Critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and education

Meaning & Relationship between Philosophy and Education

critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and education

Criteriology provides the most pragmatic connection between education and philosophy. on critical philosophy to uncover criteria that support educational judgment. Let's examine more closely the difference between these three ideas of. Philosophy of education is the branch of applied or practical philosophy disposition to seek reasons and the ability to evaluate them cogently, and to be . of rationality/critical thinking as a fundamental educational ideal (cf. .. the complex nature of the relation between evidence and policy-making has. A related question concerns evaluation: what are the appropriate criteria for evaluating educational The Relation of Philosophy of Education to Philosophy.

TV programs offer us the personal philosophies of various religious or political leaders. Other people talk about their philosophy in choosing a kindergarten or a college. Some people believe a difference in philosophy distinguishes between Roman Catholic and public schooling practices.

Still others talk about Progressive or Back-to-Basics philosophy. We see then, that the word "philosophy" is vague, yet, asking someone for her philosophy on something is different from asking her how she feels about it.

To shortcut discussion we can borrow distinctions made by philosopher John Passmore 2 and separate out three common conceptions of philosophy: These distinctions help us sort out different traditions within what is called philosophy by the man-on-the-street although only critical philosophy is understood to be philosophy in Passmore's own academic tradition. Although three conceptions of philosophy can be distinguished, there are many common elements shared by them.

A person may derive an ideology from a wisdom, and then subject it to critical philosophy. A truth discovered through critical philosophy may come to be uncritically venerated, as, for example, was the insight in America that education should center on the child.

The three conceptions of philosophy, in practice, are found in a mix in the day-to-day practice of the schools. Almost every major philosopher in the critical tradition -- famed philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Kant and others 2A -- have had much to say in the way of wisdoms about education and much in the way of ideology to say about how we should go about schooling.

Our primary interest in this essay is in philosophy as critical inquiry. Wisdoms and ideologies are usually inculcated into us in a way which gives us little opportunity for reflection and criticism: But critical philosophy, as we will see, is characterized by an attitude of critical reflection and a practice of analysis that inculcators of wisdoms and ideologies avoid. However, wisdoms, ideologies and critical inquiry are intimately and importantly related, especially in educational practice.

Let's examine more closely the difference between these three ideas of philosophy and how each relates to educational practice. Philosophy as Wisdoms Philosophy, however one conceives it, is expected to be more than a passing feeling or a kneejerk opinion. It's supposed to be a thoughtful response to a question or situation. The response may not be very extensively thought out, but it's got some element of reflection in it.

Philosophy as wisdom incorporates, at the very least, this notion of reflection, of thoughtful response. This conception of philosophy as wisdoms includes two related ideas: Such philosophy is generally seen as arising out of personal experience or as having sacred origins.

For these reasons we tend not to challenge them with a critical question such as, "How do you know that? You can't expect too much from life without being disappointed sometimes; or b. Live and let live, that's what I say; c. Don't smile until Christmas common advice to new teachers.

Such statements are thought to be philosophical. They are general, they are often offered as reasons for acting, and they have a certain air of thoughtfulness about them. We generally concede people the right to these sorts of reflective opinions and do not press them for further justification.

  • Meaning & Relationship between Philosophy and Education
  • Introduction: Philosophy of Education and Philosophy

Then there are the statements or writings of prophetic individuals many of us have been taught to consider both wise and worthy of veneration: Do not covet the favors by which Allah has exalted some of you above others. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Train up a child in the way he should go: It is important to notice that when people offer philosophy in the form of sacred writings they do not welcome challenge. Indeed, a questioning or skeptical attitude is often thought to be rude or even blasphemous.

Similarly, in education we frequently encounter some statements so deeply embedded in schooling culture that they are treated as religious fundamentals. Always treat a child so as to bolster his or her self-esteem. Philosophy as Ideology Philosophy can also be thought of as ideology.

An ideology is, by comparison with wisdoms, a more highly organized body of opinion. It usually serves programs of action and organizational needs. Philosophy as ideology is what we normally find in schools.

