Course: Philosophy of Education (8609)
Semester: Spring, 2022
ASSIGNMENT No. 1
Q.1 Discuss the ways in which philosophy provides guidelines to education.
Philosophy is at the heart of curriculum development. It helps educators in formulating beliefs, arguments, and assumptions and in making value judgments. Philosophy develops a broad outlook, and it also helps in answering what schools are for, what subjects are important, how students should learn, and what materials and methods should be used. Philosophy provides the starting point . . . in decision making about education in its totality
Idealism is considered one of the oldest philosophical systems, whose main proponent was the Greek philosopher, Plato. Idealism advocates that ideas constitute what is real and permanent, i.e. ideas are the only true reality. Idealism also emphasizes the spiritual component of man, i.e., man is a spiritual being.
According to this philosophy, education is the process of development of a person, his/her conscious and spiritual self. The ultimate responsibility for learning rests with learners. The school exists to develop character, increase knowledge, and cultivate aesthetic taste. The teacher is expected to be a model, friend, and guide to the learners.
The realist’s school of thought is traced back to Aristotle, another main, Greek philosopher. According to this philosophy, matter or objects that we see exist by themselves, i.e., they exist absolutely with or without man. In other words, matter is not a construct of the human mind.
The following principles are therefore upheld:
- the principle of independence of matter,
- the principle of orderliness of the world behind its organization, this means that law and order prevail in the universe,
- the principle of the world as real as discovered by the scientist.
The discipline of philosophy contributes in an indispensable way to the realization of four goals that should be fundamental to any institution of higher learning: instilling habits of critical thinking in students; enhancing their reading, writing, and public speaking skills; transmitting cultural heritages to them; stimulating them to engage fundamental questions about reality, knowledge, and value.
Texts, lectures, websites, and other media can be invaluable sources of information, concepts, theories, intellectual perspectives, and evaluative viewpoints. Their sheer quantity and diversity, however, raises three problems for their potential consumer—how to discriminate between information and misinformation, how to distinguish between what is central to a particular topic and what is peripheral, and what is likely to be fruitful as opposed to what is barren. Intellectually engaged readers, listeners, and viewers must have skills and attitudes that enable them to confront these problems and navigate successfully through these media.
A basic skill is the ability to reconstruct an author’s viewpoint or argument in such a way that the reconstruction is fair to the author and intelligible to someone who is not already aware of the issues involved. In service of the goals of representational accuracy and intelligibility, all philosophy courses emphasize the importance of attending to the author’s thesis and the author’s reasons for espousing the thesis. Not infrequently this task will involve stating the thesis more clearly than the author’s text itself does, along with reconstructing on the author’s behalf arguments that may not be fully stated in the text. Accurate exposition of a viewpoint typically requires some sensitivity to the author’s conceptual framework. The reconstruction of arguments requires some facility with the techniques of logical inference. Finally, students need to learn to disentangle what they themselves believe and thus, perhaps, want an author to say from what the author actually does say. Some viewpoints may be alien—even offensive—to a student. But without a fair, accurate, and intelligible representation of those viewpoints, students will be at a disadvantage in criticizing viewpoints they find objectionable.
Reading, Writing, Verbal Communication
Because many philosophical texts are quite demanding on their readers, one central aim of philosophy courses is to teach students how to read, comprehend, and summarize conceptually difficult material. Students are asked to pay careful attention to conceptual distinctions, to isolate central from peripheral points, to be alert for ambiguities and invalid inferences—in sum, to take an active rather than passive approach to reading. The skills developed in learning how to manage difficult theoretical texts are skills that will serve a student well in many other venues, both within and outside academia’s walls.
The Transmission of Cultural Heritage
More so than any other academic discipline, philosophy studies the history of ideas and texts that have profoundly shaped Western thought about basic ethical values, political systems and ideals, human rights, the human good, the nature of knowledge and science, and the fundamental structure of reality. The history of philosophy is virtually the history of our intellectual heritage. It is hard to overestimate the ways in which our contemporary thought has been influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, and others. Their texts repay careful study, not only because in learning about them we learn something about ourselves, but also because the issues they raise and arguments they present are perennial, as timely now as they were then.
