[Paleopsych] Wiki: Philosophy_of_education

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>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    Philosophy of education is the study of such questions as what
    education is and what its purpose is, the nature of the knowing mind
    and the human subject, problems of authority, the relationship between
    education and society, etc. Since at least [7]Rousseau, philosophy of
    education has been linked to greater or lesser degrees to theories of
    [8]human development. The philosophy of education recognizes that the
    enterprise of civil society depends on the education of the young, and
    that to educate children as responsible, thoughtful and enterprising
    citizens is an intricate, challenging task requiring deep
    understanding of ethical principles, moral values, political theory,
    aesthetics, and economics; not to mention an understanding of who
    children are, in themselves and in society.

    Critics have accused the philosophy of education of being one the
    weakest subfields of both [9]philosophy and [10]education,
    disconnected from philosophy (by being insufficiently rigorous for the
    tastes of many "real" philosophers) and from the broader study and
    practice of education (by being too philosophical, too theoretical).
    However, its proponents state that it is an exacting and critical
    branch of philosophy and point out that there are few major
    philosophers who have not written on education, and who do not
    consider the philosophy of education a necessity. For example,
    [11]Plato undertakes to discuss all these elements in The Republic,
    beginning the formulation of educational philosophy that endures

    There are certain key voices in philosophy of education, who have
    contributed in large part to our basic understandings of what
    education is and can be, and who have also provided powerful critical
    perspectives revealing the problems in education as it has been
    practiced in various historical circumstances. There is one particular
    strand in educational philosophy that stands out as of extreme
    importance in the present time, which may be identified as the
    "Democratic Tradition", because it is a product of philosophers who,
    seeking to establish or preserve democracy, turn to education as a
    method of choice.
    [12]1 The democratic tradition of educational philosophy

    [13]1.1 Plato
    [14]1.2 Rousseau
    [15]1.3 B.F. Skinner
    [16]1.4 Dewey
    [17]1.5 Freire
    [18]2 Critical responses and counter-philosophies

    [19]2.1 Hannah Arendt
    [20]2.2 E.D. Hirsch
    [21]2.3 Neil Postman and the Inquiry Method
    [22]3 Related topics
    [23]4 See also

The democratic tradition of educational philosophy



    [26]Plato is the earliest important educational thinker. Education is,
    of course, a relatively minor part of his overall philosophical
    vision, but it is an important one. He saw education as the key to
    creating and sustaining his [27]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 rigidly censored music and art. For
    Plato, the individual was best served by being subordinated to a just
    society. [28]Thomas Jefferson, perhaps the first thinker to conceive
    of systematic public education in the modern sense, followed Plato in
    many respects, adapting him to the particular situation of American
    democracy in his own time.

    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
    meritocratic, he nonetheless prefigures much later democratic
    philosophy of education. Plato's belief that talent was distributed
    non-genetically and thus must be found in children born to all classes
    moves us away from aristocracy, and Plato 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. 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


    [30]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
    [31]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

    As Rousseau wrote in his [32]Emile (book), 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 failed to do so. Rousseau advocated an educational
    method which consisted of removing the child from society (i.e., to a
    country home) and alternately conditioning him through changes to
    environment and setting traps and puzzles for him to solve or

    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 (about 12), they would be engaged as free
    individuals in the ongoing process of their education.

B.F. Skinner

    [34]B.F. Skinner's perhaps largest contribution to education
    philosophy in his text [35]Walden Two wherein he details the failings
    of society and education, as one is intricately and intrinsically
    linked to the other. [36]Skinner shares [37]Rousseau's lack of faith
    in society. His [38]behaviorist theories play largely in his proposed
    ideas of [39]social engineering.


    See entry on [41]John Dewey.


    A Brazilian who became committed to the cause of educating the
    impoverished peasants of his nation and collaborating with them in the
    pursuit of their liberation from oppression, [43]Paulo Freire
    contributes a philosophy of education that comes not only from the
    more classical approaches stemming from Plato, but also from modern
    Marxist and anti-colonialist thinkers. In fact, in many ways his
    Pedagogy of the Oppressed may best be read as an extension of or reply
    to [44]Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, which laid strong
    emphasis on the need to provide native populations with an education
    which was simultaneously new and modern (rather than traditional) and
    anti-colonial (that is, that was not simply an extension of the
    culture of the colonizer).

    Freire is best-known for his attack on what he called the [45]banking
    concept of education, in which the student was viewed as an empty
    account to be filled by the teacher. Of course, this is not really a
    new move--Rousseau's conception of the child as an active learner was
    already a step away from the [46]tabula rasa (which is basically the
    same as the "banking concept"), and thinkers like [47]John Dewey and
    [48]Alfred North Whitehead were strongly critical of the transmission
    of mere facts as the goal of education.

