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Problems in Philosophy of Education
Also available from Bloomsbury New Perspectives in Philosophy of Education, edited by David Lewin, Alexandre Guilherme and Morgan White The Philosophy of Education, Richard Pring
Problems in Philosophy of Education A Systematic Approach James Scott Johnston
BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2019 Copyright © James Scott Johnston, 2019 James Scott Johnston has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. Cover image © Filograph/iStock All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: 978-1-3500-7664-8 ePDF: 978-1-3500-7665-5 eBook: 978-1-3500-7666-2 Typeset by Integra software services Pvt. Ltd. To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.
Part One Philosophy of Education in North America: History, Diagnosis, and Prognosis 1 2 3
Educational Theories; Philosophic Models Present Circumstances of Philosophy of Education Conclusion: The Two Constants in Philosophy of Education
21 33 43
Part Two Theory and Research in Scholarship 4 5 6
Between Philosophy and Education Philosophy or Theory of Education Philosophy and Educational Research
51 73 87
Part Three Practice 7 8 9
Teaching and Learning The Questions of Curriculum The Questions of Schools as Social Institutions
99 127 147
Part Four Toward a New Program 10 11 12 13
Question 1 Question 2 Question 3 Wither the Concept?
Appendix: Philosophical Presuppositions References Index
171 189 203 217 226 234 244
Acknowledgments This book is the product of certain frustrations with the discipline to which I belong. The project began with a panel presentation at the Canadian Philosophy of Education Society in 2009 on the future of philosophy of education. Panelists included myself, Charles Bingham, Sayyed Moshen Fatimi, and Andrea English. Discussions with a number of philosophers and philosophers of education over the past several years have helped solidify my opinions. These include Sean McGrath, Joel Madore, Peter Gratton, Rosa Bruno-Jofre, the late George C. (“Skip”) Hills, Gonzalo Jover, Walter Okshevsky, Chris Martin, Darron Kelly, and Jim Garrison. Special thanks to graduate assistant Cheng Li for helping me with the penultimate draft. Additional thanks to graduate assistant Nate Little for assembling the index. Acknowledgment also goes out to the journal Encounters in Education for allowing me to publish a large percentage of “Philosophy of Education: Where Has It Been? Where Is It Going?” from the 2007 volume. This article forms the bulk of Part One.
This volume is about the discipline of philosophy of education. It concerns its past, present, and future. It concerns its form and matter, its structure and content. It concerns its aims, goals, and purposes. It concerns its motivations, both internal and external. It concerns its topics, its areas of investigation, and its scholarship. It concerns its basis, its grounding, its foundations.1 It concerns its teaching, its research, its conferences, its activities. It concerns all of these and more, besides. However, it concerns them in a way not considered by many philosophers of education working at present: for it has as its supposition the view that philosophy of education is deeply imperiled and the remedy for this is not to be found in engaging with the concerns of either philosophy or educational theory and practice. That philosophers of education would concern themselves with the status of their discipline is not surprising, given the tendency of philosophy to dwell upon its history, aims, methods, and results. Many other humanities and socialscientific disciplines operating under the umbrella of education (sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, as well as curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, and the like) don’t seem as taken with self-scrutiny as philosophy of education. But this self-scrutiny presupposes that philosophy of education is a legitimate subdiscipline of philosophy—or at least, strongly attached to philosophy—a presupposition I deny. For the past 20 years or so, philosophers of education have openly pondered their discipline’s relationship to philosophy and their answers vary. Some think the relationship is fine. Others think philosophy of education should go its own way; others (the majority) think whatever we make of philosophy of education’s relationship to philosophy,
A corresponding volume will discuss the presuppositions involved in claiming a systematic philosophy of education. These presuppositions include the basic logical, metaphysical, knowledgetheoretic, ethical, and socio-political frameworks needed to scaffold such an account. I hope to have this volume available in the near future.
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it must have something important to say to educational theory and practice or risk obsolescence or triviality. Some of this angst no doubt has to do with the history of the discipline. Philosophers of education can’t agree on its origins. Some think it extends as far back as Socrates; others think it began in the eighteenth century with the advent of “childhood”; still others think it occurred even later, with the rise of courses of instruction in philosophy of education and the formation of scholarly societies. The boundaries of the discipline are partly constituted of this history; if philosophers of education can’t decide on the origins of the discipline, they can’t pronounce on boundary questions (what constitutes philosophy of education; what about it differs from other disciplines; what is at the core; and what at the periphery). And this leads to difficulties identifying the subject matters of the discipline. For, without recourse to historical precedent, it becomes difficult to ascertain what counts as philosophy of education. Fortunately, there is a history to which we can turn. Something called philosophy of education did come about in fin de siecle Anglo-America, and this can serve as an approximate starting point for historians and philosophers of education so inclined to trace origins. Issues of pedagogy (teaching and learning), the curriculum, and schools naturally factored in these early iterations of the discipline. So it is in keeping with precedent to discuss these in terms of their saliency for any present philosophy of education, regardless of whether we ultimately reject them as insufficiently substantive for the discipline. Admittedly, this is not much to go on—there is no detailed volume prescribing what philosophy of education should consider—but it is most certainly a start. And it is where I begin my journey. However, I end up in a very unfavorable place: unfavorable, that is, to those who consider philosophy or educational theory and practice to have something intrinsically valuable to say about philosophy of education. For I resist attempts to have philosophy of education yoke itself to either philosophy or educational theory and practice. I claim philosophy of education must develop and solve its own questions and problems, and not continue attempting to solve the problems of others. Much of the ground philosophy of education has occupied for the last several decades now needs clearing. A fresh start is demanded. From the initial questions philosophy of education has asked—questions of origins— new accounts and new subject matters must come forth. This is what I hope to provide in this volume. A stated purpose of this book is to persuade those in philosophy of education that the discipline is imperiled and requires urgent intervention if it is to survive
and prosper. Now this may seem ridiculous to some and obvious to others. It may seem ridiculous to those who have healthy and vibrant careers in the discipline, are successfully teaching and producing what they believe to be relevant scholarship, and have built up connections with those in philosophy, philosophy of education and education more generally. On the other hand, it may seem obvious to those who struggle to obtain employment or to those who teach in a discipline other than philosophy of education, having trained in philosophy of education. It may also seem obvious to those with some history in the discipline; those who have seen the discipline’s relevance with respect to faculties of education diminish during the last two decades. To those who believe philosophy of education is in fine shape or otherwise stable, I must disagree. This disagreement will constitute the focus of my discussion in Parts Two and Three. A second purpose of this book is to suggest a way to correct the problematic state of affairs that preoccupies philosophy of education. What particular affairs do I have in mind? Aside from the issue of employment and economics, there are very troubling issues of scholarship. To my mind, philosophers of education are not invested in asking and answering their own questions: they are invested in asking and answering the questions of others. Who are these others? These are philosophers on the one hand and educators on the other. Why is this problematic? Because these questions are illegitimate, they do not belong to the domain of philosophy of education. They are not built up in and through the history of the scholarship we have historically done and continue to do, and they do not entail a set of accounts of logic, metaphysics, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. Instead, these are questions taken from other contexts and other scholarly disciplines. The context of philosophy of education is foreign to them; these questions are question-begging absent these historical and philosophical moorings. Philosophers of education typically draw on two main sources for their questions and answers. The first of these is philosophy, the second education. It is not uncommon to see pure philosophy papers in leading journals of philosophy of education (though this has greatly improved in the last 20 years or so). The claims of these papers obviously have little to do with philosophy of education. More troubling is the converse case: educational questions and answers with no bearing on philosophy of education. These have become far more common in philosophy of education journals. But the mere absence of historical philosophers or philosophies is not my chief concern. My chief concern is that the questions being asked and answered do not belong to philosophy of education. This raises the question of what questions do belong to
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philosophy of education. I will argue it is those questions and answers that arise from inquiry by philosophers of education doing philosophy of education that we need to encourage. Of course, this is circular until the precise nature of the questions is asked over and answered. Questions and answers belonging to philosophy of education have the following features: 1. They result directly from inquiries by philosophers of education. 2. They are legitimated not by philosophy, nor other educational disciplines, but by philosophers of education. 3. They are not borrowed from other disciplines, including philosophy or other educational disciplines. 4. They draw upon, and lead to, accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. 5. They bear at least some connection to the original questions philosophers of education asked at the inauguration of the discipline. I will take these up in turn. To begin with 1, the questions and answers of philosophy of education arise seamlessly from the context of inquiry of philosophers of education. Such questions and answers therefore presuppose a context of, or in, education, but they are not exhausted by, or in, the context. These are original questions and answers and not necessarily the questions we currently ask and the answers we currently give. Thus, they are often not questions and answers that are commonly thought to be questions of philosophy of education. In this, they are unique and stand out from the questions common to much existing scholarship. In case of 2, the legitimacy of these questions hinges on their belonging to philosophy of education and not another discipline. They may presuppose a particular philosophical school of thought or set of claims, but philosophers of education ask them for philosophers of education, with any benefit for philosophy or other disciplines in education secondary or absent. This leads me to 3. Questions posed directly from the scholarship of other disciplines are therefore illegitimate; but so are questions philosophers of education pose whose pedigrees stem from other disciplines. Questions of the role of spiritual life in education, or questions of hegemony in school practices, or questions of the rightness of accountability standards are only legitimate if we ask them in the context of a genuine inquiry by philosophers of education. They are illegitimate if they are merely borrowed from another discipline or have their pedigree from another discipline and are taken at face value for ours. Why?
Questions borrowed from other disciplines have a pedigree all their own; they are questions asked and answered in a specific scholarly context. This context is rich with the traditions, history, and scholarly practices of that or those discipline(s). Yet, philosophy of education has its own traditions, history, and scholarly practices. And it deserves to ask its own questions and provide its own answers. As regards 4, questions borrowed from other disciplines are either detached from metaphysical, logical, epistemic, ethical, and socio-political accounts or account-less to begin with. If they are severed from these accounts, they beg the question of their foundations and origin: for accounts of these are needed if we are to say why the question is important and why we ought to pursue it. While looking to the immediate practical bearings or consequences of asking and answering a question is quite understandable, we must sooner or later develop an accounting of why this is important beyond this. This account is best developed alongside the questions and answers, as I will maintain. But its necessity cannot be in question without at least introducing the prospect of begging the question. Questions that come with no account are therefore either masking an account or question-begging in their own right. Neither of these is acceptable. It will do to briefly discuss the meanings of the terms I use before continuing. By metaphysics I mean first principles: first things. This can be understood both transcendentally (as in principles deduced a priori and/or regulative ideals) and naturalistically (as principles inductively arrived at, or empirically ascertained, yet thought [hypothetically] necessary for their particular purpose or function). As will become clear in later chapters, my inclination is to elide the difference in favor of a speculative approach that merges both. Regardless, the claim that metaphysics is vital to any cogent philosophy of education will persist through these pages. By logic I mean the method or manner of making arguments; for example, what goes on in the space of the reasons we give and take. I therefore construe logic broadly and not exclusive to propositional or predicate logic, nor the logic of modes, and not what is commonly referred to as informal logic, but all of these. Put this way, logic moves seamlessly into a theory of knowledge, or the particular manner in which claims get justified; together, logic and the theory of knowledge concern valid reasoning. By ethics, I mean human conduct broadly understood. This includes not merely morality but human behavior in all of its guises. Ethics for my purposes consists in a philosophy of intention-action. In this sense, it emerges as the study of Täthandlung; activity. Socio-politics is therefore a derivation of ethics and constitutes that aspect of ethics involving formal organization and ends including (but not limited to)
Problems in Philosophy of Education
those of communities, societies, formal organizations (including the school), government, and the means and ends these institutions embody. Finally, questions asked by philosophers of education should have some pedigree in the history of our discipline. This is not so for purely historical reasons: rather, it has to do with the question of origins. Original questions— those that are asked at the outset of a discipline (or at the very least, form its point of departure)—are the ones that define that discipline and very often secure its direction. This is in no way different in philosophy of education than psychology or sociology. Returning to these questions is not only indicative of the search for origins, it is mandated if we want to trace the development of these questions to the ones we are now asking. It is also mandated if we wish to address the question of how we came to be asking the questions of others. Not only this, we ought to take our point of departure from these questions if what is wanted is the reconstruction of the discipline. For it is with these questions that the direction of the discipline was first set, and it is with these questions any further redirection of the discipline must contend.
Method I propose a method to elucidate original questions of philosophy of education. This method is organic, holistic, systematic, and involves a model of thinking and its concrete instances. Admittedly, it bears some resemblance to the methods of German idealism (Immanuel Kant, G. Fichte, W.F.J. Schelling, G.W.F. Hegel) and pragmatism (especially C.S. Peirce and John Dewey, as well as neo-pragmatists such as Wilfrid Sellars and Robert Brandom). But it has its worth in its practical consequence of generating a set of original questions that can then be put in place to develop further accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. In other words, it can drive a full account of philosophy of education. The account will begin by taking up the historical question(s) of philosophy of education and suggest contemporary derivations of these that can then be put to work to generate answers in the guise of new concepts or imaginative ideas. And these concepts can be tested for their ability to generate instances; instances of concrete, practical benefit. To the degree that concepts and their instances mesh, legitimate ends form. These ends are tested in novel situations and for varying educational practices, and they are reconstructed when they no longer manifest their practical instances. It is out of this process of thinking and rethinking—of generating concepts for the
practical instances of education—that accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics arise. Having arisen, they serve to buttress the asking and answering of further questions. And while the method has its philosophical presuppositions in German idealism and pragmatism and neopragmatism, the intent is metaphysical. That is to say, I am concerned above all with continuity, stability and precariousness, rhythm and dysrhythmia, and persistence and change. This becomes increasingly evident in two key areas: (1) the elucidation of the method by which concepts intrinsic to the philosophy of education grasp their particular instances and instances grasp their concepts in turn, and (2) how hypotheses are formed and lead to the deduction of their consequences and ultimately settle as principles. I will have more to say about the specific features of these accounts in Parts Two and Three. The contexts from which I draw the original questions are (1) teaching and learning, (2) the curriculum, and (3) the school. These are standard contexts and should not surprise anyone. But I choose these not because they are standard or unsurprising, but because these are the contexts that historically gave rise to the original questions and answers of philosophy of education. It is from these contexts and the questions and answers developed of them that a coherent, consistent, systematic account of philosophy of education will emerge. After a brief excursion through the history of each context, I will pose the question and discuss the process in and from which it is to generate novel questions. Each context contains a leading question that arises organically out of the context and leads to another question. It will be my task to show how this process operates and to which question it leads.
Part and section summaries Part One deals with the crucial backdrop to the methodology of philosophy of education: the question of the questions. This covers historical and philosophical concerns regarding the relationship of philosophy of education to philosophy, theory, educational research, and educational practice. I begin with an examination of the history of philosophy of education in Anglo-America. The purpose of this is to mark off the general direction of the discipline through the questions and concerns it asks. This will cover roughly the time of Dewey to the present. I will examine leading journals of philosophy of education, together with the National Society for the Study of Education yearbooks and other sources, to make my claims. My general thesis in this section is that philosophy
Problems in Philosophy of Education
of education has always concerned itself with broad questions posed by Dewey, and that Dewey’s is the sole viable philosophy of education extant. Claiming that Dewey’s is the sole viable philosophy of education leads me to Part Two. Here, I examine in more detail the relationship between philosophy and education. Philosophy of education is sometimes thought midway between the two. I will show that this is not the case; philosophy of education is not indebted to philosophy to the same extent as it is to education. Some of the problems with these relationships are noted. Then, I look closely at the relationship of philosophy of education to theory. I argue these are not coeval: theory is much broader and more inclusive than philosophy of education. However, theory poses a problem for philosophy of education, for theory does not share the same methods, ask the same questions, or provide the same answers. It operates with distinct histories. And it does not place the same weight on having accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. Drawing questions, answers, and accounts from theory, I argue, will deflect us from asking and answering our own questions and is to be avoided. Finally, I examine the relationship of philosophy of education to educational research. I will argue that educational research is not the proper domain from which to draw questions and answers for philosophy of education. These questions and answers have their own pedigree, their own history, and their own set of aims and purposes that render them improper for philosophy of education. Taken as a whole, neither the questions of philosophy, education, theory, or educational research are proper for philosophy of education. I argue only those questions that are asked and answered by philosophers of education for philosophers of education count as legitimate. In Part Three, I turn to the contexts of philosophy of education. These, I argue, are teaching and learning, the curriculum, and the school(s). I begin in the first section with teaching and learning; for this, I argue, is the context and set of practices in which, and until recently, philosophy of education has historically been most invested. I begin with a brief historical account of the practices from ancient Greece to contemporary times. While admittedly potted, this account allows me to make the claim that it is the social transmission of normative codes, norms, attitudes, as well as knowledge, that constitutes the aim and end of teaching and learning. With this in hand, I move to consider what contemporary questions of teaching and learning philosophy of education can legitimately consider. Here I invoke a method that begins with the historical question and attempts to demonstrate how this question can lead to further questions legitimate to philosophy of education. With the model or process
demonstrated, I develop a unique and original question that has both historical affinities yet presupposes little in the way of extant philosophical or educational theorizing. This question is: What is the nature of the process of the social transmission of the (normative) features of human existence from one generation to another? I then turn to the issue of how philosophers of education are to approach educators. I argue that philosophers of education ought to have nothing to do with questions of teaching and learning beyond those they develop. This is so because only these questions and not the questions of other disciplines are able to generate legitimate accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. And these accounts are necessary if we are to have something useful to say to educators beyond bromides and context-less claims. In the second section, I discuss the curriculum. After teaching and learning, the curriculum factors as the oldest of the historical concerns of education. As with teaching and learning, I first provide a brief historical account of the practices of the curriculum from ancient Greece to contemporary times. From this I draw an original historical question, which I then bring to bear on present practices. The question is: What subject matter is necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning? As in the previous section, I provide a method in which novel questions can be generated; questions legitimate to philosophy of education. With this accomplished, I (once again) argue that philosophers of education should wait until they have a stock of questions built up and accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics underway before reaching out to educators. In the third section, I discuss schools as social institutions. Questions of schools are also among the oldest asked, as I shall demonstrate with a concise historical account of the question from ancient Greece through to contemporary practices. Following this, I abstract an original historical question and bring this forward as the third in a troika of original questions for philosophy of education. The question of the school(s) in relation to this original question then provides the point of departure for a new set of questions regarding the school(s): a set of
Problems in Philosophy of Education
questions that is generated from the method discussed in the first section. This question is: What aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal) must the school possess to carry out the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum as set forth in questions 1 and 2? With a new legitimate question generated, the task for philosophy of education becomes the (ongoing) development of an account of metaphysics, ethics, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics to support the generation of these and further questions. The resulting model of a novel philosophy of education is initially minimal, both in what it provides in the way of questions and in what it has to say regarding existing philosophic theories. The minimalism is intentional, for I seek only the beginnings of a program that (once questions basic to the program are answered) self-develops. I then examine the accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics an account of philosophy of education must have in more detail. These accounts flow from the original questions set out earlier; the questions of teaching and learning, the curriculum, and the school. The accounts consist in the deductive consequences of the questions. I place the questions in the form of hypotheses (“if teaching and learning, the curriculum, and the school, then the following …”) and from the deductive consequences drawn from the hypotheses, I examine what kinds or concepts must be in place to grasp these handily. These kinds or concepts are fallible generals, and not a priori categories. But they must, I argue, serve as a sort of ideal type robust enough to manage many, if not most, counterfactual instances. Their breakdown is heralded by their inability to grasp these and have them grasped by these in turn. In Part Four, I set the novel accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics in the context of teaching and learning, the curriculum, and the school. I suggest that, while particular accounts of each of these remain to be developed, the groundwork for such a development is supplied by the method of hypothesis, deduction, and induction detailed in Part Three. I discuss what remains to be done for a nascent philosophy of education that follows the systematic approach I design. I conclude with a brief discussion of the task facing philosophy of education and my hopes for its undertaking. I end this book with an appendix in which I provide a somewhat more detailed discussion regarding the central presuppositions of philosophy and
their roles in a novel philosophy of education that has teaching and learning, the curriculum, and schools as its opening questions. The presuppositions are largely gleaned from classical German philosophy (including Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel), classical pragmatism (especially Peirce and Dewey), and neopragmatism (especially Sellars and Brandom). I discuss these presuppositions in regard to the branches of philosophy and provide in outline form an account of logic, metaphysics, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics that accords with the discussion of the branches in the main sections of the text. I also discuss presuppositions of a philosophy of educational research as this is a vital characteristic of philosophy of education programs. The full program can be found in a companion volume I am readying for publication, entitled Philosophical Presuppositions of a Systematic Philosophy of Education.
Philosophy of Education in North America: History, Diagnosis, and Prognosis At the end of the nineteenth century, North American education scholars faced at choice of philosophic proportions: follow the neo-idealism of the Herbartian school and William Torrey Harris or the newer, naturalistic sociopsychological accounts of Dewey and those at the University of Chicago.1 This battle was fought in a variety of venues, but most notably the 1895 Herbart Society annual meeting, out of which came Dewey’s “Interest and Effort in Education.” With this publication the move away from Harris’ absolute idealism to a biopsycho-social account (Dewey will say “instrumentalist”) began.2 There is a movement from one philosophic system (absolutism) to another (naturalism), and a movement from one set of educational practices (Herbartian and idealist) to another (progressive). For Harris, naturalism is “the greatest heresy in educational doctrine.”3 Harris’ example is but the first: it is progressivism and, in particular, the almost wholesale allegiance to the philosophy of John Dewey, beginning in the period prior to the First World War and extending up through to the beginnings of the Cold War, that the largest infusion of philosophy into educational theory has yet seen. It will do to cover briefly the relationship of
Lawrence Cremin, American Education: The Metropolitan Experience 1876–1980 (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), 16–17; Herbert Kliebard, The Struggle for the American Curriculum (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985); Andrea English, Discontinuity in Learning: Dewey, Herbart, and Education as Transformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). 2 John Dewey, “From Absolutism to Experimentalism,” LW, 5: 157. I will follow the pagination and referencing structure of the Collected Works of John Dewey (Charlottesville: InteLex Corporation, 1996). EW denotes the Early Works (1882–1898); MW denotes the Middle Works (1899–1924); LW denotes the Later Works (1925–1952). 3 Cremin, American Education: The Metropolitan Experience 1876–1980 (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), 17. 1
Problems in Philosophy of Education
Dewey’s philosophy to progressivist education not so much to review the material as to set the stage for the scene that follows. Dewey famously grounds his work in the concerns of democracy, of solutions to social problems, and of problem-solving inquiry.4 As well, his work famously eschews abstract and metaphysical discussions of the ultimate aims, nature of, and purposes for, education, beyond the claim that education is growth.5 Progressivism, the name given to the broad social reform movements extant at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, ties in with Dewey’s concerns as it is concerned with the social status of the poor, the working classes, immigrants, women, African Americans, and others ruthlessly exploited by industry and laissez-faire economics and government policies.6 Progressivism thinks the common schools capable instruments of solving social problems, and Dewey’s educational work provides the philosophic impetus to begin doing so. Of course, none of this is news to anyone remotely knowledgeable of the history of North American education. My point here is otherwise: because of the wedding of progressivist social planning and Dewey’s philosophical and educational theories, little else in the way of educational theory is historically developed and what has developed takes on a broadly progressivist outlook. Until Marxist-inspired work begins in earnest in the 1960s and ’70s, progressivism, and particularly, Dewey’s progressivism, dominates educational theory. Dewey’s legacy affects an almost complete silence from other philosophic voices. I will discuss this further on. For better or for worse, Dewey continues to exercise a deep and abiding influence on the philosophy of education.7
Dewey, Democracy and Education, MW 9; Dewey, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, LW 12. Dewey, Democracy and Education, esp. Chapter 3. 6 Lawrence A. Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education 1876–1957 (New York: Knopf, 1961). 7 This is not the case with poststructuralism, deconstructionism, postmodernism, cultural studies, and other current theory. This is likely due to the skepticism that pervades these: skepticism about the possibility of there being any non-question-begging authoritative stance, including nonmetaphysical and non-public stances, prevents the possibility of collaborating with pragmatism (see Richard Shusterman, The Practice of Philosophy (New York: Routledge, 1997), 27). The aestheticization of theory; the view that the private, inner self is what is to be championed is above all inimical to the strongly social cultivation of pragmatism. No doubt these models allow and even embrace so-called standpoint epistemology—the epistemology of the socially constructed knower—but this does not mesh with Deweyan pragmatism. There does not seem to be a place for a Deweyan theory of experience in these models. Nor does there seem to be much left for philosophy of education: inasmuch as these thinkers eschew grounding educational practices and claims in logic, metaphysics, or a theory of knowledge, it seems philosophy of education could have nothing to contribute to their thinking, and it is (to my mind anyways) doubtful whether these have anything to contribute to philosophy of education. 4 5
Part One: Philosophy of Education in North America
There is of course another progressivism. This progressivism, often labeled scientific, is the evil twin of its Deweyan counterpart. This is the progressivism of the social efficiency movement—the movement to construct the schools along the lines of the best factories of the day. Inspired by the Taylorism of the assembly plants, and utilizing the best psychological knowledge of the time, this movement is largely responsible for the testing and tracking movement that takes hold after the Second World War. This movement, rather than Deweyan progressivism, becomes the norm in public schools. However, this is beside the point: for scientific progressivism at its core is bereft of theory. There is little, beyond Spencerian positivism, some spurious psychological insights into the nature of human behavior, coupled with various beliefs about the social status of the deserving, that drives this movement. There is no educational philosophy here to rival that of Dewey’s. This is precisely what is at issue: there is nothing else under the sun. The lack of alternative educational philosophies (with recent exceptions, as I shall mention), coupled with the dominance of Deweyan progressivist theory, means that virtually any theoretical work done in, on, or about education is (broadly) progressivist. Most educational theorists consider this a blessing: but the lack of suitable alternatives for educational theory and philosophy in the first half of the twentieth century led to an educational theory in the second half that is for the most part intellectually derivative. Although many seemingly novel theoretical advances have taken place in the latter half of the twentieth century, few of these count as original. Beyond analytic and linguistic work in Britain,8 and neoMarxist and critical-theoretic work on both continents (both beginning in the 1960s), there is little original scholarship.9 Indeed, the case of the neo-Marxist and critical theorists is ambiguous on this point as well. I say this because of the frequency of comparison of the work of neo-Marxist and critical theorists to the progressivist work of the early part of the twentieth century. Simply put, the twin goals of social reform and a commitment to educational practice are manifest in the self-understandings of most philosophy (and philosophers) of education. However, I am getting ahead of myself. I want to go back and look at the progressivist contributions to educational theory before I discuss the reaction to these. For as I will maintain, progressivism, though heavily criticized by Jeffrey Kaminsky, A New History of Educational Philosophy (Westport: Greenwood, 1993), 209–210. In the case of Great Britain, a diametrically opposite situation is notable: the near absence of schools, schooling, or social problems in the discourse during the period in question. This is, however, no longer the case. Recent submissions to the journals indicate that social reform issues vie for control of space. I shall have more to say about this further on.
Problems in Philosophy of Education
perennialists, certain neo-Marxists, anti-liberals, anti-capitalists, and some students of cultural studies, nevertheless is not only able to weather the storm, but in many ways is found in the very aims and purposes of those who criticize it. As such, I claim that pragmatism (at least in North America) is the sole viable philosophic framework of education. Concomitant with the rise of educational theory in the progressive era is the rise of education as a legitimate discipline. The progressivist era is the heady time of science, of the birth and development of the research university, of new disciplines, of the fragmentation of established fields. Schools of education and teachers’ colleges displace the normal schools and do so with a bona fide educational theory in tow.10 Increasingly, universities begin to add graduate education programs to their ranks. These emphasize research as well as teaching. State universities, particularly those founded under the Morrill Act of 1862, are poised to participate in this venture.11 With a few exceptions, the leading theoretic program in these universities is that of progressivism.12 There are of course challenges to progressivism, some in the name of science. Ellwood Cubberley’s experiment at Stanford, to train administrators in the techniques of Fordism, is an example of this.13 Stringfellow Barr and Scott Buchanan’s attempts to bring a classical curriculum to St. John’s College in Maryland in the 1930s, as well as the now famous Great Books seminars led by Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler at the University of Chicago, are examples of a humanist tendency that begins to take hold. Nevertheless, these are examples that (Cubberley aside) fall outside of the schools of education. Indeed, these programs are often hostile to the programs in the schools of education at the time. The case of Cubberley is interesting because it highlights that most interesting phenomenon of early-twentieth-century education: the tendency for those of opposite ideological poles to rely on similar means to obtain what is for them the best in educational practice. Here, I am referring to science. Both Deweyan progressives and the scientific progressives of Cubberley’s ilk turn to science to validate best practices and yet with vastly different agendas. While the Deweyan progressives trumpet social reform and improvement, dialogue, experience, and communication, the scientific progressives trumpet testing,
Cremin, Metropolitan Education, 242. Cremin, Metropolitan Education, 242–244. 12 David Labaree, The Trouble with Ed Schools (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 142–143. 13 Robert Welker, The Teacher as Expert (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), 18–23. 10 11
Part One: Philosophy of Education in North America
sorting, merit, efficiency, and nation-building. Not surprisingly, much Deweyan progressivism takes place in departments of teacher education, and much scientific progressivism in departments of educational psychology. Indeed, as one historian has claimed, Deweyan progressivism had lost the race coming out of the gate: by 1915, it was clear that new scientific management techniques would capture the day in American schools.14 Despite what teachers’ colleges were doing with progressivist theory, the fact the administrations of colleges and schools across the nation were adopting the scientific methods on the recommendations of psychologists such as Thorndike meant little gain was actually made. By the late 1930s, wholesale changes to the American public school curriculum take place. Thousands of schools adopt a variant of progressivist William Kilpatrick’s “project method,” or one or another variant of the “activity method.” Social reconstructionists such as Harold Rugg and George Counts, while pressing the schools to engage in social changes, invest their time and energy in revamping curricular materials.15 Rugg’s American history textbooks arouse much antagonism during the Cold War period of the late 1940s and the early 1950s—the beginning of the anti-progressivist backlash.16 In terms of practical curricular reform, the Deweyan progressives obtain mixed results. However, in terms of theoretic reform, Deweyan progressivism is the only contender and emerges victorious almost by forfeit.17 The scientific progressivism, rooted in the behaviorism of Edward Thorndike and Lewis Terman and weaned on the new testing movement, is in no position to offer anything like a systematic view of human nature; its metaphysics, ethics, social and political thought, and theory of knowledge are either absent or embarrassingly primitive. However, pragmatism, the vaunted philosophy that undergirds progressivism, provides what scientific progressivism lacks. The appeal to specific models, aims, and purposes is equally the appeal to specific techniques of inquiry. This of course is the instrumentalism and, later, experimentalism brought to the theoretic forefront by Dewey. Dewey’s experimentalism offers not only a way to pursue substantive inquiry into ethics, morals, knowledge claims, metaphysics, and politics, but does so with education
See E.C. Lagemann, “The Plural Worlds of Educational Research,” History of Education Quarterly, 29, 2 (1989): 185–214. 15 Cremin, Metropolitan Education, 603. 16 Daniel Tanner, Crusade for Democracy: Progressive Education at the Crossroads (Albany: SUNY Press, 2015), 39. 17 Labaree, The Trouble with Schools, 141. 14
Problems in Philosophy of Education
front and center. It is through education that one learns the habits necessary to live and prosper in twentieth-century North American democracy, as well as the tools, in the guise of scientific method, to transform society to meet pressing and future needs. Nothing that the behaviorists can offer remotely comes close to such a package. The behaviorist model suggests passivity in place of activity, a Lockean tabula rasa on which knowledge inscribes. The role of the school is merely to provide the inscriptions. Dewey’s model offers so much more for education to do: teachers and institutions have the enviable task of preparing children for citizenship through facilitating the development of habits of inquiry, conduct, and communication—the “associated living” that Dewey famously describes in Democracy and Education.18 Dewey writes self-consciously for teachers. Three of his most famous works, School and Society, How We Think, and Democracy and Education, have this audience in mind. All of these at one time or another become textbooks, and it is not surprising that hundreds of thousands of teachers over the last century have had exposure to these. Nor should it be surprising that these works continue to have influence in schools of education today. Nothing that the scientific progressives write matches the popularity or depth of Dewey’s works on education. Although scientific progressivism is the winner in the race to control public education, at least in the United States, Deweyan progressivism is the clear winner in schools of teacher education.19 The Second World War brings on many changes in American Education, most notably the restructuring of the high school in accord with the Comprehensive model of James Bryant Conant. Tracking, testing, and grouping begin in earnest: high school students entering college begin to receive the S.A.T. In addition, the Cold War initiatives—providing the nation with more scientists, engineers, technicians, and those who would support them—lead to yet another restructuring of the high schools and, to a lesser degree, higher education. The progressivists lose whatever authority they once had, and subsequently, democratic initiatives in the schools fall apart.20 Again, the trumpets that are sounding do so to the tune of scientific progressivism. However, there is not so much a theory of education behind the restructuring as a political agenda to win the Cold War through the containment of the Soviet.
Dewey, Democracy and Education, 91. Labaree, The Trouble with Schools, 143. 20 David Tyack and Larry Cuban, Tinkering Toward Utopia (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), 100; Kliebard, The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 116–117. 18 19
Part One: Philosophy of Education in North America
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a seeming changing of the guard begins to take place in schools of education. Neo-Marxism, a seemingly non-progressivist theory, comes to the forefront. Here, I use the terms neo-Marxism and neoMarxist to refer to Marxism and Marxists and critical theory and theorists (though these differing schools often resist the label neo-Marxist, nevertheless, for the purposes that I have, they all agree on the point of contention). The Vietnam War has much to do with the general disillusionment in the then-current American and Western politics. As well, larger proportions of historically disenfranchised peoples—African Americans, Latino/as, and the impoverished—buoyed by the Civil Rights movement and President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiatives rally for recognition. Often, these groups turn to Marxist-inspired rhetoric to make their claims. Neo-Marxism eventually becomes a respectable subject in the Academy: the McCarthyism of the 1950s gives way and continental thought, with its closer relationship to neo-Marxism, begins to be in vogue. Nevertheless, outside the Academy and particularly in broad swathes of Middle America, neoMarxism gains no ground. Many schools of education respond by legitimizing the study of Marx, feminism, revolutionary pedagogy, liberation pedagogy, and other theories. It seems that the earlier progressivist literatures are being set aside in favor of the newer, more radical works of neo-Marxism and critical theory. There certainly are a number of neo-Marxist criticisms of progressivism, beginning in the 1960s. Largely, though, criticisms of progressivism come from outside the Marxist tradition, and from those not espousing any particular ideology, and are clearly not enamored with liberalism. These see the progressive era as a time of rampant social engineering. Run by experts with scientific training, society is merely reproducing the capitalism of the middle classes. Dewey is himself implicated in all of this: it is pragmatism as a philosophic theory making the bourgeois economy palatable to the masses and suggesting a scientific means of ensuring its reign. The so-called Illinois Revisionists (Clarence Karier, Paul Violas, David Hogan, and Joel Spring) are examples of these thinkers.21 These voices do not exist in the academic mainstream, though. Far more likely is the attempt to wed earlier Deweyan progressivism to fashionable
I am thinking of the edited volume, Clarence J. Karier and Paul C. Viloas, eds., The Roots of Crisis: Essays in Twentieth Century Education (New York: Rand McNally, 1973). This was the volume that Diane Ravitch later criticized in her influential The Revisionists Revised. See also D. Ravitch, The Revisionists Revised: A Critique of the Radical Attack on the Schools (New York: Basic Books, 1978).
Problems in Philosophy of Education
neo-Marxist and critical-theoretic rhetorics.22 There are many interesting similarities: both champion democracy and equal rights; both champion industry and labor; each has a theory of alienation; as well, each concentrates on social reform and improvement rather than reproduction of the status quo. Neo-Marxism’s skepticism of present schools notwithstanding, each admits the school has an important role to play in social production. Beyond this, whereas neo-Marxism and critical theory generally have little to say about metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, or ethics, pragmatism—the philosophic counterpart to progressivism—does. Pragmatism is fuller and richer than Marxist-inspired philosophy because (early) Marxist-inspired philosophy remains rooted in the dogmas of materialism and historicism. Although critical theory has done much to remove the overt dogma from neo-Marxism, the lack of a systematic or organic understanding of human nature limits its helpfulness to progressivist aims and purposes of education. I say this fully aware that critical theorists attempt to reconstruct from subject-centered reason models of dialogue, procedures, and norms of democratic societies. This is precisely the point, however: there is little outside of socio-political understandings in these attempts, and consequently little developed theory regarding topics such as logic and metaphysics is proffered. This is particularly the case with those who do critical theory in education: While they are keen to redress social and political inequities, including class, race, gender, ableist, and others, they do not attempt to reconstruct our understandings of what it means to be human.
For example, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America (New York: Basic Books, 1976); Henry Giroux, Theory and Resistance in Education (Westport: Bergin & Garvey, 2001); Michael Apple and James Beane, Democratic Schools: Lessons in Powerful Education (Philadelphia: Heinemann, 2007); Peter McClaren, Life in Schools (New York: Longman, 1998); Richard Brosio, A Radical-Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education (New York: P. Lang, 1994); and more recently, John Marsh, Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2011).
Educational Theories; Philosophic Models
I turn now to philosophy of education and, particularly, its role in lending support to one or another of the various theories of education. I begin by discussing the formation of philosophy of education societies in America, as well as debates regarding the nature of philosophy of education in philosophical journals carrying articles on education. Philosophy of education is a new discipline with a history spanning slightly more than 80 years, though the rudiments of the discipline stretch back to ancient Athens and beyond.1 In the 1930s, several organizations geared toward social reform of the schools are founded. Notable among these are the Progressive Education Society (PES) and the John Dewey Society (JDS). In addition, the journal The Social Frontier (SF) is established. All of these organizations served to bring the goals of social reform and social reconstruction of the schools to a general audience. Members of the PES find themselves on the boards of the SF and the JDS. John Dewey, George S. Counts, William Kilpatrick, Ralph Tyler, John Childs—all eminent philosophers and educational theorists—are among the various members of these organizations over the span of the first 20 years. In 1935, for example, the JDS establishes itself with William Kilpatrick as president of the board and John Dewey and Charles Beard as the first outside fellows.2
Kaminsky, A New History of Educational Philosophy, xiii. The disciplinary self-consciousness that philosophers of education have is a partial explanation as to why Kaminsky does not include figures of such eminent stature as Plato and Rousseau. The self-understandings of the discipline do not properly begin, Kaminsky intimates, until such time as Dewey and Deweyan progressivist educational theory instantiate themselves in colleges of education. Until then, philosophy of education is not, to borrow Hegel’s terms, in and for itself. This view has been vociferously challenged, notably by James Muir, “The Evolution of Philosophy of Education Within Educational Studies,” Educational Philosophy and Theory, 28, 2 (1996): 1–26; James Muir, “Is There a History of Educational Philosophy? John White vs. the Historical Evidence,” Educational Philosophy and Theory, 36, 1 (2004): 35–56. I side with Kaminsky. 2 Tanner, Crusade for Democracy, 7. For a less “progressive” take than Tanner’s on the development of PES, see C.J.B. MacMillan, “PES and the APA—An impressionistic history,” Educational Theory, 41, 3 (1991): 275–286. 1
Problems in Philosophy of Education
Early debates in these vehicles concerned the point and purpose of social reform. It was not that the members of these organizations were inimical to social reform: far from it. Rather, the debates concern the role of the schools in any ostensible social reconstruction. George S. Counts publishes the controversial Dare the Schools Build a New Social Order. Dewey responds to Counts in an address before the National Education Association entitled “Education for a Changing Social Order” and mitigates Counts’ rhetoric.3 Dewey, together with Sidney Hook and Ralph Tyler, is wary of Counts’ invocation of the schools in radical social overhaul.4 Although the SF, the PEA, and the JDS seem pulled in different ideological directions, the case in fact is that social reform is not in dispute: only the difficulty of its establishment is in contention. The goals of progressivism are firmly ensconced in each of these organizations as they are in each of the teachers’ colleges represented by the members of these societies. By the end of the Second World War, though, an ideological sea change occurs in legislative and political circles in America and progressive organizations find themselves on the defensive end of debates concerning the aims and purposes of education. The PEA closes down, and what membership remains transfers to the JDS. A ban of Rugg’s textbooks across the nation was underway by the early 1940s: but this was just the beginning of a further crackdown on the seemingly leftist ideology of the progressivists. In 1951, Rugg gives a lecture at Ohio State University, lamenting the attack and subsequent removal of his textbooks from schools. This hastens the Board of Trustees of the College of Education at Ohio State University to condemn Rugg’s presence at the university.5 The JDS spends a good part of the subsequent decade after this fending off right-wing McCarthyist attacks on the freedom of speech and the criticism of university teachings. The PEA and the JDS are not the only organizations devoted to the philosophy of education. At least two other organizations devote themselves to philosophic issues and concerns: the Philosophy of Education Society (PES) and the National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE).6 The NSSE is the successor to the earlier National Herbart Society (of which Dewey was an early, active member). The function of the NSSE is to bring together a number of respected scholars on topics and themes in education and make the results available to a general audience of educators. The PES comprises members whose interests often lay John Dewey, “Education for a Changing Social Order,” Schools: Studies in Education, 1, 1 (2004): 98–100, (LW 9, pp. 158–168). 4 Tanner, Crusade for Democracy, 26. 5 Tanner, Crusade for Democracy, 43–44. 6 Tanner, Crusade for Democracy, Chapter 3. 3
Educational Theories; Philosophic Models
outside of educational theory and schools, but it turns out a manifesto on the state, role, and scope of philosophy of education. In 1970, the Committee of the PES brings out a document entitled “The Distinctive Nature of the Discipline of the Philosophy of Education.” It will do to look at the tenets in this document. I will look at the yearbooks produced by the NSSE first and follow with an examination of the document produced by the PES. The NSSE publishes three yearbooks on the topic of philosophy of education. The Forty-First Yearbook is devoted to philosophy of education, as is the Fifty-Fourth and Eightieth.7 Replete with essays by such notables as William Kilpatrick, Harry Broudy, Mortimer Adler, and John Childs, the first two yearbooks concentrate on a historical presentation of educational ideas, with a particular focus on extant progressivist, neo-Thomist, realist, idealist, and analytic thinking. They pay little attention to philosophic examinations of issues or problems. Educational issues are less of a concern for these writers: what is important is the placement of education in the context of philosophic schools of thought. As a result, these yearbooks resemble primers in their scope and function. However, something new, something that does pay attention to these, is on the horizon. In 1981, the third of three yearbooks, the Eightieth Yearbook, is issued. By this time, analytic philosophy has emerged as the dominant school of thought in philosophy of education, and the yearbook demonstrates this nicely. Gone is the attempt to summarize the main currents in the subdiscipline; instead, the yearbook focuses on “potential relationships between philosophy and education,” with a secondary role for history.8 Jonas Soltis argues that this is necessitated by “a serious professional mismatch between expectation and delivery.”9 Soltis notes Nelson Henry, ed., Philosophies of Education: The Forty-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Part 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Dept. of Education for the National Society of Education, 1942); Nelson Henry, ed., Modern Philosophies and Education: The Fifty-fourth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Part 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955); Kenneth Rehage and Jonas Soltis, ed., Philosophy and Education: Eightieth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, vol. 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1981). 8 Soltis, “Introduction,” in Philosophy and Education, 3. 9 Soltis, “Introduction,” 2. Soltis expands on this comment; “Quite frequently, it seemed to us, the philosophical expectations of educators were not being met by what was being delivered by professional philosophers of education … Learned labels like idealism, realism, pragmatism, or perennialism, progressivism, essentialism were becoming less and less helpful for understanding what many philosophers of education were doing. Even the newly added labels of ‘phenomenology’ and ‘linguistic analysis’ seemed to name odd methodologies and philosophical research programs rather than world views and systematic educational ideals. Thus, for many people the very meaning of having a philosophy of education as the holding of a world view that supports a systematic set of beliefs about educating was being violated or at least seemed to be disregarded by philosophers who were busy analyzing concepts, bracketing the world to obtain pure phenomenological descriptions, or just plain philosophizing about some narrow and particular topical educational idea or issue” (Soltis, “Introduction,” 23). The 7
Problems in Philosophy of Education
that increasing specialization is the culprit here and suggests to the readers that “viewing philosophy of education from this single perspective [of world views] is too narrow and cuts educators off from a richer perception of the wider field of philosophical endeavour that has developed in recent years.”10 In other words, Soltis recommends that we pay less attention to schools of thought (worldviews) and more attention to issues and concerns arising out of education writ large. Harry Broudy’s piece, “Between the Yearbooks” accomplishes the historical task of tying the three yearbooks together. Broudy speaks of philosophy of education as “Janus-like” and concerned with “problems of philosophy on the one hand, and with problems of schooling on the other.”11 This state of affairs is what leads to the 25-year gap between yearbooks.12 Broudy claims this is of a piece with the larger phenomenon of topic focused research as opposed to “isms.” In addition, historical events such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the “lifestyles” changes that occurred then contribute to this.13 Summarizing the changes in topics between the yearbooks, Broudy follows with prescriptions for philosophers of education. The first (and to my mind, most important) is that “they have a right to expect that philosophers of education will address themselves to problems of education in general and how those problems impinge on schooling.”14 Problems of education in general are eo ipso social problems, and what Broudy proclaims is that philosophy of education should be in the business of examining social problems, hopefully with an eye to their amelioration. As well, educators have “a right to expect from philosophers of education a clarification and elucidation of concepts and arguments used in educational literature, especially the literature of educational controversy.”15 Broudy recognizes the centrality of the then-popular analytic issue of perennialism is an interesting one. The most famous of the perennialists to criticize Dewey’s progressivist notions of education is of course Robert Hutchins. Dewey and Hutchins responded to each other in a series of articles in the early and mid-1940s. Essentialists critical of Dewey included Arthur Bestor and Richard Hofstadter. Anti-liberals critical of Dewey include the Illinois Revisionist School, as well as notable cultural critics such as Christopher Lasch. Interestingly, John Dewey has appeared on David Horowitz’s top 100 most dangerous books in America, topping in at number four! 10 Soltis, “Introduction,” 5. 11 Harry Broudy, “Between the Yearbooks,” in Eightieth Yearbook of the National Study of Education: Part I, Philosophy and Education, ed., Jonas Soltis and Kenneth J. Rehage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 15. 12 Broudy, “Introduction,” 28. “Presumably” Broudy says, “the primary audience and the focal problems of philosophy of education are educational, but the inevitable tensions between obligations to practitioners and to the field as a domain for academic inquiry were heightened as the study of philosophy of education in the 1950s and 1960s became more philosophically technical and increasingly a field for specialization in doctoral study.” 13 Broudy, “Between the Yearbooks,” 30. 14 Broudy, “Between the Yearbooks,” 33. Needless to say, it is against Broudy that my thesis is directed. 15 Broudy, “Between the Yearbooks,” 34.