Reality, Knowledge, and Value
Inquisitive students can find themselves engaging in metaphysical thought when, for example, they wonder whether the world described by the natural sciences is all that exists, or whether humans have freedom of will if the world is deterministic, or whether there is an afterlife.
Many institutions have college- or university-wide course requirements for their students, typically aimed at such goals as critical thinking or logical reasoning, sensitivity to values, and awareness of global issues. Philosophy departments are strongly positioned to contribute courses and programs that further these goals.
If the aim of a particular core requirement is to develop habits of careful, critical thought in students, then philosophy is especially well-suited to the realization of this aim (see the remarks under Thinking Critically in the previous section). The study of philosophy helps students to develop both their capacity and their inclination to do critical thinking. Other disciplines also help in fulfilling this function, but philosophy contributes distinctively, intensively, and extensively to a student’s ability to think critically. Many philosophy departments regularly offer a course devoted exclusively to the topic of critical thinking.
Questions of value are among the most important and most difficult questions that students face. Philosophy courses in ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, philosophy of medicine, bioethics, environmental ethics, and aesthetics prepare students to be thoughtful, discriminating, and responsible citizens.
Q.2 What is the role of teacher in the philosophy of idealism? Which teaching methods is used by an idealistic teacher?
Idealism is the oldest philosophy in the Western culture. It is a philosophical approach stating that ideas and knowledge are the only true reality. The main focus of idealism is on conscious reasoning in the mind. The father of idealism, Plato, believed that people should concern themselves in searching for the truth. As a Greek philosopher, he believed that man did not create knowledge but discovered it. Plato was a disciple Socrates who opened his own school, the Academy in Athens, where he developed and implemented his doctrines as a teacher. Two of his most famous works were “The Republic” and “The Dialogue.”
Idealism in Education
Idealism seeks to create schools as intellectual center of teaching and learning, and it encourages teachers and students to appreciate the finest and most enduring achievement of the culture.
Aims of Education
Also with Plato, idealists believe that the aim of education should be directed toward the search for true ideas, self-realization, and character development. The search for true ideas consists of philosophical ideas or the conception of true ideas is the highest aim of education. Self-realization holds that idealism has exerted so much influence on educational views about individual mind and self, whereas character development is concerned with moral character as an outgrowth of thinking and thoughtful actions.
Types of idealism
(a) absolute idealism
It is the one type which has found its way into educational philosophy. This lays down that the heart of reality is to be found in thought or reason. Reason is absolute; in fact it is the absolute. Being absolute, it is also one i.e., monistic. Everything, thus, is interrelated and all contradictions reconciled. Furthermore the complete cause of any single occurrence involves the whole of reality. The cosmos is great thought process, and the absolute is god thinking. Everything happens as a result of the self-willed idea i. e. absolute. The absolute is already complete, and self-realized. Nature is the medium through which the absolute progressively reveals itself in external form. Mind of man however, is a part of the absolute whole. The absolute being the whole and education being a part thereof, it may be that study of the fragment may reveal important facts of the totality.
The centralistic approach to idealism on the whole has committed this educational philosophy to the prominent importance of consciousness. Mind is ultimately spiritual, not materialistic. Human nature is to be viewed, as more than a behaving organism, responding to the stimuli of its environment. Man is too atomistic. Idealism stresses certain wholeness. Nothing happens in any part of the system that does not affect the rest.
On religious and moral education, the definition of the absolute is unmistakably of theistic characteristics. Since the aim of education is the increasing realization of the absolute, all education appears tinged with religious significance. This includes moral education. Reason being the absolute, the universe is one of law and order. So too there is a oral law in the universe backed by the authority of the absolute. Thus lays an inescapable moral imperative on education.
(b) Modern idealism
It has given a different tune to educational philosophy. In this concept idealism more to do this idea as metal state. n this idealism might be called a philosophy of idealism. The `I` of idealism being interested for euphony. The knowledge one has of his environment is idea of it. The environment in itself cannot be known through intermediate idea of it. The environments in itself cannot be known directly. It can only be known through intermediate idea of human knower. From which the learner’s knowledge takes, therefore, is bound to be in part the product of his human way of apprehending it. Such concepts are supplied by the mind of human learning.
