Philosophy of education: Wikis

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Philosophy of education is a field of applied philosophy, drawing from the traditional fields of philosophy (ontology, ethics, epistemology, etc.) and its approaches (speculative philosophy, prescriptive, and/or analytic) to address questions regarding education policy, human development, and curriculum theory, to name a few. Put another way, philosophy of education is the philosophical study of the purpose, process, nature and ideals of education. For example, it might study what constitutes upbringing and education, the values and norms revealed through upbringing and educational practices, the limits and legitimization of education as an academic discipline, and the relation between educational theory and practice.

Philosophy of education can be considered a branch of both philosophy and education. The multiple ways of conceiving education coupled with the multiple fields and approaches of philosophy make philosophy of education not only a very diverse field but also one that is not easily defined. Although there is overlap, philosophy of education should not be conflated with educational theory, which is not defined specifically by the application of philosophy to questions in education.

Although philosophers around the world have asked questions regarding education for millennia, as an academic discipline with its own place in the university it is relatively new. Nonetheless, it is an internationally well-established field, with departments and programs around the world.[citation needed]

Contents

History

A chronological summary of the work of some of the most important and influential educational philosophers in Western culture follows.

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Plato

Date: 424/423 BC - 348/347 BC

Plato is the earliest important educational thinker. He saw education as the key to creating and sustaining his Republic. He advocated extreme methods: removing children from their mothers' care and raising them as wards of the state, with great care being taken to differentiate children suitable to the various castes, the highest receiving the most education, so that they could act as guardians of the city and care for the less able. Education would be holistic, including facts, skills, physical discipline, and music and art, which he considered the highest form of endeavor.

For Plato the individual was best served by being subordinated to a just society. Plato's belief that talent was distributed non-genetically and thus must be found in children born in any social class. His belief moves us away from aristocracy as a political system. He builds on this by insisting that those suitably gifted are to be trained by the state so that they may be qualified to assume the role of a ruling class. What this establishes is essentially a system of selective public education premised on the assumption that an educated minority of the population are, by virtue of their education (and inborn educability), sufficient for healthy governance. Today's tracking systems could be justified with Plato's ideas.

Plato should be considered foundational for democratic philosophies of education both because later key thinkers treat him as such, and because, while Plato's methods are autocratic and his motives leaned toward a meritocracy, he nonetheless prefigures much later democratic philosophy of education. This is different in degree rather than kind from most versions of, say, the American experiment with democratic education, which has usually assumed that only some students should be educated to the fullest, while others may, acceptably, fall by the wayside.

Plato's writings contain some of the following ideas: Elementary education would be confined to the guardian class till the age of 18, followed by two years of compulsory military training and then by higher education for those who qualified. While elementary education made the soul responsive to the environment, higher education helped the soul to search for truth which illuminated it. Both boys and girls got the same kind of education. Elementary education consisted of music and gymnastics, designed to train and blend gentle and fierce qualities in the individual and create a harmonious person.

At the age of 20, a selection was made. The best one would take an advanced course in mathematics, geometry, astronomy and harmonics. The first course in the scheme of higher education would last for ten years. It would be for those who had a flair for science. At the age of 30 there would be another selection; those who qualified would study dialectics and metaphysics, logic and philosophy for the next five years. They would study the idea of good and first principles of being. After accepting junior positions in the army for 15 years, a man would have completed his theoretical and practical education by the age of 50.

Aristotle

Date: 384 BC - 322 BC

Only fragments of Aristotle's treatise On Education are still in existence. We thus know of his philosophy of education primarily through brief passages in other works. Aristotle considered human nature, habit and reason to be equally important forces to be cultivated in education. Thus, for example, he considered repetition to be a key tool to develop good habits. The teacher was to lead the student systematically; this differs, for example, from Socrates' emphasis on questioning his listeners to bring out their own ideas (though the comparison is perhaps incongruous since Socrates was dealing with adults).

Aristotle placed great emphasis on balancing the theoretical and practical aspects of subjects taught. Subjects he explicitly mentions as being important included reading, writing and mathematics; music; physical education; literature and history; and a wide range of sciences. He also mentioned the importance of play.

One of education's primary missions for Aristotle, perhaps its most important, was to produce good and virtuous citizens for the polis. All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.

