Course: Philosophy of Education (8609)
Semester: Spring, 2022
ASSIGNMENT No. 2
Q.1 What kind of curriculum Aristotle supported to be taught to the children? Discuss its features.
Aristotle, embraced the Greek version of liberal arts curriculum and emphasized natural sciences, biology, botany, physiology, and zoology. He studied with Plato for 20 years at the Academy and eventually joined him and Socrates in Western education history. Aristotle was able to take Plato’s philosophical and educational ideas as a jumping off point changing them throughout his life to become his own personal philosophy. Whereas Plato believed truth was found within the mind, Aristotle looked to the world outside the mind to find evidence of what was true. Born in 384 BCE in Stageira, Chalcidice, Greece, Aristotle served as a tutor to Alexander the Great for seven years and eventually established a school in Athens known as the Lyceum. Aristotle believed the purpose of school was to develop and exercise students’ potential for reasoning, form ethical character, and provide a skill and knowledge base. He thought the purpose of schooling was to develop dispositions and habits that exercise reason and forming a human’s ethos. Schools were to prepare future citizens with more functional knowledge needed to conduct their political, social, and economic affairs.
Q.2 Discuss the basic concepts of John Dewey’s philosophy of education.
John Dewey is credited as founding a philosophical approach to life called ‘pragmatism’, and his approaches to education and learning have been influential internationally and endured over time. He saw the purpose of education to be the cultivation of thoughtful, critically reflective, socially engaged individuals rather than passive recipients of established knowledge. He rejected the rote-learning approach driven by predetermined curriculum which was the standard teaching method at the time. However, importantly, he also rejected child-centred approaches that followed children’s uninformed interests and impulses uncritically. While he used the term ‘progressive education’, this has since been misappropriated to describe, in some cases, a hands-off approach to children’s learning which was not what Dewey proposed. Dewey believed that traditional subject matter was important, but should be integrated with the strengths and interests of the learner.
Q.3 Enlist educational views of Ahmed Ibn-e-Muhammad Ibn-e-Yaqoob Ibn-e-Miskawayh.
Abu `Ali Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ya’qub Miskawayh (932-1030) is a brilliant intellectual and philosopher of 10th-century Buwayhid Baghdad. His effect on Islamic philosophy is mainly concerned with ethical issues. His book Tadhib al-akhlaq (Ethical Instruction) is considered as the first major Islamic work on philosophical ethics. Focusing on practical ethics, conduct, and refinement of character, it contains an original theory on the education of young boys.
Miskawayh lived in the 4th century H and its scientific environment, and his very productive life extended for around 20 years into the 5th century, as is shown by the date of his death. So he spent the whole of his life within the period of the Abbasid empire, the rule of which extended from 132 to 656 H (750-1258 CE). This period of time is well known for the Muslims’ concentration on translating the sciences from other languages, and it witnessed also a flourishing of writing in Arabic, once the translation process had yielded its results. Many Muslims excelled in the branches of learning known at that time. As a result of the many books translated into Arabic, the various compositions in all kinds of fields, and the spread of the use of paper, the caliphs turned their attention to the establishment of what were known as Dar al-`ilm or Dar al-hikma (House of learning, or house of wisdom) in Baghdad, Cairo, Cordoba, and in other countries of the Islamic world. These operated somewhat like public libraries, well provided for the needs of the general readers and specialists. Stationers’ shops also appeared, for selling books or renting them out to readers; and there was increased competition among the caliphs, viziers, learned men, and others, to acquire books and to establish their own private libraries in their castles, and to gather people together for learned discussions on the content of these books, in what might resemble seminars or study circles today.
Miskawayh is one of the outstanding personalities in the history of philosophical thought among the Muslims; so, as seems clear, his fame did not come about as a result of his involvement with teaching or with writing on education, in our modern terms, but his fame arose from his work in philosophy. Miskawayh was attracted to Greek philosophy, the books of which were available in a variety of Arabic translations because there were so many translators. However, he did not stop short at logic and theology, as did preceding Muslim philosophers such as al-Farabi (260-339/873-950), considered among Muslims as the Second Teacher after Aristotle, who was known to them as the First Teacher. Rather, he continued his path to deal with matters left aside by most of his predecessors or contemporaries among the philosophers. He differed from them in his concern for ethics more than most other studies of traditional philosophy at that time. Hence he was named by some the ‘Third Teacher’, since he was considered the first ethical thinker among the Muslims.
If Miskawayh was famous particularly in the field of ethics, yet like others of the best Muslim intellectuals he was very much attracted to the philosophy of the famous Greeks such as Plato and Aristotle and others, whose books, translated into Arabic, exerted their special fascination on those who worked with philosophy or were devoted to it. Perhaps the influence of Plato and Aristotle on Miskawayh is shown most clearly in his book Tahdhib al-akhlaq wa-tathir al-acraq (Refinement of character and purification of dispositions). He did not confine himself to the works of the great Greek philosophers, but studied others and referred to them also in his various works. These included Porphyrius, Pythagoras, Galen, Alexander of Aphrodisias, and Bryson. From this latter he took over most of what he wrote in connection with the education of young boys, although this man was not well known, as will be detailed later.