Roles of the Teacher
idealism is traditional philosophy of education in which teacher has centeral role who has to be role model so that the students will adopt his model to become good citizen. In idealism the lacture method is considered the most important one in which a delivers lecture and students listen to the teacher. Teacher selects any topic or issue for teaching first he teaches the topic then asks the questions about that topic. Students answer the asked questions, Teacher provides the feedback and students improve themselves according to the teacher’s feedback. This is teacher centered approach therefore students do not participate in a well manner and do not understand the taught content. This method of teaching is not suitable for young or elementary level of students because they are not habitual for listening long time. This method is only used for adults. Because their mind is mature and they can understand easily. The second method that suits idealism the most is the Socratic Method in which the teacher involves the students in learning activities. The teacher raises an issue and the students are encouraged to discuss it in a dialogue form and reach to a conclusion.
According to idealist, the teacher must be excellent in order to serve as an example for the student, both intellectually and morally. Some examples of the teacher’s roles consist of: assisting students in choosing important material, serving as exemplary models, encouraging students to ask questions, and providing a suitable environment for learning. Idealists have high expectations of the teacher.
Curriculum and Methods
It is believed students should be taught how to think in school. The teacher passes on knowledge to the students, and the students gain and adapt the knowledge. Idealist think lecture is the most important method to deliver knowledge to students. Dialect or critical discussions is another method idealist b According to idealist, the teacher must be excellent in order to serve as an example for the student, both intellectually and morally. Some examples of the teacher’s roles consist of: assisting students in choosing important material, serving as exemplary models, encouraging students to ask questions, and providing a suitable environment for learning. Idealists have high expectations of the teacher.Idealistic teachers are the lights for a student in darkness and the motivators of the positives and diminishers of the negatives.So,be an idealistic teacher and Student. elieve is important along with self-directed activity.
Q.3 Define different educational philosophies. Which philosophy is dominant in our present curriculum?
An education philosophy is a set of educational beliefs and core values of a person and/or organisation. It focuses on the purpose and objectives of educational planning, programmes and processes when it comes to teaching and inspiring students to learn.
An education philosophy for a place of education may influence what and how subjects are taught. Additionally, it can impact upon the beliefs and values that are taught around the national curriculum. As a result, it could be used to identify and elucidate the principles and themes that align with them when it comes to the aspirations of an educational organisation.
Different subdivisions of the philosophy of education have been suggested. One categorization distinguishes between descriptive and normative issues. Descriptive theories aim to describe what education is and how to understand its related concepts. This includes also epistemological questions, which ask not whether a theory about education is true or false, but how one can arrive at the knowledge to answer such questions. Normative theories, on the other hand, try to give an account of how education should be practiced or what is the right form of education. Some normative theories are built on a wider ethical framework of what is right or good and then arrive at their educational normative theories by applying this framework to the practice of education. But the descriptive and the normative approaches are intertwined and cannot always be clearly separated since descriptive findings often directly imply various normative attitudes.
Another categorization divides topics in the philosophy of education into the nature and aims of education on the one hand, and the methods and circumstances of education on the other hand. The latter section may again be divided into concrete normative theories and the study of the conceptual and methodological presuppositions of these theories. Other classifications additionally include areas for topics such as the role of reasoning and morality as well as issues pertaining to social and political topics and the curriculum.
The theories within the philosophy of education can also be subdivided based on the school of philosophy they belong to. Various schools of philosophy, such as existentialism, pragmatism, Marxism, postmodernism, and feminism, have developed their own perspective on the main issues of education. They often include normative theories about how education should or should not be practiced and are in most cases controversial.
Another approach is to simply list all topics discussed in the philosophy of education. Among them are the issues and presuppositions concerning sex education, science education, aesthetic education, religious education, moral education, multicultural education, professional education, theories of teaching and learning, the measurement of learning, knowledge and its value, cultivating reason, epistemic and moral aims of education, authority, fallibilism, and fallibility.
The starting point of many philosophical inquiries into a field is the examination and clarification of the fundamental concepts used in this field, often in the form of conceptual analysis. This approach is particularly prominent in the analytic tradition. It aims to make ambiguities explicit and to uncover various implicit and potentially false assumptions associated with these terms.