Educational Theories; Philosophic Models
approach to philosophy of education. Finally, “School people [sic] have a right to expect from the philosopher of education a careful examination of proposals and policies with respect to their consequences and possibilities, in the round, so to speak.”16 This ties nicely into Broudy’s first prescriptive: that philosophy of education should work toward social reform, here through policy analysis. The topics covered in the Eightieth Yearbook are as follows: Curriculum Theory, Theory of Teaching, Epistemology, Aesthetics, Logic, Ethics, Social Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, and Metaphysics. Gone is the “schools of thought” approach; in its place are the traditional divisions of philosophy, together with attention to curricula and pedagogy. The articles themselves are varied as to the question of what role for philosophy of education. Jane Roland Martin’s article, for example, castigates the “ivory tower” approach of recent epistemological work in philosophy of education and recommends more attention to social relationships and social theory.17 Donna Kerr’s article points out the need for a theory of teaching separate from a theory of learning, as well as the need to distinguish between the “phenomena” of teaching and the “theory” of teaching. The article voices the need to examine what we mean by “excellence” in teaching and does so from a broadly analytic perspective.18 Three notable themes stand out in the third yearbook: the first is the move away from schools of thought (“isms”) to the traditional divisions (ethics, logic, metaphysics, and theory of knowledge) within philosophy. The second is the self-understanding of the subdiscipline as in the service of educational reform, meaning social reform. The third is the turn toward analysis of concepts and meanings. While the third theme was already beginning to wane, and the first theme never fully catches on, the second theme, that of philosophy of education in the service of educational reform, remains strong, as I shall further show. The PES document begins by addressing what is no doubt obvious to everyone concerned: philosophy of education, whatever it is, is amorphous. Characteristically enough, the committee issues a caveat: “What philosophy of education ought to be and do is a highly debatable matter insofar as differing answers come from differing philosophical positions. This statement, therefore, attempts only to delineate the basic, common, or minimal characteristics of
Broudy, “Between the Yearbooks,” 35. Jane Roland Martin, “Needed: A New Paradigm for Liberal Education,” in Philosophy and Education, eds., Jonas F. Soltis and Kenneth J. Rehage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 55–56. 18 Donna Kerr, “The Structure of Quality in Teaching,” in Philosophy and Education: Eightieth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, vol. 1, ed., Jonas Soltis and Kenneth Rehage (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1981), 91–92. 16 17
Problems in Philosophy of Education
the discipline within which we find these differing answers and positions.”19 The framework that addresses these questions and concerns is notably analytic. Here, a broad construal of education is evident.20 Why consensus is such a powerful impetus they do not say. Champlin does note a methodical and quasi-scientific approach to the philosophic problems extant in education.21 The committee brings this methodology to bear on problems of philosophy of education in three distinctive yet interrelated phases. These are the descriptiveanalytical, the critical-evaluative, and the speculative. The descriptiveanalytical deals with the criteria by which choices within education are made, the critical-evaluative with developing new criteria for alternative thinking in the philosophy of education, and the speculative with the construction of the new alternatives themselves.22 Finally, the committee puts forth a statement regarding the institution of philosophy of education. “In those institutions having courses in the philosophy of education, we should have provision for the study of, and the gaining of skills in, the conceptual materials (content) peculiar to the discipline. The teaching personnel should be equipped with, and trained in, the conceptual tools and skills peculiar to the discipline.”23 Philosophy of education takes on a manifestly conceptual function; by analysis of concepts and meanings, using a quasi-scientific approach, philosophy of education articulates alternative conceptual frameworks while demolishing others. Although no mention of Dewey occurs in the text, his scientific approach to the solution of educational problems is notable in the rhetoric of method. Likewise, this attention to concepts and conceptual development foreshadows
N. Champlin, “The Distinctive Nature of the Discipline of the Philosophy of Education,” Educational Theory, 4, 1 (1954): 111. I note three characteristics ascribable to the philosophy of education as laid out in the document: “(1) Unique theoretical tools consisting of hypotheses, concepts, and categories (such as meaning, truth, value, method). (2) The employment of these tools in the examination of the criteria, assumptions, and/or reasons, which guide assessments, judgments, and choices. (3) A scholarly acquaintance with events, practices, circumstances, and/or ideas relevant to that which the philosophy is of (that is, education, art, politics, science, or religion).” 20 “The term education may refer to any deliberate effort to nurture, modify, change, and/or develop human conduct or behavior; or it may refer to organized schooling. For purposes of consensus we adopt the latter [institutionalized schooling]” (Champlin, “The Distinctive Nature of the Discipline of the Philosophy of Education,” 112). 21 “Wherever education, thus defined, is taking place, we find: (1) Preferences for certain procedures, resources, and goals (methods, means and ends) implicit or explicit in the undertaking. (2) The employment of criteria, guides, or reasons with which procedures, resources and goals are determined and established” (Champlin, “The Distinctive Nature of the Discipline of the Philosophy of Education,” 111). 22 Champlin, “The Distinctive Nature of the Discipline of the Philosophy of Education,” 111. 23 Champlin, “The Distinctive Nature of the Discipline of the Philosophy of Education,” 111.
Educational Theories; Philosophic Models
the coming acceptance of analysis and analytic philosophy as the preeminent standpoint: one that would dominate philosophy of education in the 1970s. The 1950s see the birth of a new journal: Educational Theory. The first issue, May 1, 1951, inaugurates a new approach to the subdiscipline.24 Archibald Anderson of the University of Illinois is the first editor-in-chief. The SF had closed down. The PEA’s journal, Progressive Education—the final remnant of that organization—is at this time in decline and closes down by the end of the decade. Educational Theory becomes the primary vehicle for philosophy of education in North America, and to this day continues to be. William Kilpatrick has the lead article in that first issue. The title was “Crucial Issues in Current Educational Theory.” According to Feinberg and Odeshoo, Kilpatrick uses the article largely as a stump from which to exhort his own agenda. Suffused with the rhetoric of consequence, Kilpatrick argued for the furthering of the progressivist agenda. Archibald Anderson, the editor-in-chief, takes a more conciliatory tone in his inaugural editorial. He claims that the journal is to foster the continuing development of educational theory and that the journal is to be open to disciplines outside that of education if the research is of interest or use to educators.25 The first decade apparently produces a wide array of articles. Feinberg and Odeshoo note that “the range of article types that can be found in the journal is in many ways wide enough to resist any easy classificatory scheme or strict thematization.”26 Nevertheless, there are some regnant themes. “Isms” apparently were in vogue: many of the articles dealt with one or another of the reigning philosophic approaches to education. Others apparently deal with a particular philosopher’s perspectives on education. Curiously, articles on John Dewey are rare. Notable are articles that define educational theory in relation to philosophy. “A great many of these discussions attempted to clarify the nature of the relation of between philosophy and education; and their point was to show that the philosophy of education constituted an autonomous field of study that could not simply be reduced either to education or to philosophy.”27 Such a bold statement is misleading: indeed, though philosophic methods are abundant, the topics and consequences belonged in the main to education, and not philosophy proper, nor to some other discipline. Interestingly, Feinberg and Odeshoo claim that it has been only recently that Educational Theory has allied itself closely with Walter Feinberg and Jason Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties: The Beginning of a Conversation,” Educational Theory, 50, 3 (2000): 289–292. 25 Feinberg and Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties: The Beginning of a Conversation,” 290. 26 Feinberg and Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties: The Beginning of a Conversation,” 296. 27 Feinberg and Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties: The Beginning of a Conversation,” 297. 24
Problems in Philosophy of Education
the discipline of philosophy of education; early essays often draw on sociology, psychology, literature, and economics in developing novel educational theory.28 Feinberg and Odeshoo conclude that theory, as represented in the 1950s in Educational Theory, is entirely too wedded to the prevailing desire toward social engineering.29 Although many, if not most, of the articles in Educational Theory deal with the intersection between philosophy and education, and many further with educational issues of the time, nevertheless, the presence of social reform through education is the norm for the vast majority of these. Maxine Greene discusses Educational Theory in the 1960s. Although differing conceptions of educational theory come to the fore in the 1960s, the same general task of providing philosophically informed educational practice remains.30 Although the discipline does confront novel philosophic approaches to human nature (such as existentialism and phenomenology) and makes the connection between these and education, yet in Greene’s estimation, philosophy of education is already in decline, apparently so for not emphasizing the social aspects of education enough.31 Greene tells us that there were a few “‘purely’ philosophical discussions.”32 For Greene, this suggests that the vast remainder are of practical importance. In addition, there seems to be a fear manifest in the articles, that in sacrificing clarity and scholarly detachment, the newfound discipline becomes an ideology. Greene agrees that this is indeed the case and chides the discipline for overemphasizing these fears at the expense of “recognition of the kind of
Feinberg and Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties: The Beginning of a Conversation,” 297. “However, the consensus conception of theory was intact at the end of the decade. Although Anderson and Kilpatrick differed about the representation of the theory in the journal, they shared a widely accepted understanding of the role of theory in education. Theory was that which grounded social change, and was conceived as the analogue of engineering … Both … are restricted views of theory, and each fails to understand that human history differs from scientific theory and that physics is not always the best model to use when understanding educational affairs” (Feinberg and Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties: The Beginning of a Conversation,” 205). 30 “The inevitable question for educational philosophers had to do with the connection between philosophy and educational practice. What did the philosopher have to say about the ‘new’ math, or the social studies curriculum that raised so much ire in Congress? What of distinctions among methodologies or different ‘learning styles?’ Did the nature of a philosophic system or point of view affect the conception of education or educational practice under consideration? How did a particular epistemology govern approaches to subject matter?” (Maxine Greene, “The Sixties: The Calm Against the Storm, or, Levels of Concern,” Educational Theory, 50, 3 (2000): 309). Curiously, though, Greene claims, “It should be pointed out as well that the ‘movements’ approach, with its reliance on generalizations taken from the great systems of thought, rendered philosophic inquiry impersonal and distanced … Even in those cases [of exceptions] however, I find little attention paid to the concreteness of events in the classroom or to the commonsense language best equipped to handle them. Similarly, there was little effort exerted to the capture the voices and … the ‘actions’ of teachers actually involved in the process of teaching” (Greene, “The Sixties,” 310). 31 Greene, “The Sixties,” 314. 32 Greene, “The Sixties,” 315. 28 29
Educational Theories; Philosophic Models
multiplicity that was beginning to confront teachers, for all the slow entry of African-American children onto the broader educational scene.”33 The 1970s witness the wholesale acceptance of analysis as a legitimate topic for philosophy of education. The 1970s is also the decade that sees the emergence of hitherto unheard voices: feminist, minority, and multiculturalist—though this emergence takes place toward the end of the decade. Equally though, the Deweyan concern that educational theory abrogates its social responsibilities is increasingly heard.34 Indeed, the author of this article, Dennis Phillips, seems to hold to this last point. Invoking Dewey’s The Quest for Certainty, Phillips comments on an essay by A. Berry Crawford and Warren R. Brown entitled “Missing: A Viable Aim for American Education.”35 Along with philosophically interesting discussions of single philosophers, Phillips notes that there are several themes discernible from the articles of the 1970s. Two of these deserve mention here. The first is the reminder that philosophy of education must first do good philosophy—a point with which Phillips seems wholeheartedly to agree. The second is that what counts as philosophy of education has undergone a drastic change.36 Phillips attempts to sketch answers to his own questions. He draws from Thomas Kuhn’s talk of paradigm shifts as a means of understanding this phenomenon: there are gains and losses in any discipline, and it so happens that philosophy of education since the 1970s largely incurs losses and these in the areas of rigor and consistency of argumentation. The 1980s seem to begin with considered traditional topics: Harry Broudy arguing for more metaphysics in philosophy of education and Jonas Soltis arguing for more linguistic analysis.37 However, this trend is fast fading. Analysis would take its last gasp in this decade, and questions of the relevance of philosophy Greene, “The Sixties,” 317. D.C. Phillips, “Interpreting the Seventies, or, Rashomon Meets Educational Theory,” Educational Theory, 50, 3 (2000): 323. 35 He says, “Philosophers of education who wish to live up to the spirit of the desideratum quoted at the outset of this section cannot afford to ignore the difficult details of application, a moral that I daresay we have not sufficiently internalized thirty years after the appearance of this particular essay. And, just as crucially, we need to warrant our claims that the solutions we offer really are solutions, and are not merely the equivalent of snake oil” (Phillips, “Interpreting the Seventies,” 324). 36 Phillips puts his point this way: “But not only is there general silence about the 1970’s [today], and a change in the topics of professional conversation, the way in which the conversation is carried out has undergone dramatic transformation—in general the style of writing is one that is quite unfamiliar to one who reads with the eyes, and tastes, of a ‘seventies-year-old.’ For example, there are few (some perhaps, but very few) essays in recent years that remind one philosophically and stylistically of the essays … by Robert Ennis. How does one interpret these changes? Were the 1970’s irrelevant? Has philosophy of education really undergone dramatic transformation?” (Phillips, “Interpreting the Seventies,” 337). 37 Wendy Kholi, “Educational Theory in the Eighties,” Educational Theory, 50, 3 (2000): 342. 33 34
Problems in Philosophy of Education
to philosophy of education become less and less prominent. Harvey Siegel’s pronouncement that “as philosophers of education, our primary purpose must be to develop and deepen our understanding of the whole host of philosophical issues raised by the practice of education”38 gives way to self-criticism in the form of gender, class, and cultural studies. Jane Roland Martin’s essay of 1981 entitled “The Ideal of the Educated Person” is an essay symptomatic of this new trend.39 Critical theory makes its big break at this time. Henry Giroux’s articles feature in a debate in a 1984 issue of the journal and represent perhaps the first example of large-scale attention to prevailing social theory.40 Other novel representatives of emerging social and cultural criticism include Susan Laird, Jo Anne Pagano, and Nicholas Burbules. The latter develops “A Theory of Power in Education.” The goal is to synthesize “creatively and constructively a range of perspectives on the taken-for-granted concept of ‘power’.”41 If indeed power was once taken for granted, it certainly is no longer. Kholi credits Ralph Page with having the openness and the foresight to see the value of these articles and to publish them. She notes that he is “committed to enlarging the readership and more accurately reflecting the range of ideological perspectives in the field.”42 Kholi proudly proclaims that the journal keeps a balance of perspectives during the 1980s.43 What seems not to have been challenged, though, is the continuing relevance of philosophy of education for schooling: the question of whether or not philosophy of education has anything useful to give to education, as Harvey Seigel raised early in the decade, seems to require no further answer. What seems not to be in question, then, is the appropriateness of the model—a progressive model that counts the work of philosophy of education bearing in the first place allegiance to the larger aims of the schools and social reform. Megan Boler opens her essay on the 1990s by saying that “this is a tale about the ‘postmodern’ subject who has, tragically, come of age in a climate of crisis. To Harvey Siegel, “The Future and Purpose of Philosophy of Education,” Educational Theory, 31, 1 (1981): 11–15; 14, in Kholi, “The 1980’s,” 346. 39 According to Kholi, Martin “takes on the established canon of philosophers of education, especially the work of R. S. Peters, to underscore the way we all have been initiated into male cognitive perspectives when discussing the ideal of the educated ‘man’” (Kholi, “Educational Theory in the Eighties,” 349). 40 Kholi, “Educational Theory in the Eighties,” 349. 41 Kholi, “Educational Theory in the Eighties,” 349. 42 Kholi, “Educational Theory in the Eighties,” 349. 43 “Boundaries [in the philosophy of education] were drawn and redrawn, determining who counted as a philosopher and who did not—over what counted as philosophy and what did not … The academic consensus about what counted as ‘good’ philosophy was challenged” (Kholi, “Educational Theory in the Eighties,” 355). 38
Educational Theories; Philosophic Models
grow up in the 1990’s is, for many, to learn to live and breathe disasters of both global and local proportion.”44 Boler does not broach this crisis. Nor does she broach what these global and local disasters are. Nonetheless, with invocations of the abandonment of God, the predominance of computer-mediated interaction, and discussion of juvenile crime and delinquency measures in California, one would be right to suspect that it has much to do with the perils of capitalism (both local and global) and the ongoing disenfranchisement of minorities. Boler is correct about this: in the 1990s, “debates about consensus and dissensus represent possibly the major intellectual debates.”45 Boler traces what she calls “interlocking themes of tragedy and pastiche as they intersect the role of listening in educational theory.”46 Rather than presenting a chronicle of events, themes of significance, or trends, she weaves together differing strands of educational theory into a novel garment. Here, the focus is on dissensus and difference.47 Politics becomes the focus of the journal. Nevertheless, as Boler rightly points out, Dewey scholarship continues unabated. As well, Boler claims that educational philosophy rather than history, sociology, cultural studies, or aesthetics constitutes the bulk of the articles. Boler does not consider that articles dealing with poststructuralist or postmodernist theories often count more as history, sociology, cultural studies, and aesthetics than philosophy, historically considered: for if she did, she would have to revise her estimate. Nevertheless, Boler complains about the lack of “difference” in the journal.48 She does say that by 1993, though, “one finds within the covers of Educational Theory increasing numbers of essays that are skeptical about the promise of discourses of plurality and equity, and hence skeptical about the value of consensus as an ideal goal.”49 Presumably, these essays count as essays in “difference”: essays that contribute to the discussions of topics that Boler bemoans as sadly lacking
Megan Boler, “An Epoch of Difference: Hearing Voices in the Nineties,” Educational Theory, 50, 3 (2000): 357. 45 Boler, “An Epoch of Difference,” 358. 46 Boler, “An Epoch of Difference,” 358. 47 “Whether one is of the view that ‘difference’ directs us toward revolutionary and fertile theoretical terrain and practice, or that it simply functions as a new hegemony, the 1990’s as represented in the journal Educational Theory struggle with the politics of difference” (Boler, “An Epoch of Difference,” 359). 48 “I would say today, as an evaluative remark on the overall absences in Educational Theory, that what is missing are essays substantially addressing race, social class, popular culture, or cultural studies, with very little colonial or global studies, and relatively slight international representation in author or focus” (Boler, “An Epoch of Difference,” 359). 49 Boler, “An Epoch of Difference,” 373. 44
Problems in Philosophy of Education
in the journal. Curiously, she concludes her essay by claiming that “the moral lesson to be gained if any from this review essay is that one must live in the sense of disequilibrium.”50 That she is compelled to draw this conclusion upon looking at the sum of 10 years’ worth of educational theory is puzzling: doubtless, she finds something metaphysical in the pastiche and difference represented in the essays.
Boler, “An Epoch of Difference,” 370.
Present Circumstances of Philosophy of Education
The foregoing should be sufficient to show that, despite the varying trends in philosophy of education scholarship, (at least) two tendencies remain steady throughout; the first is the wholesale application of philosophy of education to issues of schools and schooling. The second is the general agreement of the project of John Dewey: education in pursuit of social reform and improvement. In North America at least, the role of philosophy of education to its parent disciplines is an uneasy one: particularly where philosophy is concerned. We need only witness the very recent debates concerning this in Educational Theory. I have much to say about these presently.
The critical conversations First, I wish to discuss some preliminaries to this debate. These are notable prefatory remarks to what becomes a symposium on whether philosophers and philosophers of education are talking to each other. I turn to the 1995 edited volume, Critical Conversations in Philosophy of Education, by Wendy Kohli, and to the three essays on “what counts as philosophy of education” therein. Maxine Greene, Walter Feinberg, and D.C. Phillips write the essays on this topic. Greene’s essay is the first and longest. Her central claim in responding to the question of “what counts” is that we are up against a seeming paradox: how to at once maintain yet challenge our traditions?1 Greene turns to passages of
Maxine Greene, “What Counts as Philosophy of Education?” in Critical Conversations in Education, ed., Wendy Kohli (New York: Routledge, 1995), 6.“We cannot set aside the texts that compose so much of our tradition and provide so many of our references and allusions, texts by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, George Herbert Mead, William James, John Dewey, and Paulo Freire. Can we prevent such texts from being undermined by the
Problems in Philosophy of Education
Virginia Woolf, Edward Said, and Helene Cixous and proclaims that our first world identification of “highest” with rationality and technicality is imperialist and hostile to imagination, feeling, and emotion. She says, “We do recognize, of course, that our slow acknowledgment of our long confinement to a ‘Eurocentric’ canon has made some of us sensitive to the traces of colonialism in practice and in our thought.”2 She quotes Michael Oakeshott approvingly in suggesting that education is a conversation.3 In this conversation, she speaks of the role of the educational philosopher. Of particular interest to today’s educational philosopher is the matter of plurality and pluralization. We can no longer speak in abstract terms about “Mankind” or “the child” or even “the partnership of this conversation.” We are asked to think of persons in their plurality, in their distinctiveness, no one a duplicate of any other. At once, we are learning to acknowledge the worth and power of different cultures and civilizations, out of which identities are negotiated.4 Greene’s heady rhetoric of championing the disenfranchised leads her to claim, “Whatever counts as Philosophy of Education today must begin in queer questions, those not susceptible to logical or empirical resolutions. Whatever shape they take, they must be defined with the contexts of multiple transactions, those in which diverse human beings are intimately involved.”5 Greene has the expectation that philosophy of education, whatever else it does, will attend to the needs of the disenfranchised at some level and ideally it will do this without restriction by historical dogmas such as the need for logical, empirical, or metaphysical confirmation. Whatever tools needed to solve the problem at hand ought to be the tools in use: if these tools are the tools of selfreflective criticism, then so much the better.
‘unforeseen’ and the ‘unforeseeable’? How can we expose the inadequacies (and the racism, and the sexism) in so much of the discourse without disposing of the texts and our own intertextuality as well? Must they be shredded? Must we start again?” Greene, “What Counts as Philosophy of Education?” 9. It is curious that she quotes from Oakeshott. Even though the passage in question agrees in the main with her premise, nevertheless, Oakeshott would have vociferously defended the claim that tradition has its own compelling justification, and that political change for the sake of present need is unacceptable in the face of this (Michael Oakeshott, “Political Education,” in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1962), 63. Greene, “What Counts as Philosophy of Education?” 13. “To learn to ‘recognize the voices’ now is to pay heed where educators seldom paid heed before: to living beings of all classes, from almost countless countries on the globe. We are asked to recognize the sound of exile, of expulsion, of abandonment, we are being asked, as never before, to attend to the voices of all sorts of women, men, and children too, to empower them to make meanings in the disparate, sometimes savagely unequal lives they live.” Greene, “What Counts as Philosophy of Education?” 17.
Present Circumstances of Philosophy of Education
Walter Feinberg’s essay is notable for its candor. Feinberg pulls no punches here; the philosopher of education who is unaware of the research and the debates regarding educational practice is falling short of his or her professional responsibility and (so it seems) ought not to be credited with the honorific, “philosopher of education.”6 Feinberg does not tell us what counts as research in the field of education or which practices a philosopher of education must inform herself about: presumably, though, these are issues and practices in public schooling.7 D.C. Phillips’ essay chides the wholesale criticism of Enlightenment rationality. Whereas Greene and others are content to criticize the Enlightenment from the perspectives of postmodernism and critical theory, Phillips offers some cautionary advice. “Now Greene and others might respond that this shows how stubborn and blinkered in intellect most Enlightenment tradition philosophers are; but this response would be one which ‘psychologizes’ the opponents, and it is one which sidesteps the necessary intellectual task of examining the grounds or warrants that traditional philosophers have for their rejection of postmodernist doubts about epistemology.”8 Phillips is fearful that our educational system will produce people “who espouse allegiance to critical rationality but who can be swayed by the first argument that comes along that preys on raw emotions or appeals to crass self-interest.”9 Phillips does not single out any one particular argument of Greene’s in reference to this, but it is highly plausible that Greene’s criticism of rationality in favor of emotion and feeling is somewhere in the offing. Together, the three essays from 1995 set the tone for what, in short order, is to come. Walter Feinberg, “The Discourse of Philosophy of Education,” in Critical Conversations in Philosophy of Education, ed., Wendy Kohli (New York: Routledge, 1995), 28.“To remind us that Philosophy of Education has something to do with schooling – a reminder that Greene, whose work in schools is legendary, does not need – is not to say that each and every issue philosophers of education address must bear immediately on the work of teachers … It is simply to observe that a philosophical discourse about education that is informed by the practices of schools and other educational institutions is a discourse in the Philosophy of Education” (Feinberg, “The Discourse of Philosophy of Education,” 27). A. Oancea and D. Bridges, “Philosophy of Education in the UK: The Historical and Contemporary Tradition,” Oxford Review of Education, 35, 5 (2009): 556: have a somewhat similar argument; when philosophers (from the discipline of philosophy) engage in educational matters, they often do so through their memories as pupils, which is unhelpful at best for educational policy and practice. While I don’t know of any particular instances of this, I can certainly see how it might be possible. Oancea and Bridges support philosophers of education and educational policymakers working together on mutual issues; I am saying that we shouldn’t have mutual issues—at least not until we ask over and answer our own questions. 7 Feinberg strengthens his rhetoric further on; “A philosopher who makes mistakes about school practice may still meet the standards of good philosophy. However, a philosopher of education who is consistently uninformed about educational practices and research is failing to meet the standards of the field” (Feinberg, “The Discourse of Philosophy of Education,” 28). 8 D.C. Phillips, “Counting Down to the Millennium,” in Critical Conversations in Philosophy of Education, ed., Wendy Kohli (New York: Routledge, 1995), 39. 9 Phillips, “Counting Down to the Millennium,” 40. 6
Problems in Philosophy of Education
The dilemma of philosophy of education In the winter of 2002, Educational Theory published an essay written by Rene Vincente Arcilla entitled “Why aren’t Philosophers and Educators Speaking to Each Other?” The response to the essay prompted the editor, Nicholas Burbules, to exhort his fellow philosophers of education to contribute to the debate, and the result is the summer 2002 edition, featuring eight well-considered colleagues’ rejoinders. Arcilla’s piece is carefully analyzed and dissected. Several of the contributors point out the hidden premises of such a question: that there is indeed a problem; that the problem constitutes a concern; that philosophers of education need philosophers. It will do to look more closely at these responses to Arcilla’s original contribution. I am particularly interested in how these contributors see the role and scope of the philosophy of education and, in particular, the relationship of philosophy of education to educational practice. Arcilla diagnoses the assumed silence between educators and philosophers as brought on by differences of methodology.10 One solution to this, Arcilla says, is to tie ourselves to social theory and social science. This is (roughly) what Dewey suggested, with the proviso that we lose philosophy. Another is to “discover how to make those parts of philosophy which are precisely not featured in the social sciences pertinent to educators.” Arcilla’s offerings are in the guise of skeptical questions, such as “What do I know?” and “How do I exist?”11 Arcilla’s choices are, then, to follow Dewey, which casts philosophy of education in the role of providing useful social theory to aid in solving educational problems, or help to raise (and presumably, answer) questions that other educators and disciplines are not asking. Arcilla seems to prefer the latter to the former, though with regret he suggests that the former is more likely to happen. In the responses to Arcilla’s essay, several different diagnoses and solutions are proffered. I wish to look at several of these contributions in terms of two questions: first, is there or is there not a problem with the discipline of philosophy of education (not necessarily with respect to the relationship with philosophy); second, what is to be done about it.
R.V. Arcilla, “Why Aren’t Philosophers and Educators Speaking to Each Other?” Educational Theory, 52, 1 (2002): 10.“What brought on the silence between philosophers and educators was largely the fact that philosophy, with its tradition of skeptical questioning, was less suited to the formation of theoretical attitudes useful for educators than the extra-philosophical, more empirical and positivist social sciences. Educators, therefore, had every reason to bring their social theory needs to the latter, and to make them their chief conversational partner.” 11 Arcilla, “Why Aren’t Philosophers and Educators Speaking to Each Other?” 11. 10
Present Circumstances of Philosophy of Education
I begin with Eric Bredo. Bredo does seem to think that philosophy of education is in trouble. It “seems to be experiencing growing marginalization today. The glory days when John Dewey was both the foremost American philosopher and education thinker are a distant memory … It seems that philosophy of education is facing a continuing decline amid the ruins of past greatness not unlike Greece itself.”12 Bredo sees the problem in the analytic/continental divide that, he says, results in a fractured set of common interests. His solution, as with his diagnosis, is different from Arcilla’s: Bredo thinks that philosophy of education need limit itself neither to skepticism (philosophy) nor “concede ethics to the social sciences.” Instead, it “will have to address its central functions, and perform them well, rather than conceding them to others.”13 Bredo claims that philosophy of education must develop “high aspirations for solving philosophy of education’s own unique problems. If these are addressed well the field may even alter philosophy and educational practice in small ways rather than taking its marching orders from them.”14 Harvey Siegel disagrees with Arcilla’s claim that the field of philosophy of education is in serious peril. If it is in peril, however, it is not because philosophers and philosophers of education are no longer speaking to each other: Siegel himself is proof of the converse. Siegel turns his guns toward Dewey and the Deweyan, progressivist notion that philosophy of education is there to solve educational and social problems: for it is this project that produces the limitations of the discipline. His biggest complaint is if we follow Dewey we deny the history of philosophy.15 Siegel claims if philosophy of education wishes to turn its back on educators as well as the social problems they face, it will ensure its future as long as it remains intellectually vigorous.16
Eric Bredo, “How Can Philosophy of Education Be Both Viable and Good?” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 263. 13 Bredo, “How Can Philosophy of Education Be Both Viable and Good?” 263. 14 Bredo, “How Can Philosophy of Education Be Both Viable and Good?” 270. 15 Harvey Siegel, “Philosophy of Education and the Deweyan Legacy,” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 283. “The most obvious difficulty with Dewey’s picture of philosophy is that, according to it, most major philosophical figures (in the Western tradition, at least) fail to count as ‘fullfledged’ philosophers at all… It seems none of these philosophers’ most important work is rightly characterized in terms of formulations of ‘a general attitude toward [their] social problems.” Of course, this can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to just about every philosopher that criticizes every other philosopher. Nevertheless, Siegel’s point is worth considering, because it does seem to many of Dewey’s critics that Dewey denies the importance of the historical past. For more on this, see J.P. Diggins, The Promise of Pragmatism: Modernity and the Crisis of Knowledge and Authority (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). 16 Siegel, “Philosophy of Education and the Deweyan Legacy,” 279. “Philosophy of Education, like its parent discipline, philosophy, has a dignity and integrity of its own and its survival as a worthy scholarly pursuit is not dependent upon conversation with anyone … If philosophy of education 12
Problems in Philosophy of Education
Barbara Stengel does not think that Arcilla’s complaints are well founded. Stengel finds that in her capacity as a philosopher of education she has many instances of contact with educators. In Stengel’s opinion, the field “is vital and provocative.”17 She suggests that any separation of philosophers from philosophers of education must take into account the stories of “power, privilege, gender, socioeconomic status, and ideological assumptions, as well as bureaucratic rationalization and reification.”18 For Stengel, the prevailing concern is “not the explanatory question of why philosophers and educators aren’t speaking to each other. The important question is a moral one about the responsibility of philosophers of education. Why are we not inviting philosophers and educators to join with us and each other in conversation and action in the realm of educational issues.”19 Kathleen Knight Abowitz and Audrey Thompson’s respective essays also demonstrate this line of thought: the reigning conversation between philosophers and educators is fraught with conflict, power struggles, gender stereotypes, and ideological assumptions. At least some of the work that needs to be done is to unpack these assumptions in the name of more equal relations.20 Donald Arnstine’s essay is unabashedly pro-educational practice. In response to Arcilla’s concern of why philosophers and philosophers of education do not speak, Arnstine bluntly says, because they each have different aims.21 Of the loss of prestige and attention regarding the discipline, Arnstine says policymakers, the largest audience historically, have disappeared; these people no longer make school policy. Philosophers of education are without
fails to engage educators in conversation, and contributes not a whit to the solution of social problems or the flourishing of democratic society but nevertheless advances its own intellectual agenda … its future is assured.” With Siegel, I agree. 17 Barbara Stengel, “Cause for Worry or Agenda for Action?” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 285. 18 Stengel, “Cause for Worry or Agenda for Action?”, 286. 19 Stengel, “Cause for Worry or Agenda for Action?”, 289. 20 Kathleen Knight-Abowitz, “Heteroglossia and Philosophers of Education,” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 291–302; Audrey Thompson, “Maybe We Can Just Be Friends: The Unhappy Marriage of Education and Philosophy,” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 327–338. 21 Donald Arnstine, “Why Should Philosophers and Educators Speak to Each Other? There Are More Serious Problems to Face and More Important Jobs to Be Done,” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 303–313.“Philosophers and educators (including philosophers of education) do not conduct extended conversations with one another because they are employed by different organizations, have different goals, and follow different career paths. What philosophy or education is or ought to be have nothing to do with why practitioners of philosophy or education do not communicate … Inquiries into the nature of philosophy and of education lead us away from, not toward, a solution to Arcilla’s problem of alienated self-consciousness.” I claim Arnstine is right and so is Siegel; educators don’t need philosophers of education. But, and by the same token, philosophers of education don’t need educational theorists or practitioners.
Present Circumstances of Philosophy of Education
an audience and yet have not responded in any meaningful way to address this state of affairs. Philosophers of education, he says, have shirked their responsibility of addressing the most difficult of policy issues with the result that they have marginalized themselves.22 Gary Fenstermacher gives an interesting twist to Arcilla’s characterization of the problems of dialogue. He suggests (for argument’s sake) that there are two groups of philosophers of education. The first are PE1, those that deal primarily with problems intrinsic to philosophy. The second are PE2, those that deal with problems likely to be of interest to the educator. Fenstermacher suggests that Arcilla identifies more fully with the PE1 philosophers and this is in part why he has such trouble with the lack of dialogue. Fenstermacher does not share Arcilla’s fears.23 Nicholas Burbules, editor of the journal, has the concluding piece. He maintains that the field is “intellectually dynamic,” and more so than in the past.24 He points out that intellectual vitality of the discipline and institutional viability, to use his words, do not “run on the same tracks,” and that administrators and policymakers have seldom held much of a commitment to philosophers of education. He diagnoses the philosophy of education as composed of a hybrid of often competing theoretical frameworks, “and, indeed, [it] often relies upon implicit and sometimes explicit arguments that philosophy and theory cannot and should not be kept separate.”25 He appeals in the end to what he calls “situated philosophy.” This philosophy comes closest, in his estimation, to the claims of Barbara Stengel, Kathleen Knight Abowitz, and Audrey Thompson. Arnstine, “Why Should Philosophers and Educators Speak to Each Other?” 307. “The question, Who decides school goals, and who ought to decide? Is a problem for the public, but it is a problem for philosophers of education as well. It will not be solved by trying to figure out how to get philosophers and educators to talk to each other, but if it is not solved, there will be little use for philosophers of education in this country [the United States].” 23 Gary Fenstermacher, “Should Philosophers and Educators Be Speaking to Each Other?” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 348.“Arcilla argues that if a philosopher of education engages in social science, he or she goes over to the dark side … ceasing to be seriously engaged in philosophy of education. I contend that a philosopher of education can only be in a substantial and worthwhile dialogical relation with a practicing educator if he or she engages in social science … The upshot of this line of reasoning is that if you want to have a dialogical relation with a practicing educator, you have to relinquish the doing of serious proper philosophy … If you do serious, proper philosophy, you cannot be in a worthwhile dialogical relation with practicing educators.” 24 Nicholas Burbules, “The Dilemma of Philosophy of Education: Relevance or Critique?” Educational Theory, 52, 3 (2002): 349.“The field is … more intellectually dynamic and robust now than it has ever been.” One danger of discussions such as this one is a hearkening back to some kind of Golden Era in which philosophy of education was presumably more important, more rigorous, and more “philosophical” than it is today. I do not believe a survey of the literature would support such a characterization. At any given time, only a small handful of scholars were really doing important, rigorous, and “philosophical” work; most of the rest was derivative and at a fairly mundane level.” 25 Burbules, “The Dilemma of Philosophy of Education,” 352. 22
Problems in Philosophy of Education It is the work of the philosopher who is involved on site. It associates philosophy not with system building, but with thinking and problem solving … it is particularly suited for philosophers of education … What this different twist does, of course, is to make the activity of philosophy of education itself an educational relation, for all parties involved. Such involvement is reciprocal, not authoritative, or pedantic. It forces the question of “what gives you the right to criticize” onto the inquirer: no longer can she be content to observe, analyze, and dispute from a distance.26
The requirement seems to be to participate fully in the very topic of discussion undertaken. More recently, a suggestion to consider philosophy of education as “bent” was put forth (Mayo 2011).27 This involves a turn to the “margins”—a turn, that is, to the disenfranchised among us.28 A solution (perhaps not the only solution) to this is to have philosophy of education engage with studies of those on the margins.29 But what we don’t want—what we can’t abide—is a philosopher of education with certainty. “The only thing worse than a defensive philosopher is a confident and certain philosopher, so it may be that our very marginality will give us renewed energies for problematizing education. Occupying our marginal position carefully and in concert with other marginal inquiries, I think, will do our field good.”30
Burbules, “The Dilemma of Philosophy of Education,” 354. Chris Mayo, “Philosophy of Education Is Bent,” Studies in Philosophy and Education, 30, 5 (2011): 471–476. 28 Mayo, “Philosophy of Education Is Bent,” 211. “Now more than ever, thinking about how to build democratic societies that respect diversity and difference is crucial, not only to critique the kinds of educational reforms that are turning learning into test taking but also to reassert how the humanities and engagement with others enables political and educational development. For philosophers of education, this means rethinking or at least more strongly articulating why we critiqued the canon but also coming to the defense of canonical studies that are as under fire for irrelevancy or lack of certain financial benefit.” 29 Mayo, “Philosophy of Education Is Bent,” 212. “This means bringing together what had seemed to be the study at the center of the world, philosophy, and the studies of those on the margins. Over the last few decades in philosophy of education I think there has been quite a bit of grumbling on either side of that divide—either philosophers are all elitists who don’t examine the implicit racism and sexism of their approaches or feminists and people of color are destroying the rigor of philosophical work. At this point, we’re all in the same sort of trouble and need to be thinking and working together, even if we disagree. We may need to return to some points of contention during the canon wars and rethink how to bridge some of our disciplinary differences in the humanities and perhaps more fully understand—as some suggested at the time—that our methods of inquiry are quite similar, with similar aims.” 30 Mayo, “Philosophy of Education Is Bent,” 212. The claim philosophers of education should emulate non-confidence and uncertainty is simply ridiculous. Whatever else philosophers do, they establish 26 27
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A species of meta-analysis on what philosophers of education do was recently undertaken by Matthew Hayden.31 The results were not surprising. Liberalism was the most coded school of thought, followed by pragmatism and postmodernism, while thinkers such as “Dewey, Plato, Socrates, and Freire” were frequent. Philosophers of education “also lean heavily on thinkers not always thought of as educational theorists such as Foucault, Derrida, and Wittgenstein.”32 Hayden gestures at the end of the article toward David Carr’s claim that not enough history of philosophy of education gets into journals because not enough attention to the history of the discipline occurs.33 Unfortunately, Hayden did not look closely at the questions asked. I suspect that if he had he would have found that the majority of them would have been of an ethical-political nature.
claims to be justified (usually but not always by other philosophers) in confidence and with as much certainty as can be possible. I believe Mayo is deliberately and strategically provoking us to come to the defense of our field by uttering such ill-intentioned remarks. 31 Matthew Hayden, “What Do Philosophers of Education Do? An Empirical Study of Philosophy of Education Journals,” Studies in Philosophy of Education, 31, 1 (2011): 1–27. Hayden coded for the following: Academic Cognitive, Critical Thinking, Knowledge, Disciplines History, Science, Mathematics Fields Metaphysics, Ethics, Aesthetics Geographic regions North America, Africa, Europe Isms Postmodernism, Capitalism, Constructivism Issues Testing, Accountability, Reform Research Empirical, Practice, Theory, Teaching Roles Autonomy, Bildung, Culture, Democracy Thinkers Plato, Kant, Dewey Types Citizenship, Moral, Science, Art (Italics mine). 32 Hayden, “What Do Philosophers of Education Do?,” 24. 33 Hayden, “What Do Philosophers of Education Do?,” 25.
Conclusion: The Two Constants in Philosophy of Education
There are two constants in the North American debates and discussions of what constitutes the philosophy of education: philosophy of education is bound in some manner to educational practice, and philosophy of education is in the service of social reform and improvement. Both of these are legacies of the Deweyan, progressivist past. Both of these go largely unchallenged in the scholarly literature, with a few notable exceptions (Siegel, Bredo, and Arcilla). Moreover, any proffered solution to the concerns raised by those such as Arcilla often lies in tightening the relations between philosophy of education and its parent discipline, education. This is certainly the position of Donald Arnstine and Barbara Stengel. To those that might protest—those that claim this is not the direction the discipline ought to be going—the temptation of philosophy proper might seem attractive. In the same way as Oxford-style analytic philosophy dominated Great Britain’s philosophy of education program for 20 years, unhappy philosophers of education might wish to form a set of disciplinary issues removed from the context of educational practice. They might wish that the discipline would follow with problems that properly belong to the discipline of philosophy, or in any event, problems amenable to the philosophic solutions proffered by a single school of thought. This has recently been brought to the attention of educational scholarship by a number of historians writing on the topic.1 The tendency is to consider only those problems that arise out of a certain school as legitimate. This of course ignores the history of the self-understandings of philosophy of education. The question of when philosophy of education Kaminsky, A New History of Educational Philosophy; John White, “Philosophers on Education,” Journal of Philosophy of Education, 33, 3 (1999): 485–500; Muir, “The Evolution of Philosophy of Education Within Educational Studies”; James Muir, “Is There a History of Educational Philosophy? John White vs. the Historical Evidence,” Educational Philosophy and Theory, 36, 1 (2004): 35–36.
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began is an unsettled one, and it is dependent on when philosophy of education became self-aware and self-legitimating. Those such as Jeffrey Kaminsky think that the discipline began in the 1930s with the founding of organizations dedicated to the pursuit of scholarship. Those such as James Muir see a vast philosophy of education enterprise stretching back some 2,500 years, tied together with contemporary philosophy of education in part by the mutual questions asked. (I claim that it arises beginning in the late nineteenth century, concomitant with progressive education, and establishes itself only in the first half of the twentieth century.) I argue that neither yoking philosophy of education to extant educational practices nor to a philosophical school of thought that artificially limits what counts as educational philosophy will solve the problem. In fact, these may worsen the situation. For not only do the issues and concerns, for example, of philosophy not have a direct link to any questions that philosophy of education might develop, these also have little to do with education, properly speaking. To travel from educational practice to philosophy if this means taking up the questions common to a school of philosophy wholesale is tantamount to trading one set of foreign issues and concerns for another. Not surprisingly, I believe that we ought to give up the attempt at hitching our wagons to philosophic stars. However, we should not reject out of hand the vast resources available to us from philosophy as well as other disciplines. The answer to the quandary lies in the sorts of questions that we ask ourselves. It is not that the resources other disciplines provide are nongenuine: our attempts at using these to inform questions that do not properly belong to us are. Only genuine or original questions, drawn from the well of philosophy of education, not philosophy or educational practice, will have the wherewithal required to make the resources we use beneficial. In this, I am in agreement with Eric Bredo. This leads me to ask that perennial question: What questions does philosophy of education ask? What questions are unique to philosophy of education? Are these in fact the questions that we do ask when we do philosophy of education? If not, then what is at stake in reexamining these anew? To the last question, I answer: a great deal: it challenges received questions asked in philosophy of education (much the same way these questions challenged older ones). Yet, I would argue, this is precisely what Dewey of all people has in mind when he writes regarding the disciplines of psychology and sociology in relation to education; that education must develop not only its own bank of knowledge
Conclusion: The Two Constants in Philosophy of Education
and resources, but also its own problems and questions.2 This project seems to imply the reconstruction of existing philosophy of education. This is correct. If Education is to develop its own questions, then philosophy of education, as a subfield of philosophy and education, yet a discipline in its own right, ought to develop its own subset of questions. We begin, in other words, where Dewey leaves off. To suggest that we take our point of departure from Dewey is to suggest that Dewey’s is the most influential and lasting achievement in North American educational philosophy. Few would disagree that anything remotely as vast and ambitious has come forth since then. Dewey’s is a still dominant voice in educational philosophy and theory, at least in North America. Moreover, many of those skeptical of philosophy and current educational practices agree that Dewey’s vision for education remains a powerful, if impractical, one. The tendency in the past 40 years has been to question systematic enterprises; to analyze instead of synthesize, to deconstruct instead of build. I suggest the time has come for philosophy of education to answer, to synthesize, and to rebuild. I see no better way to do so than to begin by looking at the history of our selfunderstandings of philosophy of education and do so with an eye on what constitutes legitimate questions. I think if we do this, we will be able to free ourselves from the parochialism common to much recent scholarship. What might this mean in disciplinary terms? I will discuss this with reference to some examples I find inhibitive of a reconstructed philosophy of education. First, we must cease to be ahistorical. By this, I mean having little or no role for our past self-understandings to play in present or future theory. As well, there exists in present philosophy of education a strong tendency toward anachronism and presentism; that is, making the present education context, with its associated problems, determine the worthiness of past theories and ideals. This is both unfortunate and misleading. Past theories and ideals are not in a position to be judged by present lights unless and until they are conscientiously reappropriated for the contexts they are to serve in: only in the full light of day can they be John Dewey, The Sources of a Science of Education, LW 5, 38. “This matter opens up the field of educational values and objectives. How are they to be determined? From what are they derived? The assumption that gives rise to the procedures just criticized is the belief that social conditions determine educational objectives. This is a fallacy. Education is autonomous and should be free to determine its own ends, its own objectives. To go outside the educational function and to borrow objectives from an external source is to surrender the educational cause. Until educators get the independence and courage to insist that educational aims are to be formed as well as executed within the educative process, they will not come to consciousness of their own function. Others will then have no great respect for educators because educators do not respect their own social place and work.”
