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Philosophy of Education

❶As professionals entrusted with the education of young minds, teachers must facilitate learning and growth academically, personally, and ethically. Your introduction is important because it gives readers a first impression of your paper.




Therefore, if you introduce a special term or concept, you will need to define it for your audience. With philosophy papers, it is best to use quotes from the text only when it is absolutely necessary. The goal of your paper is to explain and evaluate a philosophical argument in your own words. Therefore, you should not rely too heavily on quotes or even paraphrased passages from your sources. Make sure to provide a citation for every quote or paraphrase that you use from a source.

All philosophy papers need to have a strong thesis. Your thesis states your position for the paper and you will need to make sure that you stay focused on your thesis and support it throughout your entire paper.

Keep in mind that a strong thesis states your position as well as why you hold that position. One reason that you may cite might be that beautiful people are not always virtuous. An outline can help you to stay on track as you draft your paper and ensure that you include everything that you need to include.

Write how you speak. Writing in a flowery, overly complex way will not make you appear to be more knowledgeable about philosophy. It is better to write in your own voice and use simple, direct language to get your point across. Imagine that you are explaining the concept to a friend and making an argument for why you agree or disagree with this concept.

What would you say? What examples would you use? This makes it hard for your readers to understand what you mean. Look up new words before you used them. If you like to use the thesaurus feature of Word when you write, just make sure that you are looking up the meanings of these words before you include them. The thesaurus does not always provide suggestions that are grammatically correct or equivalent in meaning to the original word.

Introduce your paper with relevant details. Your introduction is important because it gives readers a first impression of your paper.

That is why it is important to use your introduction wisely. After your introduction, you will need to explain the philosophical argument or concept that you are planning to refute or support. Otherwise, your professor may consider your argument to be less effective.

Stick to the relevant details of the argument. Do not explain things that you do not plan to argue against in your paper unless they are absolutely necessary for understanding your point. After you have provided a clear explanation of the philosophy, you will need to move on to your evaluation.

Your evaluation should work to support your thesis at all times. Do not go back and forth between positions or contradict yourself at any time.

Stick to your position no matter what. The educational research enterprise has been criticized for a century or more by politicians, policymakers, administrators, curriculum developers, teachers, philosophers of education, and by researchers themselves—but the criticisms have been contradictory.

For an illuminating account of the historical development of educational research and its tribulations, see Lagemann In essence the issue at stake was epistemological: The most lively contemporary debates about education research, however, were set in motion around the turn of the millennium when the US Federal Government moved in the direction of funding only rigorously scientific educational research—the kind that could establish causal factors which could then guide the development of practically effective policies.

It was held that such a causal knowledge base was available for medical decisionmaking. National Academies of Science—issued a report, influenced by postpostivistic philosophy of science NRC , that argued that this criterion was far too narrow. Nevertheless, and possibly because it tried to be balanced and supported the use of RFTs in some research contexts, the NRC report has been the subject of symposia in four journals, where it has been supported by a few and attacked from a variety of philosophical fronts: For a more thorough treatment of the philosophical controversies concerning empirical educational research cf.

The issue of what should be taught to students at all levels of education—the issue of curriculum content—obviously is a fundamental one, and it is an extraordinarily difficult one with which to grapple. In tackling it, care needs to be taken to distinguish between education and schooling—for although education can occur in schools, so can mis-education, and many other things can take place there that are educationally orthogonal such as the provision of free or subsidized lunches, or the development of social networks ; and it also must be recognized that education can occur in the home, in libraries and museums, in churches and clubs, in solitary interaction with the public media, and the like.

In developing a curriculum whether in a specific subject area, or more broadly as the whole range of offerings in an educational institution or system , a number of difficult decisions need to be made. Issues such as the proper ordering or sequencing of topics in the chosen subject, the time to be allocated to each topic, the lab work or excursions or projects that are appropriate for particular topics, can all be regarded as technical issues best resolved either by educationists who have a depth of experience with the target age group or by experts in the psychology of learning.

But there are deeper issues, ones concerning the validity of the justifications that have been given for including particular subjects or topics in the offerings of formal educational institutions. Why should evolution be included, or excluded, as a topic within the standard high school subject Biology?

Is the justification that is given for teaching Economics in some schools coherent and convincing? Does the justification for not including the Holocaust or the phenomenon of wartime atrocities in the curriculum in some countries stand up to critical scrutiny?

The different justifications for particular items of curriculum content that have been put forward by philosophers and others since Plato's pioneering efforts all draw, explicitly or implicitly, upon the positions that the respective theorists hold about at least three sets of issues.

