Philosophy of Education is a strand of philosophy that studies philosophical questions regarding the nature, aims, problems, and issues of education. As a discipline of practical philosophy, its followers examine both inward toward the philosophy of education itself and outward toward educational practice, and to social science, cognitive science, sociology, anthropology, and other areas more generally. They view the philosophy of education as an approach to education that can contribute to shaping human learning. Its focus is on how the philosophy of education can contribute to educating students in critical thinking, problem-solving, cultural diversity, politics, and social justice.
Philosophy of Education
The term “philosophy of education” refers to a strand of philosophy that concerns itself with teaching as well as learning. Most philosophers in this vein support general philosophies about education, but there are some who are philosophers individually. Some philosophers specialize in particular areas of philosophy of education, while others write on a broader scale. These include continental, political, and many others.
Analytic philosophy of education traces its origins to the work of German philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. The most influential among these philosophers is Aristotle, who is regarded as the father of modern philosophy. His idea of the philosophy of education has been called into play in the twentieth century by Noam Chomsky, who commented, “There’s little that has shaped our thought than the ideas that we are taught.” Many philosophers who specialize in the area of philosophy of education have worked on issues that range from the nature and definition of learning, to its relation to other disciplines, to its connection to technology, and to issues related to the discipline of education overall.
During the nineteenth century, English philosopher John Locke became known as a tutor of candidates for the university of York. He maintained that most questions concerning practical reason arise through the senses, and that to gain an accurate understanding of how the mind works it is necessary to examine all the senses simultaneously, both in direct and indirect experience. Locke drew from his experience with the two ideas that reason is derivative from experience and that the knowledge of experience cannot be transmitted to another person. Although this idea was later criticized by the French philosophers, it received widespread support in Europe, and throughout the nineteenth century this line of philosophy flourished.
Characters of Philosophy of Education
The philosophy of education had a more optimistic character before the rise of the industrial revolution and modern business. It remained attached to the interests and problems concerning education throughout the nineteenth century until the movement towards materialism replaced the philosophy of education with an interest in wealth and industrialization. The philosophical outlook in this period was characterized by the desire to solve problems concerning students and to provide them with a better understanding of the problems and principles of science and philosophy. This led to the emphasizing of the role of philosophy of education in educating people to be good citizens and to participate generously in public activities.
In the United States, the main tendency during the 20th century was towards the support of philosophies of education based on materialist philosophies. There was a tendency to rationalize, to simplify and to give answers without reference to religion or other supernatural theories. The philosophy of education during the twentieth century stressed the role of emotions and experiences in teaching. Students were taught to develop a sense of self-worth and social responsibility by learning to work productively with colleagues and with other students.
A number of developments contributed significantly to the development of philosophy of education in the United States. One significant contribution was the movement towards a general education curriculum based on the approach promoted by Leo Tolstoy. Another important development was the movement towards national standards for K-12 education, inspired by the works of Margaret Anderson and Alexander Smith. The formulation of No Child Left Behind Act of 1996 was the result of the campaign initiated by the National Governors Association for the National Curriculum. A third important development concerned the availability of tests for measuring achievement among students.
Influence of Philosophy of Education in Teaching
Philosophy of education has had a major influence on the teaching of philosophy of education in the United States. The philosophy of education maintains that the discipline should be characterized by a mix of techniques used in different disciplines. The use of different methods in teaching has resulted in a growth towards a communicative approach in teaching and a structured, time-tested approach in governing schools. These developments have contributed significantly to the professional success of teachers in the United States.