    More challenging, however, is Freire's strong aversion to the
    teacher-student dichotomy. This dichotomy is admitted in Rousseau and
    constrained in Dewey, but Freire comes close to insisting that it
    should be completely abolished. Of course, this is strictly
    inconceivable in absolute terms (there must be some enactment of the
    teacher-student relationship in the parent-child relationship), but
    what Freire suggests is that a deep reciprocality be inserted into our
    notions of teacher and student. Freire wants us to think in terms of
    teacher-student and student-teacher, that is, a teacher who learns and
    a learner who teaches, as the basic roles of classroom participation.

    This is one of the few attempts anywhere to implement something like
    democracy as an educational method and not merely a goal of democratic
    education. Even Dewey, for whom democracy was a touchstone, did not
    integrate democratic practices fully into his methods. (Though this is
    in part a function of his peculiar attitudes toward individuality.)
    However, 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.


Critical responses and counter-philosophies


Hannah Arendt

    [51]Hannah Arendt largely avoided education as a subject, but she did
    so for reasons which are very interesting to educational philosophy.
    Her thoughts on the subject are recorded in one of the essays
    collected in Between Past and Future, entitled, "The Crisis in
    Education." In this essay, Arendt proceeds to argue that any attempt
    to create democracy through educational methods was a form of
    tyranny... (Continuation pending)

E.D. Hirsch

    [53]E.D. Hirsch would surely identify himself as someone interested in
    educating for democracy, but he is grouped separately here because his
    philosophy is basically a counter to Deweyan pragmatic education, and
    because, like Arendt, he is concerned with preparing children for an
    existing order, rather than working towards a new one, let alone
    instituting the practice of democracy as a part of education. Hirsch
    is responsible for promoting the [54]cultural literacy movement.

Neil Postman and the Inquiry Method

    [56]Neil Postman has been a strong contemporary voice in both methods
    and philosophy of education. His 1969 book "Teaching as a Subversive
    Activity" (co-authored with Charles Weingartner) introduced the
    concept of a school driven by the [57]Inquiry Method, the basis of
    which is to get the students themselves to ask and answer relevant
    questions. The "teacher" (the two authors disdained the term and
    thought a new one should be used) would be limited in the number of
    declarative sentences he could utter per class, as well as questions
    he personally knew the answer to. The aim of this type of inquiry
    would be to prepare the students to lead responsible adult lives,
    primarily by functioning as an antidote to the rampant bureaucracy
    most adults are faced with after leaving school.

    Postman went on to write several more books on education, notably
    "Teaching as a Conserving Activity" and "The End of Education." The
    latter deals with the importance of goals or "gods" to students, and
    Postman suggests several "gods" capable of replacing the current ones
    offered in schools, namely, Economic Utility and Consumerism.

Related topics

      * [59]Essentialism
      * [60]Progressivism
      * [61]Perennialism
      * [62]Existentialism
      * [63]Behaviorism
      * [64]Humanism
      * [65]Maturationism
      * [66]Philosophy For Children
      * [67]Taking Children Seriously
      * [68]Outcome-based education
      * [69]Constructivism
      * [70]Pragmatism

[I recommend consulting these entries.]


    7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau
    8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_development
    9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy
   10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education
   11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato
   12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#The_democratic_tradition_of_educational_philosophy
   13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Plato
   14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Rousseau
   15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#B.F._Skinner
   16. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Dewey
   17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Freire
   18. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Critical_responses_and_counter-philosophies
   19. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Hannah_Arendt
   20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#E.D._Hirsch
   21. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Neil_Postman_and_the_Inquiry_Method
   22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#Related_topics
   23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education#See_also
   24. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=1
   25. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=2
   26. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato
   27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic
   28. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson
   29. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=3
   30. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau
   31. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_rasa
   32. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emile_%28book%29
   33. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=4
   34. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.F._Skinner
   35. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden_Two
   36. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.F._Skinner
   37. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau
   38. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behaviorism
   39. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_engineering_%28political_science%29
   40. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=5
   41. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey
   42. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=6
   43. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Freire
   44. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frantz_Fanon
   45. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Banking_concept_of_education&action=edit
   46. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_rasa
   47. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey
   48. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_North_Whitehead
   49. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=7
   50. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=8
   51. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Arendt
   52. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=9
   53. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=E.D._Hirsch&action=edit
   54. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_literacy
   55. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=10
   56. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Postman
   57. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquiry_Method
   58. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philosophy_of_education&action=edit&section=11
   59. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_essentialism
   60. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_progressivism
   61. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_perennialism
   62. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_existentialism
   63. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_behaviorism
   64. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_humanism
   65. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maturationism
   66. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_For_Children
   67. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taking_Children_Seriously
   68. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outcome-based_education
   69. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism
   70. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism

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