In addition, Miskawayh is very clearly distinguished from others who worked in science and philosophy, within Islamic civilization, by the fact that he indicated clearly and distinctly the sources on which he drew; something which proves his scientific reliability, and also emphasizes his patent admiration for the branches of learning which he studied, well known and widespread throughout the Islamic community. So he did not hesitate to rewrite these in his own language, Arabic.
Just as he was influenced by the Greek philosophers, so he was by his predecessors and contemporaries among the Muslim philosophers and scholars. Some of those he referred to distinctly in his writings, such as al-Kindi or al-Farabi, while with others he was content to mention their ideas only.
Maybe one of the most important characteristics of Miskawayh also, emphasizing his great admiration for the Greek philosophy which had reached him, is that he did not aim for a reconciliation between religion and philosophy, as other previous Muslim philosophers had done. Nor did he attempt to combine them, as was done by the Brethren of Purity for example; but the opinions he set forth remained Greek in nature, and usually attributed to their original exponents .
Miskawayh’s scientific output is not restricted precisely to the field of philosophy and ethics, but he made a distinguished contribution to history; he also busied himself with chemistry, and was concerned with literature and other subjects. This emphasizes the multiple facets of his culture, making him a mirror for his age; for he is distinguished by the many sources of his culture and the encyclopedic nature of his writings .
Miskawayh said himself in his book Tahdhib al-akhlaq, for example, that it is a book composed ‘for the lovers of philosophy in particular, and it is not for the general public’. Maybe this simply indicates how much he was influenced by the culture coming to the Islamic nation, and well known at his time. It may be, too, that it distanced him to some extent from the Islamic tendency, which did not recognize particularity in the field of learning, because the specialization of the élite in rational sciences was merely a Greek idea, as is well known.
The book Tahdhib al-akhlaq is considered the most famous book of Miskawayh; so this is the work of which we shall examine the contents quite carefully, so as to base on it our presentation of Miskawayh’s remarks on the education of young boys, only. For the work contains, in general, the majority of opinions which he introduced in this subject, although he did aim for a basis to acquaint the reader with the way to reach the supreme happiness. Maybe this tendency of his can be considered an effective translation, or a practical application, of the views he embraced, such as ‘seeing comes before action’ i.e. knowledge precedes action. For if the reader knows moral happiness, and is influenced by the contents of the book, all his actions will be fine, according to his interpretation. Hence it can be said that Miskawayh’s book prepares the way for anyone who examines its contents to reach supreme happiness. So it is not possible to separate the learner’s personality and character from the science he learns, and the aim and objective for which he is striving to learn it. Besides all this, the basic conditions for reaching happiness are psychological conditions and factors; this is because training the soul, cleansing it, teaching it, making it profit from general and particular experiences, are centred on the human’s will and his ability to raise his inclinations, so as to attain the degree of happiness appropriate for him.
The sixth maqala, entitled ‘Medicine for souls’, clarifies the importance for man to know his own defects. The seventh, entitled ‘Restoring health to the soul’, clarifies the method of treating the illnesses of souls. In this maqala, Miskawayh does not distinguish between evil and illness; and the psychological evils or illnesses he lists are: rashness, cowardice, pride, boasting, frivolity, haughtiness, scorn, treachery, accepting injustice, and fear. Miskawayh is concerned with talking about the fear of death, also grief. For he considers that it is not difficult for the rational man who desires to free his soul from its pains and save it from its dangers to examine the illnesses and treat them so as to be set free from them. This must be by success from God and by the man’s own personal striving; both are required, one completing the other
Q.4 Describe the educational philosophy of Essentialists.
Educational essentialism is an educational philosophy whose adherents believe that children should learn the traditional basic subjects thoroughly. In this philosophical school of thought, the aim is to instill students with the “essentials” of academic knowledge, enacting a back-to-basics approach.
Reading, Writing, Literature, Foreign Languages, History, Mathematics, Science, Art, and Music. Moreover, this traditional approach is meant to train the mind, promote reasoning, and ensure a common culture. Essentialism is an approach assuming that people and things have natural and essential common characteristics which are inherent, innate and unchanging. Thus, it is regarded as an educational philosophy. However, having the common essence and the same essentials at the same levels can lead to undesired practices in real life too.
Q.5 How do, according to Montessori, environment and freedom of a child play a significant role in his education?
The “prepared environment” is Maria Montessori’s concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. In the prepared environment, there is a variety of activity as well as a great deal of movement. A Montessori teacher serves as the preparer and communicator of the environment to the child and is responsible for maintaining the atmosphere and order of the prepared environment. A prepared environment gives every child the freedom to fully develop their unique potential through developmentally appropriate sensorial materials. The materials range from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract, catering toward every child’s age and ability.