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properly evaluated. I am not saying that these prior ideals are problem-free or cannot be criticized: I am saying that much criticism proceeds as if these ideals arose in a vacuum. This is not acceptable: we must interpret our novel philosophies of education in light of the past. Second, we must reconstruct what is good and right about these philosophies and theories, and jettison what is not. The criteria for good and right are debatable; but at the very least, they should include the relevance to genuine questions of philosophy of education (not philosophy, educational practice, or other disciplines). We should not reinvent the wheel through reintroduction of dubious theories and ideals. Equally, though, we should not forgo those ideas and ideals that are, and have been, beneficial. We must make sure, however, that these latter are placed squarely in the context of the present. What constitutes a legitimate placement is the sensitivity to the needs of the problems we currently form and have. There is benefit to a hermeneutics of suspicion, but only insofar as this helps us to contextualize ideas and ideals in the face of our legitimate problems. This is the frequently made call for immanent critique of existing (or past) philosophical traditions in education. Third, when we take up interdisciplinary issues or ideals of other disciplines (including philosophy and education) we should keep in mind the need to set these in our historical and philosophical context and in the context of our genuine questions. Ideas from outside the purview of philosophy of education require contextualization in their appropriation to philosophy of education. Part of the problem of course is that we cannot decide on what philosophy of education’s terrain is. We jeopardize our claims to be a bona fide discipline when we cannot agree what counts as philosophy of education. My (earlier) suggestion is that we begin with legitimate questions proper to philosophy of education and by doing so we carve out a terrain of our own. We can reconstruct ideas and ideals outside of the philosophy of education through their appropriation, but we must be sensitive to what it means for our discipline. We should reconstruct these in light of our genuine questions and the answers to these, rather than to pseudo-questions properly belonging to other disciplines. How does this change our existing ideas and ideals? Is this change a legitimate one in light of the present problems we face? What does this mean for our existing metanarratives?—our unquestioned assumptions of what philosophy of education is/does? Are there normative implications for these theoretical/philosophical changes? What are they, and why should we attend to them? Are there good reasons to be skeptical of such ideas and ideals, given their relationship to legitimate problems?
Conclusion: The Two Constants in Philosophy of Education
Fourth, purportedly context-free value judgments and normative claims should be avoided, or at the very least, set in the context of philosophy of education’s goals (not the questions of other disciplines, whether educational practice, politics, cultural studies, or sociology). While it may be the case that a particular idea or ideal helps us to theorize political problems, for example, it is beyond the wherewithal of philosophy of education to simply legitimate this theorization. This is not because philosophy of education is pure or above educational practice; it is because philosophy of education does not have the tools, ideas, or ideals to make the sorts of arguments (and conclusions) that educational practice (for example) does, and in any event, the goals of educational practice are different from those in philosophy of education. While it may be acceptable for educational practice to draw from philosophy of education, the pronouncement of philosophy of education on a practical matter is inappropriate. Philosophy of education does not have suitable goals, to say nothing of the disciplinary apparatus (theories, ideals, research) to make such pronouncements. In Parts Two and Three, I will attempt to address points three and four—the issue of questions and the proper role for theory and practice in the context of the questions (the questions of reconstructing existing philosophical theories will be handled in a separate volume). These recommendations will no doubt strike many readers as ill-considered or even anathema. Unlike many participants in the current debate over what counts as philosophy of education, I do not think philosophy is, or should be, “bent.” I think that the quest for certainty in some regard (as Dewey once put it), though not achievable, is nevertheless a valid goal of philosophy of education. This is roughly congruent with the aims of metaphysics—the aim, that is, of accounting for necessity, or describing what is permanent and what is changing in philosophy of education. Politics and political theorizing has its place in philosophy of education. But the wholesale turn to accounts of politics especially as it bears on the school and schooling has not had a salutary effect upon philosophy of education; in particular, it has distracted philosophy of education from its commitments to a metaphysics, a logic, and a theory of knowledge. Those with stakes in educational practice, as well as other disciplines, will likely take umbrage at these suggestions. Let me be clear once more; my aim is not to close these fields off to philosophy of education. My aim is to carve out a terrain for philosophy of education and to do this requires settling on our own problems, not the problems of other areas and disciplines. The debates within educational practice, politics, and sociology, for example, are of interest to philosophers of education. However, these only take on philosophical
Problems in Philosophy of Education
importance if we recontextualize them in light of the existing problems of philosophy of education. A practical problem in a practical context is not prima facie a problem for philosophy of education. Although we may have our personal and even institutional views on these matters, these are not admissible as disciplinary pursuits. Until we begin to recontextualize the problems in other disciplines that we assume, we will not be able to carve out the terrain we wish.
Theory and Research in Scholarship Scholarship here is understood as the product or output of philosophers of education. It has various manifestations, though for my purposes I narrow this output to teaching, publications, and conference presentations. Thus, it does not include other characteristics common to the scholar, nor the routines of scholars that fall outside of these areas. The areas of scholarship I am interested in examining are those between philosophy of education in regard to both philosophy and education; philosophy of education in regard to theory in education; and philosophy of education in regard to educational research. I will discuss philosophy of education’s relationship to practices much more fully in Part Three.
Between Philosophy and Education It is often said that philosophy of education has a dual membership. On the one hand, it belongs to philosophy and to a tradition that some say goes back to Plato and beyond. On the other, it belongs to education and to the scholarship, issues, and practices therein.1 It is to use the scholarly methods of philosophy (which I shall discuss), and it is to do so in the service of educational concerns. The ground on which philosophy of education rests is shaky, and it is not surprising that from time to time the field shifts. This shift very often manifests as changes in the purposive direction the field takes. Problems and concerns of education account for much of the movement in this regard. Scholarly fashions account for much of the rest. The source matter of the problems and concerns of education is not new for the field. We see this concern as far back as Dewey in Sources of a Science of Education (1929). There, Dewey counseled the field of education to find and follow its own legitimate problems and not the problems of other disciplines (such as psychology and social psychology). Beyond this, Dewey noted some potential areas in need of investigation by scholars. Today, we of course have different areas and different problems and concerns. Many of these are institutional and have to do with the relationship between the student and the bureaucracy of the school system. Others have to do with specific curricular and pedagogical issues. Still others concern educational research and its effective design and dissemination. To judge by the contributions to leading philosophy of education journals, philosophy of education has taken the critical-theoretic/postmodernist/ poststructuralist turn. Additionally, disciplines or subdisciplines such as cultural studies, whiteness studies, postcolonial studies, and the sociology of knowledge and science are nowadays popular. Nevertheless, there is still a contingent of For example, see Kaminsky, A New History of Educational Philosophy; Muir, “Is There a History of Educational Philosophy? John White vs. the Historical Evidence”; White, “Philosophers on Education.”
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traditional scholarship available. The history of philosophy of education, however, is no longer well represented in these journals, though it must be said there is some historical work evident, and in my opinion, European scholars pay more attention to these pursuits than North American scholars. Major figures in philosophy and closely allied disciplines are still invoked. And some attention to the scholarship in philosophy itself is provided. The history of philosophy of education in recent scholarship is my concern here. There is and has been a tendency from time to time in the scholarly literature to question the relationship of philosophy to education in philosophy of education. Claims are made on behalf of the philosophy of education to come closer to the issues and concerns of philosophy, while others suggest philosophy of education is better off to stay close to education. Arguments consist in either philosophy or education as the basis of the other. Still other arguments appeal to the contested nature of philosophy of education. Almost no one thinks philosophy of education should go it alone. Here, I shall reflect at some length upon the debates concerning the role of philosophy and education, respectively, in philosophy of education. Although I will turn to debates that have and continue to play out in the scholarship, my arguments will not depend upon them. Instead, I will argue for a position that seems anathema to most philosophers of education: going it alone. What this means and why I choose this position will constitute the bulk of this section. But first, it will do to reflect upon the debate in more detail.
Debates concerning the role of philosophy of education to philosophy There are parallel sets of tracks that lead into this debate. One set is historical. The other is institutional. What I mean by historical is scholarship that puts forth a set of claims as to the legitimate dating of the field of philosophy of education. Why is this important? Because if the field can be dated, and the context at the time in which it became self-conscious as a field examined and evaluated, a line of historical succession can be made to link the aims and purposes of that time with ours. And if this can be done, we are in a better position to examine the aims and purposes of our scholarship. The other set is institutional. By institutional I mean pertaining to the discipline or field of philosophy of education and its scholarly questions and answers. This of course includes the aims and goals mentioned earlier; but as these are in tension in the urge to define the field, we
Between Philosophy and Education
beg the question if we rely on them too heavily. I will begin with a discussion of the historical track first. As I mentioned, there are those that say philosophy of education as a discipline began with Socrates/Plato or even earlier, in pre-Socratic times.2 And if the field did not identity itself as such, at least the topics and techniques were in place (though subject to change). There are others who insist that the discipline of philosophy of education is relatively new—approximately 100–200 years old— and, while pedagogy and other broadly educational concerns were discussed in times past, only when the field became self-conscious as a unique, scholarly discipline did philosophy of education take form.3 If philosophy of education took form over 2,500 years ago, then the (long) list of topics and concerns germane to that history will also have something important to say to our topics and concerns. (Indeed, they may still have something to say irrespective of the proper dating of the discipline.) Whereas if philosophy of education took form in the last 100–200 years, these (shorter) lists of topics and concerns germane to that history will have something important to say to our topics and concerns. As well, the question of why such a long or short history will have a bearing on our scholarly interests can be properly broached. Now it may seem trivial for philosophers of education to look at the question of history, particularly in the face of pressing educational problems. And that, of course, is a decision individual philosophers of education make. My point is not that history necessitates our choices; it is rather that history bears on how we identify ourselves as philosophers of education. Those that see a vast enterprise stretching back 2,500 plus years are likely to see philosophy of education as composed of sets of questions and concerns having a long and established pedigree; a tradition of which our interests and concerns are but the most recent. Whereas those who see a recent past in the discipline are more likely to see the issues and concerns of the present as somehow less connected to those in the distant past and perhaps even see past issues as irrelevant. The other set of tracks leading into this debate is institutional: On what scholarship does the discipline intend to concentrate? How are these decisions made? Who gets to decide? This is a controversial question as it is bound up with one’s perception of the field and the scholarship therein. If one doesn’t like the scholarship currently exhibited, one will have plenty negative to say about this. Conversely, if one is content with the direction of the field and the scholarship, Muir, “Is There a History of Educational Philosophy? John White vs. the Historical Evidence.” White, “Philosophers on Education”; Kaminsky, A New History of Educational Philosophy.
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one is more likely to think that these are well in hand. In any event, players in the field control access to scholarship through editorial decisions in journals and books, selection committees at conferences, and (less so these days) hiring and tenure decisions. So it is worth investigating. Is one more likely to favor certain scholarship if one is in a position of editorship or program committee chairpersonship? Presumably not, given the professional practices of peer-reviewed journals, which include blind reviews. Of course, subjective decisions do get made, particularly regarding the reviewers selected for reading submissions. This aside, I think it is unlikely that editors (or program chairs) willingly choose to reject a submission on the basis of scholarship alone. Often, rejection is made because of lack of fit or lack of interest on the part of the readership or reviewership regarding the topic. This, I would argue, is where the field chooses its scholarly direction. If, for example, the field is no longer doing straight-line analytic philosophy of education, then it becomes increasingly difficult to publish or present simply because that scholarship is less valued. Now one might say this is all to the good. For it is the business of journals and conferences to direct the field. And the way this is done is through taking up the good (and new) as against the bad (and old). Or, if the bad or old is once again new (as in a resurgence in scholarship in a particular area or figure such as John Dewey), taking it up. In philosophy of education, at least to judge by various recent debates on the role of philosophy, not much taking up in the area of history of philosophy of education is occurring (with some exceptions).4 When philosophy is taken up, it is as a set of tools rather than a standing program, let alone a system or a set of historical claims regarding a shape of thought. For example, philosophy is often invoked to help clear up conceptual confusions (as in the analytic program of philosophy of education); a particular figure is invoked to help solve or better understand a particular educational issue or concern, or philosophy is invoked for the purposes of criticism (as in much feminist and postcolonial scholarship). Sometimes philosophy isn’t discussed in philosophy of education journals; sometimes social theory, sociology of knowledge, cultural studies, or some other field is invoked to do the work of philosophy. But I am getting ahead of myself. I am interested in the ways philosophy is invoked in philosophy of education. Is it to solve a particular problem? Is it to enlighten an issue or concern? Is it to better understand the history of the discipline? I argue that all of these ways are demonstrated in the scholarly
I am thinking about the recent symposium on R.S. Peters, Journal of the Philosophy of Education, 43 (Supplement) (2009), eds., S. Kuypers and C. Martin and in Educational Theory, 59, 1 (2009).
Between Philosophy and Education
literature. But very few venues other than special issues or the odd stand-alone paper discuss the role that philosophy of education should play in philosophy. In those debates, philosophy is either the point of departure for philosophy of education or its limit: seldom can we find philosophy of education (as opposed to education) speaking back to philosophy. Why is this the case? Perhaps one reason is philosophy’s pedigree. It is a firmly entrenched scholarly discipline with a history stretching to ancient Athens and beyond. It has had an illustrious role to play in the history of the development of the arts and sciences. In this scenario, philosophy of education (or perhaps more correctly, philosophers of education) humbly considers itself in regard to the parent discipline. It does not deign to suggest its potential to contribute to fruitful debates, let alone suggest changes to the discipline. Another reason is perhaps the relationship between itself and its parent discipline. Until recently, the American Philosophical Association (for example) had no philosophy of education committee on the program. Education is not a valued area of expertise for philosophy departments. Philosophers seldom have the time, inclination, or training to invest in educational problems or concerns; and philosophers, it is said, look down upon the scholarship of philosophers of education.5 Still another reason is diminished points of contact; what overlap is there between philosophers that do traditionally abstract scholarship and philosophers of education that do practical, empirical, or in any event, school-based scholarship? In my opinion, all of these reasons miss the point. The sad fact of the matter is philosophy of education never had much to do with philosophy, even as it invoked philosophers, schools of thought and issues thought to be the province of the parent discipline.6 While straight-line philosophical papers do occasionally surface in philosophy of education journals, these are far outweighed by papers with an avowed practical educational end. And while it is certainly true that philosophers of education do publish in mainline philosophy journals, they do not do so in regard to a pressing educational concern; they do so according to the limits imposed by and upon the discipline of philosophy and the journal in question. Now one may think of the situation in Great Britain as different. For there, philosophers such as R.S. Peters did make the transition to education and did engage with both disciplines and fruitfully.7 (One may also think of philosophers of education that are found in philosophy departments.) It is true Arcilla, “Why Aren’t Philosophers and Educators Speaking to One Another?” 1. Wilfred Carr, “Philosophy and Education,” Journal of Philosophy and Education, 38, 1 (2004): 55. 7 The tradition of philosophy of education in Great Britain includes such luminaries as R.S. Peters, Paul Hirst, and Richard Dearden; thinkers that developed what is now called the “Oxford Analytic School” of philosophy of education (Oancea and Bridges, “Philosophy of Education in the UK”). 5 6
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that philosophy of education in Great Britain took on a more abstract patina than in the United States. Or rather, the conceptual origins and uses of terms in education became important for educators to study, and this demanded a turn to mainstream philosophical discussions. Unfortunately, this odd phenomenon in philosophy of education lasted about 20 years and slowly disappeared thereafter. What consists in philosophy of education in Great Britain is similar in scope and detail to North American philosophy of education, though with perhaps more emphasis on European scholarship and recently a turn to formal arrangements between philosophers of education and policymakers.8
Debates concerning the role of philosophy of education to education The role of philosophy of education in and for education is much stronger than in and for philosophy. The voices of those in the discipline resoundingly believe that education, not philosophy, is the direction to which philosophy of education must point. There are numerous reasons claimed for the importance of attending to education rather than philosophy: for example, education is our proper aim or end for historical reasons; we have some sort of obligation to education; we don’t wish to do what philosophers are (already) doing; and perhaps most pervasive nowadays, philosophers of education would put themselves out of business if they didn’t concentrate on educational issues and concerns. With perhaps the exception of the last, I don’t think any of these reasons is sound enough to deny claims for a different role, but I won’t belabor the point here. Philosophers of education often point to the history of aims or ends in education as the reason for the particular direction of the field. This is particularly prevalent among those that take seriously the Deweyan admonition for philosophy to solve “the problems of men.”9 In a like manner, philosophers of education are to deal in issues and concerns proper to the field of educational practice. The historical justification is to the early debates in the field, and the decisions made to reaffirm this justification at various times and places. Although the answers as to what constitutes best educational theory and practice change, the asking of the question does not. Oancea and Bridges, “Philosophy of Education in the UK,” 565. However, as Oancea and Bridges claim, philosophy of education programs are fast disappearing in Great Britain. This is due to systemic restructuring under the neo-liberal confines of government (559). 9 Dewey, “The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy,” MW, 10, 49. 8
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There are others who believe we have an obligation to the field of education and/or our first duty is to the field.10 These thinkers share the importance of educational theory and practice with the historically minded, yet they develop different reasons for obliging educational practice. The reasons for the obligation are intrinsic to educational theory and practice. Educators are to use philosophy of education to teach critical thinking skills; to critique dominant traits of the existing political economy and/or militate for social and political change; to better prepare students for critical engagement with the world outside of schools; to thwart dominant cultural imperatives (masculinities; whiteness; privilege). In very few cases is it to teach the history of the discipline or to feature something general (to say nothing of essential) about the way teachers practice education.11 Perhaps the most instrumental of reasons concerns the employment issue. In North America, it is a well-known fact that philosophers of education have a difficult time finding jobs and those who do often teach and research philosophy of education on the side. Gone are the days when a newly graduated philosopher of education has the prospect of working in a department of philosophy of education. Philosophers of education nowadays are very often attached to curriculum, leadership, or foundations departments (the latter also dwindling) that have their own disciplinary aims and constraints. Newly admitted Ph.D. students are often told to specialize in one or more areas of scholarship beyond philosophy of education. It is too soon to tell how this has affected the discipline. But I don’t hold out the prospect of hope if the aim of the discipline is to conserve itself in the face of wholesale changes to educational policy and practice at the level of scholarship. In fact, it is probably the case that philosophers of education are Janus-faced; they must look to both philosophy and education for direction. But whereas they get little support from philosophy beyond the individual courses they take in graduate school (if they attend philosophy courses outside of education), they get huge support from education and this is precisely because they most often learn their scholarship not in philosophy departments but in schools, colleges, or faculties of education. They are consumed with educational issues and concerns from the get-go. Newly prepared philosophers of education are directed to their tasks through their socialization in these. Regardless of how philosophical one’s thesis is, the fact of
Arnstine, “Why Should Philosophers and Educators Speak to Each Other?”; Stengel, “Cause for Worry or Agenda for Action?” 11 J.J. Chambliss, “Philosophy of Education Today,” Educational Theory, 59, 2 (2009): 234. 10
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the matter remains that it is produced under the auspices of a school, college, or faculty of education, and this commits the student to a set of predetermined aims that are educational by design. Now this is in no way problematic if the intention is to produce philosophers of education for the field of education, undertaking scholarship on educational matters and concerns. It is only a concern if the philosophers of education are to do otherwise. Of course, the discipline seems inclined not to think of philosophy of education as an affair separate from educational matters and concerns, so this seems all well and good. If the dominant aim of philosophy of education is to produce scholarship that affects educational theory and practice (for all of the reasons stated above), then the expectation that philosophers of education concern themselves with matters of educational theory and practice seems justified. The role of philosophy is a tool; a means to help solve educational situations, problems, concerns, or to illuminate or otherwise better understand a key event, phenomena (on), practice, or a set of practices. Sometimes it is even a tool to oppose dominant social discourses. Philosophy, in other words, is not practiced with the aim of contributing to the philosophical discourse or solving philosophical problems; it is in and for the service of education.
The sources of a science of education The locus classicus of a response to the question of which aims for education is to be found, I have argued, in Dewey’s The Sources of a Science of Education. Particular aims and goals are not the concern of Dewey’s article: the proper end for education as a science is. Consequently, Dewey expends most of his typewriter ink discussing the relationship between education conceived as a discipline and the disciplines of (especially) psychology, social psychology, sociology, and psychiatry. Dewey’s point is to distinguish the legitimate aims of a science of education from legitimate aims of these, while acknowledging the extent to which a science of education draws from these. While there is no intrinsic content to a science of education—no content that does not belong to the other disciplines—nevertheless, in its marshaling for the benefit of educational questions and concerns, it is uniquely situated to undertake its own inquiry and provide its own responses. And whereas it might seem that philosophy of education is poised to provide the ends to which a science of education supplies the means, it is in fact the case that
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philosophy of education not immersed in the concrete practices of education is “speculative in a way that justifies contempt”; “fantastic in content and dogmatic in form.”12 Thus, the question of which way for philosophy of education devolves on what to make of these concrete practices. Are they to be thought of as inclusive of the concerns and practices of education? Most assuredly, the answer is yes. Is philosophy of education to do without this connection? The answer is assuredly no. It seems quite reasonable to conclude that Dewey (and early practitioners of philosophy of education) meant that philosophy of education must yoke itself to the practices and concerns of education. Those philosophers of education that proceed in this manner have textual evidence (from Dewey himself no less) to support them. And those that see another aim or goal for philosophy of education beyond concrete concerns and practices must somehow overcome the objections of Dewey and others that, shorn of the connection to concrete concerns and practices, philosophy of education is mere speculation of the worst kind.13 I confess I am one of those speculative philosophers of education. I do not believe that philosophy of education should be so constrained. I believe that philosophy of education should make its own questions and concerns and that the history of philosophy of education plays a great (if not the greatest) initial role in this. Therefore, I disagree with Dewey if he meant to cut off philosophy of education from asking and answering its own questions. Fortunately, I do not think we need to read Dewey in such a way. In the rest of this section, I will offer a different reading of Dewey as well as a set of justifications for why I think philosophy of education should turn away from educational concerns and practices, to develop its own. To begin with, Dewey claims that a science of education should develop its own questions and concerns; questions and concerns that are intrinsic to education. Dewey meant this in the context of education, which for him included schooling, but also the social determinants of education, educational psychology and pedagogy, and, of course, philosophy of education. This would suggest that each field within education develop its own questions and Dewey, The Sources of a Science of Education, 29. Harry Broudy thinks philosophers of education that ignore or dismiss questions of educational practice are negligent: “They [educators] have a right to expect that philosophers of education will address themselves to problems of education in general and how those problems impinge on schooling.” Broudy, “Between the Yearbooks,” 15. Walter Feinberg talks of philosophers that know little of philosophy of education as unhelpful at best to the field. See Feinberg, “The Discourse of Philosophy of Education,” 30.
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concerns. And with this suggestion I wholeheartedly agree. It is the prerogative of educational psychology, for example, to develop questions and concerns intrinsic to educational psychology. And it is for educational psychologists to decide what counts as those particular questions and concerns: likewise for curriculum experts; and for leadership experts; and for foundations faculty; and, I am suggesting, for philosophers of education. It is this reading of Dewey, rather than the reading suggesting a wholesale taking up of questions and concerns of education, that I endorse. Now it might seem that in so doing we merely condone academic entrenchment. We might seem to endorse a self-referential, even solipsistic view of the domain of scholarship as that which we decide, and not to be decided by other stakeholders of education, including scholars beyond the discipline, policymakers, legislators, parents, critics, and concerned citizens. This is precisely what I believe we should endorse in our scholarship. While it is, for example, certainly the case that as citizens we have a right to push for dialogue, debate, and even change in our public institutions, this cannot and should not take the place of our scholarship. (What that scholarship is I will take up here and elsewhere in this book.) Thus, while we are obligated to contribute to the ongoing dialogue and debate about (public) education and what best serves the needs, desires, and rights of citizens, we need not make this the (sole) subject matter of our scholarship. On what possible basis can it be argued that philosophy of education should serve its own concerns and interests and develop and follow its own scholarship? For the simple matter that only if it creates and follows its own questions and concerns can it be self-legitimating. Only if it is the questions and concerns of philosophy of education that are asked and addressed within our scholarship can the discipline free itself from the encumbrance of both philosophy and educational concerns and practices and say of itself that it is the locus of the questions and concerns it generates and answers. Only in so doing can philosophy of education mark itself off from other fields within philosophy and education theory, policy and practice; and only in so doing can philosophy of education garner the respect of the other disciplines. These are fighting words to those that see philosophy of education as tied to a specific enterprise—an enterprise of service to educational theory, policy, and (especially) practice. As the history of philosophy of education has demonstrated its strong connections to educational theory, policy, and practice, and as the scholarship in the journals continues to attest, philosophy of education is everywhere committed to these, and is nothing without this commitment. This
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commitment I reject. I reject it not only because there are myriad examples in many other disciplines where a shift in aim has taken place, holding out the possibility for a similar shift in philosophy of education, but also and most importantly because I do not see maintaining the status quo as a viable path for the discipline. And I do not see the status quo as viable because I do not envision from it self-legitimation. There has to be a philosophical response to the question of the future direction of philosophy of education; there has to be an educational response as well. I intend to give both of these. For now, I will provide a philosophical response; in a later section I will broach an educational one. The philosophical response must be one that distinguishes itself from fully historical and disciplinary responses in order to avoid begging the question. The philosophical response must take its cue not from the aims and purposes of philosophy, but philosophy of education—that is, it must take its cue from its origins. What are these origins? They are the original impetus for doing philosophy of education. And the original impetus for doing philosophy of education is, I claim, cultural. In fine, it is the articulation, construction, and dissemination of right ways of living and being in the (cultural) world of human beings.14 Now this admittedly covers a lot of ground. It covers, for example, most philosophies of human nature in their biological and social descriptions of human relationships. It covers much of (social) ethics. It covers (social) epistemology and justification. It covers as well sociality and politics of relationships and the role of human culture therein. It might seem, therefore, that philosophy of education’s origins covers most anything to do with philosophy and education as it has historically developed. And this has certainly been argued by many in the twentieth century. But this will not do if what we require is self-legitimation. For other disciplines cover these as well, and some have a much longer history and better scholarly output; output that is taken more seriously than ours. So back to the question at hand; what of the original impetus of the cultural world of human beings and where within that do we find the modus for philosophy of education? Dewey claimed to find the answer, and he articulated it at the very beginning of Democracy and Education: the social transmission of ways of living and being from one generation to another.15 Here, I think, we are onto
This is close to the impetus for doing philosophy of education as discussed in Carr, “Philosophy and Education,” 40. 15 Dewey, Democracy and Education, 5. 14
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something. Formal education didn’t concern Dewey at this stage of articulating his argument; far more important was to set out the limits or boundaries of the role and scope of education for human culture. Formal education enters after this discussion. But philosophy of education has its role bound up in these earlier articulations, not merely the later or formal ones (which, I shall maintain, are the proper province of psychology, sociology, and, particularly, curriculum and pedagogy). Philosophy of education concerns itself with the origins of the question of human culture and its articulation, transmission, and socialization, and not the questions coming after (or in any event, emerging from outside these origins). So what are these questions, then? They are certainly questions of direction; aims and purposes. Given the impetus to educate, what aims and purposes, what direction are we (the human culture) to turn? Of course, this presupposes we have some idea of what those various directions are. And this necessitates an understanding of various aims and purposes in terms of their consequences, not only for education but the various social institutions broadly understood that participate in education. This seems to lead us back to the beginning; why isn’t philosophy of education able to begin with origins yet seek out aims, purposes, and direction in the various social institutions we now have and in which we now participate? Why can’t philosophy of education continue to critique existing social institutions and cultural practices as it is doing? The answer is the consequences of these various aims and purposes are not ours. These consequences turn out to be those of other disciplines. The point of going back to the question of origins is to develop new goals out of these, not traverse the path already trodden. In noting and articulating the origins, our aim must be to create new and different aims and purposes. Dewey moved from a discussion of education as social transmission to (among other topics) a discussion of the formal, institutional mechanisms of education, especially public education and its role and scope in American democratic society. This is certainly one path. It is a path that leads to the aims and purposes of political theory and science, sociology, and social psychology in regard to educational theory and practice. It is not the path that I will recommend for a systematic philosophy of education. We cannot follow this path if we want self-legitimation, for we must have aims and purposes separate from those of political theory and science, sociology, and social psychology. We must articulate and choose another from the origins of philosophy of education.
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What other path can these origins suggest to us? One path is to engage in meta-questioning on the basis of these origins; questions about the nature of the questions.16 This might seem a dodge, yet I don’t believe this to be the case. Asking meta-questions regarding the articulation, construction, and dissemination of cultural traditions leads us legitimately to aims and purposes because it leads us to further questions that are metaphysical, logical, and ethical in nature. Another path, closely related, is to question the status of the questions we do have (and which I humbly claim to be doing). This involves a certain history and genealogy to get at the questions we have and are asking. But it also involves more philosophical techniques, especially those of conceptual analysis (popular in the 1960s–1980s) and meta-ethics. There is also a role for examination of logic peculiar to the questions and their articulation; an examination that, while perhaps relying somewhat on the sociology of knowledge or qualitative research methodologies, is profoundly philosophical at root because it involves the credibility of inferences and justification. Notice that neither philosophy nor education is shut out of the articulation of, and response to, these questions. Rather, philosophy and education emerge as means, tools, and techniques for getting at the nature of the questions, as well as going about answering them. Here, the equation is reversed; the questions of philosophy of education drive use of the means (philosophy; education) but not the converse. Neither philosophy nor education sets the parameters of questions (or answers), for this is now the purview of philosophy of education. This, I believe, is the proper relationship philosophy and education should have to philosophy of education.
Which way for philosophy of education? The question of self-legitimation The question of self-legitimation is an important one to address, and I shall do so here. Why is self-legitimation so important? What is at stake if we do and if we don’t? To begin with, I don’t think we have self-legitimated: to the extent we have tried (through our professional associations; our journals; our book series; and our Ph.D. programs), we come up short. How can this be? We
D.C. Phillips, “What Is Philosophy of Education?” in The SAGE Handbook of Philosophy of Education, eds., Richard Bailey, Robin Barrow, David Carr and Christine McCarthy (London: SAGE Publications, 2010), 13.
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have been unable for various reasons to be taken seriously by either philosophy or education. The question of philosophy’s relationship to philosophy of education is well established, and I have discussed this. Education’s relationship to philosophy of education is simple; philosophy of education is to serve the interests of the discipline of education. We are not alone in this regard; the disciplines of curricular studies, educational leadership and administration, educational counseling, etc., all have this relationship to education. And while it may seem that they are free to pursue their own questions and concerns, this is in fact illusory. For without the support of the parent discipline of education behind them, they face the harsh reality of ceasing to matter. Imagine attending a graduate program or conference on educational administration bearing no direct relationship to educational questions and concerns posed by the (larger) discipline. Imagine publishing in a journal devoted to no questions or concerns of education yet still somehow (precariously) invoking education as its point and purpose. Imagine belonging to a discipline of education in which no dialogue or debate regarding education takes place. Utter futility comes to mind. This is the power of the connection of the parent discipline to its offspring. Yet there are subdisciplines that study education and are not beholden to the discipline of education. Consider three: sociology of education, anthropology of education, and economics of education. These are profitably pursued outside as well as inside of faculties of education. Publications regarding these topics are often found in mainline sociology, anthropology, and economics journals. Conferences in which educational policy and practice is not a predominant focus are attended. What accounts for the difference? To begin with, these subdisciplines do not operate (solely) from within education; they often operate outside of it, and in the case of the three mentioned, within sociology, anthropology, and economics. Education is the subject matter or topic of interest; but the methods are intrinsic to the respective disciplines, not to education. Very often, the subject matter or topic itself is intrinsic to the respective disciplines, forming a natural extension of the disciplines’ scope of study. There are now even conferences and journals dedicated to these topics operating within the respective disciplines. What is the difference between, say, sociology or anthropology of education as pursued by sociologists and anthropologists and sociology or anthropology of education pursued by educationists?17 To my mind, the difference is the This is a term I use to denote the scholar working within the field of education.
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legitimacy conferred on the topic by the discipline. Legitimacy conferred on the topic in the former disciplines is not top-down: it is the result of the particular researchers and their own approximations of the value of their research. The “cash value” of this legitimacy ensures that the topic is a bona fide one for that discipline. It is a sort of stamp of assurance that the scholarship undertaken is both valuable and valid. The same unfortunately cannot be said about sociology or anthropology or economics of education as undertaken by educationists. Even though education legitimates these (sub)disciplines, the legitimation it provides is hollow, for it has the expectation that these (sub)disciplines operate with the questions of education (and very often schooling) in mind. And this is a tragic state of affairs: for it negates valuable research done by educationists who otherwise do very good scholarship. It is at this point, I think, hackles are raised. By what right do I condemn the scholarship of educationists conducting research in these areas? I am not condemning the research; I am stating what I take to be a fact about the relationships between disciplines. Legitimation is conferred on a branch of scholarship when authorized by the parent discipline, and education in matters of sociology, anthropology, and economics is not the only parent discipline. And neither is philosophy in regard to philosophy of education, to judge by the muted responses of philosophers to philosophy of education journals and conferences. Not only this, it is not legitimated by educationists outside of the field of philosophy of education inasmuch as educationists wish to subjugate philosophy of education for their own ends. If philosophy of education was a legitimate scholarly domain, I argue, the questions and concerns of philosophy of education would preside over the questions and concerns of educationists. Thus, to the question of self-legitimation: I argue that if philosophy will not accord us the dignity of recognizing philosophy of education by philosophers of education as a legitimate scholarly domain, and educationists wish to embrace us only for their aims and ends, we should self-legitimate. The rest of this section discusses what self-legitimation might look like. Here, I provide four broad criteria of self-legitimation for philosophy of education. 1. Philosophy of education must ask and answer its own questions and not the questions of philosophy or other domains of education. 2. It must create graduate programs only loosely centered in philosophy and education, and thereby beholden to neither. 3. It must develop journals that are directly sponsored by neither philosophy nor education, rather self-sponsored.
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4. It must develop conferences that are directly sponsored by neither philosophy nor education, rather self-sponsored. It remains to say something about each of these.
Asking and answering our own questions To ask and answer our own questions requires vigilance. This is so because historically many of the questions we have asked and answered belonged to either philosophy or (especially) education. In the case of the former, I include questions beyond the nexus of philosophy of education; this includes questions of metaphysics, ethics, logic, epistemology, ethics, and social-political philosophy that have little or no bearing on the subject of education. Most of us, I think, can recognize a journal article or conference paper that has little or no bearing upon education: some have no mention whatsoever of education and no means within to link to the subject. The question of questions in education is a more difficult matter because it is more difficult to discern in a journal article or conference paper whose subject matter already has educational bearing. In these cases, we have to look at the philosophy and the connection of the philosophy to the education and ask what the aim or purpose of the connection is. Is it to address a question pertinent to philosophy of education, or put philosophy of education in the service of an educational agenda? I claim if the former, it is a legitimate question; if the latter, it is illegitimate. If philosophy of education is to become a self-legitimating enterprise, philosophy of education topics and subjects in the service of existing educational aims and ends are illegitimate. Just how are we to ensure that the topics are legitimate? This requires good editorship in journals and conference proceedings, which I will discuss shortly. But for the time being, I will concentrate on the questions themselves. To sift the legitimate from illegitimate topics and questions requires due attention to the history of philosophy of education: what were the initial claims made on behalf of the discipline? Why these claims and not others? Doubtless, claims were made in support of the broader field of education. And doubtless, early philosophers of education thought they could somehow support this field through attention to concerns and issues philosophically pursued. Early proponents of the Philosophy of Education Association and the John Dewey Society had already determined that the relationship of philosophy of education to education was to be one of means to ends, with educational concerns as the
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ends. Indeed, for both of these organizations education had its end in the service of American democracy. To go back to the beginning is important because it is these initial decisions that set the discipline on its path. And this path, tortuous as it may seem, is traversable. The same impetus of the founders of the PEA and JDS (Henry Harap, William Kilpatrick, H. Gordon Hullfish, Ralph Tyler, and others) is found in the PES of today.18 And the decisions these gentlemen made in the 1930s hinder the self-legitimation of contemporary philosophy of education. For philosophy of education was inextricably bound up with the issues and concerns of Teachers College and especially the issues and concerns of classroom teachers in schools. Right from the get-go, classroom teaching in the context of schools was a strong focus of scholarship.19 These organizations provided a professional medium with which to inform and enlighten—and in some cases, persuade—the intelligent lay public as well as scholars in other disciplines, of the values and virtues of philosophy of education. It is this connection to the issues and concerns of teacher education and classroom teachers in schools we must break. Instead, we must find our own questions and concerns—questions and concerns that are properly the product of our scholarship and not the scholarship of other disciplines, including the other disciplines within the broader field of education. We will want legitimacy conferred on us by neither philosophy nor education; we will want instead our own legitimacy, our self-legitimacy. To do this we need to search for those questions that have their origin in questions we ask and answer without connecting them to either of the disciplines of philosophy or education. The best place to search for those questions, I believe, is within the history of the discipline, its earliest aims and purposes, and its self-understood relationships to other disciplines. We might think of new or emergent disciplines as bound up with issues of identity. I am certainly not the first to suggest emergent disciplines are in an Eriksonian quest for recognition. The history of the emergence of the disciplines of psychology and sociology at the turn of the twentieth century is illustrative, here. One of the main questions to be settled was the role, scope, and methodology that distinguished these from other disciplines, and particularly philosophy. The so-called Methodenstreit of sociology, for example, which both Durkheim and Tanner, Crusade for Democracy, 5–14. In Great Britain, T.H. Green, R.S. Haldane, and other neo-idealists helped form some of the earliest societies. See P. Gordon and J. White, Philosophers as Educational Reformers: The Influence of Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice (London: Routledge, 1979).
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(especially) Weber participated in, is testament to this. Positioning the discipline in relation to others, primarily by drawing boundaries or limits, is key here. These boundaries take the shape of questions asked and answered, as well as methods used. Both psychology and sociology chose the empirical route over the speculative idealism of late nineteenth-century philosophy. In the first half of the twentieth century in the United States, philosophy of education took on the methods of philosophy (or, at least the methods of philosophy common to the pragmatist tradition in North America) and put them to work to solve educational problems. The choice was between a then-discredited idealist philosophy of education—both in its aims and methods—and a more empirical, behavioral, and functional approach to traditional philosophical problems. This latter approach won the day and maintained itself more or less until the 1960s and the advent of Marxist and neo-Marxist thought. Now, the idealist philosophy of education epitomized by William Torrey Harris (and later, B.B. Bogoslovsky and H.H. Horne) was by this time already moribund.20 It did not materialize as a valid choice, and by the late 1920s, Dewey’s philosophy of education was already ubiquitous among teachers’ colleges: there was only one predominant philosophy of education from which to choose.21 These early decisions were not wrong; they surely indicated the dominant temper of the times. But we have allowed ourselves to be marshaled by them through the following nine decades. It will be difficult to break free of the entrenched mind-set of philosophy of education in the service of educational questions and concerns. And where, if nine decades of servitude to educational questions and concerns is the case, do we look? It would be an arbitrary gesture of mine to suggest we look at this subset of questions rather than that, or merely here rather than there. Of course, I do believe there are some questions and concerns we ought to be asking: here is not the place and now is not the time to discuss these. (I will have more to say about this in upcoming sections.) For now, I am content to make clear the need for a search for new questions and concerns. And I do believe we ought to start at the beginning—with the newly emergent discipline of philosophy of education. I believe we ought to do so because it is there, in the newly emerging discipline, that decisions were made that are largely responsible for the current state of affairs.
Donald Butler, Idealism in Education (New York: Harper and Row, 1966). In Great Britain, on the other hand, the idealist tradition ran out of steam on the eve of the Second World War. Butler, Idealism in Education, 27.
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Constructing new graduate programs New questions and concerns demand a thorough rethinking of the institutions in which we train up-and-coming scholars. We can no longer afford to reproduce the classic questions of philosophy of education as they have come down to us; we must generate new thinking. Graduate programs in which a “classics” approach to philosophy of education is undertaken (e.g., here are the leading questions of the discipline; this is what so and so thought; here is so-and-so’s response to that thinking) are no longer acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to send students off to the philosophy department for some immersion in that discipline and back to education for further immersion. Questions and concerns that have their origin in philosophy of education should be the point of departure for graduate studies in philosophy of education. What these studies look like is, of course, partly dependent on the questions and concerns raised and answered. But some features can nevertheless be noted while the question of questions and concerns is left until later. To begin with, relationships with the school, faculty, or college of education and the department of philosophy must change. I envision less, not more, interdisciplinary focus. Again, hackles will be raised; many will say this certainly is not the direction we see scholarship in general going, and it is not in the avowed interest of the field or the academy. I don’t foresee less interdisciplinary focus in having to continue past the point of establishment of philosophy of education’s self-legitimacy. But we are not yet self-legitimate, and maintaining an interdisciplinary focus will further drain what little legitimacy there is in our present pursuits. First we need to retrench; then we can venture out. Currently, we entertain other disciplines on their terms (especially philosophy and the more powerful disciplines within education, such as curriculum studies and educational psychology). It will likely take a generation before this process of self-legitimacy is complete or at least is robust enough to entertain other disciplines on our terms as well as theirs. Meanwhile, careful attention to both philosophy and education as they are introduced in the graduate curriculum is needed. While it is certainly the case students will need some sort of preparation in each (and perhaps this is best undertaken in bachelor’s or master’s programs), the self-legitimizing guiding questions and concerns must be at the forefront. Coursework in philosophy of education will need to reflect this. Most importantly, we cannot hope to be self-legitimating if we allow questions and concerns foreign to philosophy of education to get a foothold in matters of topics for theses and dissertations: for it is here, in the topics of theses and dissertations, that the field will begin to
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regenerate. These early scholarly undertakings will set the stage for further selflegitimating scholarship.
Journals and conferences Journals and conferences are the lifeblood of a scholarly discipline. No scholarly discipline will survive without at least one dedicated journal and one conference to its name. In philosophy of education, there are currently a number of journals,22 together with those in education closely associated to philosophy of education.23 And there are a number of conferences exclusive to the discipline of philosophy of education.24 The structure is already in place for a change in direction. What remains is to change that direction. The role of the editor or program director in this matter cannot be underestimated: more than any other, this is the figure poised to lead this change. And it will come from editors and program directors before it encompasses the graduate programs and subsequent to this the discipline as a whole. Only brave editors and program directors insistent on soliciting papers speaking to the questions on, about, or emanating from origins will be able to undertake this challenge. This will take time. Calls can be put out for papers on questions and conferences can be developed around these questions. Over a generation, perhaps, the discipline can turn itself toward these questions while encouraging authors more inclined to philosophy or issues and concerns of education to publish elsewhere. Once origins have been fairly dealt with, questions of meta-ethics and the relationship of the questions to past and existing cultural traditions can be broached. At this point, I think, the discipline will be well on its way to self-legitimacy, having developed anew a broad base of questions that it and it alone can answer.
What remains to do By attending to questions (and answers) of origins, philosophy of education will in part find its path to self-legitimization. But this by itself will be not enough. Journal of Philosophy of Education; Educational Theory; Studies in Philosophy and Education; Educational Philosophy and Theory; Paideusis. 23 Journal of Moral Education; Interchange; Education and Culture; Journal of Educational Controversies. 24 Philosophy of Education Society Great Britain; Philosophy of Education Society; Australasia Philosophy of Education Society; Canadian Philosophy of Education Society; International Network of Philosophy Educators. 22
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Questions concerning the status of questions we have and are now answering must also be dealt with and in large measure disposed of. There are a number of areas with which philosophy of education concerns itself that belong to education, properly considered. These are 1. Educational theory 2. Social science research 3. Teaching and learning 4. Curricular matters 5. Schools We will need to divest ourselves of the questions posed by the scholarship on these from the point of view of these areas. And by this, I mean scholarship centered not in philosophy of education, rather these areas or disciplines. We must, in other words, work from the vantage point of philosophy of education and not from one or another of these areas. This means suspending or even severing connections between philosophy of education and each of these. Disentangling ourselves from each of these means not only developing and maintaining a distance from these, it means approaching any further questions that might arise involving these from our perspective, not theirs. This will be difficult not only because of entrenched traditions; it will be difficult because it will require redefining what philosophy of education is in order to complete the disentanglement. The necessary steps to disentanglement require spelling out in detail, and each of the above areas requires its own section if we are to do justice to the task ahead.
Philosophy or Theory of Education The first order of business beyond articulating a need for a new set of origins and a new strategy for retooling the discipline is to break the existing connections philosophy of education has with other scholarly areas. I will begin with the connection of philosophy of education to theory. Educational theory is sometimes conflated with philosophy of education. This is unfortunate. As theory in the social sciences is different than theory in the humanities (and especially, philosophy), so too is theory in education from philosophy of education. There has been some recognition of the difference in philosophy of education, but not, I am afraid, nearly enough.1 Here, I will discuss the differences between theory and philosophy of education through analogizing it to theory in social sciences and literature. Beyond this, I will discuss the particular roles theory plays in education and demonstrate why that role is different than the role philosophy of education plays. Then I will suggest that the reconstitution of philosophy of education along the lines I have suggested has little or no room for theory as here considered.
Theory and philosophy: The case of the social sciences in education Theory in education is variously understood. Indeed, theory and philosophy seem to shade into one another indiscriminately.2 And to further complicate the matter, what is taken for theory at one time and place is different than what is taken for theory at another.3 So I will distinguish one understanding—a very contemporary
David Carr, “The Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory,” in The SAGE Handbook of Philosophy of Education, eds., Richard Bailey, Rohin Barrow, David Carr and Christine McCarthy (London: SAGE Publications, 2010). 2 Carr, “The Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory,” 37–38. 3 Carr, “The Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory,” 37. 1
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understanding—as my point of departure for the purposes of this book. Theory as I am using it here is an interpretive framework through which we understand and explain both phenomena (including human behavior and institutional structures) and ideas and conceptions (including explanatory models; hypotheses; paradigms; and more esoteric features such as the ideologies and interpretive frameworks themselves).4 Philosophy on this account of course falls within the understanding of an interpretive framework. And it therefore seems to come under the notion of theory. And if it comes under the notion of theory, it is susceptible of theoretical examination—an examination of its framework from another interpretative lens. Thus we have the spectacle of theory examining an aspect of itself, albeit using a different framework. I will argue that not only is philosophy not exhausted in theory, there are irreducible tasks of philosophy that cannot be done by and through theory. Thus, I want to dispute the notion that philosophy is beholden to theory. But before I do, I want to examine the ways in which theory has informed leading disciplines within education.
