norm, either. At professional meetings, peace often reigns because the adherents of the different schools go their separate ways; but occasionally there are intellectually violent clashes, rivaling the tumult that greeted Derrida's nomination for an honorary degree at Cambridge in Traditionally there has been a time lag for developments in philosophy to migrate over into philosophy of education, but in this respect at least the two fields have been on a par.

Inevitably, however, traces of discord remain, and some groups still feel disenfranchised, but they are not quite the same groups as a few decades ago—for new intellectual paradigms have come into existence, and their adherents struggle to have their voices heard; and clearly it is the case that—reflecting the situation in —many analytically-trained philosophers of education find postmodern writings incomprehensible while scholars in the latter tradition are frequently dismissive if not contemptuous of work done by the former group.

In effect, then, the passage of time has made the field more, not less, diffuse. All this is evident in a volume published in in which the editor attempted to break down borders by initiating dialogue between scholars with different approaches to philosophy of education; her introductory remarks are revealing:.

There is an inward-looking tone to the questions posed here: Philosophy of education should focus upon itself, upon its own contents, methods, and practitioners.

And of course there is nothing new about this; for one thing, over forty years ago a collection of readings—with several score of entries—was published under the title What is Philosophy of Education? It is worth noting, too, that the same attitude is not unknown in philosophy; Simmel is reputed to have said a century or so ago that philosophy is its own first problem. Having described the general topography of the field of philosophy of education, the focus can change to pockets of activity where from the perspective of the present authors interesting philosophical work is being, or has been, done—and sometimes this work has been influential in the worlds of educational policy or practice.

It is appropriate to start with a discussion of the rise and partial decline—but lasting influence of—analytic philosophy of education. Conceptual analysis, careful assessment of arguments, the rooting out of ambiguity, the drawing of clarifying distinctions—which make up at least part of the philosophical analysis package—have been respected activities within philosophy from the dawn of the field.

These overlap and intertwine, of course. Just as analytic techniques gained prominence and for a time hegemonic influence during and after the rise of analytic philosophy early in the 20 th century, they came to dominate philosophy of education in the third quarter of that century Curren, Robertson and Hager The pioneering work in the modern period entirely in an analytic mode was the short monograph by C.

Hardie, Truth and Fallacy in Educational Theory ; reissued in In his Introduction, Hardie who had studied with C. Richards made it clear that he was putting all his eggs into the ordinary-language-analysis basket:.

Then some basic ideas of Herbart and Dewey were subjected to similar treatment. Hardie's hard-nosed approach can be illustrated by the following: About a decade after the end of the Second World War the floodgates opened and a stream of work in the analytic mode appeared; the following is merely a sample. Israel Scheffler, who became the paramount philosopher of education in North America, produced a number of important works including The Language of Education , that contained clarifying and influential analyses of definitions he distinguished reportive, stipulative, and programmatic types and the logic of slogans often these are literally meaningless, and should be seen as truncated arguments.

Ennis edited the volume Language and Concepts in Education , and R. Archambault edited Philosophical Analysis and Education , consisting of essays by a number of prominent British writers, most notably R. Among the most influential products of APE was the analysis developed by Hirst and Peters and Peters of the concept of education itself. A criminal who has been reformed has changed for the better, and has developed a commitment to the new mode of life if one or other of these conditions does not hold, a speaker of standard English would not say the criminal has been reformed.

Clearly the analogy with reform breaks down with respect to the knowledge and understanding conditions. The concept of indoctrination was also of great interest to analytic philosophers of education, for, it was argued, getting clear about precisely what constitutes indoctrination also would serve to clarify the border that demarcates it from acceptable educational processes.

Unfortunately, ordinary language analysis did not produce unanimity of opinion about where this border was located, and rival analyses were put forward. Thus, whether or not an instructional episode was a case of indoctrination was determined by the content taught, the intention of the instructor, the methods of instruction that had been used, the outcomes of the instruction, or of course by some combination of these.

After a period of dominance, for a number of important reasons the influence of APE went into decline. First, there were growing criticisms that the work of analytic philosophers of education had become focused upon minutiae and in the main was bereft of practical import.

It is worth noting that the article in Time , cited earlier, had put forward the same criticism of mainstream philosophy. Then the paper will be evaluated with regards to its style correct English usage, thematic focus, APA style, etc.

Overall, the paper is worth 30 points. Because this class fulfills a writing graduation skills requirement, it is required that you pass the writing assignment in order to pass this course whether or not you are completing your bachelor's degree at Augsburg College.

This paper will be posted electronically on Google Drive for feedback and review. Several documents which discuss how to develop your paper will be distributed in class or are available on this webpage. Several in-class activities will also assist you in identifying and developing your educational philosophy. Visitors can just type in the item they need to cite, and EasyBib will provide the correct citation for each entry. Some services on the website are always free, but there is also a premium service that visitors can pay for, if they so desire.

Sponsored by the Springer group, the service allows users to click on a paper they find online, and it will be automatically stored in their personal library. The service is "social" in a matter of speaking, as visitors can share this library of references and papers with others. CiteULike also has a flexible filing system based on tags, and visitors can customize these tags as they see fit. It's a fantastic resource, and it's compatible with all operating systems.

It's quite easy with this website, Cite This For Me. Visitors can take advantage of a user-friendly interference to insert their own citations from books, journal articles, websites, and more. I believe that all children have the ability to learn and the right to a quality education. All youths, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and capabilities should have the opportunity to learn from professional, well-informed teachers who are sophisticated and knowledgeable, both in their area of expertise and life.

Certainly, every child has different learning styles and aptitudes; however, by having a personal relationship with every student, a teacher can give each an equal chance of success. By recognizing every student's potential and having separate, individual goals for each, a teacher can accommodate personal needs and abilities and encourage the pursuit of academic aspirations.

I think that teaching and learning are a reciprocal processes. When teachers nurture individual talents in each child, educators can build self-esteem and may encourage a lifelong skill. By supporting these special abilities, teachers can, for example, guide students' research, and students can, in turn, enlighten teachers about subjects in which they may not be as knowledgebale. This mutual respect for individual skills cultivates a professional academic relationship, leading to a give-and-take educational alliance.

This liaison allows students to feel that they are on equal intellectual ground with their teachers, thus creating a strong academic atmosphere. In addition to having a reciprocal relationship with one's students, it is vitally important for teachers to form partnerships with fellow educators. Solid communication among teachers will promote the sharing of ideas and methods and provide a network of support.


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Philosophy of Education (Example #1) My personal goal for my future classroom is to challenge students and watch them grow to their full potential. I want to take students at different levels and see them develop together for the.

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- My Philosophy of Education As I start to write this paper, I begin to think of the reasons why I want to become a teacher. The most important reason is my love for children. When I was little, I always dreamed about being a teacher and I would always pretend to be teaching a classroom.

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My Philosophy of Education essaysI believe the purposes of education are necessary for the child to live a successful life. Not only do children learn mathematics, science, history, or english at school, they also learn the social economics and the development of speaking. Everything taught in sch. A philosophy of education statement, sometimes called a teaching statement, should be a staple in every teacher's portfolio. Your statement of educational philosophy is an opportunity to define what teaching means to you as an educator, as well as describe how and why you teach as you do. These.