For licensing purposes, state departments of education require schools, public and private, to have available a document that states the school's "philosophy" of education. Significantly, such school philosophies can be acquired pre-packaged. Educational accrediting agencies publish books of them that school planners and directors can use to choose among different philosophies of education like so many items on a menu. The social development of elementary school students proceeds as the child becomes aware of the various authority structures that operate throughout the school, the community, the region, and the nation.

We believe the school must help the child establish a perspective on the responsibilities and opportunities inherent in the multitude of authority systems in a democratic social order. This may be subject to debate. Although the example above mentions a "democratic social order," given its emphasis on authority, one could imagine that with this ideology, a school run like a miniature police-state could be rationalized. In developing an ideology, the wisdoms of individuals, prophetic or otherwise, is called on to justify policies and day-to-day procedures.

But did Moses, Jesus or Mohammed ever talk or write about hall passes, or detentions? What philosophy as ideology requires is an imagination that stretches the original intents and statements into broader or novel applications.

critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and education

Sometimes this imagination goes far beyond any reasonable interpretation. Indeed, deeply pious people may complain that the ideology of a church organization violates the essential spirit of the prophetic teachings, as when they complain that teachers in their schools fail exercise forgiveness as often as they should. A key point here is that organizational demands often substantially change the spirit of the original philosophy.

Deep moral concerns may be lost in service of expediency. Properly pursued, philosophy enhances analytical, critical and interpretive capacities that are applicable to any subject-matter, and in any human context. It cultivates the capacities and appetite for self-expression and reflection, for exchange and debate of ideas, for life-long learning, and for dealing with problems for which there are no easy answers.

It doesn't matter who said or wrote what. Nor does it matter what effect critical inquiry might have on an organization. The point of the activity is not to honor individuals or to bolster organizations, but to try to get to the truth.

Most importantly, in philosophy as critical inquiry, any statement purporting to be truth is challengable. But what are the rules for making such a challenge more than just an expression of dislike? What rules there are have been developed through millennia in a literature tracing back to Plato and earlier. We will look more closely at these rules for challenge and investigation later. Assumptions of the Tradition of Critical Inquiry. Early on in critical philosophy, Greek philosophers distinguished between what they saw as "received opinion" and "truth.

Received opinion might be true, but it was the task -- those ancient philosophers believed -- not of traditional or religious authorities but of critical analysis to determine if it was so. There is a potential here for significant conflict.

It is important that a central story in the history of philosophy is that of Socrates. He was condemned to death by the Athenian Court for "impiety" and "corrupting youth" by teaching them critical inquiry. To emphasize an important point, however, critical inquiry is not confined to the irreligious. The tools of critical inquiry have long been recognized as useful by religiously committed philosophers in their struggle with the wisdoms of competing religious groups.

There are recognized critical philosophers in many major religions. Islamic, Jewish and Christian philosophers have practiced in the tradition of critical inquiry.

Philosophy as critical inquiry treats knowledge as tentative. For practical purposes we might accept something as true, yet later change our mind if the evidence warrants.


Notice how different this is from the conceptions of philosophy as wisdoms or ideologies. Wisdoms and ideologies present what they offer as absolutes. Those who offer us such absolutes insist at some point that inquiry must stop, questioning is no longer allowed. For critical inquiry it is not acceptable to say, "This is so because I or my prophet says it is.

critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and education

These are reasonableness and evidence. What this specifically means, we will see later. To reiterate, just because something is commonly believed to be true, is not considered in critical philosophy to be an adequate reason for accepting it. Since it is method, not personal authority that establishes truth, critical philosophy does not encourage us to become followers, or true believers.

Rather, each person is required to think for himself or herself, following certain procedures which do not prejudice the outcome. Educators are well-served by learning these procedures, especially in a pluralistic society like ours where so many wisdoms and ideologies compete.

How does critical philosophy help with educational decisions? We live in a society where wisdoms and ideologies compete. Educators must be able to fairly select among them in a way which they understand to enhance their practice. Such a selection among competing wisdoms should be as reasonable and as unbiased as possible. Critical philosophy has at its disposal a wide variety of tools for analyzing and appraising educational debates.