Sociology It is in sociology, I think, that the understanding of theory as an interpretative framework or lens with which we see into human phenomena first came to fruition. Of course, philosophy, particularly at the end of the nineteenth century, had already made the move to the human sciences. The central notion of Verstand—Understanding—was articulated by Wilhelm Dilthey and reemerged under the auspices of Max Weber at the turn of the twentieth century. But the extension of philosophic method to issues of understanding was just that; an extension. It was not a rival framework that we could use to explain, for example, scientific phenomena. It was, in other words, reserved for the understanding of human phenomena. Thus the methodical nature of the operation of understanding. In the twentieth century, and particularly in the works of Max Scheler and Karl Mannheim, a turn toward an accounting of knowledge production began.5 By the 1960s, a bona fide discipline within sociology—the sociology of knowledge—had emerged.6 For example, Tamura, “Narrative History and Theory,” History of Education Quarterly, 51, 2 (2011): 151. 5 The idea here is that philosophical systems change not because of immanent critique, but because the “vital system in which one lives undergoes a shift.” This is roughly akin to Hegel’s idea of a changing shape of Spirit. 6 I am thinking here of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s justly famous work, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise on the Sociology of Knowledge (New York: Doubleday, 1967). 4
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This potted account demonstrates that the view of theory as an interpretative framework or lens has its history as well. In fact, the critique of ideology grew up alongside this history of the sociology of knowledge. It is little wonder that theory is allied with critical theory; these were fellow travelers in the early goings of the discipline. That theory is social theory, and that social theory consists in neo-Marxist, feminist, critical race, queer, and social-constructivist accounts as well as “post” approaches to interpretation should not surprise us. Of course, social theory or theory involving social phenomena has its role to play in other social sciences disciplines, as I will discuss briefly in the cases of anthropology and history of education. But, if theory is social and theory deals not only with observable social phenomena (behaviors) but concepts, ideas, frameworks— indeed, philosophies—then it deals with these in a social context, with a social aim and through a social interpretative lens. The problem is philosophy itself constitutes more than the social. In its selfunderstood constitution, it consists in (at a minimum) metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. To see the nonsocial branches as part of theory is to see them in terms of their social functions, relations, aims and ends, and structure(s). Indeed, the fear of philosophers is that theory will reduce these to their social elements or aspects: to see everything through the interpretative lens of social theory is to remove the possibilities of seeing them otherwise. And this is apart from the particular interpretive lens in use (e.g., critical theory; poststructuralism). But I am getting ahead of myself. I will return to this after a discussion of anthropology and history.
Anthropology Ethnography has had an obvious and deep impact on educational research and particularly for qualitative analysis. The ethnographic tendencies of modern qualitative educational research are, in fact, dominant. The idea articulated by Clifford Geertz, of interpretation going “all the way down,” lines up nicely with phenomenological and hermeneutic schools of thought in philosophy.7 The notion of a hermeneutic circle, a notion first broached by Wilhelm Dilthey, gained traction with Martin Heidegger and (especially) Hans-Georg Clifford Geertz, “Thick Description,” in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 22; D. Jardine, “Reflections on Education, Hermeneutics, and Ambiguity: Hermeneutics as a Restoring of Life to Its Original Difficulty,” in Understanding Curriculum as Phenomenological and Desconstructed Text, eds., W. Pinar and W. Reynolds (New York: Teachers College Press, 1992). See also P. Fairfield, ed., Education, Dialogue, and Hermeneutics (London: Bloomsbury, 2012).
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Gadamer, and has its operative function in the claim that we can only add to our existing understanding and never exhaust or even get to the root of it in an explanatory-causal sense. Here, context becomes the pervasive endeavor. Anthropological theory—and particularly the theory of ethnography—insists on a web of meaning or understanding. This is of course a social web, consisting in social meanings. The relationship of ethnographic theory to philosophy is bound up in grasping the qualitative dimensions of understanding—in short, to understand how philosophical topics and ideas are (meaningfully) understood by groups and subjects. Thus, the approach is social from the get-go. We don’t penetrate beyond the social relationships and the nexus of understanding these build up in ethnography; we don’t, that is, attempt to get behind the meanings of philosophical questions and answers in any other than a social-relational sense. In ethnography, philosophy is restricted to the social. Through qualitative analysis performed in ethnographic studies, relations and meanings and webs of understanding are isolated and articulated: understanding is deepened and widened, and the web of relations grows thicker. But qualitative analysis does not go beyond the relations and webs; qualitative analysis does not pursue the question of the understanding of the notion or idea in question beyond its understanding in a social nexus.8 Qualitative methods cannot get at deep questions intrinsic to the nature of education because they cannot get past the social meanings/understandings of the subjects researched. And this is not their role. Only philosophy can get at these meanings in a nonsocially reductive manner. But if all there is to philosophy is (ethnographic) theory, then there is no approaching these intrinsic questions beyond our social understandings of them; our social understandings of them can be articulated, but we cannot judge the validity of the questions or the answers philosophically posed from the lens of ethnography.
History History, too, has embraced theory as of late. This is evident from a recent issue in History of Education Quarterly.9 Although there is some resistance to the
A problem at the origins of social science that Husserl had with Dilthey concerns the “psychologism” of Dilthey’s earlier works. See Rudolph Makreel, Dilthey: The Philosopher of the Human Sciences (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), 275–276. 9 Please see the following issue of History of Education Quarterly, 51, 2 (2011). 8
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wholesale appropriation of theory to history of education, certain strands or aspects of history such as narrative and oral history have taken it up.10 History also understands theory in the broad manner of an interpretive framework or lens. We work with and through this lens to not only understand (historical) phenomena; we develop causal-historical claims out of this. I haven’t yet seen a dedicated theory approach to the history of the philosophy of education—say, a rigorous genealogical approach—but I am certain one will eventually arrive. And it will be less interested in the coherency, consistency, dare I say rightness of the questions and answers it encounters as it will the context in which the questions and answers are developed, the relations between the various stakeholders asking and answering the questions, and (perhaps most of all) the issue of power and its dissemination/distribution in the discourse constructed in, out of, and beyond these questions and answers. Social understandings are important considerations, and I do not wish to seem skeptical of them. I think they are important scholarly pursuits for sociology, anthropology, and history of education. I do not think they are good scholarly pursuits for philosophy of education because I do not think they get at what is important to the discipline. These questions get at social context and relations, social understandings and meanings. Philosophy of education, as I have maintained, must generate and answer its own questions. Philosophy of education gets at something different than social understandings. But I will hold off discussing this until after I examine the particular roles theory plays in education.
The particular roles theory plays in education Here I shall discuss matters of substance regarding theory and its place in education. I will do so using the functional rubrics of framework/structure and teleology. I will then turn to the questions of importance for philosophy of education: why shouldn’t philosophy of education engage with theory; what is at stake in not doing so; and what if any role does a reconstituted philosophy of education play in theory?
Tamura, “Narrative History and Theory”; C. Eick, “Oral Histories of Education and the Relevance of Theory: Claiming New Spaces in a Post-revisionist Era,” History of Education Quarterly, 51, 2 (2011): 158–183.
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Framework/structure It will do to look at the framework or interpretive lens that theory provides in more detail. As I am dealing with theory as a predominantly social framework, the social aspects of theory are placed in relief. To begin with, theory is generally anti-foundationalist and anti-universalist. By this I mean it rests on no (overt) claims about the essential or universal nature of mind or world. Thus, there is no arche, no essence, no furniture of the universe or mind to which to appeal, and no foundation to which to reduce complex social phenomena. And there are no basic categories of the mind that determine or construct appearances. Furthermore, theory is historicist, though not in the older idealist or even early Marxist senses of historicity. Theory is historicist because a historical account of social phenomena and social processes and relations exhausts all possible accounts of these. (I am including genealogical and archeological techniques common to Foucaldians as historicist here.) As theory is historicist, so it is relational; theory examines the relations and relationships occurring between human beings and other human beings and their world(s). Thus, the framework or lens of theory is anti-foundationalist, anti-universalist, historicist, and socialrelational. Understandings that are developed through theoretical frameworks and lenses will therefore not make the foundationalist or reductivist move to consider aspects or elements of social phenomena apart from their contexts. This context-bound and irreducibly relational framework or lens is what the social phenomena considered as education is taken up with and in. The inclusivity of the framework for understanding is very often promulgated, yet this is odd considering the framework disallows metaphysical or speculative claims about the nature of the social phenomena it takes up, and stresses the particularity of localized contexts rather than its mutuality with regard to larger social-theoretic configurations. Of course, the framework sees itself as inclusive and metaphysics, whether of the realist or speculative variety, as baleful:11 thus it is quite satisfactory to bracket or otherwise eliminate this. Often enough, the framework of theory operates consciously against metaphysics, through undercutting claims to foundational knowledge or essential features. Archeological and genealogical approaches to history in particular provide for a rival account of history that attempts to demonstrate the inconceivability of a
By way of preliminary statement on these, I offer the following: realism is defined in a Peircean sense, such that things exist in the world regardless of whether human beings cognize them; the speculative concerns the metaphysics of becoming, of permanence and change and chance and continuity. These themes will be the focus of a corresponding volume.
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unified accounting in a larger social-theoretic configuration, to say nothing of the operation of historical laws of causality. The irreducibly dispersed accounting of history garnered through these techniques is a reaction to history traditionally done. Ideological and power structures are very often revealed through counterhistories. Beyond the critique of history and philosophy traditionally done, these frameworks have a positive aim; to allow for disparate and oftentimes marginalized voices to be heard. Clearing away the detritus of traditional approaches is but a beginning phase of what is ultimately a political project: to emancipate the disenfranchised through the self-revelation of their irreducible particularity.12 I will discuss the telos of theory in more detail below. Here, I want to talk about the structural components of the framework and how they are set up to accomplish this project. The critique of ideology or the unmasking of power relations alone doesn’t account for all of the features of the framework: a rhetorical element needs to be included.13 This element is to persuade the disenfranchised and others potentially sympathetic to them of both the rightness of the program and the need to resist its uptake in a larger configuration or whole. Usually, appeals to “consciousness,” “freedom,” “emancipation,” socioeconomic parity, political enfranchisement (in the case of minority populations), or self-fulfillment are made in tandem with a proclamation of a unique and distinct political identity.14 The framework combines both of these accounts—the negative account of philosophy or history or educational practice traditionally or presently done, including all its attendant problems—with the rhetoric of change, hope, and even triumph in the manner of consciousness, freedom, emancipation, etc., of the particular group from uptake into a larger configuration of certain principles or ways of living in civil society, the state, and/or the rule of law. Often, the positive account is introduced and compared with the negative account and the negative account is shown to be lacking the very means and ends of the positive one. If the negative account draws on the critique of ideology or power, the positive account draws on a quasi-utopian parity, equity, enfranchisement, and in more
This is the project of many critical theorists in the Freirean vein, as I will discuss in a separate volume. 13 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 36. 14 I am thinking of the stalwarts of critical theory in education from the 1970s to 1990s here. These include Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury Press, 1970); Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America; McClaren, Life in Schools; Giroux, Theory and Resistance in Education; Michael Apple, Ideology and Curriculum (New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2004); Michael Apple, Education and Power (New York: Routledge, 1995); Brosio, A Radical-Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education. 12
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pronounced cases, group identity, solidarity, radical or extreme particularity, even isolation.15 Sometimes these accounts are pitched in terms of the rights of collectivity and group identity. Sometimes, they are pitched in terms of social justice. Almost always the appeal is made in the name of living up to, or owning up to, our moral and political obligations to the group, given our ideals of international human rights, cosmopolitanism, and/or global, social justice. Thus, we have the following (basic) structures of a theoretical framework— which need not be explicitly present in all accounts, yet are nevertheless implied. 1. An account(s) of traditional philosophy, history, and/or educational practice(s), often extended to concepts and principles of civil society and the state 2. A claim about the wrongness of the above account, based in part on accounts of the wrongness of traditional philosophy, history, law, literature, social practice, and/or educational practice(s) 3. A positive alternative account presented, together with a means for persuading others of its rightness 4. A basic telos, often combining the personal and the political
Teleology In this section, I want to examine the ultimate aims, goals, and purposes of theory: the telos as it were. I have gestured to dominant aims of theory already. Here I will list some (these are not mutually exclusive). 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Personal fulfillment/self-actualization/consciousness Social recognition of various personal and group identities Political enfranchisement/freedom De-stratified, de-capitalized political economy Reciprocity of human rights Social justice
There are, of course, other goals, but these, I think, represent the main ones. I will take these in turn. To begin with, the goal of personal fulfillment/self But when they do with respect to equality, they depart from Marx, who made it clear in his critique of the Gotha program that there could be no equality in a socialist utopia. See Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program (New York: International Publishers, 1938); see also Allen Wood, “Marx on Equality,” in The Free Development of Each: Studies on Freedom, Right and Ethics in Classical German Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).
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actualization/consciousness is understood as the freeing of, or construction of, a person, who is now able to make the most of her environment and circumstances to set forth and obtain her personal goals within a supportive community and nation.16 This is admittedly a broad goal; it is much easier to note the limits to fulfillment than it is to herald its achievement—which, in any event, is a personal sense, not an objective condition to be behaviorally assessed. Fulfillment requires that these other ultimate goals be in place and operating for the person. Social recognition is recognition of the importance (for good) that the person, group, community, or (minority) nation plays in the existence of others’ lives. I think the characteristics most theoreticians endorse are a recognition that is mutual, supportive, and consequential. Social recognition is not manifest when the generalized attitudes of others remain unincorporated in the person.17 Us and them strategies are exclusionary and indicate lack of recognition. The means to social recognition are largely social and political but social recognition must be the end result of both (or more) parties reciprocally taking on the attitudes of others and is not enacted until and unless this occurs.18 Political enfranchisement is both a means to personal fulfillment and social recognition and an end in itself.19 It is first of all a means (and a necessary one) for people(s) to exist in a supportive community. It is also a means for undertaking the process of social recognition. Political enfranchisement aids in the development of the self-fulfilling person and aids in the construction of the context for social recognition to take place. The reductio ad absurdum of this would be to imagine a world in which only some were enfranchised yet all This goal is broadly assumed by many philosophers of education and critical theorists alike. For example, both Maxine Greene, The Dialectic of Freedom (New York: Teachers College Press, 1988)and Nel Noddings, The Challenge to Care in Schools (New York: Teachers College Press, 1992)share this, as do McClaren, Life in Schools and Giroux, Theory and Resistance in Education. 17 I am thinking here of Fichte’s account of recognition in the Grundlage, as well as Hegel’s account of mutual recognition in Chapter IV of the Phenomenology of Spirit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), and Mead’s account of the generalized other in Mind, Self, and Society (London: University of Chicago Press, 1962). 18 The irony of extreme particularism on the part of certain educational programs that claim themselves in the names of equity, commonality, and democracy should not go unnoticed. Support of educationists for various social movements and educational practices that embrace extreme particularism is well recognized. Social movements, particularly those based in identity politics, are extremist if they disavow membership in a larger configuration or whole. Wholesale appeals to equality, democracy, human rights, and the like do not invoke charges of extreme particularism in regard a social movement, for these are the watchwords of the democratic-liberal state. The avocation of specific group-centered rights and privileges that exclude or otherwise present barriers to others’ access, however, very often do. 19 This is a leading claim of many post-Marxist and critical theorist scholars in education. For example, Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America; Michael Apple, Knowledge and Power (New York: Routledge, 2013); Brosio, A Radical-Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education; bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress (New York: Routledge, 1994). 16
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were self-fulfilled and recognized. Only under certain political conditions can self-fulfillment and recognition take place. Political enfranchisement is also an end in itself as it is the outward legal and behavioral manifestation of a truly cosmopolitical or global community. A de-stratified, de-capitalized political economy is another goal of theorists.20 This concerns the structure in which enfranchisement and other goals take place. Since at least Marx, capitalism has often been thought of as intrinsically disenfranchising.21 While revolution certainly became less and less of an option as the twentieth century progressed, the piecemeal mitigation of political-economic policies that served to disenfranchise particularly laborers and minority populations did not. The attempt at mitigation has not slowed. Although critical theory in particular has taken on different shapes (we now have four generations of Frankfurt School thinkers) and the subject matters have changed (from the mass-culture industry to communicative action to social recognition to global recognition), the overall impetus has not.22 The global political-economic landscape is particularly the focus of many doing one or another aspect of critical theory nowadays. Reciprocity of human rights works alongside political enfranchisement, partly through the insistence that rights are not optional; rights are inclusive; and rights extend across people(s) (as persons, as groups, communities, and nations).23 Rights provide the legal structure within which fulfillment and recognition take place. They also provide a set of guidelines for social behavior—useful when teaching children. Rights also have teeth (or are supposed to have teeth); they can be defended in courts of law. Curiously, human rights as a legal framework (I am thinking of the U.N. Covenants) are looked at suspiciously by those using theory; they are often considered to be Western, liberal notions pressed into practice over and against other particular or local codes of behavior.24 For many using theory, the term social justice better captures the inclusive nature of vaunted aims and ends.
Many of the more ardent post-Marxists and critical theorists make this claim. See especially Bowles and Gintis, Schooling and Capitalist America; Brosio, A Radical-Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education. 21 Marx makes this clear in vol. 1 of Capital (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1954–1959). See also Wood, “Marx on Equality.” 22 Of course, I am thinking of Theodor Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, and Axel Honneth. 23 Brenda Almond, Rights, The Blackwell Guide to Ethics, ed., P. Singer (Malden: Blackwell, 1993), 261. 24 Almond, Rights, 267. See also Sharon Todd, “Ambiguities of Cosmopolitanism: Difference, Gender, and the Right to Education,” in Education in the Era of Globalization, eds., D. Bridges, K. Roth, and I. Gur-Ze’ev (Dordrecht: Springer, 2007). 20
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Social justice is distinguished from human rights in that rights are legal mechanisms denoting what is owed to each of us (including groups, communities, nations) enforced through courts (including the International Court), having their historical basis in Enlightenment-inspired notions of liberty, freedom, conduct, and political enfranchisement. Social justice, on the other hand, is ostensibly more inclusive and deals with advantages and disadvantages of peoples in society.25 Social justice very often concerns the role of the state in matters of equity and fair treatment, distribution of resources, and enfranchisement and social recognition.26 Thus, social justice concerns the social, political, and economic relationships among peoples of a state in regard to one another. Social justice enacted is a capstone for theorists as it undertakes the reconstruction of society so that communities and the persons and groups therein are seemingly undivided by the barriers of economics, political and social power, class, race, gender, and geography, among others. Social justice is a purported leveler of stratified social relationships. Now philosophy of education has also shared in these aims or goals. Indeed, I would say the majority of philosophers of education now writing have these as their goals. To be clear, though, these are not philosophical goals; these are socialpolitical. On the definition of philosophy of education that I am trading on here, philosophical goals cannot be straightforwardly socio-political; one must (first) pay particular attention to its metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics. Of course, one can make the socio-political the end to which the logic, metaphysics, theory of knowledge, and ethics are the means. In this scenario, the end would determine or, at the very least, justify the means, and any metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics would have to accord with the sociopolitical aims presented. But this would thwart both the project of going back to origins and the project of developing our own questions and issues. What philosophy is to be is as yet undecided; by placing these socio-political aims and goals ahead of the questions and issues, we surrender the questions and issues to these aims and goals.
Philosophy reconsidered and the role for theory Thus far I have provided a negative argument for philosophy of education’s consideration as theory. Here I attempt a positive one. I will discuss the David Miller, Social Justice (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 11. Miller, Social Justice, 13.
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relationship of philosophy to theory in terms of philosophy’s uniqueness and argue against an integrated view of philosophy/theory. I will also discuss philosophy’s relationship with theory after philosophy of education turns to its historical origins and redevelops its questions and issues.
What does philosophy of education provide that theory doesn’t? Philosophy of education is to provide an account of its origins. This much we have established. These origins are historical, to begin with. That is to say, they are developed out of the earliest concerns and questions of the discipline. This is the beginning point; it is not the end point, however. That end cannot be proscribed, which is not the case with theory. Additionally, philosophy of education provides accounts that are metaphysical, logical, ethical, and sociopolitical—indeed, accounts bearing on all the major branches of philosophy. Philosophy of education deals in coherence and consistency, particularly in dealing with concepts, notions, ideas, and even systems. Thus it has its analytic and synthetic sides. Now theory deals in some of these. Theoretical frameworks are examined for their consistency and coherence; they are assessed (sometimes) for their logical, ethical, aesthetic, and (particularly) socio-political claims and cogency. (They are seldom assessed for their metaphysics as they almost unanimously eschew foundations.) But ends and means are proscribed in theory, whereas I am saying they are not and should not be for philosophy of education. The means of theory—a negative estimation of traditional accounts and a positive account, largely rhetorical, of the benefits of an already decided upon counterapproach— cannot be the means of philosophy of education. While it is uncontroversial that philosophy of education will encounter and critique other (philosophical) accounts, it cannot be in service of a rhetorical-because-predetermined strategy of leading the reader(s) to a specified end. Philosophy must seek to convince readers on the basis of the strength of argument and coherency and consistency of the account rather than the rightness of its end. This may seem counterintuitive: doesn’t philosophy already seek to persuade us of the rightness of its particular account? And isn’t this account often pitched in terms of its end (e.g., as right, as good, as correct, as unable to be otherwise)? Yes, it does. But it does so not on the basis of a predetermined end, but of the strength of the argument, the coherency and consistency of the concepts, ideas, notions, and inferences made, and (in those cases of systematic philosophy) the feasibility of the system. We are led to agree with the end because what leads up
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to the end has been correct or at least convincing given its arguments, coherency, and consistency. Why not accord theory the same standpoint as philosophy, given that it, too, has arguments, coherency, and consistency in addition to an end? Because in theory the end is predetermined and the means (the arguments) are put in place merely to convince us of its correctness. The means do not justify the end; the end justifies the means. Whereas for philosophy ends are the outcomes of correct argumentation, coherency, and consistency of claims, for theory the means are used to convince readers of an already established end. The end is question-begging because it serves to buttress the arguments, rather than the arguments serving to buttress the end. Theory of education is circular; philosophy of education, properly done, is not.
Why philosophy of education reconstituted shouldn’t be theory? It should be obvious we don’t want a question-begging framework or lens as a philosophy of education. But there are other reasons not to take theory for philosophy of education. To begin with, theory is not interested in metaphysics or foundations. And while this may not seem a problem for those that are already anti-foundationalist (and historicist) in orientation, it is troubling for those that are not. For it designates as insignificant or unavailable a whole area of philosophy of education. And it also disrupts or threatens areas such as ethics— areas that historically have had metaphysical foundations if not consequences. This is, at the very least, terribly uncharitable if inclusivity is what theory is to provide for us. Beyond this, theory cannot help us to see if the connections or inferences made between premises and premises and premises and conclusions are correct. It cannot help with this because it cannot separate its means from its end sufficiently to prevent the end from determining the correctness of the means, the premises, and the conclusions. The end and means are already bound up together and cannot be separated without the question of the correctness of theory being introduced. On my account, then, philosophy of education should not become theory or even integrate with theory for the following reasons: 1. Theory is question-begging in that its means and ends are already bound together. 2. Theory is uninterested or even antagonistic to foundations and metaphysics.
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3. Theory cannot help us differentiate between correct and incorrect premises and conclusions within arguments because it is beholden to a predetermined end or set of ends. And finally 4. Philosophy will have its own project; that of origins in terms of questions and issues. This will be largely historical, at least at first. The questions and concerns arising out of this initial encounter will demonstrate their metaphysical, logical, ethical, and socio-political bearings as they get taken up. The question of whether a reconstituted theory could integrate with philosophy of education remains. This would be a theory that is open-ended rather than closed-ended and positive or at least agnostic toward foundations and metaphysics. I suppose such a theory could be valuable to pair with philosophy of education, although it would still have to leave sufficient room for philosophy of education to generate its own issues and concerns. But what this theory looks like will have to wait for another time.
What does a reconstituted philosophy of education have to do with theory? For the time being, a philosophy of education should have little or nothing to do with theory. Philosophy of education is to provide distinctive accounts that do not follow the ends-means pattern of theory. These accounts will not be parallel as philosophy will generate its questions and issues from a very different place than theory. The structural components of philosophy and theory will be very different. Whereas theory deals in a negative account of traditions (including the traditions of philosophy) together with a positive and largely rhetorical account with a predetermined end, philosophy of education is openended and concentrates on the correctness of means before consideration of ends. Until philosophy of education is in a strong enough position to counter theory’s enveloping tendency, it must remain apart. Perhaps once philosophy of education has reinvested itself in the historical traditions of its questions and issues, and articulated a body of knowledge of sufficient depth to counter the enveloping tendencies of theory, it will be in a position to operate in tandem. Until then, it is best for philosophy of education to go it alone.
Philosophy and Educational Research Here, I extend the analysis regarding philosophy of education and theory to the question of educational research. I examine the relationship between the philosophy of education as it is currently thought in respect of educational research and follow with a brief account of the historical debates regarding philosophy of education in this role. I will finish with an examination of what I consider to be the legitimate and illegitimate uses of philosophy of education in regard to educational research and go on to suggest a separate path, with separate questions and answers, for philosophy of education.
For what has philosophy of education been used? Philosophy of education has been used variously in regard to educational research. Prior to the 1960s and the rise of conceptual analysis, philosophy of education was used broadly as a method among methods; philosophy of education was an approach to understanding and explaining educational phenomena alongside empirically based approaches such as quantitative analysis, historical approaches, sociological approaches, and the like.1 To say of someone that she took a philosophical approach was to say she approached the subject matter of education from the vantage point of a philosopher concerned with philosophical topics from one of the main branches of philosophy and main schools of thought, using methods common to the philosophical tradition. However, this began to change in the 1960s. Specific questions germane to educational research began to replace the more philosophically inclined topics. Whereas earlier topics included the nature of learning (and knowing); policy initiatives; the rightness of a particular curricular stance or topic; or the best way to understand concepts such as scientific theories or models, by the 1960s, Feinberg and Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties.”
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topics such as educational assessment, stratification, outcomes and mastery, and motivation began to take their place.2 Beyond the change in topics, a change in focus took place. Broader questions of metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics gave way to questions of logic and (especially) epistemology. Learning was the important consideration, here. Issues of researcher bias leveled by qualitatively inclined interpretivists became a popular subject. The hidden curriculum and its effects on socially stratified children also became an important topic. Questions of validity and reliability in survey instruments and tests became important as well. The specific inferences made in drawing conclusions regarding research and the limitations of the quantitative model further engaged philosophers of education. The move away from the broad questions of aims and purposes of education to the narrow questions of the aims and purposes (and the workings) of assessment, evaluation, programs, knowledge-retention, skill-set development, outcomes, mastery, and the like, all took place in the decades after the 1960s.3 The macroscopic concerns of earlier philosophers of education devolved into the microscopic concerns of research-driven scholarship. One could surmise that these questions were nested in a further set of questions regarding the legitimate ends for education; but seldom did the accounts provided lead back to these, and this was because no robust philosophy of education that could handle the ethical-political aspects of these in a non-question-begging manner was promulgated. The rise of analytic philosophy of education was the impetus for this transformation. For it moved the field from larger issues of metaphysics, theory of knowledge, ethics, and aesthetics to specific analyses of concepts, theories, and models. While analytic philosophy could and did involve itself with metaethical issues (R.S. Peters’ Ethics and Education is the paramount example, here), more frequently it dealt with specific issues germane to educational research and practice.4 Even scholarship that saw itself as immune to analytic philosophy (qualitative analysis and research) dealt conceptually with various topics and issues in regard to its subject matter. Interpretivist claims regarding the false objectivity of social-scientific research laid as much emphasis on micrological issues as did the mainstream philosophers of science. In at least one regard, this is exactly what the earlier aims of philosophy of education argued: more attention to the science of education. Dewey’s rhetoric Greene, “The Sixties.” Phillips, “Interpreting the Seventies.” 4 R.S. Peters, Ethics and Education (London: Allen and Unwin, 1966); Oancea and Bridges, “Philosophy of Education in the UK: The Historical and Contemporary Tradition.” 2 3
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regarding the development of a social-scientific method for education seemed to be taken seriously in the turn to issues of educational research. But seldom were the bigger aims and issues of the earlier philosophers of education invoked. The smaller issues here were epistemological and logical, not normative or ethical. That is to say, while claiming, for example, that a research program was falsely objective or ideologically committed was to make a normative claim about that program, it was not to go further and make an additional claim about the proper end of philosophy of education. Ends and aims of philosophy of education were very often tied to the prevailing aims or goals of the specific practice in question (e.g., assessment, learning, and motivation). While the discipline no longer accords analytic philosophy the same status it once did, a healthy involvement with educational research remains. Attention to issues of assessment, testing and evaluation, specific research concerns (validity, reliability), skills and skill transfer, and motivation remains the norm. Here, the relationship of philosophy of education to educational research is one of means to end; philosophy of education is there to improve educational research. Educational research is not there to improve philosophy of education, and it is not there to learn from philosophy of education. (Although some say a two-way relationship exists, I doubt that many beyond philosophers of education concern themselves about it.)5 Philosophy of education is in the service of educational research and not the converse. The transformation of philosophy of education from pursuing meta-level questions (of metaphysics, ethics, and teleology) to specific questions (of the right or best research approach, method, or instrument) was a slow and almost imperceptible one. A look at the topics of Educational Theory in the 1950s and 1960s suggests the creeping influence of research matters on the field.6 Of course, philosophy of education did not get done in just the four main journals; philosophy of education was represented here and there in other journals, and some of these were educational research journals.7 More recently, journals dedicated to questions of theory, philosophy, and educational research have surfaced. The scholarship of philosophy of education in regard to educational research is much more spread out now than before. There was never a time, to the best of my knowledge, when philosophy of education as a discipline questioned the role that it played in matters of Fenstermacher, “Should Philosophers and Educators Be Speaking to Each Other?” Feinberg and Odeshoo, “Educational Theory in the Fifties”; Greene, “The Sixties.” 7 I am thinking specifically of Educational Researcher, a journal of the American Educational Research Association. 5 6
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educational research. This is borne out by the handbooks and encyclopedia discussing the topic.8 Philosophical questions emerged almost naturally from investigation into specific topics such as assessment, learning, and motivation, intelligence(s), testing and evaluation, and the like. The claim is perhaps that these have epistemic and ethical consequences written into them, or at least these can be teased out of them with a little help. Of course, these topics do have philosophical implications—as do all issues and concerns sufficiently attended to. The question is not whether they have philosophical implications, for they most assuredly do: the question is rather whose business it is to go after these. I submit that it is the business not of philosophers of education, but of educational researchers. Why? Because educational researchers are in the best position to see the progression from their research to the questions and back again. Let me expand on this. Educational researchers are best equipped to ascertain the implications of their research for further research. They are also equipped to make hypothetical inferences regarding the consequences of their research in practical settings. Now, they are not alone in this: philosophers of education are also equipped to ascertain the (philosophical) implications of educational research and practitioners the consequences of educational research as manifest in practice. But unless philosophers of education and practitioners are able to conduct the educational research, they cannot evaluate these consequences in a manner sufficient to satisfy the research. Of course, this is an empirical claim: it remains to be demonstrated experimentally whether or not philosophers and practitioners can indeed do this work (and of course, I do not think they can unless they are practiced in research methods). But to put a philosopher or practitioner ignorant of research in place of a researcher who knows the literature, methods, experimental design, analysis, etc., of the research is folly. Here is an Aristotelian argument for the roles of researchers and philosophers; each knows her craft best, as she has been brought into the culture of that particular practice and understands the rules (including the rules of what counts as best and worst, good and bad). Researchers and philosophers, respectively, are in the best position to make judgments about the rightness and wrongness I am thinking of the currently panoply of handbooks, companions, and encyclopedia dedicated to philosophy of education that have a chapter or chapters on educational research. See, for example, Randall Curren, ed., A Companion to Philosophy of Education (Malden: Blackwell, 2003); Nigel Blake, Paul Smeyers, Richard Smith, and Paul Standish, eds., Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Education (Malden: Blackwell, 2003); Wilfred Carr, ed., RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Philosophy of Education (London: Routledge, 2005); and Richard Bailey, Robin Barrow, David Carr, and Christine McCarthy, eds., The Sage Handbook of Philosophy of Education (London: SAGE, 2010). See also Michael R. Matthews, ed., International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2014).
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of their practices. And while it is of course possible for a nonspecialist to point out errors or flaws in judgment, it is not possible, unless one is a specialist, to fix them in the context of the craft: so for craftspeople, so for researchers and philosophers.
Legitimate and illegitimate uses of philosophy of education I am calling the use of philosophy of education for ends of educational research a false and illegitimate enterprise. I need to defend this claim. I provide three reasons why educational research is illegitimate as an end for philosophy of education: (1) it downplays central issues and concerns of philosophy of education, especially metaphysics; (2) it is not an organic end for philosophy of education; and (3) it ultimately serves as a means rather than as a self-standing account. These reasons are intertwined, but I will separate them for the purposes of this discussion. To begin with, concentrating on issues and concerns of educational research is to draw on only certain accounts of philosophy of education—in particular, logic and theory of knowledge (educational research may also draw on ethics). Questions asked of philosophy of education include the coherence and consistency of claims and/or arguments in research design and conclusions; the history of the field of thought (e.g., positivism vs. interpretivism) to which particular research belongs; issues of scope, reliability, and validity in a research project or program; and the normative or ethical-political consequences of pursuing a particular line of research. None of these invoke or involve a complete account of philosophy of education, rather aspects or components. This results in a secondment of aspects of a philosophy of education that belong organically to a larger program, but are lent out for research purposes. The problem with this is the aspect only makes sense in the context of which it belongs. A philosophy of education is an organic enterprise. It has a metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and a set of normative claims tied to these. Taken out of this organic context, aspects are mere tools; adaptable perhaps to that context, but stripped of their meaningfulness beyond their direct utility to that new context when invoked as such. One philosophical account that is almost never invoked in educational research is metaphysics: yet this account, more than any other, is basic to the enterprise. For all philosophies of education have their metaphysics, naturalistic or otherwise. And to suppose metaphysics can be detached from other aspects of the program is to suppose that philosophy
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of education is composed of a detachable set of claims, premises, conclusions, inferences, etc., that can be fitted with facility into various contexts. Of course, a philosophy of education shorn of its metaphysics makes little sense because it has no recourse to grounds, fundamentals, first things, reals, substance(s), continuities, or wholes by which other accounts are legitimated. Yet this is how philosophers of education often operate in pursing matters of educational research. Educational research does not provide an organic, self-determined end for philosophy of education. Even a research-driven philosophy of education (think of Dewey’s notion of scientific inquiry) presupposes a backdrop in and from which research takes place, together with a set of ends or purposes for research that are not always (or necessarily) built into the research program or project. Often these ends are normative and concern uses to which the research is to be put. In any event, the ends of philosophy of education are philosophical— which is to say, they are generated from the accounts and claims the particular philosophy of education makes and are neither overtly nor surreptitiously placed. Ends to which means apply must be organic, consistent, and coherent with the philosophy. If they are not, they beg the question of their presence. Unfortunately, philosophy of education in the service of educational research is in the position of offering means detached from its natural moorings and placed in the service of a foreign and extrinsic end. Placing philosophy of education in the position of service to educational research has a baleful effect: it reduces philosophy of education to a set of disparate accounts, or worse; claims, arguments, and strategies ready-made for application. Philosophy of education as a discipline is much deeper, broader, and richer; it is far more than the mere sum of its parts. A philosophy of education is composed of accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics and socio-politics, and if it is not composed of these, it at least gestures to other accounts. Philosophies of education should never be treated as an assortment of parts to be pressed into service for research; they should be treated as complete or (at a minimum) provisional accounts dealing with issues involving the branches of philosophy.
Carving a separate path The question of the proper relationship of philosophy of education to educational research remains to be dealt with. Here I will boldly claim that the relationship
Philosophy and Educational Research
should be one in which a philosophy of education as a whole is invoked. In no cases should it be a cutting and pasting of parts or aspects. Beyond this, philosophy of education should put forward its own ends and goals and not those of educational research. One of the problems immediately faced by educational researchers attempting to invoke a philosophy of education is the paucity of choices; there are few if any contemporary philosophies of education that have complimentary accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. This is a huge and embarrassing problem for the field as a whole. Dewey’s is the last philosophy of education to provide complimentary accounts of these. Other philosophies of education lack essential accounts, particularly of metaphysics and logic. Their power to be of benefit to educational researchers is very limited if they cannot provide accounts of these, for it is precisely these that are needed by educational researchers. While researchers, for example, can avail themselves of numerous accounts of philosophy of social science, these beg the question unless metaphysical and logical issues are addressed. Now it may seem that educational researchers do not need to invoke a philosophy of education tout court; they can invoke a philosophy of science or social science (or some element of these) but they don’t need the entire package. This is wrong. Unless a question-begging account of metaphysical and logical issues is what is wanted, to detach one of these aspects from a larger account of philosophy of education is not possible. Let me give two examples. One strategy common in educational research has been to highlight the connection of the research to a particular tradition in philosophy of science. It is not uncommon to find critiques of positivism in the research scholarship.9 The charge of positivism is often put against research programs having a predominantly quantitative focus. The research claims, so the argument goes, are either reductive in that they only
One recent example is the outcry raised at the National Research Council adoption of what seemed to many qualitative researchers as an overestimation and overreliance on positivistic methods in what counts as good research. This occasioned an issue in Teachers College Record in 2005 and subsequent articles over the next three years in Teachers College Record and Educational Researcher. See, for example, R. Shavelson and M. Eisenhart, Scientific Research in Education (Washington: National Academy Press, 2002); J.P. Gee, “It’s Theories all the Way Down a Response to the Report of the National Research Council,” Teachers College Record, 107, 1 (2005): 10–18; V.S. Walker, “After Methods, Then What? A Researcher’s Response to the Report of the National Research Council,” Teachers College Record, 107, 1 (2005): 30–37; J. Willinsky, “Scientific Research in a Democratic Culture, or What’s a Social Science For?” Teachers College Record, 107, 1 (2005): 38–51; See further, M. Eisenhart, “Science Plus: A Response to the Responses to Scientific Research in Education,” Teachers College Record, 107, 1 (2005): 52–58; R. Slavin, “Perspectives on Evidence Based Research in Education: What Works? Issues in Synthesizing Educational Program Evaluations,” Educational Researchers, 37, 1 (2008): 5–14; Kenneth Howe, “Positivist Dogmas, Rhetoric, and the Education Science Question,” Educational Researcher, 38, 6 (2009): 428–440; E. Bredo “Getting Over the Methodology Wars,” Educational Researcher, 38, 6 (2009): 441–448.
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consider a quantifiable instance or causal-relational explanation or they bracket out context (variously thought of as lived experience, as environment, as setting or situation). The invocation of philosophy of education here is historical and critical. It is historical inasmuch as it articulates a particular historical trend in the philosophy of science (positivism); it is critical inasmuch as it brings a set of arguments to bear on (the problem of) positivism. In both cases philosophy is invoked, but in neither case is a complete account of philosophy brought to bear on the research: only specific claims or concerns are. Another common strategy is to work a research problem (say, issues of learning involving children at a particular developmental age and stage in a particular school setting) through a philosophical lens or framework by invoking a famous philosopher of education. Often enough, an account of this philosopher of education is given that is germane to the specific research question (say, Dewey’s account of adjustment or adaptation in regard to a specific learning task).10 The account is invoked, the framework is applied, and the research question asked and answered through a variety of (nonphilosophical) techniques. The invocation of the particular philosophy of education is partial in that it satisfies only a single feature of the overall argument; furthermore, it is an argument to authority, as no attempt is made to test the conditional claims implied (if this research claim were made, then it would align with what Dewey says here, etc.). When a philosopher or philosophy of education is roundly invoked to buttress a specific or set of specific claims in educational research, it is only a valid invocation if the philosophy as a whole is considered. Here is the larger problem: few if any philosophers of education have organic, holistic accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics and sociopolitics. They have claims that may be drawn from the accounts of others; or they may develop a set or sets of specific claims bearing on one account but not others. Seldom do they have claims that connect to more than two accounts and almost never do they develop a system. What are educational researchers to do when philosophers of education have only claims and no system or unified accounting of philosophy? The problem of the use of philosophy of education by educational researchers cannot be laid at the feet of researchers; it is the burden of philosophy of education and only philosophers of education can For example, the work done by the “Michigan school” on Dewey and science education comes to mind. D. Wong and K. Pugh, “Learning Science: A Deweyan Perspective,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38, 3 (2001): 317–336; K. Pugh and M. Girod, “Science, Art, and Experience: Constructing a Science Pedagogy from Dewey’s Aesthetics,” Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18 (2007): 9–27.
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correct this. The correction lies in reconstituting philosophy of education and (once again) asking over our own questions and providing our own answers. The asking of our own questions will lead us to develop metaphysical, logical, epistemic, ethical, and socio-political accounts in the attempt to answer these. Unless and until we are able to develop and answer our questions and generate these accounts, we will be unhelpful to educational research; only with unified accounts of philosophy of education can educational researchers hope to access the whole package, and not just specific claims to buttress specific arguments.
Practice Here I move from the scholarly contexts in which philosophy of education takes place to the contexts of practice. Whereas philosophy of education has scholarly associations with philosophy, theory, and research, it also has associations with aspects of practice. Most of these aspects can be captured under the rubrics of teaching and learning, the curriculum, and school(s). The questions posed to each of these are different than to the scholarship in philosophy of education; here a cogent account of questions is asked over. What questions are best suited for philosophy of education given these practical aspects? It will be my claim that the proper questions are those originally asked by philosophers of education at the beginning of the discipline. Furthermore, these questions are interconnected: they are co-dependent and reinforce one another. Out of these questions, I claim, a new model for philosophy of education can be built. Just what that model looks like will be a central preoccupation of Part Four.
Teaching and Learning Teaching and learning are the leading topics of philosophy of education. Indeed, they are the leading topics of education, generally. From the time of Plato and the question put by Meno to Socrates (can virtue be taught?), questions of teaching and learning have been central to what it is educators ask.1 These questions resurfaced at the beginning of philosophy of education proper. In the German idealist tradition represented by Kant, Hegel, Froebel, and Herbart, teaching and learning were primary. And of course, Dewey dealt heavily with both teaching and learning in his many texts on education. If one were to canvass the range of books and articles in philosophy of education, one would likely find the topics of teaching and learning to be representative. None of this is controversial. What is controversial is what I am about to suggest: that philosophy of education disabuse itself of questions concerning teaching and learning; or (more specifically) that philosophy of education cease asking and answering the existing questions concerning teaching and learning and instead develop new ones to ask and answer. I realize this is a shocking request and I need to justify this as best as possible. This I will attempt to do. But first, it is important to investigate just what about teaching and learning philosophy of education has asked over and why. This will require a short history of the questions posed. Following this, an argument for why these questions are illegitimate will be given. Finally, an attempt at a new set of questions rooted historically in the original questions of the discipline, yet beholden neither to philosophy nor to education, will be set forth.
Plato, “Meno,” in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed., John Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), 70a, 871.
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The questions of teaching and learning Here, I will broach the question of questions historically, through an (brief) examination of the leading questions and concerns of philosophers and philosophers of education through three rough but distinct periods and places: Ancient Greece to eighteenth-century Europe; Modern (late eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries) Europe and Anglo-America; and Contemporary Anglo-America. My purpose will be to show that the nature of the questions as well as the questions themselves have changed, which should be of no surprise. This will put me in a position to lay claim to a new set of questions in the final part of this section.