Avicenna

Date: 980 AD - 1037 AD

In the medieval Islamic world, an elementary school was known as a maktab, which dates back to at least the 10th century. Like madrasahs (which referred to higher education), a maktab was often attached to a mosque. In the 11th century, Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the West), wrote a chapter dealing with the maktab entitled "The Role of the Teacher in the Training and Upbringing of Children", as a guide to teachers working at maktab schools. He wrote that children can learn better if taught in classes instead of individual tuition from private tutors, and he gave a number of reasons for why this is the case, citing the value of competition and emulation among pupils as well as the usefulness of group discussions and debates. Ibn Sina described the curriculum of a maktab school in some detail, describing the curricula for two stages of education in a maktab school.[1]

Ibn Sina wrote that children should be sent to a maktab school from the age of 6 and be taught primary education until they reach the age of 14. During which time, he wrote that they should be taught the Qur'an, Islamic metaphysics, language, literature, Islamic ethics, and manual skills (which could refer to a variety of practical skills).[1]

Ibn Sina refers to the secondary education stage of maktab schooling as the period of specialization, when pupils should begin to acquire manual skills, regardless of their social status. He writes that children after the age of 14 should be given a choice to choose and specialize in subjects they have an interest in, whether it was reading, manual skills, literature, preaching, medicine, geometry, trade and commerce, craftsmanship, or any other subject or profession they would be interested in pursuing for a future career. He wrote that this was a transitional stage and that there needs to be flexibility regarding the age in which pupils graduate, as the student's emotional development and chosen subjects need to be taken into account.[2]

The empiricist theory of 'tabula rasa' was also developed by Ibn Sina. He argued that the "human intellect at birth is rather like a tabula rasa, a pure potentiality that is actualized through education and comes to know" and that knowledge is attained through "empirical familiarity with objects in this world from which one abstracts universal concepts" which is developed through a "syllogistic method of reasoning; observations lead to prepositional statements, which when compounded lead to further abstract concepts." He further argued that the intellect itself "possesses levels of development from the material intellect (al-‘aql al-hayulani), that potentiality that can acquire knowledge to the active intellect (al-‘aql al-fa‘il), the state of the human intellect in conjunction with the perfect source of knowledge."[3]

Ibn Tufail

Date: c. 1105 - 1185

In the 12th century, the Andalusian-Arabian philosopher and novelist Ibn Tufail (known as "Abubacer" or "Ebn Tophail" in the West) demonstrated the empiricist theory of 'tabula rasa' as a thought experiment through his Arabic philosophical novel, Hayy ibn Yaqzan, in which he depicted the development of the mind of a feral child "from a tabula rasa to that of an adult, in complete isolation from society" on a desert island, through experience alone. The Latin translation of his philosophical novel, Philosophus Autodidactus, published by Edward Pococke the Younger in 1671, had an influence on John Locke's formulation of tabula rasa in "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding".[4]

Thomas Aquinas

Date: c. 1225 - 1274

See Religious perennialism

John Milton

Date: 1608-1674

See Of Education

John Locke

Date: 1632-1704

See Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), Of the Conduct of the Understanding, and Essay concerning Human Understanding

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Date: 1712-1778

Rousseau, though he paid his respects to Plato's philosophy, rejected it as impractical due to the decayed state of society. Rousseau also had a different theory of human development; where Plato held that people are born with skills appropriate to different castes (though he did not regard these skills as being inherited), Rousseau held that there was one developmental process common to all humans. This was an intrinsic, natural process, of which the primary behavioral manifestation was curiosity. This differed from Locke's 'tabula rasa' in that it was an active process deriving from the child's nature, which drove the child to learn and adapt to its surroundings.

Rousseau wrote in his book Emile that all children are perfectly designed organisms, ready to learn from their surroundings so as to grow into virtuous adults, but due to the malign influence of corrupt society, they often fail to do so. Rousseau advocated an educational method which consisted of removing the child from society—for example, to a country home—and alternately conditioning him through changes to environment and setting traps and puzzles for him to solve or overcome.