Educational disputes in our society tend to be particularly ideological. Practitioners need tools which are neutral to these disputes in order to deal with day-to-day problems in schools. Here, for example, is a list of the kinds of questions educators confront on a day-to-day basis, and, in effect, decide upon, whether thoughtfully or not 1. We cannot achieve recovery of primitive naivete. But there is attainable a cultivated naivete of eye, ear and thought, one that can be acquired only through the discipline of severe thought.

The "discipline of a rigorous thinking" denotes the critical task of philosophy in relation to the knowledge of its time and space: Thus, the criticism of prejudices means for Dewey: We can conclude the author's reasoning in defense of philosophy as a critical activity able to develop critical methods: In this sense, philosophy as critique of the beliefs and habits rooted in the culture prevents passive adaptation and makes possible the emancipation as a creative process of reconstruction of the experimence.

Dewey conceives philosophy as inherently critical, considering that it has a distinct position among the various modes of criticism in general: The critical requirement stems from the tendency of objects becoming hard compartments not communicative and thus not interactive.

Dewey mentions the variety of specializations such as science, industry, politics, religion, art, education, morals, and others, that when institutionalized or professionalized they become isolated and petrified.

Hence the need for the critical task of philosophy in communicative practice: Over-specialization and division of interests, occupations and goods create the need for a generalized medium of intercommunication, of mutual criticism through all-around translation from one separated region of experience into another.

Introduction: Philosophy of Education and Philosophy - Oxford Handbooks

Thus philosophy as a critical organ becomes in effect a messenger, a liason officer, making reciprocally intelligible voices speaking provincial tongues, and thereby enlarging as well as rectifying the meanings with which they are charged.

The critique of philosophy implies a dialogical reflective work between the different specialized fields of research avoiding isolation and providing mutual reconstruction of meanings interconnecting different perspectives.

The role of philosophical criticism prevents fragmentation of life in fields of specialized and disconnected knowledge of a totality of vision. The key position of philosophy in the development of socio-cultural experience as a medium of intercommunications enlarging and rectifying meanings, in the sense of criticism of criticism, is due to the terms of generality, totality, and ultimateness, assumptions of its way of thinking.

It means that philosophy is not limited to specific answers to specific problems ethics, politics, logic, etc. It is not reducible to a definite knowledge as occurs in the sciences. It is the disposition to continue to think about the knowledge, the world, the life.

In this line of reasoning, Campbell [ 2 ], p. Philosophy and the experimental Method of Inquiry: The Reflective Thinking Dewey questioned the dualistic assumption of rationalism and empiricism as a way to attain knowledge.

He found in the experimental method the alternative to investigate the different philosophical aspects of experience: On the experimental method adopted by Dewey, Ratner explained: Therefore, the experimental method consists not of a single linear rule.

It is multidimensional and multi-potentiated, acquiring different specific ways by using into different specific situations and revealing new powers in each new pathway that is used [ 20 ], p. The fallibility principle is grounded on critics as auto correct condition by fostering the growth and expansion of the investigative process.

The accumulation of knowledge without criticism leads to inert routine or fundamentalism. Criticism without the accumulation of knowledge leads to immobility or relativism. By embracing the experimental method, Dewey opened a wide field of inquiry for philosophy, once meant to leave the safe realm of the metaphysical truths and walk in the uncertain terrain of experience in a context of constant change. The experimental attitude meant a shift to the philosopher for the common field of research problems arising from life itself.

Thus, the philosopher identifies himself as a human being among others, a worker from other workers, and their field is constituted as a field among others, all functioning of interrelated and interdependent way with each other.

It is here that the philosophical work acquires its value to the extent that his investigation turns to enlarge and transform the human experience. Dewey criticized radically the epistemology characteristic of modern philosophy because it takes for granted the dualisms mentioned.

critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and education

In this case, knowledge is treated as possession of a representation of the world owned by an individual mind thinking independent of the external world. Dewey called this philosophy as spectator theory of knowledge that takes the mind as a mirror of reality, translating this into a mental image. These are philosophies of acceptance and they engage in discovering an antecedent reality that provides truth as logically demonstrated certainty. For Dewey, philosophy has a role to offer intelligent control, intentional in guiding experience.