Historical questions from Plato to Rousseau As is well known, Ancient Greek conceptions of education dealt with Paideia—a national-cultural education involving training, socialization, and the cultivation of a distinct character—a character of arête or virtue.2 Education was not considered distinct from socialization in the sense in which we now distinguish formal education or schooling from socialization. When Meno put the question, can virtue be taught, to Socrates, the context was not formal instruction or schooling.3 What constituted teaching was much broader than the frequently held-up example of contemporary educators: an instructor in a classroom. Teaching was the means of imparting reason through the senses—a reasoning to be understood. From this reasoning, a true conclusion was reached. To say virtue could not be taught, then, was to say that the imparting of reason in respect of virtue was not possible: reasoning could lead to the conclusion of the recollection of virtue, but could not construct virtue through intersubjective means of expression ex nihilo. Regardless of the power attributed to the elenchus, Socrates is unable to come up with a cogent account of teaching (and learning).4 Augustine comes to a similar conclusion: reason can only be led to conclusions not of its own making.5 The answer to the question of teaching and learning was to be found outside of one’s powers of reason. The search for principles that
Werner Jaeger, Paideia: Archaic Greece. The Mind of Athens (New York: Oxford University Press, 1939), 3–14; H.M. Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1956), 176–182. 3 Plato, “Meno,” 70a. 4 Plato, “Meno,” 70b–d. 5 Augustine, Concerning the Teacher (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1938), 391. 2
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would afford us perfect knowledge of the psychology of the soul or psyche was bound up with the question of teaching and learning, and these two very often ran together in later, Platonic-inspired accounts. Although Aristotle denied the theory of recollection, he did not abandon the quest for imparting reason. This is most evident in the Nichomachean Ethics, wherein virtue is not only contemplated, but taught, practiced, and habituated.6 Teaching is formal in the sense of explicit instruction in modes of conduct. It is also informal in the senses of imitation, socialization, and practice. Reason can construct virtue—or at least, the rational aspect of virtue can be grasped by the soul, and this grasping can be both articulated and practiced. It is with Aristotle that the essential connection between teaching as imparting virtue and learning as grasping virtue begins. If one is to gain virtue, one must seek from the other and the other must supply what one seeks (or what one needs to seek, as is the case here). Thus, the essential connection between teaching and learning: to successfully teach is to entail learning.7 The Fathers of the Church and medieval scholars and theologians did not depart from the PlatonicAristotelian understanding of teaching (and learning). To teach was either to free the soul’s knowledge or to impart; to learn was to imitate, assimilate, and ultimately habituate using one’s powers of reason or the active intellect. Borrowing from Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas made the distinction between education and discipline: to educate was to help bring a child to virtue; to discipline was to gain from purposeful instruction.8 This distinction would later be cast in terms of Erziehung and Bildung; enseignement and éducation; training and upbringing versus schooling and education. The distinction between a training for crafts, skills, or vocation—what we would call instrumental—and a thorough cultivation in the ways of the wise, the learned, and the contemplative, is the question of teaching and learning in the Aristotelian worldview. During the fourteenth century, the nominalist versus realist controversy ran rampant through the Church. Nominalists—those that believed there were no general principles (universals) outside of naming the thing (generally, Franciscans)—clashed with those that did believe in general principles (generally, Dominicans).9 The nominalists won the war in Britain; the realists
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, translated by R. Crisp (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), Book I. 7 Carol Wren and Thomas Wren, “The Capacity to Learn,” in A Companion to the Philosophy of Education, ed., Randall Curren (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 258. 8 John W. Donohue, St. Thomas Aquinas and Education (New York: Random House, 1968), 59–60. 9 R. Freeman Butts, History of Education in the West (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973), 179. 6
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in Continental Europe (and particularly, Italy). By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the nominalism of the earlier Church theologians had given way to broadly empiricist accounts of knowledge. In terms of education, John Locke was particularly significant in this regard. Aside from Locke’s associationist accounting of the acquisition of knowledge, Locke held the importance of training for virtue: this was no recollective theory of virtue; rather it was Aristotelian in that specific habits had to be developed through practice.10 The distinction between training and instrumental gains in knowledge and education and the cultivation of character (Locke called this the vocation of the gentleman) was maintained. While schools and specific pedagogy could net the former, only a thorough immersion in customs and manners, undertaken preferably by a tutor, could net the latter.11 It is important to note, however, that a new question was on the horizon: the question of methods or pedagogy. For Locke’s associationism led him to theorize the implications of literally placing impressions upon a child. This seems a passive view of learning with a corresponding set of implications for teaching: the role of the teacher (aside from the cultivation of virtue) was to help the child assemble impressions into ideas and work these ideas into proper judgments about the nature of the world, and this for the task of creating a virtuous character—a gentleman. A sort of behaviorist program was in its nascent stages of development, here. Of course, this counted as training for Locke: but as all children required training, particularly in certain skills of daily living and even in more formal aspects (book-reading, mathematics, and calculations), training was a necessary, though not sufficient, facet of education. This training would congeal to become a science of education, or pedagogy. We begin to see guides in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries appear: guides that detail proper pedagogical techniques. This was also the beginning of the primer, or textbook. Jan Comenius’s textbooks, particularly de Orbis Sensualium Pictus, discussed the importance of training children in the vernacular and of guiding childhood education from pictorial representations of objects to more abstract concepts and ideas.12 The birth of childhood as a self-contained phase or stage of human development began at this time. The science of education, one in which universal traits and characteristics of learning could be discovered
John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, eds., J.W. Yolton and J.S. Yolton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 127–132. 11 Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 127–132. 12 For example, Johann Amos Comenius, De Orbis Sensualium Pictus (London: Scholar Press, 1970). 10
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and disseminated, rose at this time. Whereas education had been seen largely as an art, and particularly as a matter of charisma, education would now be seen as a set of learned techniques and aptitudes. The way was clear for those great educational innovators of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries— Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel, and Herbart. And all that followed Locke in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries would avail themselves of this science. The question they put to the newfound science of pedagogy was, how do we develop the proper methods to ensure correct teaching (and learning)?
Modern questions from Rousseau to Dewey The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’ preoccupation with method had a lasting effect on the nature of education. For it was the quest for right methods that drove the development of pedagogy from that time forward. Of course, pedagogy was not the only concern: the proper understanding of education in regard to human nature and vocation was an equally important topic of consideration. We see this with Rousseau, and particularly the German idealists (Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, as well as the expressivist poets and novelists such as Goethe and Jacobi). These questions often ran alongside the question of pedagogy, and pedagogy imperceptibly found itself pressed into service to these ends. The monumental volume in this regard is, of course, Rousseau’s Émile. The education of Émile was to be thought of as not only a set of pedagogical techniques (which it was, particularly in the first two books), but as a Bildungsroman—a cultural treatise on the proper education of the (admittedly, European) human male. Here, the focus was pedagogical techniques in the service of cultural and ethical ends.13 The question that arose was, how to select among the various techniques to ensure the proper (cultural) end? The distinctly moral-ethical telos of pedagogy came to its fruition in Rousseau. For whereas the moral-ethical telos in early eras (particularly the Middle Ages) was a divine end and the question of pedagogy in the service to this end was rarely broached and certainly not extensively investigated, in Rousseau the extent of the investigation reaches its naturalistic apogee. The various Rousseau-inspired treatises on education followed on the heels of Émile. Pestalozzi in Switzerland developed schools; Johann Basedow in Prussia
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile, or On Education, translated by A. Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 338–341.
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followed suit. Both developed textbooks that stressed the growth and maturation of the child. The progressive educational movement was born. The development of child-centered curricula and pedagogical techniques for use in formal institutions (schools) that would be run either privately or (increasingly) under the auspices of provincial, state, or national governments was heralded. And all of this was in service of an avowedly moral-ethical end; the cultivation of a certain sort of human being, moral in will and action and (increasingly) nationalist or cosmopolitan in outlook. We see the moral-ethical end most explicitly in Fichte’s pronouncement in the Address to the German Nation (1808).14 Here, the moralethical human being is steadfastly German. In contrast to this, the cosmopolitan human being of Christoph Martin Wieland or Kant—the human being that is to create a “kingdom of ends” upon the Earth—is promulgated.15 In Wilhelm von Humboldt, civilization as a moral-political-cosmopolitan end duly made into a moral principle reaches its apex.16 Various understandings of the role pedagogy and training played in this quest for the ethical-political human being manifested themselves in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Perhaps Johann Herbart’s was the most celebrated: the cultural-epoch theory.17 Here, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny; the child takes on the growth and development of the species as a whole. Curricular materials and pedagogical techniques were to be in place to support this natural development. This dovetailed nicely with another fashionable educational end in the early nineteenth century—the lifelong learning movement fostered (especially) by Thomas Jefferson.18 The tasks of education no longer ended with the termination of formal schooling; the individual, as with the species, continued its development past adolescence. Both of these movements would have an incalculable effect on schooling in the United States: with the discovery of Herbart by Horace Mann and the formation of the Herbart society, an entire generation of progressive pedagogues would take up the cultural epoch
G. Fichte, Addresses to the German Nation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 36. Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); on Wieland, see Charlton Payne, The Epic Imaginary: Political Power and Its Legitimations in 18th Century Germany (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 2012), 139. 16 Wilhelm von Humboldt, On Language: On the Diversity of Human Language Construction and Its Influence on the Mental Development of the Human Species (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 17 J.F. Herbart, Science of Education: Its General Principles Deduced from Its Aim and the Aesthetic Revelation of the World (Boston: Heath & Co., 1893), 296; see also English, Discontinuity in Learning: Dewey, Herbart, and Education as Transformation. 18 See Thomas Jefferson, Crusade Against Ignorance: Thomas Jefferson on Education (New York: Teachers College Press, 1961). 14 15
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theory with gusto and apply it to the development of pedagogical techniques and curriculum design in the latter half of the nineteenth century.19 John Dewey was an ardent supporter of the Herbart Society and an aficionado of the cultural epoch theory—at least in his earliest forays into education. Beginning in 1895, a series of articles critical of the Herbartian-inspired theory emerged, simultaneous with his pulling away from neo-Hegelianism.20 Dewey famously became more and more convinced of the essential correctness of the functionalism of William James and attempted to construe his philosophy of education in naturalist and evolutionary terms. Of course, Dewey never abandoned his Hegelian roots: the “permanent deposit” of Hegel remained as a source for his later pedagogical works. As such, the social question—the question of the proper role of the individual in community and society (and increasingly, in democracy), and the role education is to play in that regard—was from the beginning central. Much of The School and Society and later Democracy and Education are given over to the social question.21 The question of the proper relation—even balance—of the individual to community and society remains today as a leading question of philosophers of education, as I shall soon discuss. Of course, other questions emerged. Two of these deserve special attention. The first is the proper relationship of pedagogy to ends. As the progressive movement generally placed pedagogical techniques in the service of moralethical ends (and Dewey is no exception in this regard), what does that relationship look like? Which techniques served best? And how do we generalize these? The second is the particular nature of these moral-ethical ends. For some progressives (such as Kant), these ends were individual and transcendental. For others, such as Hegel (and later Dewey), these were social and immanent. It was
Herbart’s ideas played a large role in fin de siècle American educational thought. William Torrey Harris was a leading proponent of Herbart’s (and Hegel’s) ideas; as was John Dewey until approximately 1895. Herbert Kliebard details the interrelationships amongst these Herbartians and the fateful split of Dewey from the conceptual underpinnings of the organization in Herbert Kliebard, The Struggle for the American Curriculum. See also James Scott Johnston, “Rival Hegelianisms at the Fin de Siècle: The Case of John Dewey and William Torrey Harris,” History of Education, 42, 4 (2013): 423–443. 20 Dewey’s Interest and Effort in Education (EW 5) seems to represent a good example of this pulling away. Many books and articles detail Dewey’s gradual emergence from neo-Hegelianism. Chief among these are George Dykhuizen, The Life and Mind of John Dewey (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973); Neil Coughlan, Young John Dewey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975); Robert Westbrook, John Dewey and American Democracy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991); Alan Ryan, John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism (New York: W.W. Norton, 1995); Thomas Dalton, Becoming John Dewey (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002); Jim Good, A Search for Unity in Diversity (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2006); James Scott Johnston, John Dewey’s Earlier Logical Theory (Albany: State University of New York, 2014). 21 John Dewey, School and Society (MW 1); Dewey, Democracy and Education. 19
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not enough to relegate education to supplying means for a preestablished end; it was rather to align means and ends together and in this, education participated not only in the construction of means but the determination of ends. For Hegel, these ends were immanent to the means in the sense that they were together bound up in (a) whole. For Dewey, means and ends formed a continuum in which ends served as means to (novel) ends, or (as Dewey preferred to call them) ends in view. The second question is therefore the proper relation of means to ends when certain greater ends (Objective Spirit in Hegel’s case; democracy in Dewey’s) are anticipated. These, I will argue, are the overarching questions left by Dewey to philosophy of education, and these, I will claim, are the questions with which philosophers of education should recommence. But more on this after an examination of contemporary questions.
Contemporary questions The series of essays published by Educational Theory in 2000 that detail the history of the questions of the discipline from the 1950s onward serve as an appropriate set of markers for questions post Dewey.22 In the beginning, Educational Theory concerned itself with questions popular with the progressive educational movement in the United States. These early articles are also noteworthy for their attempts to distinguish philosophy of education from philosophy and education: attempts that evidently fail. Gradually, though, issues of educational practice begin to crowd out issues of demarcation, particularly in the context of the civil unrest of the 1960s. By the early 1970s, conceptual analysis of educational definitions and terms begins its ascent, and does not diminish until the late 1980s. By the late 1980s the rise of questions concerning the disenfranchised, the marginalized and oppressed, together with novel theorizations (critical theory; feminist theory) occurs. The 1990s are considered a period of “pastiche,” with a variety of theories competing for journal space. The rise of poststructuralism and (increasingly) postcolonialism can be found, here. Certain questions remain throughout these changes in theorization. One is the relationship of individual (person) to community and society. This takes on various manifestations: the relationship of the marginalized to center (represented by dominant social institutions such as schools); the relationship of minority groups to nonminority groups; the relationship of the public to
I am referring to the summer issue of Educational Theory, 2000 as discussed in Part One.
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institutions (schools); particular practices in schools (testing, tracking, sorting, streaming). The questions are given rather more contingent than universal answers: the answers remain at the level of satisfying or troubling the particular relationship in question, without making general conclusions or prescriptions. Seldom is a philosophy of education built up out of the questions, as it is with Dewey. This is particularly the case with the philosophies of dispersion in use beginning in the late 1960s:23 those buttressed by the thinking of Derrida and Foucault. For the breaking up of essentialist unities into endlessly dispersed differences or shifting discursive formations inhibits the tendency of crafting a coherent, cohesive set of claims with an internal logic susceptible of immanent critique. Post 2000, philosophy of education has involved the relationship of the state to marginalized actors, and particularly economic, governmental, and international systems complicit in their marginalization. The relationship still bears the marks of being one of person, individual, or group to society; but society is no longer understood as bounded by something larger called the state (to say nothing of democracy). Society extends beyond its earlier understood borders and includes international or multinational as well as cosmopolitan dimensions. A sort of global or even globalized and transnational philosophy of education is rising in the wake of the older state and national ones.24 But this globalized or transnational philosophy of education bears little resemblance to, say, Kant’s notion of cosmopolitanism as outlined in Towards Perpetual Peace: for this newer understanding is anti-systematic in that it relies on no prearticulated moral theory (though in many cases, it does seem to rely on a certain critique of moral theory). Indeed, it sees systematicity in the economic systems it very often attempts to critique or even thwart. It is in the main a philosophy of education set against itself for it eschews an internal logic (other than to point out, in Foucauldian style, its critique). And it eschews accounts of metaphysics.25 It resembles less a philosophy and more a congeries of claims about the nature of certain political-economic systems together with a rhetorical strategy to advocate for the needs and wants of the disenfranchised.
Bill Schroeder, Continental Philosophy: A Critical Approach (Malden: Blackwell Pub., 2005), Chapter 9.
See, for example, Todd, “Ambiguities of Cosmopolitanism: Difference, Gender, and the Right to Education”; Nicholas Burbules, “Ubiquitous Learning and the Future of Teaching,” Encounters on Education, 13 (2012): 3–14. 25 I say this because it eschews accounts of certainty/ies. See Mayo, “Philosophy of Education Is Bent,” 3. 24
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It will do to make a more formal claim about the questions philosophy of education contemporaneously asks and answers before proceeding to the next section. (I am saying that philosophy of education is asking the following contemporary questions. I am not claiming these are the only questions or even that earlier questions are no longer being asked and answered; I merely claim these are new manifestations of older questions.) 1. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons (and very often, groups) and society 2. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons, groups, and increasingly, cultures, populations, and even nations and international and multinational systems 3. Questions involving demonstrably political, as opposed to metaphysical or even ethical analysis and accounting of the relationship of persons and groups to dominant institutions and their practices (testing, accountability, pedagogical techniques, and the like)
Why are the existing questions of teaching and learning illegitimate? As I have maintained throughout, the questions philosophers of education are now asking are largely illegitimate. This includes the questions above. Why are these questions illegitimate? I have a three-pronged response: the first concerns the questions being asked. These questions come not from philosophers of education but (largely) from education and, in particular, educational theory. The second concerns the ends to which the questions are directed. These, I argue, are not directed to aims or ends of philosophy and philosophers of education, rather to educational theory and practice. Not only this, but the ends are inimical to those that philosophy of education would develop. The third concerns the relationship of these questions and their answers to philosophy of education. I maintain that philosophy of education cannot make a go of it unless it pulls itself apart from these questions and this because the questions leave little room for philosophy of education to develop unique and interesting questions and answers to legitimate problems and concerns. Of course, the question of the proper questions and answers for philosophy of education remains begged and will require more argument than I provide here. This will be the concern of the final section.
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Whose questions are being asked? The questions being asked (and answered) belong not to philosophy of education, but education. By education I mean educational theory and its attendant concerns, other disciplines within education (sociology, anthropology, economics, politics, curriculum, psychology) and educational practice. Here, I am considering teaching and learning and I am saying the existing questions of teaching and learning are illegitimate ones for philosophy of education to ask. The questions that these disciplines within education ask (and answer) are thus the questions illegitimate to philosophy of education. Let us consider a variety of questions currently asked in philosophy of education; a variety beholden to these other disciplines in education. Here I will examine three. The first question concerns the proper definitions and usage of the terms teaching and learning. Now this has been a question of long-standing interest. We might even say it is a question of Socrates, inasmuch as he broached the possibility of teaching the virtues (though, of course, he demurred). However, the question as I am considering it has its pedigree not in Socrates but in the 1960s and the rise of conceptual analysis. This question has to do with the concepts of teaching and learning; their extension and intension; their consistency and coherency; their counterfactual and conditional instances. This question is taken up and addressed by thinkers such as R.S. Peters, Paul Hirst, Thomas Green, John Passmore, and others operating in the analytic vein of philosophy of education. And as this question developed out of the analytic context, it seems tailor-made for philosophy of education. But it is not. In fact, the question does not belong to philosophy of education, even though it is asked and answered by analytically trained philosophers of education. It belongs to education. This is so for historical and philosophical reasons. Historically, the question has its genesis not in analytic philosophy of education but pedagogy on the one hand and (behaviorist) psychology on the other. Pedagogy, first articulated in scholastic debates, came to its fruition and emerged as a full-fledged product of the eighteenth century. It arose chiefly in Northern Europe in response to changes in the moral and political climate of certain nation-states. It concerned first and foremost moral character and the importance of instilling and developing moral character (virtue(s)) in the child. A science of pedagogy was needed in order to meet the technical needs of this development. We see this in Rousseau, in Kant, in Hegel, and in Herbart. But we see it most fully in Pestalozzi, whose mechanical method of instruction remains the locus classicus of technique-driven
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pedagogy.26 And of course we see it reinstantiated in late nineteenth-century United Kingdom and United States. John Watson and Edward Thorndike are the two great progenitors in this regard. Thorndike’s Educational Psychology devoted over half of its contents to the issue of learning; the role of teaching in learning was more assumed than articulated.27 Yet the prevailing belief that teaching and learning cannot be so easily disentangled (a belief that Dewey himself held and many still hold) was evident here as well as later.28 This was a distinction only partly articulated in Rousseau and Kant: Kant claimed a moral pedagogy that certainly implied features about learning but the pedagogy did not have a child’s learning as its end, rather the inculcation of the moral law.29 This was manifestly not the case with Thorndike; and it is only peripherally the case with analytic philosophers of education. While certain analytic philosophers tied teaching (and learning) to moral development (e.g., R.S. Peters) and this continues today, proper epistemic understanding and justification of concepts are the central pursuit. The normative was very often disconnected from the epistemic, with the result that justification and not moral progress became the end. The second question concerns the proper way to teach if learning is what is wanted. Of course, this question has and continues to require a combined account of teaching/learning. Already the question is avowedly instrumental for it makes one half of the equation (the best way to teach) dependent on the other (the best way to learn). The end of one is the end of the other. Of course, philosophers of education who ask this question do not (or do not often) have the instrumental understanding of ends in mind; they very often have a greater normative concern. This might be minority political enfranchisement, social justice, care/caring, equity, or one or another of the aims and ends common to educational theory. Very often, philosophical accounts of teaching (and learning) have an indirect goal as their end. This might be the bio-psycho-social growth of the child (a Deweyan concern), or a democratic citizen (Kenneth Strike, Meira Levinson, Eamon Callan), or a child without the baggage of privilege (Barbara Applebaum, Kathy Hytten).30 But these ends are not the ends of philosophy of
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and Daniel N. Robinson, How Gertrude Teaches Her Children (Washington: University of America, 1997). 27 Edward Thorndike, Educational Psychology (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1970), vol. 1. 28 Wren and Wren, “The Capacity to Learn,” 258. 29 Rousseau, Émile, 339; Kant, Lectures on Pedagogy, The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, edited and translated by R. Louden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), vol. 9: 492–493. 30 See, for example, James Garrison, Dewey and Eros (New York: Teachers College Press, 1997); Kenneth Strike, Liberty and Learning (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982); Meira Levinson, The 26
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education; they are the ends of educational theory in one or another of its guises (psychology, sociology, politics, anthropology, economics). The third question concerns the role of critique and/or critical thinking in matters of education. Here, the emphasis is not on inheriting a body of knowledge or a canon of philosophers of education, rather the specific methods by which philosophers of education describe, analyze, and critique existing research, policy, programs, and practices. Philosophy of education is somehow seen to provide a body of methods or techniques that will provide the attentive student the wherewithal to criticize these. Of course, this is not a criticism lacking a point of view or interpretive lens: the methods and techniques of the criticism develop out of and are imparted to the student immersed in the study of one or another schools of thought. Very often these schools of thought include critical theory, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, and cultural studies—schools of thought that are controversially included in the departments of philosophy (especially in North America) but have a strong presence in remaining departments of philosophy of education. In one regard, this approach is absolutely correct: there can be no separation in kind of the methods and techniques used in criticism from the schools of thought out of which these criticisms develop. Any purported set of methods or techniques divorced from the context from which they develop is one-sided, inert. It must be put back into the context in order to function. However, this implies that the ends (which will be discussed in detail in the next section) accompany the methods or techniques when an educational policy, program, or practice is critiqued. When philosophers of education apply their methods and techniques, they also apply the ends to which these methods and techniques are beholden. We get not a generic critique, but a critique in the context of a particular school of thought. Now this is not problematic if the school of thought is a legitimate one: a school of thought that is preeminently philosophical. But of course, most of the schools of thought extant are not philosophical; they are theoretical. And thus the specter of an end outside of a genuine philosophy of education driving the criticism of a policy, program, or practice is upon us.
Demands of Liberal Education (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), Eamon Callan, Creating Citizens (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997); Barbara Applebaum, Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2010).
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To what end are the questions asked? In the above examples of questions asked, normative concerns were either directly or indirectly implicated. In the case of the first question, the ends of the conceptual analysis of teaching and learning are epistemic rather than (strictly) moral. In the case of the second question, the ends of the proper way to teach are political and economic, rather than (straightforwardly) philosophical. In the case of the third question, the ends of critical thinking are theoretical in that they involve and invoke politics, economics, and other accounts of education that do not represent questions of philosophy of education. Here I wish to examine the particular ends invoked. At the end of the last section, I noted the general tenor of questions in the contemporary era of philosophy of education: 1. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons (and very often, groups) and society 2. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons, groups, and increasingly, cultures, populations, and even nations and international and multinational systems 3. Questions involving demonstrably political, as opposed to metaphysical or even ethical analysis and accounting of the relationship of persons and groups to dominant institutions and their practices (testing, accountability, pedagogical techniques, and the like) Here I will argue that all of these (as well as the questions we have just examined) have their end not in philosophy of education, but education. The first set of questions—those that involve the relationship between persons and society—are questions of sociology and politics. Of course, they have not historically been questions of sociology and politics; they were once questions of philosophy. The social dimension of philosophy brought into the daylight by Hegel and Marx (and later, Dilthey) was organically connected to accounts and claims of origins, justification, internal logic—in short, a backdrop consisting in the other branches of philosophy. Philosophy of social science and politics (as these would later become) were thus legitimate enterprises, as they were either tied to or nested in a complete account of philosophy—complete because they included a metaphysics, theory of knowledge, logic, and ethics. There is no a priori reason why the first question and the second and third questions (matters of societies, international and multinational systems) cannot also be nested in a complete account of philosophy. However, they seldom are. Instead of ends that would be partly intrinsic to (or at least a natural progression of) a philosophy of
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education, these ends are elsewhere. These ends may be found in ends proper to a social or political theory of educational institutions; or they may be more local, consisting in the amelioration or termination of a particular institution or practice. However, they are only properly philosophy of education’s ends if they emanate from a philosophy of education. I am saying that ends other than the ends of a philosophy of education are ends asked of other disciplines in regard to different questions. These are very often questions of a more practical nature (as is the case with the third set of questions, above). And when they take on a more theoretical patina, as they do in questions 1 and 2 above, they are questions of a social or political nature. They very often arise out of the questions those disciplines are asking (and answering). Social justice, democracy, equity, enfranchisement—all of these are common ends for social and political theory. And while they can also be ends for a philosophy of education, they can only be so if that philosophy of education has a tight, coherent, and consistent set of metaphysical, logical, epistemic, and ethical claims from which further claims regarding social justice, democracy, equity, and the like arise. But in no case does a philosophy of education begin with the ends of social and political theory to which questions are then put. If the questions do not arise organically and naturally from the accounts of philosophy of education, they are illegitimate.
How do these questions concern philosophy of education? Of course, this raises the question of the proper ends for philosophy of education in regard to teaching and learning. And this is certainly needed for the completion of the argument. Here I will discuss how the (illegitimate) ends of education and its other subdisciplines harm philosophy of education. The harm occurs along three lines: first, the questions that other disciplines in education put forth are foreign to philosophy of education; second, the questions put to philosophy of education by these other subdisciplines subvert philosophy of education as they strongly suggest philosophy of education is an enterprise involving only the structural features of schooling and the relations of persons and groups to dominant (social) institutions; third, the questions have a baleful effect on the legitimate enterprises of philosophy of education—the quest for origins, together with an account of metaphysics, logic, ethics, and socio-political philosophy that is self-consistent and coherent. To begin with, the questions of other disciplines in education have been taken up by philosophers of education. These questions are very often of the nature
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of the relationship between personal actors and/or agents (children; students) and dominant social institutions (school systems; curriculum; legislation; certain educational practices such as testing, tracking, and sorting). These are extremely valuable questions to ask: this I do not deny. But they emanate from education and the other disciplines in education, not philosophy of education. Questions of the proper relationship of persons and agents or actors to dominant social institutions are sociological and political questions at base. Yet, even a cursory scan of the philosophy of education literature of the past 40 or so years suggests these topics have taken on great currency.31 And while it is certainly the case that philosophical claims and arguments on behalf of a position on these issues can and are being made, the claims and arguments are in the service not of philosophy of education, but sociology and politics. The turn to these questions makes it seem as if philosophy of education is an affair of sociology and politics. Certainly it seems as if philosophy of education is an enterprise best done in service to these questions. This leaves little room for the development of alternative accounts. Little attention is paid to questions that don’t seem to have a practical consequence for educational theory and practice, which are very often tied to social and political theory as these are the dominant concerns in education. The yoking of philosophy of education to the questions (and answers) of the relationship of actors/agents to social institutions keeps philosophy of education from asking and answering its own questions. As I have maintained throughout, a philosophy of education is composed at a minimum of accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, social, and political philosophy. It is a robust affair, with interconnecting/ed claims; claims that support one another. It is a cohesive, coherent enterprise, asking and answering questions with no predetermined end; indeed, its end(s) is articulated only in terms of its means; and its means only take on full meaning in relation to its end(s). It has a theory of origins or foundations; it has an internal logic by which it puts forth and maintains its claims; it has an apparatus of justification; it is normative in its outlook; and it has consequences for society and politics that are (or can be) well articulated and in keeping with the metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethical, and socio-political accounts of the enterprise. A philosophy of education beholden to the questions of education has none of these. Only if a philosophy of education that contains within itself robust accounts of metaphysics, logic, ethics, theory of knowledge, and society and Oancea and Bridges, “Philosophy of Education in the UK: The Historical and Contemporary Tradition,” 554.
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politics is brought to bear in toto on educational questions and concerns will it survive the tendency to fragmentation and enfeeblement. Unfortunately, the tendency in philosophy of education is not to bring robust accounts to bear on educational questions; it is to pick and choose aspects of an already robust philosophy or (most likely) educational theory and bring these to bear on concerns in educational theory and/or practice. In so doing, it wrenches these aspects from the robust account. These aspects are no longer organic as they belong to no larger account. Shorn of the account, the aspects become mere tools in an end extrinsic to their original ones. Philosophy of education is reduced to a set of tools or techniques to serve educational questions and concerns. William James and John Dewey once claimed that isolating (abstract) features from the experience of which they came and to which they belong, and declaring these essences, was to commit a fallacy.32 I submit that to take aspects of a philosophy or educational theory and bring these to bear on (extrinsic) questions and concerns is to commit a similar fallacy: a sort of fallacy of misplaced concreteness, if we like.33 The continued splitting of tools and techniques proper to a philosophy of education results in an impoverished field in which no accounts of philosophy of education are developed. Certainly tools and techniques, as well as insights from leading philosophers and schools of thought, are furnished for educational questions and concerns. But there are no developed philosophies of education brought to bear on these questions. As I said at the beginning, the last full accounting of philosophy of education was Dewey’s, and Dewey’s is the account many philosophers of education turn to in justifying their use of the tools and techniques in respect of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and the like.34 Quite frankly, there are no current philosophies of education excepting historical accounts repeatedly invoked: there are only insights, claims, features, and characteristics of philosophy or educational theory. Occasionally, an earlier I am thinking of James’ “psychologistic fallacy” and Dewey’s “philosophic fallacy,” respectively. The former concerns the abstraction of a part from the whole and the further hypostatization of the part. The latter concerns the taking of logical products (ideas) worked out in inquiry as essential features of the mind or universe. See William James, Principles of Psychology (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1913), vol. 1, 196; John Dewey, Experience and Nature, LW 1, 51. 33 Alfred North Whitehead’s characterization of the fallacy of mistaking concrete events for abstract ones comes to mind, here. See Alfred North Whitehead, Science in the Modern World (New York: Fee Press, 1967), 72. 34 As I discussed earlier, philosophers of education do not necessarily need to toe the line of Dewey’s metaphysics and theory of knowledge to be Deweyan. They merely have to have a broadly nonmetaphysical outlook, combined with a constructivist epistemology and a social-democratic ethos. This covers a lot of territory, including much neo-Marxist and Critical-theoretic thinking, as Brosio intimates. See Brosio, A Radical-Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education. 32
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thinker is brought to bear on an issue tout court. But in no case is there a robust account of philosophy of education, itself composed of accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, society, and politics. Educators are in the unhappy position of invoking a historical account wholesale (such as Dewey’s) or picking and choosing from a smorgasbord of claims made by other philosophers or educational theorists for their particular concerns.
Toward a new question I have maintained throughout the need for philosophy of education to begin asking and answering its own questions. In terms of teaching and learning, these questions, while dealing generally with the topic, cannot simply repeat older questions, particularly if they have no legitimacy. Thus, the question of questions arises: which questions shall philosophy of education choose, and how will this choice be made? Here, I will discuss this. I will begin by discussing the question of questions in teaching and learning: how do we choose the question we wish to discuss. I then discuss the nature of the questions and why this is an important consideration. I finish with a speculative discussion of how education might better benefit from philosophy of education asking and answering these questions, as opposed to the questions it now asks and answers.
The question of questions in teaching and learning The question of questions as I construe it here is the question of how to choose among possible questions. In other words, it concerns a method, together with a loosely conceived end to which that method applies and from which a range of questions is drawn. I will discuss the end first, and follow with the method. As I have said, philosophy of education needs to generate its own questions. But these questions do not arise ex nihilo: they presuppose both a context and an end. The context is teaching and learning. The end, however, is not the end that education writ large or its other subdisciplines (including the ends of contemporary philosophy of education) gesture toward. It is to be a new end.
The dynamics of the concept I believe means and ends drive one another: in this, I am aligning myself with a host of thinkers beginning with the German idealists and continuing through
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to Peirce, James, Dewey, and a good number of philosophers of education. Indeed, it is difficult to find a philosopher of education nowadays who doesn’t think ends and means drive one another, or at the very least, connect to one another in a thoroughgoing and consistent manner. But means do not dictate ends: that is to say, ends are not instrumental to the means if by instrumental we mean in thrall. Rather, means lead quite naturally to ends in that they are logically, metaphysically, epistemically, and normatively consistent with the ends proposed and/or invoked. They operate together as a unit, though they can be decoupled for functional purposes. In a like manner, ends do not merely pull the means along. The ends must be in accord with the means in the way I discussed, above. Ends and means must be consistent and coherent: again, the best metaphor to describe this is as a unit. We cannot start with a pre-given end. Whether a social end such as harmony, fellow-feeling, empathy, social recognition, or a political end such as democracy, social justice, equality, or equity, these are ends that cannot be put in place and made to pull means along without circularity to the program of philosophy of education. Ends must develop out of means and means must lead naturally to ends in the manner discussed above. The ends that we choose will have to have a strong connection to the means we choose. And this will in part depend upon the sorts of questions we ask. Let us spend a bit of time looking at the relationship between means, ends, and questions. We shall see the questions as the first order of business. These will arise from the context of teaching and learning. (What these questions are is the focus of the next section.) From the questions, means will be decided upon. The means I have in mind are not operational in the sense of the social or physical sciences; that is, they do not include generic propositions about specific practices. They rather consist in what Hegel calls thinking or thought, and Dewey, conceptions.35 Now, these may lead to generic propositions about specific practices, but this is not the purview of philosophers of education; rather educators within the various disciplines. Of course, these means must lead to an end; and this end must follow from the means. It must, in other words, be an end not removed from the means but one that naturally emerges from the means.
G.W.F. Hegel, Science of Logic, translated by A.V. Miller (New York: Humanities Press, 1967), especially the preface. Thinking for Hegel is an act that encapsulates a movement that begins in an event and culminates in a determination. Dewey, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry; thinking for Dewey is an act beginning in an indeterminate situation and progressing to completion only in the determination of said situation.
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Means that fail to provide for their (immediate) end or means that fail to apply to concrete instances are means to be jettisoned or reconstructed. Concrete instances here are anticipated instances, rather than empirical or experimental ones. (We are, of course, dealing with thought.) Concrete instances are the fulfilled expectations of thought in thought. They are an attempt at imagining a world in which a thought could not only exist, but actualize itself. As actualization of instances takes place in thought, the thought receives support: a chain of means is built up as thought attempts to better and better approximate its concrete instances. The end is thought exhausting itself in concrete instances and doing so successfully. A thought that has reached its end is a thought in which all concrete instances of its thinking are consistent with itself. Thoughts that have reached this end are then brought into relation with other thoughts that have also reached their end in regard to their concrete instances. These other thoughts might be developed out of other (philosophical) accounts. How well the two mesh together is important, here. One thought does not merely become ends or means for the other; rather, the two collide, as it were, and what comes out of this collision is an integrated thought—one that has its means in applying itself in concrete instances and its end in exhausting itself in these instances. While philosophical accounts of metaphysics, ethics, and theory of knowledge are very often closed, the system that best reconciles itself to other thoughts (in these accounts) is the strongest. This means a continual testing of itself against other accounts and the claims within. This loose circle here developed allows for access at the point of origin and at the point of other thoughts. Let us suppose a philosopher of education asks a question of origins. Let us suppose it is the question, can virtue be taught? This will require re-fashioning the question in terms of a hypothesis: if virtue can/cannot be taught, then … The philosopher of education operates with this hypothesis in looking to concrete instances of a purported answer. The instances are not empirical: the question is being asked at the level of concepts, rather than practices (practices will come later). Concrete instances are thought-of instances; instances in which conditionals and counterfactuals play a great role. “Would this be the case if virtue were teachable?” “If I were to claim virtue cannot be taught, then this would be the case …” The role of the subjunctive conditional is to offer examples in thought that could be accepted or refuted; entertained or denied. These conditionals are means; as they are generated and satisfied, they take their place among the existing instances of the concept. Gradually, as the thought builds steam, more and more instances are built up. The thought or conception grows,
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expands. The end of the thought or conception is this expansion or growth. It is completeness; the power of taking on all counterfactual instances. It arrives at its end just insofar as it successfully takes these on. The thought is complete and at its end insofar as there are no concrete instances to which it cannot apply. However, no thought is so complete that it can encompass every counterfactual instance: and in particular, every counterfactual instance explained or understood by a rival conception or thought. For there is always more than one way to explain a concrete instance—more than one concept to incorporate counterfactual instances. Thoughts have to reconcile themselves to one another. Which thought better manages the counterfactual instance? Which thought is the more consistent, more coherent, more logically connected? In juxtaposing thoughts, thoughts very often break down. (It cannot be the case that two thoughts handling similar counterfactual conditionals yield a stalemate without invoking Buridan’s ass and bringing both into disrepute.) The juxtaposition of one thought to another occasions breakdown. And breakdown heralds reconstruction. One thought might be jettisoned and the other emerges triumphant. More likely though, aspects or elements of the one thought (and by aspects I mean of their relationships with their counterfactual instances) are taken up in the other. A new thought is born, but not a thought ex nihilo; rather a thought from the encounter with (two or more) previous thoughts. And this new thought is the basis for new questioning as it attempts to instantiate itself in concrete instances. This is the cycle that questions of teaching and learning (and indeed, all questions pertinent to philosophy of education) follow. Notice there is no invocation of predetermined ends, whether metaphysical, epistemic, logical, or social-political. Ends are not what philosophy of education is to start with: ends are what philosophy of education finishes with, to be challenged in juxtaposition with a new thought having its own ends. Now the loose circle we have established applies to thinking as it grasps its particular instances. But concrete instances, it must be said, also grasp their thought. A concrete instance is nothing until it forms itself in thinking; beyond or outside of this it is merely an sich or a featureless thing. As a thought must grasp its concrete instance, so must a concrete instance grasp its thought and this grasping is complementary to the grasping of the instance by thought. Just as a thought that has reached its end is a thought in which all concrete instances of its thinking are consistent with itself, so a concrete instance that has grasped its thought is identical with itself in thought and actuality. Indeed, it is only through thought that the actuality of the concrete instance is manifest. A complete thought is a thought that has grasped all of its concrete instances. A
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fully actualized concrete instance is one that has grasped itself in thought. The thought that grasps its concrete instance and the concrete instance that grasps its thought merge and thought and the concrete instance become identical to one another. This process of doubling results in the unity of thought and concrete instance.36 The concept that results is actualized; concrete.
Recognition, authority, and the question of legitimacy There is another level of justification that must be discussed; this is the level I call authority and it involves the issues of recognition (as in recognition of what counts as authority, whose authority, how authority is granted and denied) and the legitimacy of knowledge claims, assertions, and the means of their justification. There are two particular sets of thinkers I have in mind in discussing these issues: the thinkers broadly construed as German Idealist and the thinkers broadly construed as post-Analytic. Beginning with Fichte, recognition took on increasing importance in post-Kantian discussions of ethics and Right. We see this most fully in Fichte’s accounts of Aufforderrung (the summons) in the Grundlage: recognition begins in the event of a summons to attend to the other. This summons is a natural inclination or sentiment and Fichte’s account of the summons is duly empirical. But the necessity of there being a summons (and a response) for the mutual recognition that is to take place and make the entire doctrine of Right possible is not.37 It was this above all that Hegel gestured toward in his famous Master-Slave account in the 4th Chapter of Phenomenology of Spirit.38 The realization on the part of both that only death ensues in the war of all against all is the condition for the I am referring of course, to Hegel’s notion of verdöpplung. This plays a crucial role in Hegel’s “method.” Specifically, doubling involves the simultaneous and dual encirclement of a concept and its object such that a concept grasps its instance and an instance grasps its concept. The net result is a determination that involves the coming-together of both concept (hitherto one-sided) and instance (hitherto one-sided) in unity (a concrete concept that is, in Hegel’s characteristic language, “in and for itself.” See G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, translated by A.V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), esp. Chapter Three, “Force and the Understanding,” Sections 132–165, Chapter Three, “Force and the Understanding,” Sections 132–165. 37 G. Fichte, Foundations of Natural Right (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000),esp. 31–35. See also Paul Franks, All or Nothing (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005); Allen Wood, “Fichte’s Intersubjective I,” Inquiry, 49, 1 (2006): 62–79. Fichte’s notion of the summons is empirical, not transcendental. Wood argues against this, while Franks argues for this. I think Franks is correct. For one thing, Fichte never returns to his notion of the summons in either the Sittenlehre or later iterations of the Wissenschaftslehre. Though the transcendental deduction of the principle of Right seems to hinge on their being a summons, the summons itself seems a matter of the growth and development of the individual who calls, and the natural sentiment of the other, who responds. 38 Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, Sections 178–196. The particular location of Fichte’s insight is, I think, at Section 190–193. 36
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development of recognition. The slave labors; his labor is his end. The master learns only too well his identity is bound up in the slave and his labor. Ultimately, the master comes to see his own role as dependent on (Hegel will say, “identical with”) the slave’s. The upshot for a speculative philosophy of education is the generalization of the authority of the other as in some sense required for the legitimacy of one’s own (and one’s group or discipline’s) behavior. Indeed, there is not too much of a gap between Hegel’s account of mutual recognition and George Herbert Mead’s (later) naturalized account of the generalized other.39 Both insist on the internalization of the role or authority of the other for any (further) self-identity. I am saying that legitimation and authority in matters of justifying knowledge claims rest on a mutual recognition of the rules (semantic and context-dependent) of discourse and practice(s).40 What it means to follow rules, as well as what it means to justify one’s behavior—one’s actions—including the behaviors of giving and taking in what Wilfrid Sellars calls “the logical space of reasons”—rests in part on mutual recognition.41 The authority and legitimacy of the deductive and inductive moves in the formation of concepts cannot be read off the face of those moves; they must be mutually agreed-upon. This of course requires a discourse community, which is what the discipline of philosophy of education offers in matters of legitimacy and authority. What counts as legitimacy and authority for any particular move will always be a decision made in the context of the particular values of the discipline at that moment. This is the Hegelian point that what counts as justifying is at least partly dependent on the particular shape of spirit to which the claim is bound. Mead, Mind, Self, and Society, 154–156. The question of how metaphysical Hegel’s account of the Master-Slave dialectic is is an interesting and valuable one. Of course, in one sense it is metaphysical, because it is to be a universal account of the way in which human beings move through phases toward reconciliation and (mutual) recognition. On the other hand, there is also historical parallel to the dialectic, as Harris (1996) details at great length. So the question remains an open one, at least in my mind. See H.S. Harris, Hegel’s Ladder (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 1997), vol. 1, 343–361. 40 In terms of semantic rules, I have in mind Robert Brandom’s semantic-pragmatic accounting of scorekeeping; See Robert Brandom, Making It Explicit (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998); Robert Brandom, Tales of the Mighty Dead (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).The idea here is of a community-bound activity of scorekeeping, or policing of the rules of claims. What justifies a claim’s warrant is its acceptability to the community. The scorekeeping for many, if not most, claims adjudicated in the space of reasons is a shared function and all of us who belong to that community share in the work of scorekeeping. However, for a community such as that of philosophers of education, some (faculty, editors, peer reviewers, established scholars) will have more authority than others (graduate students, new faculty, “outsiders”). 41 Wilfrid Sellars, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 76.The notion of a “logical space of reasons” is for Sellars a shared, public enterprise. The community of scholars who make up philosophers of education would be the locus of such a space, and, though reasons may be shared among other discourses, the reasons peculiar to philosophers of education are the reasons that form the context for whatever justification of knowledge claims takes place within that discourse. 39
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Now this is not to suggest that there is no point of reference for legitimation: reference is key and it is empirical, which is to say, it involves the specific results of investigation. In the context of the method for determining the original questions and their consequences, this consists in the particular derived consequences; consequences that follow from and are logically equivalent to (bivalent) the hypothesis. Each of these consequences is an instance that in turn must be grasped by its concept or kind. This concept, too, will count as an empirical reference for legitimation. In other words, each of the results of the stages of hypothesis, deduction, and induction count as empirical references. Now this may seem circular; for it is just these references that are in question—these references that require justification and legitimation. The solution to the conundrum is to remember that the references also contain their establishments—the logical inferences that led up to their institution. We are always already adjudicating the references even as we invoke them. Of course, there is also the weight of tradition—the weight, that is, of the original questions asked and answered at the beginning of the discipline. However, I doubt very much that tradition counts for much among philosophers of education nowadays, though I certainly think it should. The problem, no doubt, is that the particular shape of spirit, to use Hegel’s terminology, has failed and is no longer available to us. And justification becomes extremely difficult given this set of circumstances, because philosophy of education no longer maintains its legitimacy. If the discipline lacks the wherewithal to legitimate and authorize particular knowledge claims within, then those claims must have recourse to means of legitimation and authorization that go beyond the discipline. Our position will be that legitimation and authorization should come from the origins of philosophy of education, together with the method by which philosophy of education develops its questions. Admittedly, this is not enough for the mutual recognition required to legitimate particular knowledge claims. This is, however, all we have to go on for the time being. A new space of reasons constructed from a foundation consisting in a set of original questions, together with accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics, will one day form the context from which scorekeeping occurs. Concerns of legitimation and authority will have to wait until such time as a reconstituted scholarship can take its proper place in the discipline and such a context becomes available. I am hopeful that, once questions of origin are interrogated and consequences and kinds are introduced into philosophy of education anew, the situation will correct itself, though perhaps this will take a generation or two for fruition.
Teaching and Learning
What questions are philosophers of education likely to ask? We are back to the question of origins. From where does philosophy of education’s questions come? I claim they come from the juxtaposition of rival concepts or thoughts. When one thought rivals another over its proclaimed concrete instances, the struggle for dominance yields a new thought or concept. This new thought or concept will apply itself to further concrete instances. It will do this by asking a new question and invoking new hypotheses. If the hypothesis that virtue can be taught is demonstrated in all concrete instances, and a rival hypothesis claiming that virtue cannot be taught in many concrete instances is put forth, then the struggle will yield a concept that consists in concrete instances where and where not virtue can be taught. I see this giving rise to (at least) two possibilities. The first is the juxtaposition of the conception with yet another conception that rivals it for ability to substantiate concrete instances. This will yield yet another new (and greater) concept, leading to new questions in regard to the scope of this concept. This is perhaps the most common way for new questions to develop. But there is another way. If the new concept delineates where and under what circumstances virtue can be taught, it will give rise to a new hypothesis: given that virtue can be taught in these settings and under these other conditions, and yet cannot be taught in these settings and under the following conditions, how should we proceed? What, in short, does it mean to be able to say virtue can be taught in certain settings and under certain conditions and not others? A new thought, a new concept, emerges as the concrete instances in which it makes sense to say of virtue that it can be taught here and not there are built up. Thus, the quest for questions occurs in two ways: the first is through juxtaposition of one concept to another, with the question of which concept is better suited in terms of concrete instances and what form the new concept will take; the second is the question of the scope of limitation of the new concept, as the new concept has built into it a set of restrictions as to where and where not virtue can be taught. In the first case, the question will concern the application to new concrete instances; in the second case, the question will concern the proper division of instances of taught and not taught. I believe the best avenue for philosophy of education is to go back to the original questions asked at the beginning of the discipline. I do not mean Socrates’ question put to Meno: I mean the questions that were asked when philosophy of education became a self-conscious discipline. We must go back approximately
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200 years to answer this question. Philosophy of education (not pedagogy) was born in the attempt at articulating the process of social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another. This is properly the domain of texts such as Émile, together with the Bildungsroman of Goethe and Jacobi, the task of Kant’s Anthropology and Lectures on Pedagogy, and Froebel and Herbart’s texts on the civilization of children. This is also the domain of William Torrey Harris’s Psychologic Foundations of Education, together with John Dewey’s (rival) accounts in The School and Society and Democracy and Education.42 All of these texts begin with claims concerning the nature of the human being. All of these texts contextualize the education of the child; and the context of this child is social. The question I urge philosophers of education to return to in regard to teaching and learning is this: What is the nature of the process of the social transmission of the (normative) features of human existence from one generation to another? From this, other concepts will emerge, leading to further questions. The process, however, must be natural; organic. It cannot be forced by projecting our existing social concerns back onto the question and its subsequent answers. We cannot succumb to presentism. This much must be absolutely maintained. In the following section, I will discuss a question concerning the curriculum that follows naturally from this one. I will do the same in the section on educational institutions or schools.
