EDS 101: Critical Analyses

These critical analyses are also available on this link – https://upouesvillamor.wordpress.com/eds-101-critical-analyses/

 

On Module 1Introduction to the Philosophy of Education 

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Personal and Real Meaning of Education

It is typical for people to define education as what you do in school. In fact, people who are categorized as “educated” are the ones who finished college, are proudly displaying their diploma on the walls of their home, and have graduation photographs to prove their “education”.

I began this course with the exact same definition for this seemingly simple term.

Education is defined by the Merriam Webster online dictionary as “the knowledge, skill, and understanding that you get from attending a school, college, or university”. Now one can see that there is so much more to education than just sitting inside the classroom and pretending to absorb what is being taught.

There is also a huge reason why education is the very topic of the World Development Report by the World Bank in February 2016. This report points out how education is now a “powerful driver of development”. It has the power to end poverty, foster equality, bring about peace, even improve health.

Education does, indeed, empower the learner and countries that have a high literacy rate tend to be more developed in so many aspects. The World Bank report further explains that the provision of “quality” education for all children will end poverty by the year 2030.

Adding philosophy to this whole new definition of education might add to one’s confusion – or should it?

Philosophy of Education 

Since education was referred to as a tool for development, it is notable that Allan Ornstein defined philosophy of education as “A Tool for National Development”. Since the time of Plato, down to ours, philosophy has had a major role in shaping and constantly altering our society.

When applied to education, philosophy widens educators’ and learners’ roles, perspectives, goals and visions. An obvious application of philosophy is that it is now [or should be] the backbone of every curriculum. It can be the curriculum source or its inspiration. With philosophy, education is given a higher purpose than just to provide skills for humans to survive. Now, education can equip people with an understanding of such issues as equality vs. injustice; honesty vs. corruption; slavery vs. freedom; and other such global issues. It makes the learner look deep within himself and ask – what can I do to help? 

Godwin Abiogu was correct to refer to philosophy of education as the hub of “the whole educational enterprise” (Abiogu, 2014). In fact, it encompasses many other dimensions including politics, society, culture, heritage, and personal. Its aims are the gradual eradication of poverty, social inequalities, monopoly, and other negative practices. But is this too utopian?

Maybe. While a global elimination of these injustices may be improbable, at the very least, most members of the modern society are already aware of these issues and what can be done to lessen the effects of such unconstructive practices.

Resources:

Abiogu, G. (2014). Philosophy of Education: A Tool for National Development? (Rep.). Nsukka, Nigeria: Scientific Research Publishing.

Education Overview. (2016, February). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/education/overview#1

Ornstein, A. (n.d.). Philosophy as a Basis for Curriculum Decisions. Retrieved March 2, 2016, from file:///C:/Users/Valued Client/Downloads/Philosophy_ Curriculum (2).pdf
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On Module 2: Major Philosophies 

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Idealism

The greatest minds introduced the world to the concept of idealism. There’s Plato, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and many such developed minds that contributed to idealism.

Idealism is the metaphysical doctrine that teaches how thoughts and ideas comprise basic reality. It points out how anything that the mind perceives is already consciousness. Physical things outside of the mind may or may not be real.

Plato, being the inherent perpetrator of idealism has successfully fused his ideas of the intangible world to this major philosophy. In his work, The Republic, he expressly differentiated the world of ideas from the world of physical things. The latter is not to be trusted because it is ever-changing. The former, however, is the one true knowledge.

It is interesting to point out that idealism is in direct contrast to pluralism or dualism as it is a form of monism. It also contradicts materialism and physicalism which both explain the physical existence of matter.

It is not surprising, therefore, that idealism includes various religious standpoints as religion is the realm of the inner self, supernatural beings and, yes, the existence of a supreme being called by many names.

Idealism is also the term used to describe one’s high values or principles, hence, one is said to be an idealist when you are perceived as a person of principles. What’s ideal is also perfect, excellent and desirable.

Idealism becomes even more sublime in education. Here, principles are emphasized, self-realization is advocated, and spiritual development valued more than material ownership or achievement.

The teacher lays the very foundations that will guide every student to face nature, become unified to it, and meet the Supreme Being someday. But one gets to ask where God is mentioned, who or what is God? And what will eventually gauge that the person has achieved enlightenment? Will it be because he will be in the presence of deity? Or is the God taught by idealists one’s self when one has attained self-mastery?