One of the problems implicit in dualistic philosophies is the isolation of the individual from the world and the others, facilitating the development of an external authority control. Thus, there remains a break of continuity in relations between individual and society. Opposed to this view, Dewey believes that human action is always done in a common and public world.

So, he put as a basis of all knowledge the social constitution of the self: As matter of fact every individual has grown up, and always must grow up, in a social medium. His responses grow intelligent, or gain meaning, simply because he lives and acts in a medium of accepted meanings and values.

Through social intercourse, through sharing in the activities embodying beliefs, he gradually acquires a mind of his own. The conception of mind as a purely isolated possession of the self is at the very antipodes of the truth.

The self achieves mind in the degree in which knowledge of things is incarnate in the life about him; the self is not a separate mind building up knowledge anew on its own account. For Dewey, the mind is active and not an organ of reception or mere accumulation of information or contemplation of the truth. In this sense the mind depends on the experience that knowledge is incarnate in life.

The experience is an organism-environment interaction in a context whose connections between thinking act and acting think results in a change in the individual and in the environment, causing accumulation of meanings in that one. Dewey devoted part of his philosophical research in reconstructing the method to be employed in philosophy, that is, the reconstruction of the experimental method in which he examines the role of reflective thinking. He defined the character of this philosophical inquiry as the logic of thinking, anchoring his analysis in the social and historical development of how we think of, in and to the experience.

Reflective thinking is defined as an intelligent activity that requires conscious and voluntary effort to rebuild experience in a vital problematic situation through the inquiry: Dewey identifies the activity of reflective thinking as the inquiry activity itself, as we can see in its definition of inquiry: It should be noted that, according to the author, the logic of thought is not a logical external to experience; an a priori extracted by the mind or by the thought, but it is built in the very process of investigation of problematic experience.

Following the author's argument in the excerpt: Thus, for him, the primary object of philosophical inquiry, your genuine habitation, is the continuous, interconnected and conflicted field of individual and social experience. In this sense, philosophy is concerned with the logic of thinking and investigates the nuances of this logic that results from reflection on the experience.

It investigates the logic of inquiry. It is the inquiry of the inquiry whose logic is not restricted only to an intrinsic analysis of thought, but as their political and social implications. The experimental method of thinking reflectively the problems of the experience is an antidote to the dualistic thinking that separates theory and practice.

In Dewey's perspective, action oriented and controlled by reflection imply verification as a part of the experimental process and knowledge results effectively through the transformation of the problematic situation. The reflective process ends with the warranted assertion, which is a means to coping new problematic situations. Philosophy conceived as method o criticism, criative the investigation of experience seeks to express the deep conflicts and endless uncertainties of civilization.

From this perspectiveDewey understands that philosophy has a socio-cultural function. Briefly, we can resume the conception of philosophy as criticism, as an experimental method in the form of reflective thought about the experience and problems still characterized in terms of generality, totality, and ultimateness. It means de socio-cultural function of philosophy as a condition of possibility for a democratic society.

Philosophy, Democracy and Education. In this perspective, Dewey's conception of philosophy corresponds to a social method or a method of democracy.

In this direction the first task is to understand the conception of democracy. Dewey establishes a criterion for democracy with two elements: This is the base to define democracy as follows: The author puts democracy as a condition for achieving the education goals of cultural and social efficiency, in the sense of continuity of the life of society.

The separation of these two goals is proper for aristocratic societies that offer distinct education for the upper members, the elites, and the other to the lower members, the masses. Culture should not be mistaken as something purely interior, but with the full development of personality, and of the human incommensurability, allowing everybody to participate freely and fully in the common activities in a valuable experience in extent, depth and continuous growth and expansion.

critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and education

In this sense, the author shows the relationship of the concepts of education and democracy: But if democracy has a moral and ideal meaning, it is that a social return be demanded from all and that opportunity for development of distinctive capacities be afforded all. The separation of the two aims in education is fatal to democracy; the adoption of the narrower meaning of efficiency deprives it of its essential justification.

It follows from this the value of education because it the social mean to give everyone the chance to assess social benefits and develop their individual capacities, and also demand all the respective social retribution. Likewise, the reflection of the philosophy of human need in the struggle for survival should be governed by the democratic values and purposes for their own guarantee.