How will education benefit by the asking and answering of these questions? It may be claimed that I am merely reinventing the wheel, for this question has been pondered for over two centuries and we have fairly answered it. Dewey, for example, got the answer to the question right (as some will say): education needs to be understood as socialization and formal instruction in subject matters and in the case of formal instruction, applying pedagogical techniques and aims drawn from accounts of human nature, conduct, and experience(s). Why go back and ask and answer well-trodden questions? For one thing, not
See, for example, William Torrey Harris, Psychological Foundations of Education (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1898), esp. 304–310.
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all philosophers of education agree with Dewey, and for a variety of different and sometimes disparate reasons. For another, aspects of Dewey’s answer to the question are missing or downplayed in the resultant uptake. I am thinking here particularly of metaphysics and the metaphysical questions that arise out of social transmission of features of human existence. For those inclined to see the need for a metaphysical account of social transmission, including its ends and aims, a satisfactory answer will depend on the metaphysical account developed. And the metaphysical account developed will have strong implications for the (further) normative account developed. Thus it should not satisfy many to merely repeat Dewey’s answers. We will need to go back to the question, anew. I argue that this will have positive benefit(s) for philosophy of education. These benefits are admittedly instrumental; they concern the (further) questions and answers philosophy of education can provide to and for itself. Asking this question anew will lead to further questions; further questions regarding normative concerns such as the proper aims and ends of education, the proper set-up for educational institutions, including, though not limited to, schools. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves, here. These questions are bound to the context from which they develop, and cannot be fore-conceived. But when they are conceived, and they are placed in the context of a fuller account of philosophy of education, they will bear healthy fruit: for they will be questions that, together with their answers, are organic and natural. They will not be cut and pasted from existing philosophies of education, operating as context-less claims and arguments for this or that educational concern or practice. Other educational disciplines will be able to avail themselves of the account of philosophy of education rather than a set of stock claims or arguments brought to bear on a particular problem. The account as a whole, built up of questions and answers to a legitimate problem or concern, will be what is referenced. This will give the educational theorist an account that, from the beginning, is located in a (genuine) set of educational questions. The educational theorist can accept or decline the account; but what the educational theorist cannot do is cut and paste—at least, not without irreparable harm to the account. It is truly a matter of take it or leave it. The account of philosophy of education is the point of departure for the educational theorist, and not a mere tool or technique for the theorist’s pre-prescribed end. Indeed, the end of the account of philosophy of education is the same end for the educational theorist if that theorist accepts the account. I envisage theorists making use of accounts of philosophy of education in regard to teaching and learning in the following ways:
Problems in Philosophy of Education
1. As points of departure for (further) questions and accounts of instruction, memory, attention, assessment and evaluation, and other cognitivescientific subject matters 2. As points of departure for questions and accounts dealing with normative concerns, especially concerns regarding the aims and ends of social institutions such as schools Educational theorists are free to take the account of philosophy of education and derive from it novel questions of importance for their particular discipline within education. And they are encouraged to do so, as the account of philosophy of education provides a rich context for genuine questions in the particular discipline of educational theory to grow. The important consideration here is that the account of philosophy of education be taken up by educational theory and not dismantled piecemeal. The account produced will have its own metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics, and must be considered in toto if it is to make any sense. And such a philosophy of education can only emerge if the questions it asks at the beginning are genuine and not borrowed from outside the discipline.
The Questions of Curriculum In this section, I will discuss the question of questions in regard to the issue of curriculum. Of course, the issue(s) of curriculum is interdependent with the issue(s) of teaching and learning. For historically understood, the curriculum is what is taught and what is learned. We now have more sophisticated models of the curriculum that encompass more than simply this. But to see the development of these models requires an account of the development of teaching and learning. As the question of the curriculum is intertwined with the question of teaching and learning, this will be a complementary account (as will be the development of the social institutions of education) of curriculum: one that takes its cue from the development of teaching and learning but also contains within its own questions and answers. I will begin discussing the history of the curriculum in a parallel fashion to teaching and learning: what were the demonstrable changes in the curriculum from the ancient to the early modern to the contemporary understandings and practices? I will then turn to the existing questions of curriculum and demonstrate why these are illegitimate. I will follow with a discussion of the question(s) philosophy of education should be asking and discuss the benefit of this question(s) for education, generally.
The historical questions of curriculum It is difficult to separate the curriculum from teaching and learning if what we want is to develop stand-alone historical accounts of the former, but not the latter. We either repeat the history of teaching and learning from the subject matter side or limit ourselves to a description of structural features of the various institutions at the time. I will try to carve a middle path that presupposes the discussion of teaching and learning and yet looks forward to the discussion of the institutions in which education takes place, though there will be overlap. I will discuss questions of the curriculum from the point of view of the dominant
Problems in Philosophy of Education
aims and ends of education: the aims and ends that are also bound up with teaching and learning and social institutions.
Historical questions from Plato to Rousseau We cover a vast territory here, for questions of the curriculum in ancient Greece look very different when examined from the historical contexts, for example, of Locke and Rousseau. This should not surprise us. And certainly what was taught clearly differed. It is a truism to claim in ancient Greece (and later, Rome) generally, a “classical” education in all the senses of the word that have come down to us was the object of the curriculum. It becomes interesting when we examine just what went into this curriculum and how and why the questions asked manifested in these and these subject matters alone. In Plato’s academy, elementary education from the side of the subject matter consisted in preliminary training of both mind and body, as we see from the Laws.1 Games were stressed, and noncompetitive sports were undertaken. Music, including singing and melody, was taught. Mathematics was perhaps the most important study in the elementary curriculum, to be supplanted by philosophy and rhetoric in the secondary curriculum.2 Plato’s rival, Isocrates, stressed geometry and rhetoric, while all curricula included gymnastics.3 In Hellenistic times, gymnastics was favored, together with art, including drawing, the lyre, singing, dancing, and the more traditional curricula, including geometry and (later) rhetoric. Reading took on particular importance in primary education. Exercise books and tablets specifically designed for students were first developed. Grammar became more and more a focus. Indeed, it became a science in the sense of a comprehensive and systematic approach to understanding the mechanics particularly of poetry. The “classics” of literature (especially poetry) were emphasized at the secondary level. Recitation was, of course, the pedagogical norm.4 (The social institution as school began its ascent in the Hellenistic age, and I will discuss this further in the next section.) During the Roman conquests of Greece, the curriculum of the Hellenistic age was adopted and modified for Roman students, though without the emphasis on
Plato, Laws, ed., J.M. Cooper, translated by T. Saunders (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), vol. 7: 788– 789. 2 Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity, 176–182. 3 Jaeger, Paideia, III (1944), 132–135. 4 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 165–166. 1
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gymnastics.5 Rhetoric and philosophy were stressed for secondary students. The question of Greek or Roman was keenly felt, especially in the first and second centuries B.C.E. The question was never satisfactorily resolved, but by the time of Cicero, Greek was in retreat. What questions did the ancient curriculum ask and to what questions did it respond? Of course, the questions of community and city-state, and in particular, what it meant to be a Greek citizen (πολίτης) of a certain city-state (for education was the province of the citizenry) were predominant. Education was a vehicle for this citizen to develop; to take on the attributes of citizenly virtue, as Aristotle put it. The curriculum was the means by which the burgeoning citizen would develop. Through recitation of poetry, practice at sport and gymnastics, attention to grammar, and finally, immersion in rhetoric and philosophy, the citizen would come into his own. Paideia, that overarching goal of Greek societies, placed the curriculum as its means.6 This would continue with certain modifications in ancient Rome, though the emphasis of gymnastics would be reduced, and attention to what it meant to be a Roman as opposed to a Greek citizen was everywhere paid.7 In fact, the Greco-Roman curriculum continued through the Patristic period; the leading early Church Fathers were products of a Roman “classical” education. They knew and understood the poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, grammar—indeed, the entire curriculum of the ancient societies, because they were educated in this curriculum. After the destruction of the Roman Empire, various pockets of Roman civilization remained or (in the case of Western Europe) were retrieved, largely through the collection and (later) dissemination of ancient manuscripts. Cassiodorus and Boethius developed from the ashes of Roman education the Trivium and Quadrivium (an elementary education consisting in logic, grammar, and rhetoric, and a secondary education of arithmetic, space [astronomy], music, and geometry).8 Alcuin, bishop of York and counselor to Charlemagne, was prominent in this regard.9 By the Later Middle Ages (1100–) the Roman classical curriculum had been somewhat resurrected (though not with great attention to Greek “classics” beyond the Platonic and neo-Platonic tradition). By the Renaissance, the use of the Trivium and Quadrivium in the universities
Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 249. Jaeger, Paideia, III (1944), 254. 7 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 294–295. 8 Jacques LeGoff, “Medieval Civilization,” in The Medieval World, ed., J. LeGoff, translated by L.G. Cochrane (London: Collins and Brown, 1990), 130. 9 LeGoff, Medieval Civilization, 130. 5 6
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was in full swing.10 The Later Middle Ages and Renaissance curriculum varied a good deal. Whereas the Later Middle Ages concentrated on Roman texts, the Renaissance gradually began to rediscover the poetry and philosophy of the Greeks. And whereas the Later Middle Ages drew upon poetry and prose of the Roman Republic and Empires, the Renaissance looked to the contemporary poets for inspiration. Gradually, less attention was paid to the divine attributes of God and more attention paid to the works of man.11 The turn against schools as institutions began not in the Later Middle Ages or even the Renaissance, but the early Modern period. In Western Europe and particularly England, gentlemen were schooled by tutors; the lower classes by schools.12 Indeed, we see a distaste toward schools, particularly in the works of Locke and later, Rousseau.13 The “progression” in progressive education took place at the level of curriculum as well as in the turn against schools. Book learning, and particularly, recitation—so long practiced in ancient and medieval settings—was downplayed if not denigrated. In its place were exploration and the discovery of nature. Only later, when a child approached adolescence, should books be introduced. Of course, the end was a virtuous citizen in the senses of citizen common to that age and place. But the curriculum that was to help develop this citizen was to be pared down and emphasize nature and natural encounters before intellectual ones. When books were to be read, wholesome ones were suggested. (Locke thought the Bible the most important of these.) Throughout, the question of the best sort of citizen for the given society was always prominent. Of course, the question of the curriculum was what subject matters best provided for this sort of citizen. The question of the curriculum was tied to the question of citizenship. As well, it was tied to the question of teaching using the best methods available, and anticipating in return the best result in terms of learning. At its heart, the question of the curriculum was a manifestly political one in the senses of Aristotle’s politics: the “master science” of human conduct. This only began to change in the period after Rousseau.
Butts, History of Education in the West, 179. We see this already in the late Medieval period. Thinkers such as Marsilius of Padua (1275–1342) had turned from scholastic conceptions of the state as analogous to the Kingdom of God (the position of the Papacy) to mundane matters of leadership and princedom (the position of the Holy Roman Emperor). Of course, the locus classicus of such a shift to the mundane must be N. Machiavelli’s The Prince (New York: Penguin Books, 1961). See Marsilius of Padua, The Defender of Peace (New York: Harper & Row, 1967). 12 Robert Ascham was an Elizabethan educator who wrote what many consider the first treatise of public (as opposed to “gentlemanly”) schooling with The Schoolmaster. See Roger Ascham, The Schoolmaster (London: Cassell, 1909), esp. 20, on the virtues of the schoolmaster. 13 Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 145–146; Rousseau, Émile, 42. 10 11
The Questions of Curriculum
Modern questions from Rousseau to Dewey The progressive spirit ran through the leading figures of education in the period between Rousseau and Dewey. From Rousseau through to Dewey, an Enlightenment-inspired transformation in the curriculum began and (in some scholars’ opinions) ended.14 The gradual pull away from religious concerns in subject matters took on full steam in this period. Many, if not most of the leading thinkers in education were Protestant.15 This was a liberal Protestantism—one in which themes common to the Enlightenment such as freedom, autonomy, duty, obligation, and the like were promulgated. Indeed, the Bible became less and less central to the curriculum. Other subjects began to supplant scriptures. An emphasis on subjects appropriate for the development of children took place: for example, readers were developed through which children could progress.16 Mastery of course content led to advanced course content, leading to further mastery. The school returned to its former status as the institution of education in this period (contra Locke and Rousseau). Kant and Basedow were early supporters of this return.17 (I will discuss the return of the school in more detail in the next section.) The curriculum was adjusted to reflect this return. As with primers or readers, so with the attitudes toward the existing disciplines: the “classical” approach to education was replaced by a “modern” one. This emphasized the rise of the new disciplines of the day. Whereas Hegel could still champion a classical education for elementary and secondary students for his Gymnasium, and for the students of Germany in general, by the turn of the twentieth century subject matters were far more consistent with the burgeoning disciplines of science and the arts.18 These newer disciplines included vocational subjects in addition to literary and mathematical ones, especially in the United States. The
I say ended because of the backlash to progressivist ideas beginning with the advent of the Second World War and continuing through the 1950s, especially in America. See, for example, Tanner, Crusade for Democracy, on the controversy surrounding Harold Rugg’s curricular materials. This was also the beginning of a spate of conservative publications against adjustment education and other evils of modern pedagogy. See, for example, Arthur Bestor, Educational Wastelands (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1953); Hilda Neatby, So Little for the Mind (Toronto: Clark, Irwin, 1953). 15 See Daniel Tröhler, The Language of Education (New York: Routledge, 2011) for an interesting discussion of two variants of Protestantism—Reformed and Lutheran—and the role that each of these played in the development of systems of education in the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. 16 I am of course thinking of the McGuffy readers—ubiquitous across schools in late nineteenthcentury North America. 17 Niethammer, Der Streit des Philanthropinismus und Humanismus in der Theorie des ErziehungsUnterrichts unsrer Zeit; von Basedow, Ausgewählte pädagogische Schriften. 18 Hegel, “On Teaching Philosophy in the Gymnasium”; “On Classical Studies.” Hegel supported an education in Greek letters for admission to German universities. 14
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introduction of other languages began in earnest. Mathematics was divided into arithmetic, geometry, algebra, statistics, and calculus in line with the disciplines. Rhetoric and philosophy were downplayed or fell out of the curriculum.19 A variety of approaches to the curriculum, all investing it with importance, were regnant in the nineteenth century. There were of course the approaches of Herbart: approaches that placed the curriculum in the service of a cultural-epoch theory of the development of the child.20 In this, the curriculum was supplied in graded steps to the child. Indeed, this revolution in curriculum led the charge for primers and readers in the latter half of the nineteenth century. When Horace Mann returned from Germany in the early 1840s, he had witnessed the use of these in classrooms.21 He wholeheartedly supported their introduction into American schools. Another closely related approach from abroad was the Hegelian-inspired “symbolic” curriculum of William Torrey Harris. In this curriculum, children advance through primers and readers (as with Herbart), and in so doing, recapitulate the cultural and literary aspects of (Western) history and civilization.22 Yet another approach was Dewey’s: here the emphasis was on bridging the dualisms between the subject matter and the pedagogy in the context of classrooms. In The School and Society, Dewey advocated for an approach to curriculum that would run together with an approach to pedagogy and an approach to schooling. Dewey also wanted to take advantage of the newer subject matters in school; the vocational aspects of education and especially technical subjects such as cooking and carpentry intrigued him, and he saw these as valuable for the active and practical side of learning.23 In saying that the questions of curriculum are bound up with the questions of teaching and learning, I am saying that the many of the same moral-ethical and political ends that serve to drive the questions in the latter accounts drive the questions in the former accounts. The specific questions of the curriculum were largely as means to ends: what was the best subject matter to introduce to
Butts, The Education of the West, 415–417. The “classical” education in Germany and Prussia was, to some degree, distinctive, in that it still had major roles for philosophy to play in the curriculum, at least in the Gymnasia. Hegel’s “experiment” in high school education in Nuremburg (where he delivered parts of his imposing Science of Logic) is testament to this. 20 English, Discontinuity in Learning: Dewey, Herbart, and Education as Transformation, 12–15. Dewey, “Interpretation of the Culture Epoch Theory,” EW 5, 249–250. See also Kliebard, The Struggle for the American Curriculum. 21 See esp. the 10th Annual Report, which is the fullest of several reports he detailed for the Massachusetts Board of Education. Horace Mann, The Republic and the School: The Education of Free Men (New York: Teachers College, 1957). 22 Harris, Psychological Foundations of Education, 303. 23 Dewey, School and Society, 50–51. 19
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students and develop a moral-ethical human being? And what was the end of a moral-ethical human being? Notice the question shifts from a concern about citizenship (a predominantly political concern common to ancient Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages) to the individual or person. This was especially the case with Kant and Froebel, though less so with Hegel and the Hegelianinspired accounts of Harris and Dewey. For the Hegelian-inspired accounts, Objective Spirit (for Dewey, democracy) was a legitimate end. Yet, the question of the person’s role in society permeated both of these latter accounts and contributed in terms of an end to the question of subject matter. In most cases, as with teaching and learning, the question of the curriculum was a thoroughly normative one, and questions of metaphysics, logic, and theory of knowledge were downplayed or dismissed.
Contemporary questions It is certainly the case that contemporary questions regarding the curriculum are ethical-moral and very often political in end. Yet more attention than ever has been given to the psychological issues involved in subject matters. This has its genesis in the late nineteenth-century development of the discipline and the rise of the behaviorist school. Leading early thinkers of educational psychology such as Edward Thorndike had a profound influence on the discipline of education. Thorndike’s “law of readiness” and “law of exercise” (use and disuse) were particularly salient in this regard.24 That influence continues in the attention to chiefly epistemic issues such as the connection of subject matter to learning, memory, attention, formation of concepts, assessment and evaluation of competencies, etc. Although issues of teaching and learning largely avoided adopting (wholesale) the leading behaviorist accounts of psychology, due in part to Dewey’s influence (at least until the 1940s), the same cannot be said of the curriculum.25 There is, strictly speaking, no philosophy of curriculum without a combined account incorporating metaphysics, logic, and theory of knowledge, though there is curricular theory. And what curricular theory there is very often indebted to the leading psychological explanations of the day. Thus, there were Deweyan-inspired curricular materials developed that modeled the
Thorndike, Educational Psychology, vol. 1. Tanner discusses the shifting of the tide after the Second World War and its effect on the John Dewey Society. See Tanner, Crusade for Democracy, esp. Chapter 9.
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developmental ages and stages of children, together with more vocationally inspired training manuals largely rooted in the behaviorism of Thorndike and Watson.26 The behaviorist approach to curriculum came to a head with Ralph Tyler, and especially Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction (1950). Here, Tyler emphasized efficiency and a utilitarian-inspired drive to maximize the effects of educational experiences such that learning could be evaluated. Central to this was the stress on learning objectives.27 The Tylerian “revolution” had its subsequent manifestations in various objective-based programs and curricula leading up to the present day. Philosophy of education deals with the curriculum in a sideways-on matter. That is, its role is largely to inveigh, and when it inveighs, it often does so against the exclusive concentration on psychological and epistemic matters such as assessment, evaluation, testing, and the like. But no philosophy of the curriculum that contains a combined account of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, or politics has been developed in and for the curriculum. Not even Dewey created such an account. Rather, curriculum theorists have felt free to borrow aspects of philosophies of education, commingle them with leading psychological accounts and issues, provide a theory that stresses the structural framework in which subject matters reside and operate, and appropriate pedagogies for the instruction of these. More ominously, the development of curriculum standards drives the construction of curricula, and this is a concern of curriculum experts. Curricular theorists and theories often fall into one of several camps. For example, there are learner-centered curricular theories, subject or academiccentered curricular theories, broad-fields curricular theories, and social curricular theories.28 There are also theories of the hidden curriculum—a concept owing to critical theory and the rise of resistant theories of education
John Watson, The Ways of Behaviorism (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1928).Watson bases his practical exercises on Thorndike’s laws of association. 27 See, for example, Ralph Tyler, Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950). 28 Since Tyler’s Basic Principles of Curriculum, a plethora of curricular theorists have designed curricula for North American schools. Highlights include the cognitive processes model (Jerome Bruner); the technological conception (Eisner); perennialist accounts of the curriculum (Adler); and more recently, postmodernist approaches (Doll). See Bruner, The Process of Education (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960); Elliot Eisner, The Educational Imagination (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2002); Mortimer Jerome Adler, The Paideia Proposal (New York: Macmillan, 1982); William Doll, A Post-modern Perspective on Curriculum (New York: Teachers College Press, 1993). For a concise (though dated) discussion of various curriculum theories, see M. Frances Klein, “Alternative Curriculum Conceptions and Design,” Theory into Practice, 25, 1 (1986): 31–35. 26
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in the 1970s.29 It is also common to speak of “inner” and “outer” curricula.30 The questions curriculum theorists draw on are in some senses, different. For example, the theorist of the hidden curriculum has as her assumption the insidious nature of a set of structural rules, norms, and expectations that serve some children and thwart others. The end here is manifestly social justice. Whereas the academic-centered curriculum has as its end a more classically inspired view of subject matters as leading a child to a certain sort of person and/or citizen—one who is cultivated as well as knowledgeable. But the question of the proper end of education is implied in these various theories. And this end is very often a social-political one. In this regard, the end and the question of the curriculum are parallel to the end and the question of teaching and learning. If we go back to the beginning of the discipline of philosophy of education, we find in regard to the curriculum questions that very often resemble questions in respect of teaching and learning. Recall these questions of teaching and learning were 1. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons (and very often, groups) and society 2. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons, groups, and increasingly, cultures, populations, and even nations and international and multinational systems 3. Questions involving demonstrably political, as opposed to metaphysical, or even ethical, analysis, and accounting of the relationship of persons and groups to dominant institutions and their practices (testing, accountability, pedagogical techniques, and the like) Now the context is different; the context is subject matter rather than pedagogy and acquisition. The issue is the proper place, role, and scope of subject matter in education for these relationships. The question is one of ends to means: not only does it concern what the curriculum is about, it concerns what to do in respect of the relationship between person and society and increasingly,
Jean Anyon and Michael Apple are the foremost instigators of this research. See, for example, Apple, Ideology and Curriculum, and more recently, Jean Anyon, “Social Class, School Knowledge, and the Hidden Curriculum: Retheorizing Reproduction,” in Ideology, Curriculum, and the New Sociology of Education, eds., L. Weis, C. McCarthy, and G. Dimitriadis (New York: Routledge, 2006), 37–45. 30 I am thinking of John Miller, The Holistic Curriculum (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 178–passim, wherein he discusses a curriculum of the “inner life.” 29
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person and society in respect of international and multinational systems. This is a socio-political question at root.
Why are the existing questions of curriculum illegitimate? Of course, questions of the curriculum are not illegitimate for curriculum theorists. However, they are illegitimate for philosophers of education. To begin with, philosophers of education take an oblique view of curricular concerns in asking specific questions. In this view, a specific element or issue within a curriculum is evaluated philosophically and often found wanting. The philosophical basis for the disagreement or condemnation is articulated; and a claim to practice in keeping with the philosophical account articulated is put forth. This is fine if what is wanted is contextless criticism. But it is a disaster if true curricular reform is the aim. True curricular reform cannot come from philosophy of education; at best, philosophy of education can ask certain questions of curriculum that curricular theorists and experts can take up.31 Curricular reform (in theory) can come only from curricular theorists and experts. And curricular changes can only be made in conjunction with other vested interests, such as political and legislative groups. I am saying that philosophers of education have no business involving themselves in matters of curriculum. We do not have the sorts of questions curricular theorists and experts need to be asking available. And we certainly do not have the expertise to offer them. So rather than condemning the questions of curriculum theorists and experts, I wholeheartedly endorse these provided they do not strain themselves on the issue of a philosophical account of curriculum. The questions of curriculum, then, are not illegitimate for curriculum theorists and experts; they are illegitimate for philosophers of education. They are so for two reasons; first, they almost never include or even imply accounts of metaphysics, logic, or (in some cases) theory of knowledge, ethics, and political philosophy—accounts vital to philosophy of education. Second, they emanate from an account having very different ends than the accounts of curricular theory. Although it might seem all of these accounts are turned to the same end (the betterment of education), this is in fact not the case.
The locus classicus of philosophy as applied to curriculum design is undoubtedly to be found in Paul Hirst’s collected papers on the curriculum. See Hirst, Knowledge and the Curriculum: A Collection of Philosophical Papers (New York: Routledge, 2009).
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Whose questions are being asked? Here, two conclusions confront us: first, questions belonging to the province of curriculum theory are undoubtedly being asked in contemporary philosophy of education. Second, the questions that curriculum theory asks (and answers) within education are questions illegitimate to philosophy of education. As I have done in regard to teaching and learning, I will examine three questions often asked by philosophers of education yet belonging to curriculum theory. The first question concerns the orientation of the curriculum: should it be student or teacher-centered; should it be individual or socially centered? The second question concerns the role of the hidden or latent curriculum in the curriculum as a whole; given that there is such a curriculum, how should we proceed? The third question concerns curriculum standards, including the evaluation of these standards and the role this plays in regard to the learner. What orientation should the curriculum take? Should it be geared to the learner, as with much progressive education historically, or the teacher, as with more traditional and classical models?32 Should it focus on the growth and development of the individual (liberal autonomy) or the community?33 These debates recur frequently in the pages of leading philosophy of education journals. They are questions of the curriculum in regard to choosing and maintaining certain ends; ends that are considered philosophical. But they are not philosophical ends. They are not because they do not arise from a particular philosophy of education, asking an original question, with an account of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-political philosophy all brought to bear on the issue. They perhaps presuppose a certain philosophy of education but they do not articulate that entire account. And when they attempt to do so, they often choose the aims and ends of that account rather than an account that springs from the asking (and answering) of the question. The second question fares no better. It asks over the nature and end of the hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum is the structural composition of the Here, I am thinking of the various conservative movements in the curriculum, including the essentialist and perennialist movements, and the “Back to Basics” movement of the late twentieth century. 33 From the side of autonomy, see, for example, Callan, Creating Citizens; Levinson, The Demands of Liberal Education; Diane Gereluk, Education and Community (London: Continuum, 2006). For those that support broadly communitarian outlooks, see David Blacker, Democratic Education Stretched Thin: How Complexity Challenges a Liberal Ideal (Albany: State University of New York, 2007); James Page, Peace Education (Charlotte: Information Age Publishing, 2008). There are also strongly social democratic accounts of Dewey’s philosophy of education that in my opinion come close to communitarianism. See, for example, Jennifer Bleazby, Social Reconstruction Learning: Dualism, Dewey and Philosophy in Schools (New York: Routledge, 2013). 32
Problems in Philosophy of Education
unarticulated rules, norms, and attitudes of the social institution. As such, it has an overbearing presence on the learner. Often, its influence (or hegemony) upon the student (especially minority students) is baleful. Philosophers of education who deal with the hidden curriculum aim to not only uncover but dismantle or deconstruct this structure. The aims are avowedly political: for the good of the individual-in-community, the unarticulated yet nevertheless imperious curriculum requires articulation and dismantling so that genuine growth and development through genuine educational experiences can obtain. The end is not far from Dewey’s: better communication through better social relationships portending better (educational) experiences.34 However, the question is not an original one for philosophers of education or even a particular philosophy of education because it remains disconnected from the entire account philosophy of education is to provide. What makes this a question for Dewey rests in part on the possibility of anchoring it in his accounts of metaphysics, logic, ethics, and democracy. Yet, this is lacking in most philosophical accounts of the question (and answers). Of course, this is a question for curriculum theorists, as it extends nicely from the sets of questions and accounts they provide. But curriculum theorists do not require these other accounts, whereas philosophers of education do. The question of standards for the curriculum is also vexatious. This is another question with an avowedly political end: issues of autonomy, control, the proper role of the state, etc., come clearly into view. Seldom do philosophers of education have positive things to say about standards beyond a grudging acceptance of their necessity, providing they are attenuated. It is much more the case that they come out against standards, either en bloc or in terms of their particular features. This question, as with the question of the hidden curriculum, is very often asked against the backdrop of an agenda. This agenda is political, at least in terms of its ends and aims. It invokes a conception of a particular society in which the student participates and flourishes. In this conception, society very often privileges neither the self nor the community to the detriment of the other. Equality is maintained, equity is the order of the day, and barriers to communication and experiencing, such as race, class, gender, and ability, are diminished or demolished. But this is not an original question of philosophers of education. It is borrowed and taken up from education by philosophers of education. It has already been asked (and answered). It may be implicit in certain philosophies of education, but it cannot be put forth without circularity unless Dewey, Democracy and Education, 91.
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there are existing accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics already in place. And these are seldom if ever in place for contemporary philosophies of education.
To what end are the questions asked? It will do to ask over ends in regard to these questions. I have already claimed the ends are political; here it remains to say just what this means. To begin with, political questions are questions that have as their aim or goal a political response of some sort. A political response is one that is provided by the community or larger social institution and particularly the state or government in response to some grievance, challenge, question, or claim. In the case of the hidden curriculum, for example, that grievance is one of unfulfilled promise, or lack of equity, or unfairness in regard to certain populations of students. In the case of curriculum standards, equity, fairness, and enfranchisement are also often at stake. The reasons, in other words, that philosophers of education ask over these institutional practices are cast in terms of political conceptions of rightness and wrongness, goodness and badness (or better and worse), fairness and unfairness, desert, and/or need.35 At their base, questions of a political nature involve tension; struggle. They involve the self or group against a dominant interest, attitude, norm, or practice.36 They result in acknowledgment, confirmation, recognition, if successfully pressed and pursued. But they also depend upon a certain understanding of the person, her relationship to her community, as well as of the nature of this community. Each of these is dependent in turn on an account of what and who the person is, what is and what should be the relationship of the person to that community, and what that community looks like and is supposed to be. These are in turn dependent on an account of human nature, of sociality and socialization, of education and transmission. And these are in turn dependent on an account of essential versus inessential features of humanity and human nature (metaphysics), how we understand ourselves and our world (logic, theory of knowledge), and how we interact (ethics, conduct). In short, to ask the political question of the hidden curriculum and curriculum standards is to presuppose—and invoke—an entire account of philosophy of education or be faced with begging the question.
See Miller, Social Justice, 24–31, for a breakdown of the ends of fairness, desert, and need. Here I am thinking of the conflict model of sociology.
Problems in Philosophy of Education
Now a complete account of philosophy of education is seldom invoked in asking and answering these (political) questions. (This will be my point in the section on schools as well.) The account begins at the level of the ethicalpolitical. Questions of human nature and knowledge are very often assumed to be answered. But this is precisely what cannot be assumed—at least by philosophers of education. It is our responsibility to do the asking and answering of these questions, not curriculum theory, and if we will not do it, it won’t get done. And we are not doing it when we ask the political questions without backing them up with an articulated account of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics. In many cases, we don’t even provide an account of the ends and aims of education in our asking and answering of these questions: we assume this. But when we merely assume this, the context drops out. We become one more voice clamoring for change, but have precious little in the way of good reasons to back this change up.
How do these questions concern philosophy of education? These questions do concern philosophy of education; or rather, they concern a philosophy of education. They do not concern a philosophy of education, however, that does not already have an account of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics ready to supply context to the questions. Philosophy of education cannot start with a political platform. It can only begin with original questions leading to accounts that invoke the branches of philosophy. Original questions certainly can and will lead to political questions, but unless this takes place organically, out of the development of accounts responding to original questions, the answers to the political questions will be question-begging. Philosophy of education will not want to ask questions that do not derive from the original questions it asks. Philosophy of education will want to ask political questions only after it has satisfied itself regarding other questions, leading to other accounts that lead to political questions. I suppose one may proceed in the reverse direction: ask a political question and in supplying an answer, develop accounts belonging to metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and the like. Thus, one might recommend a genealogical account of a question, leading to more and further accounts. This would be a philosophy of education that supposes hidden accounts can be revealed through careful articulation. Here, the metaphysical commitments would likely be uncovered last. I can imagine an account of philosophy of education in which the question (say, of the hidden curriculum) is posed, leading to the revelation
The Questions of Curriculum
of the context of practices and principles including ethics, logic and justification, and finally, strongly held beliefs about human nature and the world. There have been several accounts along these lines, as well as invocations to do this sort of philosophy of education.37 I am not opposed to this. But it must be remembered that as a philosophy of education the structural integrity of the accounts supports the edifice; if the interdependence of the accounts is not maintained, the edifice collapses and the account reduces to a set of claims or methods. A genealogical account that deconstructs the edifice must remember this or it will mistake the whole of the edifice for a set of claims arbitrarily constructed. Indeed, even a genealogical account must be coherent and consistent with itself; otherwise, it risks implosion. And without the development of the accounts in full, the overarching account begs the question.
Toward a new question I am saying that philosophy of education must once again develop its own questions if it wants to provide a legitimate because original and non-questionbegging alternative to the questions already asked (and answered) by curriculum theorists, experts, and other educationists. As with teaching and learning, the nature of these questions presents itself. The specific process by which questions get asked, how they gel in an account for philosophy of education, and how this account helps drive the production of new questions needs to be examined. The benefit of these new questions for education is also of importance, and this too must be addressed.
The question of questions for the curriculum In the previous section, I outlined a nascent process of questioning. Recall that an original question begat a means in the sense of possibilities for answers. These possible answers were “tested” as it were; they were anticipations of concrete instances. Insofar as the concrete instances, imagined, bore fruit, they transformed into ends. These ends are the product of the means conjoined
This has already begun in regard to educational research. See, for example, Michael Peters and Nick Burbules, Poststructuralism and Educational Research (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004); Michael Peters and Tina Besley, eds., Why Foucault? New Directions in Educational Research (New York: Peter Lang, 2008).
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with their concrete instances. An end is a thought, and its concrete instances are in harmony or synch with each other. An end breaks down when concrete instances no longer are generated from a thought. This occasions a new thought in the form of a question, leading to new means, new anticipations of concrete instances, and new ends. From the side of the concrete instance, the end is thought, which the instance must grasp if it is to be complete. The two ends— the new thought and the concrete instance that has grasped its thought—double. The new thought grasps the concrete instance that has grasped its thought, and the end of the new thought becomes the end of the concrete instance. A complete concept, fully actualized, emerges. The original question I urged in regard to teaching and learning was What is the nature of the process of the social transmission of the (normative) features of human existence from one generation to another? This constitutes the original thought. From here, the question will become a means that anticipates concrete instances in which it and its other come together. This is an act of the imagination in which an anticipated instance of the thought in practice takes place and reveals itself fully only when the thought grasps its instance and the instance its thought. I will not generate a set of anticipated instances here; that is for a specific account of philosophy of education. Rather, I will say what needs to be in place for the question of the curriculum to arise. To begin with, a question of the curriculum is a new thought, arising out of the failure of an older set of ends to accommodate its concrete instances (in thought). It is a failure of the imagination owing to failure of the concept. The question of origin will have its concrete limit; there will be a point at which it no longer satisfies concrete instances and a tension will be built up in the end, resulting in its fracture or coming undone. This will herald the asking (and answering) of a new question. Now at some point in this process the question of the curriculum will naturally arise. I cannot say what precisely that question will be because it will depend upon the particular ends already formed. What I can say is that it will arise organically from the context created by the questioning. I do, however, believe that it will involve questions that came about during the early development of the discipline. As with the question of origins in regard to teaching and learning, the question of curriculum should also be original. This is important for two reasons: first, the questions we now ask are very often contextless in regard to accounts of philosophy of education. Second, the
The Questions of Curriculum
questions properly belong to the domain of curriculum theory. Once again, I believe the best avenue for philosophy of education is to go back to the original questions asked at the beginning of the discipline. And again, by this I mean the questions that were asked when philosophy of education became a self-conscious discipline. We must go back approximately 200 years to answer this question. Questions concerning the curriculum were of course closely tied to teaching and learning, then as now. Not insignificantly, questions concerning the curriculum were ethical-political in nature. By this I mean they concerned the sort of citizen or person necessary for an already-understood human culture and civilization. This culture and civilization was variously described but it had features in common. From Rousseau through Kant to Hegel, Froebel, and Herbart, culture and civilization (Bildung) was the confluence of the minded person; the person that knew and understood the ethical and social obligations of the times and projected this outward, to the whole of the human species.38 This was a person of character; a person that conducted his faculties of understanding, judgment, and reason according to the dictates not of the individual alone, the society alone, or the state alone, but of a person-in-community-in state and indeed, even (with Kant) a cosmopolitan state. The curriculum needed to represent this ideal and reinforce the upbringing (Erziehung) of this character. And we find this not so different from Dewey’s admonition in The Child and the Curriculum: the two constitute an integral whole.39 The question I put forth as original in regard to the curriculum is What subject matter is necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning?40 This is a natural extension of the question of teaching and learning and a point of departure for questions regarding the social institution of education of schools, as I will shortly discuss.
See William Bruford, The German Tradition of Self-Cultivation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975); see also the issue in the Journal of Philosophy of Education devoted to Bildung. Lars Løvlie and Paul Standish, “Introduction: Bildung and the Idea of a Liberal Education,” Journal of the Philosophy of Education, 36, 3 (2002): 317–340. 39 John Dewey, “The Child and the Curriculum,” MW 2, 277–278. 40 The sort of necessity I am invoking here is Peircean, and relies on two further claims. The first is that the closest we can come to absolute necessity is high probability. The second is that necessity itself is only highly probable. This is Peircean fallibilism, taken to its logical conclusion. See further, C.S. Peirce, “Evolutionary Love,” The Essential Peirce, vol. 1, eds., C. Kloesel and N. Hauser (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), esp. 359–360. 38
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How will education benefit by the asking and answering of these questions? One reason there are few if any genuine philosophies of curriculum is the complexity of the elements involved; bureaucracies, legislatures, faculties, accreditation bodies, the various actors (teachers, students, administration), to say nothing of the standards and the instruments by which to measure progress through these. It is far easier to provide an already worked out answer to questions of such political complexity than it is to begin anew. It is also much easier to skip to the end, as it were, and provide a set of answers to a problem from a context in which the problem was not developed. A sort of one-size-fits-all approach to answering these complex questions thus becomes the preferred path. Not surprisingly, the approach is very often an ill fit. These approaches also have their metaphysics, their logic, and their theories of knowledge (or at least, standpoints for or against these). Thus, when we get the answers from these approaches, we get the metaphysics, logic, and theories of knowledge assumed by these. Or, perhaps even worse, we get a detached account: an account involving the question and a response, but without these standpoints. We either have an account foreign to the question or have an account detached and reduced to a set of claims and arguments with no context. By providing an organic, coherent, and consistent account of itself through the asking of questions of curriculum, philosophy of education will be of service to education. To begin with, the accounts built up through questions in regard to the curriculum will be valuable precisely because they are not contextless; they will not be mere claims or arguments brought to bear on curricular concerns. They will be full and vital accounts that invoke metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics, and bring these into relationship with the questions concerned. These will be deep and rich accounts of the curriculum in regard to the aims and ends of the particular philosophy of education. And the question of ends will be enveloped in the questions asked and answered. Philosophers will no longer be offering bromides or platitudes in the form of detached claims and arguments, rather a robust because whole and systematic response to the question of the curriculum. I envisage theorists making use of accounts of philosophy of education in regard to the curriculum in the following ways: 1. As points of departure for (further) questions and accounts of standards, subject matters, and the inner and outer curriculum
The Questions of Curriculum
2. As points of departure for questions and accounts dealing with normative concerns, especially concerns regarding the aims and ends of the curriculum and its subject matters Once again, the emphasis here must be placed on philosophy of education asking and answering its own questions. Only then will curriculum theorists and experts be availing themselves of legitimate accounts of curriculum: accounts that are built up out of genuine questions of philosophy of education, and not questions with predetermined ends or contextless answers.
The Questions of Schools as Social Institutions In this section, I examine the relationship of philosophy of education to social institutions, and specifically the school. In Western liberal-democratic nations (and indeed, most others), teaching and learning and curricular concerns take place in the context of schools. Schools take on various shapes and roles in various local, regional, and national contexts. Philosophy of education has historically considered both schools and “school”: the one being the particular instance of school, itself a social institution among other social institutions charged with the formal socialization of the young, the other a sort of ideal model, type, or construct. To speak of “school” is to speak more of an amalgam of shared and ideal features than a specific site. I will follow this historical consideration in regard to “school.” The issue of teaching and learning and curriculum in regard to schools is an important one for philosophers of education. Often, we zero in on this or that aspect of educational practices that take place in the context of the (larger) social institution of school. We are required to reinsert the particular claims and arguments we make on behalf of the practice under consideration into the context of school. Unfortunately, sometimes this does not happen and what we are left with is a disconnected claim or a set of claims regarding a practice that is insufficient or wrong-headed in regard to the school.1 For the school is not just the location of teaching and learning and curriculum; it is a vibrant social nexus of competing practices together with the beliefs and reasons that support these. It is also beholden to a bureaucratic mechanism and legislative oversight—and this in part to ensure conditions of publicity and accountability. These reach down to affect the particular practices educators put forth as improving this or
Here, I am thinking of the various zero-tolerance policies enacted across North America, particularly in the 1990s. The perceived threat of violence in the schools led to a wholesale crackdown on disadvantaged youth, with the result that school suspensions increased.
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that facet of education. In dealing with the school, then, we must not only deal with issues of teaching and learning and curriculum (what we might say is the purpose of the school), but the organizational elements, including bureaucratic and legislative, that consist in the structure of schooling. As I have dealt with teaching and learning and the curriculum, I will discuss the school predominantly from the structural standpoint: the bureaucratic and legislative aspects or features of the social institution. Of course, the purposes of the school, beyond teaching and learning and the curriculum, must also be discussed, and where these are applicable, I will do so. I begin with the historical questions of the school: the original aims and purposes for schools, and some of their structural features. I continue with questions asked by philosophers of education regarding the school: aside from teaching and learning and the curriculum, these are very often political, which should come as no surprise. I will then discuss why philosophy of education should stop asking and answering these questions and instead search for the original question of schools and through doing so, build up an novel account of philosophy of education that will envelop schools and schooling in an organic, coherent, and consistent manner.
The historical questions of the school I will begin once again with the earlier questions asked of schools. This will roughly cover the period from ancient Greece to the Renaissance. I will then discuss schools in the early Modern period through to the Enlightenment. Finally, I will discuss schools from the end of the Enlightenment to the present. I will concentrate less on issues of teaching and learning and curriculum— issues that take place within schools—and more on the structural features and characteristics of the schools, as well as their raison d’être for that structure and those features.
Historical questions from Plato to Rousseau The question of the social institution known as school was always a political one. That is to say, it was bound up in the notion of a Greek citizen. This citizen or πολίτης was a political animal, with Aristotle. Plato and Aristotle, the respective founders of the Academy and the Lyceum, did not have a philosophical curriculum as the end of an education: rather, they had in mind a certain sort of political human being; a being that would provide moral-ethical leadership of the
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Greek city-state.2 The manifestly political nature of schools and schooling would continue through the Hellenistic period and into Republican Rome and the Empire. Indeed, until the advent of a specifically Christian education (beginning in the time of Charlemagne), this education for the polis reigned more or less supreme.3 In the eighth century, under the influence of Christian doctrine, the purpose of schools became to teach a particular character: a decidedly Christian ethical character. There was a move from education for a manifestly political end to one for a manifestly Christian ethical end.4 Schools in the Hellenistic age were run by a Master or pedagogue: παιδαγωγός. The pedagogue was a “somewhat despised” figure: never thoroughly trusted by the citizenry.5 This is perhaps because he was often a political exile or wanderer. Teaching was also a poorly paid profession, requiring no specific qualifications other than (basic) literacy.6 In completely Greek regions, all freemen sent their children to school. In some city-states, girls as well as boys were expected to attend. The schools were small, often single rooms, with rudimentary chairs or stools. Writing tablets rather than tables were used.7 Corporal punishment was frequent.8 Roman school structures drew heavily on the Hellenistic Greek: whereas private instruction was common in the early Republic, schools housing children became more and more the norm. Freedmen often used slaves to teach, particularly if they were conversant in Greek.9 Indeed, Greek was the lingua franca of the Roman citizenry. At first, primary education was emphasized: secondary education came later, in the middle of the third century. Both boys and girls were sent to schools, often with a slave in tow. These slaves were responsible for the child’s safety as well as reinforcement of the lessons. Should the slave turn out acceptable, he might be promoted to a pedagogue’s assistant.10 Slaves were often educated in a room in the masters’ house. Wealthy Roman citizens very often had hundreds if not thousands of slaves, and education was a requirement for learning the practice of the household and fields.
