Philosophy of Education
Philosophy is considered the mother of all sciences as its main objective is the search of the truth. It is the root of all knowledge and because of this, it affects all sciences. Education is not an exception, and it has been influenced by different philosophical approaches (2013, 05)
The word education comes from educare in Latin, which means “ to bring up”, or to bring forth what is within. Ducere means “ to lead”. Thus, it is considered education to be the action of formation, forming the mind, character, physical ability, etc., of an individual (2013, 05), and in consequence the potential of each individual will be developed.
In the context of society, it is the action of transmitting knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another in a formal way.
Different teaching methodologies are used depending on which philosophy of education is being followed (Jordan, Orison, & Annetta, 2008). These will also affect the role of the teacher, the student, and the curriculum, even the school settings. The philosophy of education that is being used will also help solve educational challenges such as diversity problems.
Plato’s philosophy of education was directed towards the search of the Truth, making men moral and virtuous for a good society. Thus, the philosophy of education I propose is one based on Plato’s idea, as he believed the truth is already within each, and the role of education is to help them find it through the dialectic method of teaching.
In the Republic, Plato discusses that education is necessary to produce a good society. Education should focus on the whole person and not only specific areas or skills. This is distinctive in an idealism philosophy in contrast with other philosophies that focus on particular skills as means for a purpose such a career. For Plato, the truth is good in itself and, so education is good in itself not as a means for an end (Feinberg, 2006).
Individuals do not live on their own and are not self-sufficient. For that reason, Education should help develop better individuals and in turn help construct a good society through common goals. In order to achieve this, Plato encourages and sees as a necessity the acquire virtues; particular virtues according to the different positions each has in society (2013, 05). Because not all individuals have the same potentials, as each is unique, this philosophy of education encourages educational approaches that help make the most out of diversity.
For Idealism philosophy, theory comes before practice, it encourages logical thinking. Liberal education comes from this philosophy. There is no relative truth, because the Truth is before reality, it is in the world of the Ideas. Thus, mental knowledge is more important than physical knowledge (Ozmon & Craver, 2011).
Because Theory comes before practice, education should concentrate on conceptual and moral development so that students learn how to think, they arrive at the knowledge of the truth. For this reason, teaching should concentrate on abstract topics such as philosophy or mathematics where principles come before any kind of practical application.
Under this light, the teacher’s role is to help students find the knowledge of the ultimate principles which students already possess. Their job is to help them organize these in a logical way. Thus, the role of the teacher is to guide the student to find the Truth.
This philosophy of education helps students to think by themselves, to think logically, to apply critical thinking rather than to act as robots as it is commonly found in contemporary education. If they know how to think logically, they will be able to tackle any problem and they will find a solution whether they have acquired the particular skill or not. Skills are about practice, but knowledge is about learning how to think. Thinking is at a higher degree than the know-how of particular skills, especially if the reason behind them are not understood because of lack of logical thinking.
Following this logic, texts on their own are not enough; teachers must be there to help, guide and clarify when necessary (Jordan, Orison, & Annetta, 2008). Teachers should understand the different stages of learning so they can better guide students. They are not simple imitators of what the textbooks say, but instead they are seen as creators of methods to help students find the truths through informal dialectical processes. They need to help students achieve their full moral and cognitive growth (Jordan, Orison, & Annetta, 2008).
Idealism sees the person as a whole, including the moral life. For that reason the teacher must have a virtuous life.
The curriculum of a liberal education also needs to be balanced so that it can help develop the person as a whole, intellectually and morally (Feinberg, 2006). For that reason, the curriculum should include spiritual instruction and guidance. In today’s education, this area of a person is not encouraged as much as this philosophy of education would like. Virtues are important, and indeed some philosophers such as St. Agustin believed that certain truths can be known through meditation (Jordan, Orison, & Annetta, 2008).
The instruction in a liberal classroom should be done through debates and discussions, which is the dialectic methodology, to help students think and discover on their own, with guidance from the teacher, what the truths are (Jordan, Orison, & Annetta, 2008). But meditation and contemplation can also help discover the Truth.