Realism 

By the root word, alone, we can deduce what this major philosophy is all about. Knowledge perceived by the senses is true. In humanistic realism, moral literature is emphasized as it is seen to be useful in life. The Greeks taught that realism studies current solutions to each of life’s problems. Real life, therefore, will never be known without ample study.

Social realism, on the other hand, aims to fill in social needs through practical knowledge. This is why the realist teaching methods include observations, excursions and real life experiences. This is a direct study of the mind and man, as Lord Montaigne so aptly put, “To make it of any real value you must not only get it into their minds but espouse them to it.”.; and to be espoused to knowledge requires a lot more than memorization or regular reading.

Sense realism gives preference to the study of nature and science more than language or literature; hence, teaching methods are analysis, observation, synthesis, also physical education.

The religions aspect that is still seen in realism reflects this major philosophy’s roots. It is still linked to idealism where religion comprises a huge chunk of the curriculum.

Existentialism 

The individual experience given emphasis in existentialism is deeply-rooted in the history of this major philosophy. The World Wars may have given birth to the existential choices in modern man but existentialism can be traced all the way back to the 19th century where Nietsche and Kerkegaard were the pioneers.

When applied to education, the learner is enabled to seek the human essence. Here, the natural laws are transcended and subjective knowledge takes center stage. Individuality is celebrated where freedom is given for man to reach self-realization.

Which leads one to think – is it enough to understand one’s environment in order to achieve self-realization? Existentialism sneers at science and technology; while it is true that there is a lot more beyond empirical analysis, yet values, alone won’t bring about another kind of progress (such as what’s been proven by science in industrialization).

Pragmatism 

So the only thing that is permanent is change. Generally, pragmatism gives emphasis to practicality, utility and consequences as the determinants of values. To pragmatists, intellect and the human concepts are not the only realities. For them, problem-solving is crucial in attaining intellect. Also, ideas that no longer have any uses have to be altered. Even values that become redundant need to be abandoned.

The pragmatist curriculum calls for a continuous experiential reconstruction that will lead to the creation of knowledge. No pragmatist believes that there are deeper truths to be discovered out there. For them, it is all about what serves people well. Pragmatism is always acting upon something and has social impact.

But what wrong is there in learning about the spiritual man? Or in believing that there is a higher self?  Why oppose internal truth?

References:

hiIdealism – By Branch / Doctrine – The Basics of Philosophy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_idealism.html

Idealism and the Aims of Education. (2014, March 19). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://pakphilosophy.blogspot.com/2014/03/idealism-and-aims-of-education.html

JOBY JOHN. (2008, August 20). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://edge.ascd.org/blogpost/the-relevance-of-existentialism-in-modern-education 

Pearson. (n.d.). Idealism and Education. In (pp. 7-38).

PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVES IN EDUCATION. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP2.html 

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On Module 3: Asian Philosophy (Confucianism)

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It is no surprise that Confucius is one of China’s most renowned figures because he contributed much to this quasi-religion in their nation. Since the Han Dynasty, Confucianism became the official religion of most of China’s great empires. It has provided them with a skeleton of ethical principles though one will immediately notice how it also legitimized dynastic rule.

It is notable why Confucius sought to teach his beliefs to a lot of people since his 30s. First, his ancestry proved to be aristocrats who became poverty-stricken by the time that Confucius was born. What could drive a person to be better at who he is than poverty (at least in the case of those whose perspectives are positive)? Poverty, at least in my humble opinion, drove him to master classical traditions in poetry and history, music, ritual, archery, calligraphy, arithmetic, and charioteering.

His diligence also brought about his concepts in education, the government and society in general. He constantly looked for a way to get into the political arena but was frustrated, instead, he devoted his life to teaching. This, somehow, became one of the seeds that paved the way for education to become available to everyone (not just the elites). Today’s Chinese education provides consistent teacher development. The people also have a high regard for anyone who is on the teaching profession. 

Confucianism is yet another moral approach in education which is geared towards self-realization and intellectual growth. Unsurprisingly, having been trained in classical traditions, Confucius taught about the Mandate of Heaven wherein the heavens, supposedly, choose one man together with his descendants to become mediator between the region and Heaven. To the region, this man is a god, perhaps, one of the teachings of Confucianism that I will never be in harmony with.