Theorists in this field often emphasize the importance of this form of investigation since all subsequent work on more specific issues already has to assume at least implicitly what their central terms mean to demarcate their field. For example, in order to study what constitutes good education, one has to have a notion of what the term “education” means and how to achieve, measure, and evaluate it. Definitions of education can be divided into thin and thick definitions. Thin definitions are neutral and descriptive. They usually emphasize the role of the transmission of knowledge and understanding in education.
A central question in the philosophy of education concerns the aims of education, i.e. the question of why people should be educated and what goals should be pursued in the process of education. This issue is highly relevant for evaluating educational practices and products by assessing how well they manage to realize these goals. There is a lot of disagreement and various theories have been proposed concerning the aims of
Prominent suggestions include that education should foster knowledge, curiosity, creativity, rationality, and critical thinking while also promoting the tendency to think, feel, and act morally. The individual should thereby develop as a person, and achieve self-actualization by realizing their potential. Some theorists emphasize the cultivation of liberal ideals, such as freedom, autonomy, and open-mindedness, while others stress the importance of docility, obedience to authority, and ideological purity, sometimes also with a focus on piety and religious faith. Many suggestions concern the social domain, such as fostering a sense of community and solidarity and thus turning the individual into a productive member of society while protecting them from the potentially negative influences of society. The discussion of these positions and the arguments cited for and against them often include references to various disciplines in their justifications, such as ethics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology. A recurrent source of disagreement about the aims of education concerns the question of who is the primary beneficiary of education: the individual educated or the society having this individual as its member. In many cases, the interests of both are aligned. On the one hand, many new opportunities in life open to the individual through education, especially concerning their career. On the other hand, education makes it more likely that the person becomes a good, law-abiding, and productive member of society. But this issue becomes more problematic in cases where the interests of the individual and society conflict with each other. This poses the question of whether individual autonomy should take precedence over communal welfare. According to comprehensive liberals, for example, education should emphasize the self-directedness of the students. On this view, it is up to the student to choose their own path in life. The role of education is to provide them with the necessary resources but it does not direct the student with respect to what constitutes an ethically good path in life. This position is usually rejected by communitarians, who stress the importance of social cohesion by being part of the community and sharing a common good.
Q.4 Compare the teaching practices demanded by pragmatism and naturalism.
The word Pragmatism is of Greek origin. But it is a typical American school of philosophy. It is intimately related with the American life and mind. It is the product of practical experiences of life.
It arises out of actual living. It does not believe in fixed and eternal values. It is dynamic and ever-changing. It is a revolt against Absolutism. Reality is still in the making. It is never complete.
Our judgement happens to be true if it gives satisfactory results in experience, i.e., by the way it works out. A judgement in itself is neither true nor false. There are no established systems of ideas which will be true for all times. It is humanistic in as much as it is concerned more with human life and things of human interest than with any established tenets. Therefore, it is called humanism.
Pragmatism means action, from which the words practical and practice have come. The idealist constructs a transcendental ideal, which cannot be realised by man. The pragmatist lays down standards which are attainable. Pragmatists are practical people.
They face problems and try to solve them from practical point of view. Unlike idealists they live in the world of realities, not in the world of ideals. Pragmatists view life as it is, while idealists view life as it should be. The central theme of pragmatism is activity.
Educative experiences in life depend upon two things:
The emphasis of pragmatism is on action rather than on thought. Thought is subordinated to action. It is made an instrument to find suitable means for action. That is why pragmatism is also called Instrumentalism. Ideas are tools. Thought enlarges its scope and usefulness by testing itself on practical issues.
Since pragmatism advocates the experimental method of science, it is also called Experimentalism thus stressing the practical significance of thought. Experimentalism involves the belief that thoughtful action is in its nature always a kind of testing of provisional conclusions and hypotheses. In the present world pragmatism has influenced education tremendously. It is a practical and utilitarian philosophy. It makes activity the basis of all teaching and learning. It is activity around which an educational process revolves.
It makes learning purposeful and infuses a sense of reality in education. It makes schools into workshops and laboratories. It gives an experimental character to education. Pragmatism makes man optimistic, energetic and active. It gives him self-confidence. The child creates values through his own activities.
According to pragmatism, education is not the dynamic side of philosophy as advocated by the idealists. It is philosophy which emerges from educational practice. Education creates values and formulates ideas which constitute pragmatic philosophy.