Most of today’s instructions and curriculums concentrate on teaching by heart. Students repeat like robots. They do not learn how to think logically using their own intellectual abilities, which is what men and women did throughout the last centuries and which is what led us to today’s great technological and scientific discoveries.
Curriculums should provide students with depth and holistic learning. Each person is different and has different skills, but they all have the ability to learn how to think logically and thus discover the truths. In today’s world, this philosophy of education would be great to tackle diversity and special education problems. In practical terms it would teach all how to think logically but through their own abilities and personal traits arriving at the truth and reaching their potential. Each individual can bring to the society what they can give and no one else can. This is what Plato believed.
We must not forget that just because idealism aims to search for the truth does not mean that does not want to teach technical skills. On the contrary, the depth of knowledge of those particular skills are important, and that is what idealists try to teach, the depth of knowledge beyond the particular know-how skill (Jordan, Orison, & Annetta, 2008).
Diversity and stereotypes are commonly found in today’s educational environments mainly because of globalization. Prejudices are common, and mainly because of ignorance. Prejudices involve stereotypes, and most of the times antipathy between groups, but simply because of negative, irrational beliefs (Siegel, 2009). These problems lead to educational challenges such as inadequate educational environments to apply the methods already discussed, or lack of confidence of certain groups or individuals to achieve their potential.
Because the main root of these problems is the lack of knowledge, or ignorance, idealism education provides the best solutions. Through debates and discussions students can find the real truth about different groups, and because education also falls in the moral sphere, virtues should help them have a better approach to different groups than any other educational philosophy who ignore the moral sphere. Just by including the practice of virtues in the educational curriculum, this on its own is an advantage to tackle problems that will open students to the truth, and through dialectical approach they should eventually find the truth about the negative and irrational prejudices that they have.
In a diverse environment, idealism in practice could provide positive approaches in dealing with diversity. Not everyone is good at everything or the same things. Usually black people are good at certain sports; Asians are good at mathematics, Latinos have great musical rhythm. Idealism helps them find the truth, but each is different, and Plato recognized this. Indeed he saw each person having different roles in society. A liberal curriculum should acknowledge these differences while still aiming at helping develop mature moral individuals.
he aim of educational assessments is to have an objective understanding of whether students learned what has been taught to them. In many cases, it is also a means of refreshing and studying what has been learned in class. It is not a secret that during school years not all students are open to education and that they do not apply themselves to find the truths. In reality, not all students are aware of the importance of education and knowledge and so unless they are forced to do it they will never do.
The aim of education is to help develop mature moral person. It is not easy to assess this in an exam. A virtuous person is seen in everyday life. Self-discipline is also a teaching method of this philosophy. Students do not practice self-discipline unless it has been taught and forced to practice it. Virtues require self-discipline, the consistent search for the truth requires self-discipline. For such reasons, assessments help students practice their self-discipline by having to study for the assessments, not because they are an end in themselves but because they help practice the real objective of education.
Debates and dialectic would be the best assessment methods; also logical thinking criteria would be another great way. Memory based assessments do not encourage logical thinking, but ultimately if it requires the student to apply himself to learn it and become better at self-discipline, although it would not be the best way of an assessment it would still do partially.
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Feinberg, W. (2006). Back to the Future: Philosophy of Education as an Instrument of Its Time. E&C/Education and Culture, 22 (2), 7-18
Ozmon, H., & Craver, S. (2011). Philosophical Foundations of Education. 9th Edition.
Jordan, A., Orison, C. & Annetta, S. (2008). Approaches to Learning: A Guide For Teachers: A Guide For Educators. McGraw-Hill International.
Siegel, H. (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education. Oxford University Press.
(2013, 05), Relationship Between Philosophy & Education. Study Mode. com. Retrieved 03, June, 2014, from http://www. studymode. com/essays/Relationship-Between-Philosophy-Education-1661844. html