Why? Man may be a god in embryo (each becoming a master of himself is, in essence, a god) but no particular man should be esteemed greater than any of his brethren. 

Being morally upright is a sturdy foundation to anyone’s learning but it should not be the only purpose of education thereof. While benevolence and reciprocity in relationships are encouraged by Confucianism, it also legalizes having strong rulers who were fond of one word – control.

Confucianism taught the ideal but legalism was mandated. This, here, is another downside to the philosophy of Confucianism. And when this was taught to the young minds of that day, now there’s no wonder as to why China is what it is today – it is still a nation that is bent on controlling people (whether it be on the issue of population or whatnot).  

References:

Confucianism – ReligionFacts. (2015, March 17). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.religionfacts.com/confucianism

Keating, J. F. (2004). The Dark Side of Confucianism. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~iltc/EnglishPages/PublicAffair/confucius.pdf

Wu, A. (2014, August 20). Confucianism. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/confucianism.htm

Yee, E. (2002, June 2). Confucian Education: A Moral Approach. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.plts.edu/docs/confucian_education.pdf

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On Module 4: Educational Philosophies 

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 Essentialism

Essentialism in education is mainly about discipline and duty. These two aspects are given utmost importance as opposed to the learner-centered learning that is being promulgated by progressivists. Where the emphasis is on learner interest, alone, problems could materialize in the future. While interest is a great fuel for motivation in learning, still, this would not provide all the indispensable groundwork needed to become a functional citizen. Instead of focusing too much on what would be interesting, why not make essential lessons more interesting for the learners?

Experience is also believed to be a great teacher. If everyone agrees with this, then inherent in each of us is an essentialist who looks at adult responsibility in guiding and nurturing the youth. This is the very core of biological condition – human progress comes where adult guidance has been provided. This could very well be applied in education where learning becomes a systematic program that caters to specific levels of age and intellectual capacity.

Progressives may view child freedom as a new way of nurturing the young minds, but it could very well be going back to man’s primitive social life when the people did not think twice about the future of their children. This indulgence among the primitives, even the lack of intellectual records, proved to be the downside of certain cultures (e.g. the Taino civilization that dwindled then completely disappeared just like many of the American Indian race).

At the end of the day, it is not what’s interesting that matters. It’s what you make interesting in the sight of your learners. Teachers are supposed to motivate, inspire, even push their students to their limits so they can grow in intellect and eventually be able to reach their full potential.

Perennialism 

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This educational philosophy believes in the enduring ideas that have nurtured man. These are in the form of meaningful concepts written centuries ago but are still relevant in today’s society.

Essentialists and Perennialists agree when it comes to their high regard for history’s finest writers and thinkers. Moral and intellectual capacities are upheld, universal truths taught, with teachers being the source of learning and guidance. ‘Little surprise there as the great minds of Plato and Aristotle are behind the development of this educational philosophy.

Perennialists use tried and tested teaching techniques that are aimed at disciplining the learners’ minds. Disconnected information is not welcome in perennialist classrooms, though. This means that only the enduring – yet still correct – information should be taught. Here, the students’ interests are also not given attention, instead, universally-accepted knowledge and esteemed values of the society are handed down to the next generation. Philosophy is taught in detail as are the Great Books because they are believed to be most insightful – and timeless – when it comes to understanding the condition of man.

One is led to think, though, what can be considered as Great Books? Is it the Bible? Are these the works of the world’s greatest philosophers? But what would happen to a learner who was raised up an atheist? What values would he be gleaning if a major source of values formation is the Bible? And what of politician/philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli? Didn’t he teach that, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”?

And simply – would the classes be boring because there is nothing new to be learned?

These are just some of the questions that anti-perennialists might be prompted to ask.

There is nothing wrong with classical education, in fact, just like other educational philosophies, perennialism also has its pros and cons. The great King Solomon in the Bible once said that there seems to be nothing new under the sun. This statement is in line with the perennialists’ point of view. Careful consideration should be done, therefore, so that even classical topics could still enthuse learners.

Progressivism

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In this educational philosophy, it is quite important to have a diversified curriculum. This is because the learners are the center of education and an introduction to social reform is provided. Here, it is common to find singers, dancers, weavers, painters; all artists with a passion for experiential learning.