Pragmatism is based on the psychology of individual differences. Pragmatists want education according to aptitudes and abilities of the individual. Individual must be respected and education planned to cater to his inclinations and capacities. But individual development must take place in social context. Every individual has a social self and an individuality can best be developed in and through society.
Naturalism is a philosophical doctrine. It is opposed to idealism in its interpretation of reality.
Naturalism is concerned with “natural self” or “real self”. It contends that the ultimate reality is matter, and not mind or spirit.
Naturalism does not believe in spiritualism. It denies the existence of a spiritual universe — the universe of ideas and values. According to naturalism, the material world is the only real world. It is the only reality. This material world is being governed by a system of natural laws and the man, who is the creation of the material world, must submit to them. The naturalists have regard for actual facts, actual situations and realities. For them nature is everything. It is the whole reality.
Behind everything there is Nature. It denies the existence of anything beyond nature. Naturalism believes that everything comes from nature and returns to nature. Nature, according to naturalism, is a self-sufficient entity. It is self-determined and governed by its own laws.
The naturalists see things as they are. They apprehend reality as it is in its own nature. They do not believe that there are any spiritual values or absolute truths. Naturalism takes recourse to such concepts as appetites, emotions, instincts and evolution. According to naturalists, instincts are responsible for all our activities — biological, psychological or social. To them there is no absolute good or evil in the world. Values of life, according to naturalism, are created by the human needs. Man creates them when he reacts to — or interacts with — his environment. He must adapt himself to the environment.
According to the naturalists there is inherent goodness in man. In man there is an innate capacity for morality. Man is born rational. The naturalists, thus, have idolized man. Nature, according to the naturalists, is complete in itself, having its own laws. It does not, therefore, require us to have insight or intuition to understand Nature.
Naturalism believes that mind is an accident in the process of evolution and it can be explained in terms of nature. Mind is a function of the brain which is material in nature. Mind is not the source of knowledge; all knowledge is acquired from without, and senses are the gateways of all knowledge.
Some Basic Principles of Naturalism:
- Nature is the final reality. All things originated from matter, all are ultimately to be reduced to matter. Matter takes different forms.
- Mind is the brain functioning and brain is matter.
- All types of mental activities – imagination, thinking, reasoning etc. are the functions of the brain.
- The entire universe is governed by the laws of nature which are unchangeable Science reveals the mysteries of nature; hence only that knowledge is true that is derived from science.
- There is no God or Spirit. Therefore, there is no religion. There are no higher or eternal values. There is no spiritual goal or ideal of human life. Man himself creates values in interaction with the environment in which he is placed.
Q.5 Discuss the authoritative knowledge is not objective and logical.
The first method of knowing is intuition. When we use our intuition, we are relying on our guts, our emotions, and/or our instincts to guide us. Rather than examining facts or using rational thought, intuition involves believing what feels true. The problem with relying on intuition is that our intuitions can be wrong because they are driven by cognitive and motivational biases rather than logical reasoning or scientific evidence. While the strange behavior of your friend may lead you to think s/he is lying to you it may just be that s/he is holding in a bit of gas or is preoccupied with some other issue that is irrelevant to you.
However, weighing alternatives and thinking of all the different possibilities can be paralyzing for some people and sometimes decisions based on intuition are actually superior to those based on analysis. Perhaps one of the most common methods of acquiring knowledge is through authority. This method involves accepting new ideas because some authority figure states that they are true. These authorities include parents, the media, doctors, Priests and other religious authorities, the government, and professors. While in an ideal world we should be able to trust authority figures, history has taught us otherwise and many instances of atrocities against humanity are a consequence of people unquestioningly following authority (e.g., Salem Witch Trials, Nazi War Crimes). On a more benign level, while your parents may have told you that you should make your bed in the morning, making your bed provides the warm damp environment in which mites thrive.
Keeping the sheets open provides a less hospitable environment for mites. These examples illustrate that the problem with using authority to obtain knowledge is that they may be wrong, they may just be using their intuition to arrive at their conclusions, and they may have their own reasons to mislead you. Nevertheless, much of the information we acquire is through authority because we don’t have time to question and independently research every piece of knowledge we learn through authority. But we can learn to evaluate the credentials of authority figures, to evaluate the methods they used to arrive at their conclusions, and evaluate whether they have any reasons to mislead us.