Rousseau was unusual in that he recognized and addressed the potential of a problem of legitimation for teaching. He advocated that adults always be truthful with children, and in particular that they never hide the fact that the basis for their authority in teaching was purely one of physical coercion: "I'm bigger than you." Once children reached the age of reason, at about 12, they would be engaged as free individuals in the ongoing process of their own. ROUSSEAU once said;the child should grow up without adult interfierance(the child must be guided to surfer from the experience of the natural concequencies of his own act or behaviour.when experince the concequencies of his own act, he advice himself)

Friedrich Fröbel

Date: 1782–1852

John Dewey

Date: 1859-1952

In Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, New York: Macmillan. (1916), Dewey stated that in its broadest sense education is the means of the "social continuity of life" given the "primary ineluctable facts of the birth and death of each one of the constituent members in a social group". Education is therefore a necessity, for "the life of the group goes on."[5]

Dewey was a relentless campaigner for reform of education, pointing out that the authoritarian, strict, pre-ordained knowledge approach of modern traditional education was too concerned with delivering knowledge, and not enough with understanding students' actual experiences.[6]

JOHN DEWRY onces said;there should be education through adult interfierance(for an imatured person to be thaught there must be a matured person)

Rudolf Steiner

Date: 1861-1925

Steiner, a philosopher and writer, created a holistic educational impulse that has become known as Waldorf Education. He emphasizes a balance of developing the intellect (or head), feeling and artistic life (or heart), and practical skills (or hands). His theory of child development, which divides education into three discrete developmental stages, predates but has close similarities to Piaget's description of stages of development. In the first stage (birth to 6 years), what Steiner considered the young child's natural impulse to imitate is met through an emphasis on practical activities and a healthy environment; the young child should meet only goodness. Steiner considered the foundation of elementary education to be a child's longing to experience the inner authority of a teacher; the elementary school-age child should meet beauty. From 12 years on, the young person's awakening forces of judgment and intellect are met through a progressive emphasis on truth; secondary school-age students should meet opportunities to practically fulfill their natural idealism.

Steiner based Waldorf education on his spiritual philosophy (anthroposophy). Throughout the education, a great importance is placed upon giving freedom for teachers to be creative agents; schools should be empowered to shape their own curriculum and teachers to form the daily life of the classroom. Steiner expected that schools' internal governance structures to provide necessary communication, training and development would be led by the teachers themselves.

Maria Montessori

Date: 1870-1952

Jean Piaget

Date: 1896-1980

William Heard Kilpatrick

Date: 1871-1965

William Chandler Bagley

Date: 1874-1946

Jerome Bruner

Date: 1915-

Another important contributor to the inquiry method in education is Bruner. His books The Process of Education and Toward a Theory of Instruction are landmarks in conceptualizing learning and curriculum development. He argued that any subject can be taught in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development. This notion was an underpinning for his concept of the spiral curriculum which posited the idea that a curriculum should revisit basic ideas, building on them until the student had grasped the full formal concept. He emphasized intuition as a neglected but essential feature of productive thinking. He felt that interest in the material being learned was the best stimulus for learning rather than external motivation such as grades. Bruner developed the concept of discovery learning which promoted learning as a process of constructing new ideas based on current or past knowledge. Students are encouraged to discover facts and relationships and continually build on what they already know.

Harry S. Broudy

Date: 1905-1988

Maxine Greene

Date: ? -

Paulo Freire

Date: 1921-97

A Brazilian committed to the cause of educating the impoverished peasants of his nation and collaborating with them in the pursuit of their liberation from oppression, Freire is best-known for his attack on what he called the "banking concept of education," in which the student was viewed as an empty account to be filled by the teacher. Freire also suggests that a deep reciprocity be inserted into our notions of teacher and student; close to suggesting that the teacher-student dichotomy should be completely abolished, he describes the roles of the participants in the classroom as the teacher-student (a teacher who learns) and the student-teacher (a learner who teaches). In its early, strong form this kind of classroom has sometimes been criticized on the grounds that it can mask rather than overcome the teacher's authority.

Aspects of the Freirian philosophy have been highly influential in academic debates over 'participatory development' and development more generally. Freire's emphasis on emancipation through interactive participation has been used as a rationale for the participatory focus of development, as it is held that 'participation' in any form can lead to empowerment of poor or marginalised groups.

Nel Noddings

Date: 1929–

Noddings' first sole-authored book Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984) followed close on the 1982 publication of Carol Gilligan’s ground-breaking work in the ethics of care In a Different Voice. While her work on ethics continued, with the publication of Women and Evil (1989) and later works on moral education, most of her later publications have been on the philosophy of education and educational theory. Her most significant works in these areas have been Educating for Intelligent Belief or Unbelief (1993) and Philosophy of Education (1995).