The philosophy should be the base of democracy and of education. In this sense, philosophy can be understood as a way of life, especially because, as the author himself acknowledges, philosophy as love of wisdom indicates a moral practice.

Wisdom is a moral term, because refers to a choice, a preference for a way of life rather than another, in this case, democratic life. Without falling into redundancy, the "better life" is one that results in reflective thinking, critical and creative, exercised in an inquiry community.

Therefore, we cannot disassociate education, democracy and philosophy. And the defense of the author is to democratize philosophy and to philosophize the democracy. Philosophy as a reflective, critical and creator thinking is an integral part of democratic life as it is indispensable for the formation of the person able to participate in a sympathetic solution of the conflicts common.

Democracy implies the sympathy as a moral sense: A democratic education — in and for democracy — presupposes a shared experience where a person is capable of free and full communication. It is opposed to the education as of development of capabilities to provide service or to be usefull to others market, industry, etc.

An excellence democratic education consists in the formation of the person in the following sense: This democratic educational process implies necessarily the transformation of the culture: This is impossible without culture, while it brings a reward in culture, because one cannot share in intercourse with others without learning—without getting a broader point of view and perceiving things of which one would otherwise be ignorant.

Our reflection notes that the thick cloud of scientificity obnubilated Dewey's conception of philosophy.

Philosophy of Education

Our interpretation of Dewey's thought captures the meaning of philosophy as this reflexive attitude characterized by criticality, completeness, generality, radicality and creativity before the happenings that weave the experience.

Our argument is that reflection, the core concept in the reconstruction of the concept of philosophy made by Dewey, has its origin in the philosophy and not science and is a condition of possibility of this. The difference is just in the act of reflecting or critical thinking characteristic of philosophy, and rationally grounded knowledge, characteristic of science. Therefore, philosophy is a reflective attitude on this knowledge to think how to respond to their demands.

The text below is very illuminating on this issue: It is of assistance to connect philosophy with thinking in its distinction from knowledge.

Philosophy and Education: what's the connection

Knowledge, grounded knowledge, is science; it represents objects which have been settled, ordered, disposed of rationally. Thinking, on the other hand, is prospective in reference. It is occasioned by an unsettlement and it aims at overcoming a disturbance. Philosophy is thinking what the known demands of us — what responsive attitude it exacts. It is an idea of what is possible, not a record of accomplished fact.

Hence it is hypothetical, like all thinking. It presents an assignment of something to be done — something to be tried. Its value lies not in furnishing solutions which can be achieved only in action but in defining difficulties and suggesting methods for dealing with them. Philosophy might almost be described as thinking which has become conscious of itself —which has generalized its place, function, and value in experience.

To mark this difference, we gave voice to the author: When the interests emerge in the experience in a manner much superficial melting easily into rough accommodations or are inadequately organized in individuality in order to not conflict with each other, philosophy is not needed or becomes a "homely philosophy. When the ideals of conduct that affect the whole society are very different and discrepant among themselves arises the necessity of reflection that results in the philosophical systems.

Therefore, for the author, philosophy is [ The most penetrating definition of philosophy which can be given is, then, that it is the theory of education in its most general phases. We believe that the formation of this "straight mentality and good moral habits", translated as ethical thinking, takes place in the reflective and dialogical process, what means, in a community of democratic life. This means the ability to conduct the social life on an ethical basis.

This leads us to understand Dewey's theory of reflective thought, which is a theory of the process of education, as being eminently philosophical. Cochran considers Dewey as an international thinker because of the problems he approached and the solutions projected in politics, morals, education and others aspects.

critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and education

He believed that the next scientific revolution would happen when human beings applied their knowledge to think about social problems. In this sense, the Dewey's concept of democracy is a vision of the public in which the democratic communities are epistemic communities, the locus of production of knowledge necessary for individuals to build a more meaningful world for themselves from the shared needs in ordinary circumstances. Another relevant aspect of the democratic community as an inquiry and ethical community is that this environment of shared and common experience promotes the freedom and growth of the person.