Curren, forthcoming These two formulations are related, for it is arguable that our educational institutions should aim to equip individuals to pursue this good life—although this is not obvious, both because it is not clear that there is one conception of the good or flourishing life that is the good or flourishing life for everyone, and it is not clear that this is a question that should be settled in advance rather than determined by students for themselves.

A rival approach, associated with Kant, champions the educational fostering of autonomy not on the basis of its contribution to human flourishing, but rather the obligation to treat students with respect as persons. Brighouse , How students should be helped to become autonomous or develop a conception of the good life and pursue it is of course not immediately obvious, and much philosophical ink has been spilled on the matter.

One influential line of argument was developed by Paul Hirst, who argued that knowledge is essential for developing and then pursuing a conception of the good life, and because logical analysis shows, he argued, that there are seven basic forms of knowledge, the case can be made that the function of the curriculum is to introduce students to each of these forms.

Hirst ; for a critique see Phillips , ch. Second, is it justifiable to treat the curriculum of an educational institution as a vehicle for furthering the socio-political interests and goals of a ruler or ruling class; and relatedly, is it justifiable to design the curriculum so that it serves as a medium of control or of social engineering? In the closing decades of the twentieth century there were numerous discussions of curriculum theory, particularly from Marxist and postmodern perspectives, that offered the sobering analysis that in many educational systems, including those in Western democracies, the curriculum does indeed reflect and serve the interests of the ruling class.

Michael Apple is typical:. Third, should educational programs at the elementary and secondary levels be made up of a number of disparate offerings, so that individuals with different interests and abilities and affinities for learning can pursue curricula that are suitable?

Or should every student pursue the same curriculum as far as each is able—a curriculum, it should be noted, that in past cases nearly always was based on the needs or interests of those students who were academically inclined or were destined for elite social roles. The thinking here can be explicated in terms of the analogy of an out-of-control virulent disease, for which there is only one type of medicine available; taking a large dose of this medicine is extremely beneficial, and the hope is that taking only a little—while less effective—is better than taking none at all.

Medically, this is dubious, while the educational version—forcing students to work, until they exit the system, on topics that do not interest them and for which they have no facility or motivation—has even less merit. For a critique of Adler and his Paideia Proposal , see Noddings Over time, as they moved up the educational ladder it would become obvious that some had reached the limit imposed upon them by nature, and they would be directed off into appropriate social roles in which they would find fulfillment, for their abilities would match the demands of these roles.

Having seen the form of the Good, they would be eligible after a period of practical experience to become members of the ruling class of Guardians. Related to the issues concerning the aims and functions of education and schooling just rehearsed are those involving the specifically epistemic aims of education and attendant issues treated by social epistemologists. Next is controversy concerning the places of testimony and trust in the classroom: In what circumstances if any ought students to trust their teachers' pronouncements, and why?

Related are questions concerning indoctrination: How if at all does it differ from legitimate teaching? Is it inevitable, and if so is it not always or necessarily bad? There is more here than can be briefly summarized; for more systematic treatment cf. Robertson and Siegel Dewey, ever a strong critic of positions that were not naturalistic or that incorporated a priori premises, commented as follows:.

In addition, Plato tended to talk of learning using the passive language of seeing, which has shaped our discourse down to the present. In contrast, for Dewey each individual was an organism situated in a biological and social environment in which problems were constantly emerging, forcing the individual to reflect, act, and learn. Dewey, following William James, held that knowledge arises from reflection upon our actions and that the worth of a putative item of knowledge is directly correlated with the problem-solving success of the actions performed under its guidance.

All this is made clear enough in a passage containing only a thinly-veiled allusion to Plato's famous allegory of the prisoners in the cave whose eyes are turned to the light by education:. It is easy to see here the tight link between Dewey's epistemology and his views on education—his anti-spectator epistemology morphs directly into advocacy for anti-spectator learning by students in school—students learn by being active inquirers.

The final important difference with Plato is that, for Dewey, each student is an individual who blazes his or her unique trail of growth; the teacher has the task of guiding and facilitating this growth, without imposing a fixed end upon the process.

All this, of course, has been the subject of intense discussion among philosophers of education: Does growth imply a direction? Is growth always good—can't a plant end up misshapen, and can't a child develop to become bad? Is Dewey some type of perfectionist? Is his philosophy too vague to offer worthwhile educational guidance? Dewey's work was of central importance for the American progressive education movement in its formative years, although there was a fair degree of misunderstanding of his ideas as progressives interpreted his often extremely dense prose to be saying what they personally happened to believe.