Allan Bloom

Date: 1930-1992

Bloom, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, argued for a traditional Great Books-based liberal education in his lengthy essay The Closing of the American Mind.

Professional organizations and associations

Organisation Nationality Comment
International Network of Philosophers of Education Worldwide INPE is dedicated to fostering dialogue amongst philosophers of education around the world. It sponsors an international conference every other year.
Philosophy of Education Society USA PES is the national society for philosophy of education in the United States of America. This site provides information about PES, its services, history, and publications, and links to online resources relevant to the philosophy of education.
Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain UK PESGB promotes the study, teaching and application of philosophy of education. It has an international membership. The site provides: a guide to the Society's activities and details about the Journal of Philosophy of Education and IMPACT.
Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Australasia
Canadian Philosophy of Education Society Canada CPES is devoted to philosophical inquiry into educational issues and their relevance for developing educative, caring, and just teachers, schools, and communities. The society welcomes inquiries about membership from professionals and graduate students who share these interests.
The Nordic Society for Philosophy of Education The Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden The Nordic Society for Philosophy of Education is a society consisting of Nordic philosophers of education with the purpose of fostering dialogue among philosophers of education within and beyond the Nordic countries, and to coordinate, facilitate and support exchange of ideas, information and experiences.
Society for the Philosophical Study of Education USA This Society is a professional association of philosophers of education which holds annual meetings in the Midwest region of the United States of America and sponsors a discussion forum and a Graduate Student Competition. Affiliate of the American Philosophical Association.
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society USA, Ohio Valley OVPES is a professional association of philosophers of education. We host an annual conference in the Ohio Valley region of the United States of America and sponsor a refereed journal: Philosophical Studies in Education.
John Dewey Society USA The John Dewey Society exists to keep alive John Dewey's commitment to the use of critical and reflective intelligence in the search for solutions to crucial problems in education and culture.
Study Space for Philosophy and Education USA, Columbia University This study place exists for persons who wish to engage in philosophy and education because both have value for them, quite apart from their professional responsibilities. We think networked digital information resources will enable people to reverse this ever-narrowing professionalism. This site is maintained at the Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College, Columbia University.
Center for Dewey Studies USA, Southern Illinois University The Center for Dewey Studies at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was established in 1961 as the "Dewey Project." By virtue of its publications and research, the Center has become the international focal point for research on John Dewey's life and work.
The Spencer Foundation USA The Spencer Foundation provides funding for investigations that promise to yield new knowledge about education in the United States or abroad. The Foundation funds research grants that range in size from smaller grants that can be completed within a year, to larger, multi-year endeavours.
Humanities Research Network The Humanities Research Network is designed to encourage new ways of thinking about the overlapping domains of knowledge which are represented by the arts, humanities, social sciences, other related fields like law, and matauranga Maori, and new relationships among their practitioners.

Notes

  1. ^ a b M. S. Asimov, Clifford Edmund Bosworth (1999), The Age of Achievement: Vol 4, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 33–4, ISBN 8120815963 
  2. ^ M. S. Asimov, Clifford Edmund Bosworth (1999), The Age of Achievement: Vol 4, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 34–5, ISBN 8120815963 
  3. ^ Sajjad H. Rizvi (2006), Avicenna/Ibn Sina (CA. 980-1037), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  4. ^ G. A. Russell (1994), The 'Arabick' Interest of the Natural Philosophers in Seventeenth-Century England, pp. 224-262, Brill Publishers, ISBN 9004094598.
  5. ^ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/education-philosophy/ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Retrieved 2008-12-22
  6. ^ Neil, J. (2005) John Dewey, the Modern Father of Experiential Education. Wilderdom.com. Retrieved 6/12/07.

See also

Further reading

  • A Companion to the Philosophy of Education (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy), ed. by Randall Curren, Paperback edition, 2006, ISBN 1405140518
  • The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Education, ed. by Nigel Blake, Paul Smeyers, Richard Smith, and Paul Standish, Paperback edition, 2003, ISBN 0631221190
  • Philosophy of Education (Westview Press, Dimension of Philosophy Series), by Nel Noddings, Paperback edition, 1995, ISBN 0813384303

External links


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