The progressivist thinking that learners’ interests are important is, indeed, partially true. While traditionalists would argue – to the bone – that a unified educational system is paramount, progressivists think that reform is crucial. There is doubt whether there will be one cohesive progressive movement; progressivism enthusiasts might comment otherwise, though. To them, reformers may not have lived in the same era but their collective efforts all move towards shaping the world through progressive education.

One would wonder, though, if the progressive movements were just a way of easing the social and political turmoils of the 20th century and nothing more than that.

John Dewey begged to differ. His eclecticism was apparent with his many works proving the relationship between education and democracy. To him, the classroom is a microcosm of the larger community, it is a place where little democracies should happen so that it will radiate a lovelier society. It was with this line of reasoning that Dewey and fellow progressivists broke from the traditionalists’ anti-democratic methods of discipline, drill and didactic activities.

Does this educational philosophy have its limits, too? Absolutely.

There were contradictions on the political background of the Progressive Era even though there have been plans to improve on healthcare, labor relations, even justice. For instance, Roosevelt, a known progressivist, passed various laws restraining businesses. Minorities were also reformed by the white, Anglo-Saxon protestants to new religious and cultural beliefs. These are but a few of the examples of the lack of democracy during this era of reform.

With these inconsistencies evident in the government and the society in general, it is not surprising that at the educational level, there were contradictions, too. The upside is that the learners are motivated; the downside, obviously, is that learning becomes nothing but play. In a setup where everyone is a winner, then nobody actually wins. Mediocrity may be propagated and common culture erased.

Spell reconstructionism: A-N-T-I  M-A-R-G-I-N-A-L-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N.

Reconstructionism

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The classroom setup under this educational philosophy is the real world where the students think and feel through simulation or actual experience. An example is the Brigham Young University in Idaho where culinary arts students (approximately 50 at a time) undergo planning, recipe testing, setting up and managing an actual restaurant.

In a more radical setting, short courses on environmental preservation are being infused in the Myanmar educational system. Not to go far, the UP educational system also aims to foster gender equality by having courses such as Gender and Society.

Is reconstructionism all positive then? Not quite.

Many think of it simply as an extension of progressivism which is partially true because it offers empowerment. Learning through experience is also necessary where the teacher is a research facilitator. Reconstructionists firmly believe that a Utopian society is possible should change be implemented. Students, according to them, need to become social activists such as the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

Since change is crucial in this kind of educational philosophy, isn’t there a need to find out the consequences of the change that is about to be implemented? Will this change improve or worsen social problems? Things have to be carefully considered by educators and curricularists with regard to education being used as a tool for social reconstruction.

References:

Bagley, W. (2000). The Case for Essentialism in Education. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://spu.edu/online/essentialism_in_ed.htm

Hamblin, J., Seamons, R., & Anderson, J. (n.d.). CLASSROOM APPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL THEORIES. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from https://www.byui.edu/Documents/instructional_development/Perspective/V3n1PDF/v3n1_edu-theory.pdf

How Progressive Education Gets It Wrong. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.hoover.org/research/how-progressive-education-gets-it-wrong  

 

Progressive Education – Philosophical Foundations, Pedagogical Progressivism, Administrative Progressivism, Life-Adjustment Progressivism. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2336/Progressive-Education.html

References:

Bagley, W. (2000). The Case for Essentialism in Education. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://spu.edu/online/essentialism_in_ed.htm

How Progressive Education Gets It Wrong. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.hoover.org/research/how-progressive-education-gets-it-wrong  

 Progressive Education – Philosophical Foundations, Pedagogical Progressivism, Administrative Progressivism, Life-Adjustment Progressivism. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2336/Progressive-Education.html

 

References:

Bagley, W. (2000). The Case for Essentialism in Education. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://spu.edu/online/essentialism_in_ed.htm

Hamblin, J., Seamons, R., & Anderson, J. (n.d.). CLASSROOM APPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL THEORIES. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from https://www.byui.edu/Documents/instructional_development/Perspective/V3n1PDF/v3n1_edu-theory.pdf

How Progressive Education Gets It Wrong. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.hoover.org/research/how-progressive-education-gets-it-wrong  

 Progressive Education – Philosophical Foundations, Pedagogical Progressivism, Administrative Progressivism, Life-Adjustment Progressivism. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2336/Progressive-Education.htm

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