His popularity, however, sharply declined after the Soviets launched Sputnik, for Dewey and progressive education were blamed for the USA losing the race into space illustrating the point about scapegoating made earlier. But he did not remain in disgrace for long and for some time has been the focus of renewed interest—although it is still noticeable that commentators interpret Dewey to be holding views that mirror their own positions or interests. And interestingly, there now is slightly more interest in Dewey on the part of philosophers of education in the UK than there was in earlier years, and there is growing interest by philosophers from the Continent see, for example, Biesta and Burbules To be the poster child for progressivism, however, is not to be the parent.

That honor must go to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and to his educational novel written in soaring prose, Emile first published in This idea of education according to nature, it will be recalled, was the object of Hardie's analytic attention almost two centuries later.

Out in the countryside, rather than having a set curriculum that he is forced to follow, Emile learns when some natural stimulus or innate interest motivates him—and under these conditions learning comes easily. He is allowed to suffer the natural consequences of his actions if he breaks a window, he gets cold; if he takes the gardener's property, the gardener will no longer do him favors , and experiences such as these lead to the development of his moral system.

It is worth noting that Neill claimed not to have read Rousseau, but he was working in a milieu in which Rousseau's ideas were well-known. Furthermore, over the ages these principles also have proven to be fertile soil for philosophers of education to till. Even more fertile ground for comment, in recent years, has been Rousseau's proposal for the education of girls, developed in a section of the novel Book V that bears the name of the young woman who is destined to be Emile's soul-mate, Sophie.

The puzzle has been why Rousseau—who had been so far-sighted in his discussion of Emile's education—was so hide-bound if not retrograde in his thinking about her education. One short quotation is sufficient to illustrate the problem: Not surprisingly, feminist philosophers of education have been in the vanguard of the critique of this position Martin The educational principles developed by Rousseau and Dewey, and numerous educational theorists and philosophers in the interregnum, are alive and well in the twenty-first century.

Of particular contemporary interest is the evolution that has occurred of the progressive idea that each student is an active learner who is pursuing his or her own individual educational path. By incorporating elements of the classical empiricist epistemology of John Locke, this progressive principle has become transformed into the extremely popular position known as constructivism , according to which each student in a classroom constructs his or her own individual body of understandings even when all in the group are given what appears to be the same stimulus or educational experience.

There is also a solipsistic element here, for constructivists also believe that none of us—teachers included—can directly access the bodies of understandings of anyone else; each of us is imprisoned in a world of our own making. It is an understatement to say that this poses great difficulties for the teacher. For a discussion of the underlying philosophical ideas in constructivism, and for an account of some of its varieties and flaws, see the essays in Phillips ed.

As stressed earlier, it is impossible to do justice to the whole field of philosophy of education in a single encyclopedia entry. Different countries around the world have their own intellectual traditions and their own ways of institutionalizing philosophy of education in the academic universe, and no discussion of any of this appears in the present essay.

But even in the Anglo-American world there is such a diversity of approaches to the discipline that any author attempting to produce a synoptic account will quickly run into the borders of his or her competence.

Clearly this has happened in the present case. Fortunately, in the last twenty years or so resources have become available that significantly alleviate these problems.

In addition there are numerous volumes both of reprinted selections and of specially commissioned essays on specific topics, some of which were given short shrift in the present work for another sampling see A. Thus there is more than enough material available to keep the interested reader busy. Problems in delineating the field 1. The diversity of, and clashes between, philosophical approaches 2.

Analytic philosophy of education, and its influence 2. Contemporary social, political and moral philosophy 3. Other areas of contemporary activity 3.

Problems in delineating the field 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 diversity of, and clashes between, philosophical approaches 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.

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: Philosophers of education reflecting on the parameters of our field are faced not only with such perplexing and disruptive questions as: What counts as Philosophy of Education and why? Embedded in these queries we find no less provocative ones: What knowledge, if any, can or should be privileged and why?

Although such questions are disruptive, they offer the opportunity to take a fresh look at the nature and purposes of our work and, as we do, to expand the number and kinds of voices participating in the conversation. Analytic philosophy of education, and its influence 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.

Hardie The pioneering work in the modern period entirely in an analytic mode was the short monograph by C. Richards made it clear that he was putting all his eggs into the ordinary-language-analysis basket: 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.

By working as an educational team, teachers will continue to develop their craft and give the best education possible to their students. In choosing to become a teacher, I have made the commitment to myself and my future students to be the best academic, personal, and ethical role model I can be.


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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.