Jaeger, Paideia, III (1944), 47. This includes a critique of academic humanism, as Jaeger makes clear. Butts, History of Education in the West, 149–151. 4 Butts, History of Education in the West, 151 5 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 145. 6 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 146. 7 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 159. 8 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 159. 9 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 246. 10 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 267. 2 3
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It seems that pedagogues in Rome fared little better than in Hellenistic Greece, for pedagogy remained a despised profession that required only the basic qualification of literacy.11 Even though education tremendously expanded from the days of the early Republic through to the Empire, the status of pedagogy seems not to have. The pay remained abysmally low and beneath the means of a citizen. School buildings remained dismal places; often they consisted in only a room. The furniture was Spartan and uncomfortable. The slave accompanied the child into the room and held her writing tablet. Often the slave would quiz the child or otherwise reinforce the lessons. Corporal punishment was frequent and severe in these classrooms: all manner of beatings took place.12 Reinforcement of lessons with coercion and punishment was the norm, and holding out the hand “for the cane” (manium ferulae subducere) was tantamount to studying.13 The common story of education after the fall of Rome (476) is that formal education ground to a halt. This is not true. Education continued in the West (it had never lost its Hellenistic moorings in the East). However, who was educated and where they were educated did change. The earlier understanding of a public education in which citizens attended a schoolroom with a master all in the company of a slave did pass. The differing social practices of the Vandals and Goths brought in their wake different practices of educating children. This was a more communal and far less stratified education: one that more fully integrated theory and practice. The curriculum was not so divided.14 Only gradually, as these peoples took on the Roman-Christian past, did educational practices ensue that resembled the earlier practices of the Roman Empire. Much of this education was Church-inspired and Church-driven. Literate monks in particular acted as pedagogues to local children. By the time of Alcuin and Charlemagne, a system of education, though nascent, was in place.15 The earlier Greco-Roman classical ideal of the school resurfaced in the latter half of the Middle Ages, but it was tailored to the production of a specifically Christian being—whether destined for church secular life or the monastery.16 At the high point of the Middle Ages, the universities were founded. This dramatically changed the nature of primary and secondary education—especially
Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 267. Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 272. 13 Marrou, History of Education in Antiquity, 272. 14 Butts, History of Education in the West, 147. 15 LeGoff, Medieval Civilization, 130–131. I am referring to Alcuin of York (735–804), who established the Frankish Christian school systems in that Kingdom, under the auspices of Charlemagne. 16 Butts, Education in the West, 167. 11 12
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in terms of its curriculum.17 It also changed the structure of schooling. For the end of the school was no longer literacy or even the proper upbringing of a peer, lord, or nobleman. It was to undertake a body of knowledge and practices sufficient to attend a university and practice a profession (law, medicine, theology). Theology especially became the purview of pedagogues; for theologians ran the universities. There was a renaissance at the end of the Middle Ages, not only of civilization but of schools. Schooling became increasingly tied to the arts, and particularly, literature and philosophy. No longer was it sufficient for a schoolmaster to be barely literate: he had to have knowledge of classical literature and philosophy, as well as the contemporary scene.18 Toward the fourteenth century some schools, particularly in Italy, began to de-emphasize Church doctrine in favor of the classics of Greece and Rome. In those countries inspired by the Lutheran and Reformed tradition, the school emerged once again as a dismal place for children, and many parents educated their children at home. There were ethical reasons for this turn from schools: the cultivation of a certain sort of moral character could not be trusted to the school. This character had to be developed in close approximation to a tutor or governor, one who would teach the child and adolescent through direct interaction and modeling.19 Hobbes spoke disparagingly of schools, and Locke thought they were an abomination: far better to have a gentleman tutor for one’s child than to send him off to a barely literate, ill-paid, and nasty pedagogue lacking the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness (virtues, I might add, necessary for a bourgeois society).20 Schools were thought of as baleful places of ignorance and shame through much of the Enlightenment. Of course, forces of reconstruction were in play, particularly toward the end of the Enlightenment, and we will see these in the next section. But for the most part, schools were not a place the gentleman would send his children. The question of the schools in ancient Greece, Rome, and continuing through to the Middle Ages was a manifestly political one: how to ensure the proper environment in which appropriate training and discipline take place such that children become proper citizens (in Greco-Roman culture) or bourgeois (in the latter Middle Ages and beyond). This question was answered variously. It
Butts, Education in the West, 167. Butts, Education in the West, 164. This was especially the case for the so-called private schools of the burgeoning middle class. 19 Ascham, The Schoolmaster. 20 For example, Locke talks about the sorry reputation of schools in late seventeenth-century England in Some Thoughts Concerning Education, esp. 145–146. 17 18
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was first answered with schoolchildren settled in a room, taught by a master or pedagogue. Eventually writing tablets were introduced. This basic model continued through the Middle Ages until the early Modern period, when the schools began to seem places of dereliction and ignorance. In these times, tutors were preferred to educate especially gentlemen, nobles, and the aristocracy. But this question of the political remained and would prevail in later understandings of the role of the school.
The Modern period: From Rousseau to Dewey A sea change in thinking concerning the school began during the Enlightenment. To begin with, the school became more secularized. I do not mean the school began to distance itself from Christian dogma or doctrine; rather, whereas the school had traditionally been seen as a venue for Christian doctrine and pedagogy, natural philosophy became more and more prevalent and often coexisted side by side with Christian teachings.21 This meant instruction in the sciences. Both changes to teaching and learning and the curriculum accompanied this. The upshot was a school more and more concerned with preparation of students for higher education, though a higher education less and less concerned with training for the clergy. As well, systems of schools began to take root; the various governments began to administer educational sites and programs, including pedagogy. Although private schools were certainly not diminished by this, schooling for the masses became more and more prevalent, especially during the eighteenth century. Finally, the aims of the school underwent profound transformation. Whereas before, the school was either a conduit for higher education (especially professional education) or a means of ensuring basic literacy, in the eighteenth century the school became more and more associated with a certain philosophical standpoint: that of the civilized and cultured person. This person we have seen. He is the person cultivated in the way of Bildung.22 While the pedagogical and curricular aspects of this education were emphasized, the school as institution also played its role. For one thing, schools became more and more progressive. What this meant was an emphasis on (quasi) scientific principles of pedagogy. Children were to be taught in phases and stages, and no longer treated as miniature adults. Primary and secondary education took
See Tröhler, The Languages of Education, 68–69. Again, see the special issue of the Journal of Philosophy of Education on Bildung, 36, 3 (2002); Løvlie and Standish, “Introduction.”
The Questions of Schools as Social Institutions
on further distinctions. Rousseau had a great deal to do with this: his emphasis on infancy, early childhood, and middle childhood and beyond occasioned schoolmasters and their governing officials to reconstruct the curricula and the institution.23 And while Rousseau clearly advocated for Émile’s early education to take place apart from society and the corrupting influences of amour propre, in fact the tendency was for more and more schools serving more and more of the middle classes. One of the earliest schools trumpeting the new progressive pedagogy was Johann von Basedow’s.24 Located in Dessau, Prussia, Basedow and his successors developed an entire program for students. This included programmed curricular material, primers, lessons developed on the basis of the ages and stages of children, a de-emphasis on corporal punishment and an emphasis on reward, as well as well-trained schoolteachers. Indeed, the training of schoolteachers became a key issue in the Enlightenment period. No longer were these poorly paid, barely literate members of the lower classes; they were very often gymnasium-trained and, in some cases, had university degrees. Basedow was followed in this regard by Pestalozzi, who in fact developed an entire district program in Burgdorf, Switzerland, at the very beginning of the nineteenth century.25 It is notable that Pestalozzi conducted his institute under the auspices of the Burgdorf school board: a bureaucratic institution of the government that was then novel, yet would in time become the norm throughout Europe and North America. Schools in North America and Great Britain in the nineteenth century were dismal affairs if we are to believe Horace Mann and later, Thomas Green. Mann in Massachusetts and Green in London were educational reformers: both drew heavily on the practices of German and Prussian schools. Mann thought that American schools needed to be brought in line with prevailing German standards, and this meant new buildings and reorganized classrooms.26 No longer would large wooden benches and awkward writing tablets suffice. Desks and chairs, better lighting and ventilation, room for children to stand, stretch, and play, and an educated schoolteacher who used punishment sparingly became the norm. Normal schools became prevalent and the profession was gradually feminized, Rousseau, Émile; von Basedow, The Philanthropinum; Pestalozzi, How Gertrude Teaches Her Children. 24 Von Basedow’s school famously received the attention of Kant in the mid-1770s. Kant wrote two letters of support for the school in Dessau and urged his readers to “contribute a ducat” to the school’s operations. See Immanuel Kant, “Essays Regarding the Philanthropinum,” in Anthropology, History and Education (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 25 Butts, Education in the West, 360. 26 Mann, The Republic and the School, esp. the earlier reports to the Massachusetts Board of Education. The Ninth Annual Report in particular (1845) is devoted to Pestalozzi’s methods. 23
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largely through the development of Normal schools.27 In England, Green had the task of getting schooling out of the hands of conservative and reactionary clergy. This he did through a succession of reports to the Royal Commission and through his powerful position as an Oxford professor. Green’s view of education resulted in a wholesale reconstruction of schools that lasted until the 1920s.28 The German idealist movement in Great Britain and North America did a great deal to reconceive the school. Beginning with Green in England and William Torrey Harris in the United States (as Commissioner of Education), pedagogy, curriculum, and the school underwent significant changes. In terms of the school, space for activity was made. Vocational education was downplayed. Governance was by school boards answering to commissioners and later, departments at state and federal levels. Yet, a new bureaucracy was established, with the teacher being the key point of contact for the student, but leaving curricular and (later) pedagogical matters to the administrators. Gradually the teacher became separated from the curriculum she was to teach and the pedagogy she was to enact: the teacher became the chief means of instruction, whereas the state or nation the purveyor of knowledge and practices. This went hand in hand with the feminization of teaching. It was this separation of the functions of teaching and curriculum from the social institution of the school against which Dewey rebelled. Bringing the school as community back into the fold required resisting the built-up bureaucracy that had decisions made at the highest levels with little or no input from teachers. While Dewey did not advocate for the wholesale removal of government and legislation from schools, he did want the locus of decision-making to reside in the school, and, where applicable, at the level of the classroom.29 To this end, Dewey advocated for unionization of teachers and was a founder member of the American Federation of Teachers.30 Dewey would in fact witness the increasing bureaucratization of the schools as government and legislation took more and more control of their direction and maintenance. The question of the political ends and aims of schools manifested once again in the Modern period. Here the emphasis was not so much on training a child for her role in the citizenry as cultivating a specific type of citizen: one that had
John D. Pulliam and James J. Van Patten, History of Education in America (Upper Saddle River: Merrill, 2007), 189. 28 For more on this, see Gordon and White, Philosophers as Educational Reformers: The Influence of Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice (London: Routledge, Kegan, and Paul, 1979). 29 John Dewey, The Educational Situation, MW 2, 273–274. 30 Westbrook, John Dewey and American Democracy, 479. 27
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character and culture. This was a bourgeois ideal, rather than (predominantly) aristocratic. It was a secularized variant of an earlier Protestant image of the free, Christian individual.31 It involved personal attention to details of conduct and manners, and it presumed an overarching ethical scheme. Gradually, a bureaucracy would be invested with the details of planning and execution, and school districts and institutes would form. But the question of the political ends and aims of schools would not disappear: what schools were for and how they should be run depended on the sort of citizen that was wanted. And though what was wanted took different shapes in different places and times, the fact that it was a citizen that was wanted did not.
The contemporary period Schools for many education theorists are currently highly bureaucratic organizations with distinct yet interrelated loci of power, authority, and control. They are hegemonic according to some: they reproduce and/or reinforce dominant ways of being, thinking, doing, and practicing.32 For others they are entirely too beholden to legislators that make decisions affecting schooling with little or no input from actual stakeholders such as teachers and parents.33 And for yet others they are public institutions where the poor, minority, and disenfranchised are sent while private and wealthy public schools educate the best and brightest.34 It seems that public schools (at least) are derelict institutions where little in the way of teaching and learning takes place, and the contribution to a dismal future is assured. This latter claim is of course a caricature of the views of theorists. There is, however, a grain of truth, here: schools are very often thought of as poor performers and in need of powerful and immediate support. Almost no theorists give up on schools, though a few feel that an alternative system, whether private, religious, or charter/voucher, is needed.35 The question of the schools for contemporary philosophers of education as well as theorists is Tröhler, The Languages of Education, 10–12. See Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America; Apple, Education and Power; Brosio, A Radical-Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education. 33 See Ira Shor, Culture Wars: School and Society in the Conservative Restoration 1969–1984 (Boston: Routledge & K. Paul, 1986). 34 See, for example, the recent discussion by Thomas Nechyba, The Social Context of Vouchers, in Handbook of Research on School Choice, eds., Mark Berends, Matthew G. Spring, Ballou, and Herber J. Walberg (New York: Routledge, 2009), 296. 35 Although perhaps Ivan Illich does. See Ivan Illich, Deschooling Education (New York: Harper Colophon, 1983). 31 32
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manifestly political in that it is often couched in terms of socio-political aims or ends. The question frequently implies a certain view of education and a certain set of goals education is under obligation to approach. These views and goals are also political. The ends of philosophers of education as well as theorists are political in that they hearken to a certain sort of society. Often this is a society that is undivided by the barriers of race, class, gender, geography, ability, and language. This is very often a system that embraces equality, equity, various cultural attitudes and practices (multiculturalism, inter-culturalism, pluralism), and the political legislation that goes along with these. Still others (clearly in the minority) think differently and embrace a system that conserves tradition.36 For philosophers of education, there is often a disconnect between their more enlightened thinking and the actual practices taking place in schools. This requires thinking through the existing practices and provision of an alternative or reconstructed set of practices. Of course, the philosopher of education cannot instantiate this new set of practices: this is the business of the legislator and administrators. But philosophers of education certainly hope, if not believe, that they can influence important stakeholders in this regard. In this respect, philosophers of education are among the vanguard of scholars attempting change to the existing structure of institutions on the basis of determined political ends and aims. Where philosophers of education received the idea of (political) change is a valid and interesting question to ask. To begin with, it did not come from variously articulated philosophies of education (excepting Dewey’s). There were, strictly speaking, no accounts of philosophy of education that were robust enough to provide political claims, as there were no philosophers of education that gave comprehensive accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics beyond the early twentieth century.37 In fact, the point of departure was existing social and political conditions, together with certain claims and considerations of philosophers and philosophers of education, as well as social and political theory, both in and outside of education. The question asked and answered had a pedigree that was not of philosophy of education for no
Here I am thinking of Michael Oakeshott and his followers. See, for example, Kevin Williams, Education and the Voice of Michael Oakeshott (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2007). Adler’s The Paideia Proposal also seems to me to be inherently conservative. 37 The last philosophers of education who gave us combined accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics were the idealists, and these had run their course by the 1930s. I am thinking in particular of Herman Harrell Horne and Boris Basil Bogoslovsky. Of course, Dewey’s philosophy of education was a combined account, though not one he expanded upon after 1916. For more on Horne and Bogoslovsky, see Butler, Idealism in Education. 36
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philosophy of education (excepting Dewey’s) had the means of provision to provide. Political questions that had a pedigree outside of philosophy of education were taken up at the very beginning of the discipline. To recall, we find in regard to the curriculum questions that very often resemble questions in respect of teaching and learning. These are 1. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons (and very often, groups) and society 2. Questions of the proper role for education vis-à-vis the relationship between persons, groups, and increasingly, cultures, populations, and even nations and international and multinational systems 3. Questions involving demonstrably political, as opposed to metaphysical, or even ethical analysis and accounting of the relationship of persons and groups to dominant institutions and their practices (testing, accountability, pedagogical techniques, and the like) These questions were asked and answered for a predominantly political end. The situation has not changed, although the number of questions has expanded owing to the co-optation of questions from other disciplines. It remains the case that questions involving the school as a social institution are overtly political.
Why are the existing questions of schools illegitimate? Now one may not be surprised by the above conclusion. One may say in response, “Of course the questions are political: the school is a socio-political institution!” True enough. And the origins of the questions are equally political; they have their origins in political accounts and not accounts of metaphysics, logic, or theory of knowledge. (Some accounts have their origins in ethical accounts: I am thinking for example of the use made by philosophy of education on discourse ethics and Kant.)38 But they are in no case developed organically out of a philosophy of education in conjunction with these other accounts. This is a problem of catastrophic proportions. For, without prior or at least corresponding and interrelated accounts of these, the political account either See Peters, Ethics and Education; Walter Okshevsky, “On the Epistemic Grounds of Moral Discourse and Moral Education: An Examination of Jürgen Habermas’s ‘Discourse Ethics,’” in Philosophy of Education (2004), 174–182; Christopher Martin, Education in a Post-Metaphysical World (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2012).
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claimed or implied begs the question; it cannot be defended because it has no basis in any account beyond itself. And not only does it have no basis beyond itself, it levels detached and contextless claims in support or criticism of schools.
Whose questions are being asked? To the questions at hand. These questions may arise out of prior philosophical accounts of politics but insofar as they do, they are cherry-picked for educational issues. While such political accounts do provide insight and are beneficial (I would be the last to suggest otherwise), they do not replace the need for a thorough and comprehensive account of philosophy of education if what is wanted is a philosophy of education. Unfortunately, this is how they are often used. As I have suggested, their pedigree lies in these other disciplines. These questions belong not to philosophy of education but political theory, sociology, economics, education, and within education, the subdisciplines of sociology, politics, and economics. Questions of the nature of the social institutions of education in a liberal-democratic state are social and political in nature. Questions of the best way to respond to social institutions given their liberaldemocratic nature and given the theoretical framework in which the scholar operates are social and political in nature. Now a social and political philosophy of education seems tailor-made for answering just these sorts of questions. Why is it not the case that a social and political philosophy of education could answer these? Because any social and political philosophy of education must have a (further) account of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics in order to avoid begging the question of origins. Now many social and political philosophies have these accounts, or are at least willing to invoke them when pressed by critics. Some of these are antiaccounts, especially of metaphysics. We can think of John Rawls here.39 But even the anti-account has to be consistent and coherent, obeying a certain logic, with consequences that are epistemic. An account or anti-account detached from the social and political philosophy that it supposedly buttresses merely betokens circularity in argument. Philosophers of education that work at the level of social and political philosophy seldom have accounts of metaphysics (or logic, or theory of knowledge) to avoid begging questions of origin. Some have anti-accounts— particularly those that follow Rawls, Habermas, Rorty, or certain poststructuralist John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 199.
The Questions of Schools as Social Institutions
and feminist thinkers.40 But many of these anti-accounts are very often pressed into service as boundary limits—limits that cannot be crossed—and do not constitute cogent responses to the question of origins. These are, in Richard Rorty’s felicitous phrasing, “Conversation-stoppers.”41 Furthermore, the questions asked by social and political philosophers of education frequently emanate not from philosophy of education but education and particularly the disciplines of sociology, politics, and economics. These, as I have maintained throughout, are illegitimate questions. Neither questions presupposing an anti-account nor questions belonging to other disciplines, then, are legitimate questions of philosophy of education. It may be thought that, apart from questions involving recourse to nonaccounts and questions belonging to another discipline, a third and genuine set of questions is being asked by philosophers of education: questions of a uniquely philosophical nature not being asked by philosophers. I am thinking here of the role of the school as social institution in the context of broader aims and ends of Western liberal-democratic theory and practice. Certainly philosophers are not asking these questions.42 Sometimes political theorists ask these questions, but not en masse.43 And educators too ask and answer these questions, though frequently from a program or curriculum standpoint.44 Thus a space is open; a space for philosophers of education that lies between philosophy, education, and political theory in which questions (and answers) of the school in relation to democracy are raised. This is perhaps the one area in which philosophy of education has claim to legitimate questions. It is certainly the area in my mind where the best scholarship in philosophy of education currently exists. At the confluence of these disciplines lies an open space for unique and irreducibly philosophical-educational questions regarding education. The role, aim, and end of the school in society (and democracy) is a question with a pedigree as See for example, Strike, Liberty and Learning; Rawls, Political Liberalism; Rene Vincente Arcilla, For the Love of Perfection (New York: Routledge, 1995); Richard Rorty, “Education as Socialization and as Individualization,” in Philosophy and Social Hope (New York: Penguin Books, 1999); Martin, Education in a Post-Metaphysical World; Gert Biesta and Michael Peters, Derrida, Deconstruction, and the Politics of Pedagogy (New York: Peter Lang, 2009); Applebaum, Being White, Being Good. 41 Richard Rorty, “Religion as Conversation-stopper,” Common Knowledge, 3, 1 (1994): 1–6. 42 Exceptions include Martha Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997). 43 See Amy Gutmann, Democratic Education (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987); Callan, Creating Citizens; Stephen Macedo, Diversity and Distrust: Civic Education in a Multicultural Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000); Brighouse, School Choice and Social Justice; Walter Feinberg and Kevin McDonough, eds., Citizenship Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 44 See John Goodlad and Pamela Keating, Access to Knowledge: The Continuing Agenda for Our Nation’s Schools (New York: College Board Publications, 1994). 40
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old as Plato and certainly was raised at the very beginnings of the discipline of philosophy of education (with Rousseau). Alone of all the questions it has an authentic pedigree. But it needs complimentary accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics for it to prosper. It remains in an inchoate state without invoking these.
To what end are the questions asked? The bulk of the questions asked by philosophers of education and social and political theorists in regard to schools (I am excluding the legitimate questions of the ends, aims, and role of school in society) are asked from a particular political standpoint, for a particular set of reasons, involving a particular set of ends or aims. This standpoint is very often liberal-democratic (though it can also be socialist—see Richard Brosio, Michael Apple, Henry Giroux, and Peter McClaren);45 the reasons are more and further equality, equity, transparency, publicity, welfare, and other social goods proper to a liberal-democratic society; the ends or aims are bound up with the nature of such a society and include beliefs regarding the fundamentality of liberalism, democracy, and/or socialism. Very often, these standpoints, reasons, and ends or aims are articulated, but their connections to accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics are left unarticulated or begged. While it is certainly expected that philosophers of education will have particular political and social beliefs—and beliefs that are defended and defensible—very often these beliefs are put forth without further argument. To say that we want a particular social practice (or don’t want a particular social practice) because it facilitates (or runs contrary to) the end or aim we believe is all well and good providing this end or aim is articulated and defended. Sometimes, however, it seems as if the end or aim is presupposed. This is the case with philosophers that do not make a case for the particular society they have in mind. To say something is right and good (or wrong and bad) requires articulation and defense. Such claims require recourse to further metaphysical, logical, and ethical accounts of human nature and sociality. The best claims and accounts are those that, while presupposing a particular philosophical standpoint (say that of liberalism or socialism), do not rest content with merely noting this,
See Brosio, A Radical-Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education; Henry Giroux, “Border Pedagogy and the Politics of Postmodernism,” Social Context, 28 (1991): 51–67; McClaren, Life in Schools; Hooks, Teaching to Transgress.
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but go on to argue at length for its desirability and cogency.46 We can see how and why asking the questions are important when we have such accounts.
How do these questions concern philosophy of education? The question of the relationship between the school and society is a valid one and deserves to be asked. It likely seems intuitive, for it certainly has a pedigree that goes back as far as the beginning of the discipline, stretching beyond this to the ancient Greeks and Plato/Socrates. Thus it seems to satisfy the origin concern. But we should not take this as reason enough to endorse it for philosophy of education. What in particular makes this question suitable for philosophy of education? I argue in defense of its uniqueness; it is a question not asked by (many) other disciplines. And it leads to further questions that are original for philosophy of education. However, unless the question of the relationship of school to society is asked in the context of a built up account(s) of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics, it will remain insufficiently contextual and any answer it provides will likely be question-begging.
Toward a new question I claim that there is an original question in regard to schools: the question of the relationship of the school as social institution to society. This is a manifestly social and political question. It has a long pedigree. And it is quasi-intuitive.47 Thus it seems to fulfill the requirements of originality. But, as I have also suggested, it is inchoate; underdeveloped without corresponding accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics. It will require these to avoid a question-begging account of its own when an answer is provided. This shall be our task in what follows.
The question of questions in schooling Before we investigate the question of the school, we must pause to note that this question invokes and involves two prior questions. These questions involve the Here, I am thinking of philosophers of education that press for these criteria to be met, including Walter Feinberg, Common Schools/Uncommon Identities (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999); Levinson, The Demands of Liberal Education. 47 By this I mean it follows naturally from the functionalist understanding of schools as social institutions tasked with the specific role of formal instruction and socialization. See Walter Feinberg, Understanding Education (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983). 46
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role and scope of teaching and learning and the curriculum (subject matters). These questions were developed earlier and are What is the nature of the process of the social transmission of the (normative) features of human existence from one generation to another? and What subject matter is necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning? To these we shall add our third question. This question will be somewhat reformulated from its presentation given earlier: for it must align with these other two questions. For questions answered spawn new questions. And these questions must be good fits with the existing questions, otherwise they will seem artificial rather than organic and consistent. To avoid question-begging at this stage of the argument, the question of questions must be answered. The question of questions as I construe it here is that of how to choose among possible questions. In other words, it concerns a method, together with an end to which that method turns, and from which a range of questions is drawn. I will discuss the end(s) first, and follow with the method. As I have said, philosophy of education needs to generate its own questions. But these questions do not arise ex nihilo: they presuppose both a context and an end. The context is teaching and learning and the curriculum. The end, however, is not the end that education writ large or its other subdisciplines (including the ends of contemporary philosophy of education) gesture toward. It is to be a new end. I believe means and ends drive one another. In this, I am aligning myself with a host of thinkers beginning with the German idealists and continuing through to Peirce, Dewey, and a good number of current philosophers of education.48 Indeed, it is difficult to find a philosopher of education nowadays who doesn’t think ends and means drive one another, or at the very least, relate to one another in a thoroughgoing and consistent manner.49 But means do not dictate ends: that is to say, ends are not in thrall to the means. Rather, means lead quite naturally to
A laundry list of thinkers could be invoked, here. Some of these include David Carr and Jan Steufel, Virtue Ethics and Moral Education (London: Routledge, 1999); Garrison, Dewey and Eros; Eric Bredo, “Reconstructing Educational Psychology,” Educational Psychologist, 29, 1 (1994): 23; Greene, The Dialectic of Freedom; Noddings, The Challenge to Care in Schools, 2nd ed. 49 Perhaps Harvey Siegel doesn’t. See Siegel, “The Future and Purpose of Philosophy of Education.” 48
The Questions of Schools as Social Institutions
ends. By naturally, I mean they are logically, metaphysically, epistemically, and/ or normatively consistent with the ends proposed and/or invoked. They operate together as a unit, though they can be decoupled for functional purposes. In a like manner, ends do not merely drive the means. The ends must be in accord with the means in the way I discussed, above. Ends and means must be consistent and coherent: again, the best metaphor to describe this is as a unit. We cannot start with a pre-given end. As I maintained in the context of the curriculum, whether social ends such as harmony, fellow-feeling, empathy, social recognition, or political ends such as democracy, social justice, equality, or equity, these cannot be put in place and made to drive means without circularity to the program of philosophy of education. Ends must develop out of means, and means must lead naturally to ends. The ends that we choose will have to have a strong relationship with the means we choose. The question of the school requires more precise formulation. I will now articulate this. What aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal) must the school possess to carry out of the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum as set forth in questions 1 and 2? The question of the metaphysical, logical, epistemic, and ethical accounts frequently mentioned but unarticulated now resurfaces. For we have examined three questions arising out of the concrete instances of educational theory and practice. We have, in other words, sufficient questions to begin to undertake the admittedly arduous examination of the role and scope of the branches of philosophy for philosophy of education. The manner of invoking these accounts cannot be from the outside or ex nihilo: it must be genuine, organic, and consistent with these. Thus, it will not do to import, say, Dewey’s philosophy of education, or Rawls’s procedural liberalism, or Foucault’s genealogy. The accounts must be developed organically, along with the questions asked and answered: as the concepts are generated and jettisoned, so too must the accounts be reconstructed. Now this seems impossible: for no account will be stable enough to survive the constant reconstruction of concepts. And metaphysical and logical programs especially are at a remove from these other accounts. Of course we begin with the accounts we do have. We have little choice in this matter. But we can (and do) reconstruct these through bringing them into conversation with the questions and answers. An account of metaphysics or logic for philosophy of education will not emerge with facility from the questions asked, but will necessitate reconstruction of any account thereby invoked for support. Certain accounts will and other
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accounts will not mesh with the concepts formed and re-formed. Accounts of logic that are reducible to, or commence from, symbolic formulations will be of little benefit to concepts attempting to manifest concrete instances; Platonist metaphysics in which forms exist in an invisible world or realm are also unlikely to be of benefit; and ethical theories that reduce moral action or motivation to a single principle will be of little assistance to the rough give-and-take of schools. So there will be some constraints. But we must allow these accounts to be reformed, not in the name of the account, but the questions and answers proper to philosophy of education. Thus we will have no choice but to begin where we are; but we will see that the accounts we begin with change along with the questions asked and answered in the process of constructing a philosophy of education. But, it might be asked, if this is the case—if philosophy of education is developing its accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics and socio-political philosophy from the questions asked and answered—then why reinvent the wheel? Why go to such trouble when philosophers of education are already asking and answering questions involving teaching and learning, the curriculum, and schools? Because philosophers of education are not asking and answering these questions in an organic and consistent way, and they have no non-question-begging accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-political philosophy to provide. The original questions are missing, and the questions being asked are not theirs. Thus the need to go back and ask original questions and to build up accounts of these. And these accounts remain to be developed. They will be developed, but only through asking and answering the questions, and not through importing them from outside. Finally, it may seem, having asked and answered these questions, the need for accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-political philosophy disappears. For the answers to the questions satisfy whatever need there was for these accounts. But this is to overlook the role that these accounts play in supporting the framework of the philosophy of education. The accounts developed alongside the questions and answers prevent these from begging the question. The questions and answers refer to the accounts and the accounts refer to the questions and answers. They mutually support and reinforce one another. When the question changes so too does the account(s). But the account never simply disappears; it is reconstructed. Again, we need a basis from which we can make claims that is not begged in the process of claiming. And it is this function the accounts provide for the questions and answers. The problem with existing questions and answers is their contextless nature: they do not belong to any further account (or any further account that arises naturally within philosophy of
The Questions of Schools as Social Institutions
education). This is precisely the problem that full accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and political philosophy are poised to overcome.
How will education benefit by the asking and answering of these questions? It likely seems obvious how education will benefit from philosophy of education asking and answering those questions: for this is one of the questions philosophy of education already asks and there has been much regard for it in the larger education scholarship.50 But beyond this, the question has the potential to provide education with even stronger accounts of teaching and learning and curriculum because this question, asked and answered as a natural extension of the other two questions, leads to a more comprehensive account than would otherwise be offered. Thus, the question would form part of a larger package, alongside and partly dependent upon accounts of teaching and learning and the curriculum. If this is conjoined with metaphysical, logical, epistemic, and ethical accounts of human nature and sociality, then it emerges as a powerful tool for educators to draw on in their particular disciplines. I envisage theorists of schools making use of accounts of philosophy of education in regard to the schools in these ways: 1. As points of departure for further questions and accounts of regulations and laws, governmental oversight, state, district, and board structure and function, and the administration of individual schools 2. As points of departure for questions and accounts dealing with normative concerns, especially concerns regarding the aims and ends of the school in relation to groups, communities, the state, and the federal government Once again, the emphasis must be placed on philosophy of education asking and answering its own questions. Only then will school theorists and experts properly avail themselves of legitimate accounts of the schools: accounts that are built up out of genuine questions of philosophy of education, and not questions with predetermined ends or contextless answers. Indeed, this is perhaps the one area where the scholarship of philosophy of education impacts broader educational debates. Questions of epistemic import, such as critical realism or constructivism in subject matters, invariably devolve into questions regarding the introduction of new methods and new ways of thinking into the schools, and the attendant changes this will create for systems and policies.
Toward a New Program I have endeavored to lay out an argument for the importance of philosophy of education to reconstruct itself through attention to original questions. I have also stressed the importance of developing organic accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics that complement and, indeed, buttress the asking and answering of these and further questions. I have said little about the vision for philosophy of education beyond this, I believe it will take a generation or so before legitimate questions and answers spark novel accounts of these. I don’t anticipate this being problematic providing that separate philosophies of education rely on their own internal accounts to buttress themselves. In fact, I anticipate accounts as unique as the (further) questions asked. As these accounts are one with regard to the question and answers, I take this to be the right course. As I suggested in Part Two, certain philosophical accounts will be more amenable than others to reconstruction. As we cannot avoid introducing these into our questions and answers, yet we are counseled to be cautious lest they overtake them, we will need to practice vigilance in regard to their use. I don’t want to be seen as constraining the sorts of accounts that can be initially invoked (though as I already mentioned, some accounts are destined to be more helpful than others). Yet some accounts are dogmatic in that they do not allow for the potential of change, and as such, they cannot be counted on to reconstruct along with the concepts arising out of questioning and answering. Far better to begin with accounts embedded with an element or aspect of self-correction. This narrows accounts to those that are open-ended, fallibilist, placing a great deal of emphasis on transformation. Of course I have my biases and here is no exception: I believe that accounts ranging from those of the German idealists, to the classical pragmatists, and beyond to certain post-analytic philosophers are the best to work with—at least initially. But providing accounts are not dogmatic and have a mechanism to ensure open-endedness, I suppose that
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all are theoretically plausible as a point of departure for novel philosophies of education. The question of the proper role of these accounts vis-à-vis the questions and answers is a valuable one to address. As I see the accounts building up concurrently with the asking and answering of questions, I consider them to be emergent, not fixed or ready-made. If we take the three questions and their answers as our point of departure, the accounts will consist in the concepts we develop therein. We won’t expect to have answers to fundamental metaphysical questions (besides whose province is not ours); rather we will expect to have metaphysical questions generated from the contexts of teaching and learning, the curriculum, and the school and its relationship in society. The same will go for logic, theory of knowledge, and ethics: we will expect that concepts operative in these accounts will generate out of the questions and answers of teaching and learning, the curriculum, and the school. In the meantime we use existing accounts sparingly, and as bridges to cross until we can develop our own. As I have already suggested, this needs to take place first and foremost in the journals common to philosophy of education. Reasking the questions and providing nascent concepts are not solitary endeavors: they are scholarly ones, involving and invoking the entire community. While it is certainly reasonable to suppose a few will put out grand systems of philosophy of education based on asking and answering these questions, it is far more likely that this will be done piecemeal, through the usual give and take of scholarly debates in the journals and conferences. Through the call and response of questions and answers, certain limitations in regard to the questions will be noted. Certain live possibilities in thought will be shown to fail at the point of grasping the concrete instance and being grasped in turn, and these concepts will be jettisoned or reconstructed. Scholars will alight on the better questions and answers as a result of conceiving of ends that are flush with their corresponding concrete instances. Soon a scholarship uniquely belonging to philosophy of education will emerge. This will be the time, I think, when graduate programs invest in the recent scholarship and begin to support students through an introduction to these questions, answers, and accounts, and help them to formulate new questions that take their point of departure not from the existing stock of questions belonging to philosophy or education, rather these novel and unique ones. Potential scholars will be attracted to the profession because of its selflegitimating nature. At this point I believe it will be proper to open up the discipline to other disciplines within education. The accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-political philosophy built up out
Part Four: Toward a New Program
of asking and answering our own questions will be robust enough that others can source these without fear of begging the question. Philosophy of education will then be in a position to contribute to other disciplines’ scholarship without being beholden to them. We will thus be valuable, both to the academy and to education. We will not want for attention or respect when we develop and answer our own questions. But we must have the wherewithal to do so, and this means courage of our convictions. I doubt those that see current philosophy of education as a well-functioning enterprise will be tempted to join this movement.1 There is no question of the courage of their convictions, but they have no convictions beyond those of maintaining the status quo. It is not to them that this manifesto is addressed; rather to those that are dissatisfied with the current direction, together with the current questions and answers philosophy of education is asking and answering. To those that are dissatisfied and wish to change the direction of the discipline, here is an opportunity. With this in mind, I turn once again to the questions at hand.
There are, of course, those that do not. Suissa laments the wholesale turn to impoverished models and programs of educational research in Great Britain that keep new philosophers of education from competently mastering their field and the techniques therein. See J. Suissa, “Shovelling Smoke: The Experience of Being a Philosopher on an Educational Research Training Programme,” Journal of Philosophy of Education, 40, 4 (2006): 547–562. But external encroachment of other disciplines on philosophers of education, while troubling, is not the only impediment: far more insidious and damaging is the internalization of the problems of philosophy on the one hand, and educational practice on the other. This was the claim of Part One.
Question 1 The question that was asked in Section One of Part Two was this: What is the nature of the process of the social transmission of the (normative) features of human existence from one generation to another? From this question I will attempt to derive a rudimentary account of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. While this might seem a daunting task, I argue that it is feasible. We can begin by asking over the legitimate consequences of the question: the (hypothetically) necessary because deductive conclusions that follow from the question as premise. From this we can develop a sort of limit-concept that (further) brackets legitimate from non-legitimate consequences. And we can put our question in the hypothetical frame of a concept to generate concrete instances. From these instances, we can note the limitations of the concept and gesture toward its breakdown and subsequent reformation anew.
The consequences of the question: Hypothesis formation To get at the consequences of asking the above question, we need to rephrase it in terms of a hypothesis. This rephrasing is as follows: “There is a nature to the process of the social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another that we can get at.” Hypothesizing the question puts it in the guise of a tentative because conditional claim; it is a statement or proposition that can be experimentally carried out. This experimentation is doubtless an experiment in thought; that is, it is one-sided at least until it manifests its concrete instances and is grasped in turn by these. But it is nevertheless a necessary point of departure for this manifestation. From this hypothesis we can deduce hypothetically necessary conclusions of consequences, which can be put in the guise of deductive claims.
Problems in Philosophy of Education
The conclusions of the question When we ask over the nature of the process of social transmission we are asking over a set of hypothetically necessary conditions for social transmission to take place. These are deductive conclusions that result from the hypothesis and are logically equivalent to the hypothesis. They are thus bivalent and bi-conditional.1 This is roughly the hypothetico-deductive method of Peirce and Dewey.2 From this, a set of general principles that order kinds and classes can be developed. And from this, a metaphysical account can be developed. This metaphysical account will not yet be our concern; but we will return to this after moving through the process of experimentation. In the meantime, it will do to examine the nature of the hypothesis. To begin with, let us look at the issue of logical equivalence between hypothesis and thesis (deductive). To say a hypothesis and thesis are logically equivalent is to say that for each hypothesis there is a corresponding set of necessary claims and consequences that proceed from the hypothesis.3 Thus, any given hypothesis will have consequences deducible. For example, Johnny passed his test because he did his homework.
There is a set of necessary consequences such that if the hypothesis proves correct then the following will happen. The obvious conclusions are 1. Johnny took the test. 2. The test was there for Johnny to take. 3. Johnny had homework to do. A set of necessary consequences follows from the hypothesis “There is a nature to the process of the social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another that we can get at” that we have invoked. Let us see what the obvious ones are: 1. There is social transmission. 2. There is human existence. 3. There are generations. This insight comes courtesy of Cheryl Misak. See Misak, “Objectivity, Bivalence, and Truth,” in Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth (Oxford: Clarendon, 2004), 125–167. 2 Dewey, Experience and Nature, 123–124; C.S. Peirce, “Deduction, Induction, and Hypothesis,” in The Essential Peirce, eds., C. Kloesel and N. Houser (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), vol. 1, 188–190. 3 Peirce, “Sundry Logical Conceptions,” 288. In this 1903 syllabus for the Lowell Lectures (unprinted for the audience), Peirce details two kinds of deduction: necessary inference and inference of probability. It is the first kind of inference I invoke, here. 1
4. There is a process and a nature to that process. 5. We can get at that process. But there are more interesting claims to be made. For example, 6. Human existence is got at through a process. 7. Human beings engage in social transmission. 8. Social transmission occurs from generation to generation. 9. Social transmission involves normative features. 10. What we get at when we get at the normative features of human existence is the nature of the process of social transmission. So let these be our leading deductively produced consequences. These are hypothetically necessary consequences; that is, they follow deductively from the original hypothesis. They are logically equivalent to that hypothesis. Consequently, if they fail, the hypothesis fails, and if they are correct, the hypothesis is correct. What remains is to test these deductive consequences through inductive procedures; in effect, to experiment with them in thought through the manifestation of concrete instances that then grasp their concept. The set of consequences, which I shall now call for short the concept of social transmission, must have its concrete instances. And this leads us to posit the kinds and classes (or principles) of the concept. I will take all of these consequences (and there are likely more) collectively as the concept and attempt to articulate the concrete instances of these (I will concentrate on the last five).
A nascent concept We shall call the concept the set of deduced consequences that follow from, and are logically equivalent to (bivalent and bi-conditional), the hypothesis. Thus, the concept is not a single entity or representation, rather a collection of similarly deduced claims or consequences that follow logically (inferentially) from the hypothesis. If the concept, as the set of logically deduced consequences of the hypothesis, fails, the hypothesis fails, and we will need to generate a new hypothesis. We will know if a concept and thus a hypothesis fails if it is unable to manifest or grasp its concrete instances in the guise of concrete instances in thought, empirical examples or practices. (In the final inductive stage, we will also see if the instances are able to grasp their concept as the concept grasps its instances.)4 This roughly corresponds to Dewey’s notion of “deliberative rehearsal” at the level of thought and practice (concept grasping its instance in thought as well as in practice), as detailed in How We
Problems in Philosophy of Education
The concept and its concrete instances To begin with, what are the concrete instances of the necessary consequence of human beings engaging in social transmission? Here we press for examples. And examples are plenty. They are historical and empirical. When human beings engage with one another, they engage in social transmission. Of course, this is circular. We could very well say they engage in violence. One way to do this is through classification. We can say when we educate, we have a concrete instance of human beings engaging in social transmission, for what it means to educate is to transmit. This is admittedly (still) circular. But notice it fits with the concept. It is no shame to claim a concept in regard to its concrete instances is circular (or tautological) for that is what it means for a concept to fit with its concrete instances. We now have a kind or class—the kind, education. And this serves to demonstrate the connection between the concept (as set of deduced consequences) and its concrete instance. Let us go further: what is a concrete instance of “Human existence is got at through a process”? As a concrete instance is an imagined empirical manifestation, we might think of the use of a method applied to or invoked in coming to understand or explain human existence. Method is a kind or class in this regard: it is a kind that serves as a working general principle to gather the particular instances in which we undertake the sort of process necessary to get at human existence. Method will in turn contain various techniques that we can instantiate or use; these are techniques such as hypothesis formation, deduction, induction, probability/statistical sampling, and the like. We will conjoin method with education as a (loose) set of interconnected kinds that serve to make the relationship between the concept (as the set of deductive consequences) and its concrete instance (the empirical manifestations or practices) visible. Let us proceed to the next deductive consequence: “Social transmission occurs from generation to generation.” What concrete instance of this claim can be made? This will once again be an empirical manifestation or actual circumstance (in thought) from the deductive consequence. Here, we can think of instances of imitation, modeling, socialization (in its broadest sense), upbringing, formal training, and any number of other kinds or classes involved
Think, 2nd ed., LW 7, 192–193. We grasp in thought and we grasp in practice; ultimately, we grasp in thought and practice.
in delineating what it is we do (or what a child does) when social transmission occurs. We can take these kinds, together with the concrete instances they represent, as anticipated empirical manifestations of the consequence or concept. There is fit between the concept (as deductive consequence) and the concrete instance (of the practice of social transmission from one generation to the other) as a result of the typified kind or class that is invoked to represent these instances. The next deductive consequence is: “Social transmission involves normative features.” What examples that serve as concrete, particular instances can we imagine for this? We need to first understand the term “normative features.” I will construe the definition broadly to include those features that we invoke, imply, or that otherwise result in intelligent desire or valuing.5 Thus a normative feature is a feature either involved in or the end of a desire, a want, a wish, or (more broadly) what I or we value. With this in mind, social transmission involves not only transmitting something we call knowledge, but desired traits, attitudes, tempers, norms, and beliefs. I will call this ethics—ethics in the sense of Sittlichkeit or an ethical community or context in which social transmission of values and the attitudes toward valuing and valuation occurs.6 (It will no doubt be apparent that we already have a beginning framework for one of our accounts of philosophy—ethics.) Ethics as a concept will include concrete instances of the transmission and subsequent taking up of these traits, attitudes, tempers, norms, and beliefs. To the degree that the concept is able to instantiate these instances, it fits with the class, ethics. The final consequence I wish to consider is: “what we get at when we get at the normative features of human existence is the nature of the process of social transmission.” Here, the inference is from the normative features of existence to the nature of the process. We have established the normative features and have named the concept of these: ethics. From ethics we infer the nature of the process: method. Method invokes the concepts of imitation, modeling, socialization, upbringing, and (formal) training. And social transmission invokes the class, education. Thus we have conjoined a set of classes that imply and infer one another, but more importantly, generate concrete instances. We
The invocation is to Dewey in Human Nature and Conduct, MW 14, esp. 174–175. Here, the condition for desire to be intelligent is that it channels blind impulse into desire through the building up of habits out of systematic inquiry. Values are intelligent only when subjected to this inquiry. 6 Of course, the locus classicus of this is in Hegel. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, ed., A. Wood, translated by H.N. Nisbet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), esp. 142–157. For a naturalized account of Hegel’s Sittlichkeit, see Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct, esp. Chapter 4. 5
Problems in Philosophy of Education
have the kinds education, method, ethics, together with the particular classes of education, including imitation, modeling, socialization, upbringing, and formal training (these do not exhaust the potential classes). Each of these has its own concrete instances, but each of these also participates in the broader kind or concept, education. For education is to socially transmit ethics using a method.
The breakdown of the concept We have a concept: this concept is education. Education consists in certain kinds (imitation, modeling, socialization, and upbringing/training). Education is the social transmission of ethics (including kinds of valuing and valuation, desire, wish, and want). Education implies and invokes a method. This method is how we arrive at the explanation and understanding of human existence (including the kinds, hypothesis, deduction, and induction). Thus, education will consist in further kinds (ethics, method) that themselves consist of further kinds. The entire apparatus is brought to bear on concrete instances, as well as the particular kinds within each larger kind. Breakdown of the concept generally occurs in regard to a particular kind not fitting or meshing with its concrete instance, leading to metaphorical fissures and cracks in the larger kind. There will be, for example, numerous instances of method (as hypothesis, deduction, induction) in which these kinds do not fit or instantiate their concrete instances and instances that do not grasp their purported kinds. These kinds certainly do not exhaust what it means to inquire into social phenomena and other kinds will have to be generated to fit their particular instances. New statistical techniques will be needed to explicate large data sets—techniques that are not represented in the repertoire of existing techniques. This would be a fissure for the kind “statistics” or “statistical sampling technique,” which is itself a subordinate kind to “method.” Alternatively, the kinds “imitation” and “modeling” do not fit all instances of childhood social development and must be augmented by other kinds or limited to just certain social phenomena. These fissures will grow inasmuch as fit becomes problematic. Eventually, fissures will result in rupture of the dominant concept: “imitation,” “modeling,” or “statistics” will need to be entirely rethought. And this will herald the emergence of a new concept. I am saying that it is highly likely that at least some of our existing kinds will break down, leading to the reconstruction or even jettisoning of various
concepts. This speaks to the fallibilism of any particular concept or kind. So far, I think the major historical concepts (education, ethics, and method) remain intact; but lesser concepts or kinds held within have undergone tremendous historical transformation. I am not supposing I can predict what new concepts will look like. But I do suppose that more and further change will be the rule. The breakdown of teaching and learning is not a question of if, but when. We should be fallibilists about this, as the likelihood of the breakdown of teaching and learning is tied to the shifting concrete practices that take place in the contexts of social-political changes that teaching and learning attempts to assimilate under its kind or concept. A new hypothesis that consists in other deductive consequences that will in turn be tested inductively is the likely result of the failure of teaching and learning, just as it will be to the failure of curriculum and schools. The name “school,” as with the names “teaching and learning” and “curriculum,” is not so important; what is important is the fit between the concept and its concrete or practical instances: for the worth of a concept is not to be found in its name, but its capacity to grasp what it claims is graspable and to be grasped in turn.
The accounts of philosophy Here I will try to derive deductive consequences from stated hypotheses in regard to metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. These will be tentative; I will add to them as we progress through the questions. My aim here is to see what we can legitimately claim regarding these and what boundaries will need to be drawn. All of this is premised on the hypothesis that there is education and that it involves a method, an ethics and a host of lesser kinds that participate in these. I do not gesture directly to any particular philosophy of education, here. But I do think and I will say idealism in its most objective accounting is closest to what I believe. I discuss the advantages of idealism in much more detail in a corresponding volume.7 For now, I turn to the sorts of accounts we can develop from the hypotheses.
I will discuss certain philosophical presuppositions; presuppositions needing to be in place for a cogent and comprehensive philosophy of education that derives its accounts from original questions in the appendix. The presuppositions include accounts of metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics drawn from the idealist, classical pragmatist, and post-analytic traditions. I have indicated in the footnotes where I draw upon specific accounts. I leave the fuller accounts for a corresponding volume.
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Metaphysics We have one hypothesis, several deductive consequences, and a number of kinds already formulated in answer to our question. Let us proceed and see what sort of philosophical accounts we can produce. To begin with, the panoply of metaphysical accounts can be developed (or at least, not systematically refuted) from the hypothesis. These can include Platonic or Platonic-like accounts of essences, forms, standards, and ideas; Cartesian accounts of the mind; Aristotelian accounts of final and/or divine ends; and more naturalistic accounts of experience and the traits or features of existence. The hypothesis can generate numerous deductive consequences in the form of metaphysical claims. Recall the hypothesis: “There is a nature to the process of the social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another that we can get at.” Now from this, we can generate the following (disparate) consequences: 1. There is a God in Heaven that drives the nature of the process. 2. The normative features of human existence are pure forms or ideas. 3. There is a divine teleology that compels the social transmission of the normative features from one generation to another. 4. We can have a clear and distinct (intuitive) idea of what the nature of the process is. 5. The normative features of human existence are generic. My point here is not to endorse one or another of these accounts; it is merely to demonstrate that nothing in the hypothesis prevents us from developing these wildly disparate hypothetico-deductive consequences. It is in the inductive move—the move to fitting these consequences (as concepts) with their particular instances that the hypotheses break down. For in most of these cases (I will reserve discussion of 5 for later), the problem of fit becomes apparent. Take, for example, consequence 1. If we rephrase this in terms of a conceptual claim, we get: God in Heaven drives the nature of the process of social transmission.
Now, what we will need is a set of confirming concrete instances through which this concept becomes manifest. And here lies the problem: what possible instances can count as concrete with regard to God in Heaven driving the process? We certainly have a range of explanations, which we will call kinds. One kind is the intelligent design argument. Other kinds follow from the proofs
of existence of God (the so-called ontological, cosmological, teleological, and physical-theological proofs). Yet another kind might be found in moral theology and the need for a supernatural being to drive the moral structure of the (human) universe. Yet none of these can (straightforwardly) count as concrete instances.8 So we are back to where we started: with the concept but no concrete instances. And so the concept of God in Heaven takes us nowhere. I think a similar story can be told for each of these deductive consequences, with the exception of 5. I will look at this a bit more closely. The conceptual claim here is: The normative features of human existence are generic.
What I mean by generic is universal, though not universal in some Platonic, supernatural sense: rather generic in the sense of belonging to what it means to be human. Thus, normative features that are generic are the features of valuing, valuation, desire, wish, and want that are bound up in humanity and partly definitive of what it means to be human. So we should (if we make a conditional hypothesis) find these features in all human beings. This is of course now an empirical question: the concept demands its confirming instances. I do believe that there are confirming instances to be had for this concept. To my mind, it is counterintuitive to think of a human being (past early infancy) that grows up in a social environment (excluding perhaps ones of extreme neglect and/ or abandonment) and not desiring, valuing, evaluating, wanting, and wishing. More may be asked over this, and I would refer those interested to the leading claims of developmental psychology.9 But here we may begin to develop a metaphysical account. For if there are normative features that can be pointed to, and if these are generic features of human existence, then we have at least a naturalistic metaphysical claim: a claim about the generality of the human being as human.10 Our account is admittedly
In Hegel’s terms, they cannot evince individuality, as they are not (yet) concrete. They remain at the level of internality or externality, but not totality or completeness. See Hegel, Science of Logic, esp. “The General Notion.” Here, Hegel distinguishes the relations within the Notion, which consist in generality, particularity, and individuality. Individuality is the mediation of the other two, and it is “absolute determinateness, or individuality and concreteness.” Henceforth, individuality would denote the concrete manifestation of the Notion (in Logic, in Nature, and Spirit)—in its totality or completeness. 9 Of course, I am thinking of Dewey, where intelligent desires form habits that, once in place, direct the evaluation of further desiring along a means-end-in-view continuum. See Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct, esp. Chapter 21—Desire and Intelligence. 10 The account I am thinking of is Deweyan; but it also encompasses non-metaphysical accounts of Hegel. What it means to be human is just to have and operate by these features. As human, rational animals, we are endowed with certain traits and features that allow us form and act on 8
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inchoate (but we will add to this in short order). Nevertheless, this is a base— indeed, a point of departure—for other claims to be generated. And these claims too will be confirmed or disconfirmed according to their concrete instances. (I believe there are a number of claims to be made, but here I note only the most basic of them. I will discuss other claims in the following division.)
Logic As with metaphysics, so with logic: there are innumerable deductive consequences that follow from the hypothesis, “There is a nature to the process of the social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another that we can get at.” To begin with, there is a claim that there is a nature to the process; that the process is (a) social transmission; that what is transmitted are normative features; that these belong to or consist in human existence; that this transmission is from one generation to another; and that we can get at this nature. These are all leading premises; as understood, the entire hypothesis is merely a string of claims. For it to be logically coherent, it needs to be put in the form of a hypothetically necessary conditional. I will render it so for the purpose of this section. The conditional claim will be: If there were a nature to the process of the social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another, we would be able to get at it. norms. This would jibe with recent accounts of Hegel’s naturalistic notion of self-activity. See Hegel, Zusätze to Section 413, in Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971). “Looking back over it, we shall recall how the human soul, in contrast to the animal soul which remains sunk in the singleness and limitation of sensation, has raised itself above the limited content of what is felt or sensed, a content which is in contradiction with its inherently infinite nature, has transformed this content into an ideal moment, and particularly in habit has made it into something universal, inwardized, and total, into a being; and also how by this very act has filled the initially empty space of its inwardness with a content appropriate to its universality, has placed the being of the content within itself, just as, on the other hand, it has transformed its body into the likeness of its ideality, of its freedom, and thus has reached the stage where it exists in the ‘I’ as the self-related, individually determined universal, a self-existent, abstract totality freed from corporeity.” Göttlob Fichte is the progenitor of this way of thinking—a thinking that locates the basis of our self-awareness of our normativity in the activity of self-positing. This was an act of freedom for Fichte. See G. Fichte, “Second Introduction to the Wissenschaftslehre,” in Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and Other Writings, edited and translated by D. Breazeale (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994), Section 459. “It is only in this way that the I comes into being at all, i.e., by means of an acting that is itself directed at acting; and this specific, determinate way of acting is not preceded by any sort of ‘acting as such’ or ‘in general.’ It is only for the philosopher that the I can be said to be already present in advance, as a fact; for the philosopher has already constituted experience in its entirety.” As with other philosophical presuppositions for philosophy of education, I will have much more to say about this activity in a corresponding volume.
Now we have a hypothesis that can be defended or refuted. We already have certain deductive consequences drawn from this hypothesis, but I want to examine what deductive logical consequences we might draw. To begin with, in putting forth this hypothesis, we are logically committed to the following: 1. That an answer to the question can be given, whether now or later, involving perhaps various method(s). 2. That each of the terms can be logically got at sufficient to work with to produce inferences This is enough with which to begin. The methods that will get at the answer are potentially varied. They include a stepwise movement from the deductive consequences to the establishment of kinds in which concrete instances can be confirmed. Closely allied to this is a scientific model or method of inquiry, in which the hypothesis establishes necessary claims that are demonstrated through experimentation. It may be the case that the claim proves unfalsifiable or tautological, or requires additional resources in the form of auxiliary hypotheses: in this case, it will not become what Peirce called “The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate.”11 In any event, the deductive consequences will not block the way of inquiry. We will have recourse to the logical account again, when we consider the relationship between this hypothesis and the two hypotheses generated from the other respective questions.
Theory of knowledge Just what necessary consequences can be drawn from the hypothesis vis-à-vis a theory of knowledge? And what theory of knowledge, if any, is presumed by “There is a nature to the process of the social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another that we can get at?” To begin with, this will be a theory of knowledge that assumes we can get at the nature of the process of the social transmission. This of course covers a wide range of epistemic stances: it includes, for example, classic stances (Justified True Belief or JTB, common-sense realism), and causal theories (S has knowledge of P if in fact P is somehow causally connected with S believing that P). It also covers coherentist accounts such as reasons analysis (P has knowledge of S if and only Charles S. Peirce, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear,” in The Essential Peirce, eds., C. Kloesel and N. Hauser (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), vol. 1, 124–141.
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if it can be shown that P is correct about S). It can also cover disquotationalist accounts—accounts of justified belief or belief without appeal to Truth. At this stage of question-asking, we do not yet have to decide. We will have to decide, however, when we broach the question of success in the concept’s ability to grasp its particular instances: for we will want to ask over what the meaning of this is. Will we say this is justification? In one sense it surely is a matter of justification that is being asked over when we say a concept is correct or proper or right insofar as it can grasp its concrete instances. Whether this requires an account of truth (JTB) or merely an account of justification (JB) and whether this requires a foundationalist claim (with common-sense realism) or not (with reasons analysis and disquotationalism) remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I do have my opinion and I steer away from the foundationalist and common-sense realist commitments and lean toward the justificationist and disquotationalist ones. (I have some regard for a causal accounting of truth, as I discuss in a corresponding volume.) This is primarily because I see issues involving necessity and certainty in claims to truth and rightness in the inductive move of the concept to grasp its concrete instances as inhibitive of the natural evolution of concepts.12 So I will not pursue those avenues. Let me say a bit more about this inductive move. The breakdown of any concept, however necessary it might have once seemed, is inevitable. This is a historical-empirical claim that in turn depends upon a long-run view or ideal limit for its truth, but I think I am on strong ground to claim that we haven’t had a concept that so thoroughly and completely grasps its concrete, particular instances that it has stood the test of historical time.13 Now, if the concept is bound to break down because it can no longer grasp particular instances, it loses whatever status of necessity it once possessed vis-à-vis its ability to grasp these instances. An old concept breaks down and is either reconstructed (through tweaking and/or additions/subtractions) or jettisoned and replaced by a new yet It seems to me that certain interpreters of Peirce spend far too much time on truth and certainty in his accounting of scientific method and the quest for Reality. Certainly, Peirce thought there were “truths” and “reals.” He chided William James for his fuzziness on truth in correspondence. But too much time has been spent on emphasizing truth and certainty (and reality) at the expense of Peirce’s fallibilism. So when Peirce says “reality is independent, not necessarily of thought in general, but only of what you or I or any number of finite men may think about it” (Peirce, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear,” 139), it is sometimes forgotten that reality reveals itself only in investigation and that we never come closer to reality than in our beliefs. I find Cheryl Misak and Susan Haack, otherwise able interpreters of Peirce, fall into the trap of overemphasizing reality and truth (and certainty) at the expense of thought and belief. See Misak, Truth and the End of Inquiry, esp. 55, where fallibility is contrasted with what Misak supposes is infallibility; and Susan Haack, “Fallibilism and Necessity.” Synthese, 41, 1 (1979), 59. 13 So we haven’t had what Peirce would say is the condition of being “unable to doubt a proposition, then as long as he is in this condition he should regard it as absolutely certain except so far as this certainty is modified by his general sense of human fallibility” (MS 329, 12, 1904). 12
different concept. Understanding the operation of concepts this way precludes, I think, any gesturing toward JTB or common-sense realist accounts of truth, absolute certainty, timeless necessity, and the like. It augurs for accounts that have built into them space for contingency, ambiguity, and (perhaps most important of all) fallibility. I think that the best accounts of knowledge will be those that neither commit to truth (JTB) or make truth a mere matter of semantics (meaning). This still leaves a number of accounts “on the table,” so to speak: this includes Deweyan accounts of warranted assertion; the Fichtean, Schellingean, and Hegelian accounts of taking-true as opposed to truth in and of itself; truth as the fixation of (scientific) belief, and perhaps even the “foundherentism” of Haack.14 I will return to this point in the conclusion.
Ethics The hypothesis “There is a nature to the process of the social transmission of the normative features of human existence from one generation to another that we can get at” is irreducibly normative. Regardless of its metaphysical, logical, or epistemic status, this claim involves and invokes social conditions and human conduct. (It is also conjoined with the political, which I shall discuss in the next section.) There are deductive consequences that can be drawn from this hypothesis. These include 1. Human beings live in a social context. 2. Social transmission is the way (though perhaps not the only way) to pass along features that are normative. 3. Social transmission takes place from one generation to another. 4. There are normative features that are passed along from one generation to another. 5. Human beings in social contexts practice social transmission of normative features from one generation to another. Let us examine each of these. To begin with, human beings live in a social context. This deductive consequence of the hypothesis will require the formation of a concept to (further) grasp its particular instances. (I think the instances are pretty clear, but a concept nevertheless needs articulation.) The concept does not yet have to exhaust all we can say about human living or existence; it merely has to fit the concrete instances of them in thought. See, for example, Susan Haack. Evidence and Inquiry: A Pragmatist Reconstruction of Epistemology (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993).
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Likewise for 2: the deductive consequence of social transmission as the way to pass along features that are normative insists on a concept to grasp particular instances. For 3, passing along the normative features from generation to generation requires a concept of generational transmission that allows for the grasping of just those concrete instances. And for 4, a concept that insists it is the normative features that are passed along is required. Finally, 5 is synthesis of the consequences that follow deductively from the hypothesis: this could perhaps result in the formation of a meta-concept; a concept containing the other concepts and including their concrete instances. I have called this meta- or nesting concept, education. To practice education is minimally to 1. Be human 2. Be in a social context 3. Practice and/or endorse normative features of (human) existence, including desiring, wanting, wishing, approaching, valuing, and (what Dewey calls) intelligence15 4. Engage in social transmission, as either receiver or received (and likely both) 5. Engage in social transmission by receiving from elders and passing to children 6. As a human being in a social context engaging in normative activities, transmitting those features to others or being the recipient of that transmission
Socio-politics Of course, any social context takes place in and presupposes a political one. The political context we are concerned with is ours; that is to say, the context of a Western, liberal-democratic nation-state with a constitutional apparatus.16 This is not to say that other political contexts do not have the wherewithal to support education as discussed above, for they most certainly do. However, the particular social practices, including the habits of thought that construct
Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct, esp. Chapter 21. Thus, I limit myself to talking about philosophies of education whose uptake is for Western, liberaldemocratic nations. This of course excludes nations whose governing systems are not liberal-
them and in turn are challenged and reconstructed, are very different from political context to political context, and it would be a grave mistake to sever the connection between the rich social practice of education and the political context in which it takes place and pronounce a necessary and sufficient set of criteria as to what education is. It would be, as Dewey once remarked, a “philosophic fallacy” of taking the products of inquiry (in this case, deductive consequences) and not putting them back into the rich context out of which they came.17 All of the deductive consequences noted above require a political context in which to operate. Now by political, I mean at most a (minimal) set of organized social institutions that support, constrain or otherwise alter (social) behavior. Institutions are first and foremost people, and not governmental institutions with their bureaucracies and administrative hierarchies. Of course, sets of peoples become organized institutions (and have increasingly become bureaucratic and hierarchized over the past 200 years), but the kernel of all these institutions remains people. Now the avowed aim or purpose of political institutions in regard to education is to aid, ensure, and safeguard it as social function. This is because political institutions are social institutions, however complex their organizations and however disparate their goals might seem. If we take a genetic accounting of the development of political institutions, we will find they emerged from smaller social institutions that could not anticipate and/or manage the concrete instances they were to instantiate.18 The ideal political context is one that will let education flourish. Of course, this requires some sort of consensus on the aims, ends, and features of education, which, as everyone well knows, is far from the case. In theory, of course, an ideal consensus community could and would provide for education. And of course, there are a number of theoretical models out there that attempt such a community.19 It will do to see what sort of political context (in the guise of
democratic. This also excludes non liberal-democratic social systems, including socialist systems. Systems that have as their core ideological focus one or another species of anti-liberalism or socialism are therefore not included in this discussion. 17 Dewey, Experience and Nature, LW 1, 51. 18 Here, I am thinking of the account Hegel gives in the movement of civil society to the state in Elements of the Philosophy of Right, as well as Dewey’s account of the development of political economy in Liberalism and Social Action. 19 See, for example, Callan, Creating Citizens; Gereluk, Education and Community; Martin, Education in a Post-Metaphysical World.
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organizations or institutions) a philosophy of education from the given social practices could support. Recall the social practices in the form of deductive consequences from the hypothesis: 1. Be human 2. Be in a social context 3. Practice and/or endorse normative features of (human) existence, including desiring, wanting, wishing, approaching, valuing and valuation, and (what Dewey once called) intelligence 4. Engage in social transmission, as either receiver or received (and likely both) 5. Engage in social transmission by receiving from elders and passing to children 6. As a human being in a social context engage in normative activities, transmitting those features to others or being the recipient of that transmission Now a political organization that follows from these is committed to these. The question of degree of latitude is an important one: to what degree can political institutions deviate from these in terms of their means and still have these as their ends? I am liberal on this point and will suggest that providing the means adopted leads to the ends (and don’t nullify one or another of these) they can stand. So, for example, if a zero-tolerance policy in the schools could somehow be shown to support each and every one of these consequences as ends, it may stand.20 The political institutions in question will thus attempt to develop concepts and understandings that instantiate the above social ends in terms of concrete instances. In actuo, this will involve the treatment of children and other stakeholders germane to the particular institutions that education takes place in, including families, volunteer organizations, churches, as well as schools. In developing specific practices to instantiate these instances, political organizations will remember that their raison d’être is bound up in the specific practices instantiated: to fail to instantiate these practices (or what counts as the same thing, to not have these practices grasp their concept and actualize)
Although this seems not to be the case, at least according to the American Psychological Association, whose Task Force recommendations include reconstituting zero-tolerance policies and, where possible, implementing alternatives. See the APA Zero Tolerance Task Force, “Are Zero-Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools?” American Psychologist, 63, 9 (2008): 852–862.
is to put the very heart of their purpose and thus the concept itself in peril. Failed political organizations are unable to instantiate their concrete instances and those instances fail to instantiate them in turn. And as organizations are practical instantiations of intelligent practice (thinking), if they fail so too does the undergirding thinking. Social and political organizations are their thinking in concrete practice and their concrete practice in thinking, and succeed or fail just insofar as they come together.
Question 2 The question that was asked in regards the curriculum is What subject matter is necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning? As with Question One, we will proceed to discuss the question in terms of its concept, and specifically, the relationship with its practical instances in light of coherence, consistency, and its ultimate breakdown. We will follow in the next section with a discussion of the concept in regard to the branches of philosophy; metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics.
The consequences of the question: Hypothesis formation To begin with we must once again put the question in the form of a hypothesis. From the question, “What subject matter is necessary for the cultivation of the person-in-community-in-society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning?” we will constitute a hypothesis that claims, There is a subject matter that is necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in-society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning. Once again, we have the point of departure for experimentation in thought; a hypothesis from which we can deduce necessary consequences that in turn can be the point of departure for a concept that manifests its particular instances. One difference we must take into consideration in regard to the concepts generated from the previous question’s hypothesis is to be noted: this hypothesis and these
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deductive consequences that follow must relate (though not reduce to, exhaust, or otherwise replace) to the previous hypothesis, consequences, and concepts. With this in mind, let us turn to the conclusions of the question.
The conclusions of the question There are necessary deductive consequences that follow from the hypothesis, above. They are logically equivalent to the hypothesis. Together, these form what is called the “hypothetico-deductive method.” From the hypothesis, “There is a subject matter necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning,” the following consequences can be readily deduced 1. 2. 3. 4.
There is a subject matter. There is a necessary subject matter. There is a cultivation of person-in-community-in society. The necessary subject matter for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society accords with the question of teaching and learning.
We can go further; the following consequences can also be deduced 1. A person-in-community-in-society requires a subject matter. 2. Subject matter is related to cultivation of the person-in-community-insociety. 3. Teaching and learning relate to the subject matter necessary for the cultivation of the person-in-community-in-society. What were the answers to the question of teaching and learning? Recall that teaching and learning have their end(s) in education. Education is the concept that incorporates the various deductive consequences from the previous section. Education incorporates social transmission from generation to generation involving the dissemination of a subject matter, in turn involving both informal (socialization) and formal (school) contexts. Education involves and invokes a subject matter—the concern of this question. Relating these questions with the above, we have 1. Education involves a subject matter. 2. This subject matter is what education disseminates.
3. This subject matter is context based (formal or informal). 4. Formal subject matter includes school subjects. 5. Informal subject matter includes imitation, role-playing, modeling, and nonformal habit formation.1 We therefore have 6. To educate is to transmit the necessary subject matter for the cultivation of the person-in-community-in society. Let us put these claims in conceptual form and see what particular concrete instances manifest from them.
A nascent concept The concept education was used in the last section as a gathering together of the concrete instances of teaching and learning. Here, we will be after another concept; a concept that is closely related to education yet having its own particular concrete instances. This concept differs from the concept in the previous section in that it has as one of its understandings the entire set of concrete instances of education. Thus, it already contains the concept, education, and its practical manifestations. Education will thus serve as the first set of instantiated instances gathered under the nascent concept to be named after we examine its various consequences.
The concept and its concrete instances The concrete instances of a concept are the legitimate thoughts carried into their practical manifestations. The concrete instances follow from the concept and these constitute the material of the concept. A concept whose instances cannot be thought is an incomplete or otherwise failed concept; one on the verge of
It will be apparent to the reader that these are not derived from the existing hypothesis. Some explanation of their presence here is thus in order. These are further kinds, developed by educators and psychologists, and generally thought to instantiate their own concrete instances with no further need of reconstruction. They function in an empirical manner, as conditions of all human learning. We can therefore say that they are built into what it means to learn (and to teach). A full philosophy of education would go on to deduce these from the consequences of teaching and learning, that is, that necessary conditions of teaching and learning held, and these were empirically verifiable.
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breakdown and reconstruction. The fit between a concept and its practical instances is the justification of the concept’s validity in concrete matters. For the concretion of the concept, the concept must grasp its instance and the instance its concept. Now the concept consists in the deductive consequences of a hypothesis tested as to their ability through their capacity to generate general principles or kinds and through these kinds, gather practical instances. Thus, what it means to develop and apply a concept from a (set of) deductive consequences is to generate general principles or kinds that gather concrete instances. General principles that cannot gather together with their kinds fail and must be either reconstructed or jettisoned. Let us begin with the first deductive consequence, above. This is “Education involves a subject matter.” Aside from the examination of what constitutes a subject matter (a valid inquiry in its own right), the relationship between education and subject matter is what is in question. We will want a concept that fits with its practical instances. We will want to say that education, whatever else it consists in, involves a subject matter. And whenever instances of education are present, they too involve a subject matter. Although it is obviously not sufficient for education to involve a subject matter (the concrete instance of subject matter is not all there is to education), it is necessary when the concept of education is invoked that a subject matter is involved. The second deductive consequence is “This subject matter is what education disseminates.” Here we will want practical instances that always insist on the dissemination of subject matter whenever education is invoked. What it means to educate will always invoke the dissemination of a subject matter. In like fashion to education consisting in a subject matter, education always disseminates a subject matter. The third deductive consequence is “This subject matter is context based (formal and informal).” Now what we mean by context-based in case of practical instances of education concerns the functional type or kind of education: and for my purposes, there are two kinds; formal and informal. Formal education consists in schooling (we will have recourse to schools in the next section). Informal education consists in imitation, modeling, role-playing, upbringing, and other modes of socialization (discussed in Question One). Now the concrete instances of education will always involve either formal (school) or informal (socialization) contexts, or both. Thus, any application of the concept education will involve instances taking place in both or either a formal or informal context. When it comes to the application of the concept education in a formal context, the subject matter will always include (though need not be exhausted by) formal subjects. Now, most education in a formal context takes place in schools, so in
the instances of education that take place in schools, we will say that school subjects are included in education. This is the fourth deductive consequence. The fifth deductive consequence is “Informal subject matter includes imitation, role-playing, modeling, and non-formal habit formation.” Thus, education in an informal context that doesn’t take place in a school (I am allowing for both sorts of education to take place in schools) consists in informal subject matters. Broadly speaking these are imitation, role-playing, modeling, and what I am calling nonformal habit-formation. Finally, we have “To educate is to transmit the necessary subject matter for the cultivation of the person-in-community-in society.” This is the net product of the previous deductive consequences and includes the kinds discussed therein. We will say that in all instances of education transmission of necessary subject matter is involved. And we will say this is for the cultivation of the person (see Section One), who is a member of a community, belonging in turn to a society. Whenever we invoke the concept education we invoke these consequences as practical instances. We must always find practical instances that fit with the concept. When we do not—when we find that the concept can no longer generate its practical instances—the concept is on the verge of breakdown. It is to this we now turn.
The breakdown of the concept To say a concept is on the verge of breakdown is to say that it is no longer able to generate its practical or concrete instances and, in the case of a concrete concept, is no longer grasped by its instances. It is a failure of thought, brought on by limitations intrinsic to the concept. In the case of breakdown, the concept education is no longer able to generate the practical instances of the deductive consequences of the hypothesis. Recall the hypothesis is “There is a subject matter necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning.” The six deductive consequences that follow from this hypothesis invoke their practical or concrete instances. All concrete instances invoked from the deductive consequences must fit the concept education. When they cease to do so—when they outstrip the concept or are unable to grasp or be grasped by the concept—the concept is insufficient and must be either reconstructed or jettisoned. This is inevitable. Education will sooner or later be confronted
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with practical instances that cannot be understood as education. And when this occurs, the concept education will break down. Now the concept will likely break down in regard to its derivative kinds; those kinds that serve to buttress the larger kind, education. Kinds involved in cultivation, person, community, society, and subject matter are the kinds I have in mind here. These too must instantiate their concrete instances and these too, will undergo breakdown, reconstruction, and/or jettisoning. The general concept education is composed of these further kinds and it is these further kinds that first evidence metaphorical cracks or fissures. Concrete instances of concepts are instances that follow deductively from the concept. In other words, a concept generates concrete instances that then fit the concept. It is not a matter of the concept hunting or searching for this or that instance that roughly approximates other instances of the concept; it is rather that the concept generates instances that then have or do not have their manifestations in practice. There will always be disconfirming practical instances; instances generated from a concept that serve in concreto to disconfirm the concept. A concept that is expected to cover a set of practical instances fails and requires reconstruction or jettisoning just insofar as the concrete instance does not manifest, or a different and unanticipated concrete instance does and fails to grasp the concept of which it seems a consequence. The breakdown of curriculum is not a question of if, but when. As I said regarding Question One, we should be fallibilists about this; the inevitability of the breakdown of curriculum is due to the shifting concrete practices that take place in the contexts of social-political changes that curriculum attempts to assimilate under its kind or concept. A new hypothesis that consists in other deductive consequences that will in turn be tested inductively is the likely result to the failure of curriculum, just as it is to the failure of teaching and learning and school. As I remarked upon earlier, the name curriculum, as with the names teaching and learning and school, is not so important; what is important is the fit between the concept and its practical instances: for the worth of a concept is not to be found in its name, but its capacity to grasp what it claims is graspable and to be grasped in turn.
The accounts of philosophy The accounts of philosophy follow deductively from the consequences discussed in the previous section. Recall that there are five branches of philosophy that
go in to make up the accounts overall; these are metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. Recall also these consequences follow from the hypothesis of education: to educate is to have these necessary deductive consequences that can then serve as claims toward accounts of philosophy. In the last section we developed five accounts from five deductive consequences. Here will develop five more accounts from five deductive consequences and relate these to the five earlier accounts.
Metaphysics The deductive consequence of the previous section in regard to metaphysics is The normative features of human existence are generic. We will want a similar deductive consequence regarding our hypothesis here. Recall our hypothesis is There is a subject matter necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in-society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning In the case of metaphysics, we will want to look for that which is necessary. From the above hypothesis, we can draw the following deductive consequences 1. Cultivation of the person-in-community-in-society demands a subject matter that is necessary. 2. Person-in-community-in-society presupposes a subject matter. 3. Teaching and learning presuppose a necessary subject matter. 4. Teaching and learning presuppose that which is necessary. 5. Cultivation presupposes that which is necessary. 6. Cultivation presupposes a (necessary) subject matter. Now, as all of these are necessary conditions one consequence is, if you absent one of these, the others do not follow. Questions of logic aside (we will come back to these), it follows that if subject matter, cultivation, and person-in-community-in-society are not in place, teaching and learning will not follow. What metaphysical conclusions can be drawn from the logical conclusion that these deductive claims insist upon one another? That there is a subject matter necessary for a person-in-community-in-society such that teaching and learning occur. Let us reframe this claim in the guise of a hypothetical:
Problems in Philosophy of Education
A subject matter is a necessary condition of their being a person such that teaching and learning occurs. Here we have another generic claim about the human being: it is necessary for a human being to be educated in a subject matter as a condition of teaching and learning. Recall from the last section the claim that the normative features of human existence are generic. Here we can fill out that claim through adding that what it means to exist as human is to be educated and education demands a subject matter as a condition of teaching and learning. In terms of a concept, this claim demands and creates its concrete instances. These will be concretized as instances of actual subject matters in the context of teaching and learning. And these instances will involve the normative claim of human as person-incommunity-in-society. For all practical instances of the hypothesis, we should generate concrete instances of subject matters having this necessary relation to teaching and learning.
Logic What logical consequences can be drawn from the hypothesis, “There is a subject matter necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning?” To begin with, let us rephrase the above in the form of a conditional. If there is a subject matter necessary for the cultivation of the person-in-community-in society it would be in accord with the answer to the question of curriculum. Let us recall the deductive consequences from the hypothesis in regards to teaching and learning. a. That an answer to the question can be given, whether now or later, involving perhaps various method(s).2 b. That each of the terms can be logically got at sufficiently to work with them to produce inferences. Now certain deductive consequences follow from this conditional. Of course, the methods I am referring to must be hypothetico-deductive—that is, they must begin with a hypothesis and proceed to necessary consequences that are tested in actuo.
1. An answer to the question can be given, whether now or later, involving perhaps various method(s). 2. Each of the items of the terms can be logically got at sufficiently to work with them to produce inferences. Additionally, 3. The answer to teaching and learning accords with the subject matter necessary for teaching and learning. We see that the answer to teaching and learning requires an answer to the question of necessary subject matter. Now these are statements logically equivalent to the hypothesis. As such, conceptualizing the terms through their concrete instances is sufficient to logically demonstrate the hypothesis. This latter move, the move of induction, is premised on the logical sufficiency of the consequences. The kinds or principles that are developed from these deductive consequences in terms of concrete instances will be the test of the worthiness of the principle or concept. The logic is once again from hypothesis to deductive consequences to principle or concept, with the concrete instances the manifestation of the concept and the concept actualized through the grasp of the concept by its concrete instances. In all events, teaching and learning are bound up with the question of the subject matter and cannot be detached from it: we will have to answer the question of the subject matter if we are to also answer the question of teaching and learning.
Theory of knowledge Following the discussion of the theory of knowledge discussed in Question One, we will once again ask over the justification of conceptual claims. The conceptual claims in question are 1. Subject matter 2. Teaching and learning 3. The justification of teaching and learning in and through subject matter Each of these conceptual terms requires justification. Justification proceeds primarily by induction. That is, it is an affair of the concept grasping its concrete instances and being grasped in turn. The concrete instances in respect of teaching and learning are many. And since this is not a fixed concept, there is no limit to the number or quality of concrete instances the concept can potentially grasp.
Problems in Philosophy of Education
The limit is of course those practices that cannot be grasped by the concept; those particular instances that do not fall under the terms teaching and learning. This is also the case for subject matter. This is the point at which concepts begin to fissure. We also have the issue of the justification of teaching and learning through subject matter. The precise justificatory relationship needs to be made clear. We can make some preliminary observations here. 1. An account of subject matter is necessary (though not sufficient) for an account of teaching and learning. 2. An account of teaching and learning absent an account of subject matter is a failed one. 3. A concept of teaching and learning requires a concept of subject matter, with the two provisos, above. I have said that what ultimately justifies a concept is the ability of that concept to grasp its concrete instances and be grasped in turn. In terms of the relationship between an account of teaching and learning and an account of subject matter, the concepts must grasp one another and one another’s concrete instances and be grasped in turn. That is to say, to give an account of teaching and learning must imply the concept and the concrete practices of the subject matter and vice versa. It is not simply a set of concrete practices intrinsic to that concept that must be grasped and be grasped in turn; for concepts to be in a state of necessary relation, the other concept and the other concept’s concrete instances must also be grasped and grasp in turn. If the concept of teaching and learning includes concrete instances of testtaking, for example, then the concept of the subject matter, in relating to the concept of teaching and learning, must also incorporate as part of that relation the concrete instances of test taking and test taking must incorporate the concepts of teaching and learning. And if the concept of subject matter grasps the practical matter of standard textbooks, the concept of teaching and learning, in relating to the concept of subject matter, must also incorporate as part of that relation the practical matter of standard textbooks and be grasped in turn. These beginning conditions on teaching and learning and subject matter will be returned to in the next section.
Ethics Recall that in Question One, we drew the following deductive consequences from the hypothesis. 1. Human beings live in a social context.
2. Social transmission is the way (though perhaps not the only way) to pass along features that are normative. 3. Social transmission takes place from one generation to another. 4. There are normative features that are passed along from one generation to another. 5. Human beings in social contexts practice social transmission of normative features from one generation to another. From these, we drew the following ethical consequences from the meta-concept, education. To practice education is minimally to, a. Be human b. Be in a social context c. Practice and/or endorse normative features of (human) existence, including desiring, wanting, wishing, approaching, valuing and valuation, and intelligence d. Engage in social transmission, as either receiver or received (and likely both) e. Engage in social transmission by receiving from elders and passing to children f. As a human being in a social context engaging in normative activities, transmitting those features to others and/or being the recipient of that transmission Here, we will want a set of deductive consequences that follow from the hypothesis of this section. The hypothesis in question is There is a subject matter necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in-society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning. To begin with, the following are deducible: 1. The subject matter that is necessary is normative, not merely descriptive. 2. The subject matter has as its end an ethical-political state of affairs. 3. The end of teaching and learning is coterminous with the end of the subject matter. 4. Cultivation is a normative pursuit involving a subject matter that is necessary. Now each of these deductive consequences can be framed in terms of (ethical) concepts. That is to say, each of these will have its concrete instances. The first
Problems in Philosophy of Education
deductive consequence—that necessary subject matter is normative and not merely descriptive—requires that any instantiation of the concept must take place within a normative context; in our case, a context involving desiring, wanting, wishing, and valuing and valuation. The second deductive consequence—that subject matter has as its end an ethical-political state of affairs—requires that instantiation of the concept must take place with respect to ethical-political ends. The ends of the concept, in other words, must involve desire, wanting, wishing, and valuing and valuation, and the structures of systems that institutionalize these. The third deductive consequence—that the end of teaching and learning is coterminous with the end of the subject matter—requires that the subject matter have as its end the very same ends as the deductive consequences of teaching and learning. The final deductive consequence—that cultivation is a normative pursuit involving a subject matter—requires that cultivation be a normative pursuit as well as the subject matter. To the meta-concept education, we will add the above deductive consequences. We now have a meta-concept that is composed of ten deductive ethical consequences. These are the minimal consequences of practicing education. These consequences are concepts; they are kinds that operate in the larger context of the meta-concept, education. They are A. Be human B. Be in a social context C. Practice and/or endorse normative features of (human) existence, including desiring, wanting, wishing, approaching, valuing, and valuation and intelligence D. Engage in social transmission, either as receiver or received (and likely both) E. Engage in social transmission by receiving from elders and passing to children F. As a human being in a social context engaging in normative activities, transmitting those features to others or being the recipient of that transmission G. Following and using a subject matter that is necessary is normative, not merely descriptive H. Following and using a subject matter that has as its end an ethical-political state of affairs I. Having the end of teaching and learning be coterminous with the end of the subject matter J. Envisioning cultivation as a normative pursuit involving a subject matter that is necessary
Socio-politics In Section One, we discussed the necessity of there being political institutions that help to carry out the consequences of ethical living (Sittlichkeit). These institutions must exist both as concrete instances of the consequences in their own right and as organizational implements to ensure that the consequences are practically manifest. If education is the ethical meta-concept, then political institutions must be formed that instantiate education in practice. We have a number of deductive consequences gathered under the meta-concept education; deductive consequences that are properly general kinds (concepts) that must grasp their concrete instances and be grasped in turn if they are to survive and thrive. It will do to envision what sort of instances these will be. To begin with, consequence or concepts A, B, and C require as their concrete instances institutions that cater to humanity (in its largest sense), sociality, and ethics (as valuing and valuation). Concepts D and E require institutions in which the transmission of social norms, beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge occurs from receiver to received (or teacher to student) and older to the younger. Concepts F and G require that specifically normative features be transmitted and the subject matter used (and it does demand a subject matter(s)) be infused with normativity). Concepts H and I demand institutions that have a normative end, and the subject matter used and the teaching and learning done and undergone, have this same end. Finally, concept J insists on institutions in which the cultivation that takes place involves a subject matter that is necessary. So we will want an institution(s) that is humane, social, ethical, involving the transmission of social norms, beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge, from an older to a younger generation, with a strong emphasis on the normative features or traits of knowledge, and in which the teaching and learning and subject matter have the same normative end. We will want a subject matter taught and learned in this institution(s) that is necessary for the cultivation of the learner. The failure of the deductive consequences or concept will be the failure of these to grasp their concrete instances and be grasped in turn. In fine, it will be the failure of these to build and maintain social and political institutions sufficient to teach subject matters and cultivate the learner in the matters of normativity. And though it is not my aim to question existing social institutions, it certainly seems as if cracks and fissures in the concepts of subject matters have formed and continue to form. These cracks and fissures will eventually bring down the very notion of the subject matter and may even result in the questioning of the meta-concept, education.
Question 3 The third question that was asked in Part Three is, What aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal) must the school possess to carry out of the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum as set forth in questions 1 and 2? As with Questions One and Two, we will proceed to discuss the question in terms of its concept and particularly its relationship with its practical instances in light of coherence, consistency, and ultimate breakdown. We will follow in the next section with a discussion of the concept in regard to the branches of philosophy; metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics.
The consequences of the question: Hypothesis formation Here, we will (once again) place the question, “What aims, ends, and makeup (structural and interpersonal) must the school possess to carry out of the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum as set forth in questions 1 and 2,” in the form of a hypothetical assertion. Doing so will net us, There are specific aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal) the school must possess to carry out the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum as set forth in questions 1 and 2. From this hypothetical assertion, we will be able to deduce consequences. These consequences will in turn be tested as to their ability to grasp their concrete instances and be grasped in turn. Those concepts that stand the test of grasping their concrete instances will become concepts or kinds that operate in further concrete instances. Those that do not will either be reconstructed or jettisoned.
Problems in Philosophy of Education
The conclusions of the question The hypothetical assertion we will begin with is, “There are specific aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal) the school must possess to carry out the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum as set forth in questions 1 and 2.” What consequences can we deduce from this hypothesis? To begin with, we can deduce that 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Teaching and learning have obligations. The curriculum has obligations. These are specific aims, ends, and make-up that the school must possess. Obligations insist upon specific aims, ends, and make-up. The obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum demand specific aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal).
Let us recall the particular deductive consequences of teaching and learning and the curriculum. In terms of teaching and learning, we have A. Be human B. Be in a social context C. Practice and/or endorse normative features of (human) existence, including desiring, wanting, wishing, approaching, valuing and valuation, and intelligence D. Engage in social transmission, either as receiver or received (and likely both) E. Engage in social transmission by receiving from elders and passing to children F. As a human being in a social context engaging in normative activities, transmitting those features to others or being the recipient of that transmission G. Following and using a subject matter that is necessary is normative, not merely descriptive H. Following and using a subject matter that has as its end an ethical-political state of affairs I. Having the end of teaching and learning be coterminous with the end of the subject matter J. Envisioning cultivation as a normative pursuit involving a subject matter that is necessary Now to these, we will add the deductive consequences 1–5. When we do, we have as a minimum,
1. Teaching and learning and subject matters have obligations regarding schools. These obligations involve following A–J. 2. The curriculum has obligations regarding schools. These obligations involve following A–J. 3. These obligations constitute specific aims and ends and make-up of the schools. And 4. We will call the entirety of these deductive consequences, education. Our concepts in regard to schools are the deductive consequences that follow from conjoining the deductive consequences of the accounts of teaching and learning and curriculum. When we do this, when we conjoin these, we arrive at the four further deductive consequences, above. This concept differs from the concept in the previous sections in that it has as one of its understandings the entire set of concrete instances of education. Thus, it already grasps the metaconcept education and its practical manifestations. Education will continue to serve as the first set of instantiated instances that the nascent concept to be named school is gathered under, as we examine its various consequences.
The concept and its concrete instances What are the concrete instances of the concept, school? Let us begin with 1, above. This is “Teaching and learning have obligations regarding schools. These obligations involve following A–J.” Now a concept that grasps its concrete instances is a concept that includes and manifests all of A–J. To the degree that it does manifest the practical instances of A–J and these in turn grasp the concept, it is viable; to the degree that it does not, it is incomplete or broken. This is the same for 2–4: the curriculum must also instantiate its practical instances of A–J. All instances of the obligations of A–J in regard to teaching and learning and the curriculum must accord with the specific aims and ends and make-up of the school(s). Finally, education, as the meta-concept, must house each of these deductive consequences, as concepts including their practical instances, neatly and securely within itself. Thus we have the case in which education, considered in terms of its minor concepts (teaching and learning; curriculum; school) and the further minor concepts as deductive consequences that each of these holds (see A–J), grasps its
Problems in Philosophy of Education
practical and concrete instances such that each concept and each set of deductive consequences of each concept (A–J) have their concrete and practical instance and the concrete practical instances grasp their concepts in turn. In other words, the social practices, norms, attitudes, tempers, beliefs, desires, and knowledge must accord with the concept. Grasping practical or concrete instances is of course the inductive move; it is the application of general principles (or kinds or concepts) to particular instances and being grasped in turn. In this case, the instances are behavioral and attitudinal; they concern human action and intentions, attitudes, beliefs, and habits. And these are irreducibly normative concerns. But these instances are also very often amenable to the asking over of reasons as to why some action was undertaken or not, or some belief held or not.1
The breakdown of the concept Our hypothesis once again is “There are specific aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal) the school must possess to carry out the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum as set forth in questions 1 and 2.” The failure of this hypothesis is the failure of the concept school. For, in failing, the hypothesis has not been transformed into a set of deductive consequences (see A–J above). And it is these consequences, as school, which must instantiate their concrete instances. For school to fail is for the deductive consequences that go in to form the concept to fail in regard to grasping their practical manifestations and being grasped in turn. The grasping of practical manifestations is an inductive move; it is the move to test the deductive consequences and be tested in turn. Put another way, concrete instances that do not accord with the concept imply the failure or limitation of the concept. The concept, faced with its limitation in terms of its failure to grasp its practical instances and be grasped in turn, must either be reconstructed or jettisoned. Should enough minor concepts fail, the concept school will fail. Should the concept school fail, the meta-concept, (education) may also fail. (If the meta-concept fails, the entire set of established hypotheses is thrown into question.) Here I am thinking of Sellars’ notion of the logical space of reasons and Brandom’s notion of scorekeeping. This is the space where reasons are given and taken, with some sort of scorekeeping activity to adjudicate disputes and maintain authority and legitimacy of the reasons given and taken. In neither case does something like “experience” or “referents” supply the decisive judiciary role. See Sellars, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind; Brandom, Making It Explicit.
The breakdown of school is not a question of if, but when. Once again, I ask that we be fallibilists about this; the likelihood of the breakdown of school is due to the shifting concrete practices that take place in the contexts of socialpolitical changes that school attempts to assimilate under its kind or concept. A new hypothesis that consists in other deductive consequences that will in turn be tested inductively is the likely result to the failure of school, just as it is to the failure of teaching and learning and curriculum. As we have maintained throughout, the name school, as with the names teaching and learning and curriculum, is not so important; what is important is the fit between the concept and its practical instances. For the worth of a concept is not to be found in its name, but its capacity to grasp what it claims is graspable and be grasped in turn.
The accounts of philosophy As with teaching and learning and the curriculum, the accounts of philosophy follow deductively from the consequences. The five branches of philosophy are (once again) metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and sociopolitics. Each of the consequences follows from the hypothesis of education: as we have maintained, to educate is to have these necessary deductive consequences that can then serve as claims toward accounts of philosophy. These consequences are either forthrightly deductive (follow inferentially from the hypothesis) or are at least strongly probable (probabilistically deductive). In both the teaching and learning and the curriculum sections, we developed five accounts from five deductive consequences. Here we will follow suit.
Metaphysics The deductive consequence of the teaching and learning section in regard to metaphysics is The normative features of human existence are generic The deductive consequence of the curriculum section in regard to metaphysics is A subject matter is a necessary condition of there being a person such that teaching and learning occurs. We will want a similar deductive consequence regarding our hypothesis here. Recall our hypothetical assertion is
Problems in Philosophy of Education
There are specific aims, ends, and make-up (structural and interpersonal) the school must possess to carry out the obligations of teaching and learning and the curriculum. In the case of metaphysics, we will want to look what is necessary. From the above hypothesis we can draw the following deductive consequences: 1. Cultivation of the person-in-community-in-society demands a subject matter that is necessary. 2. Person-in-community-in-society presupposes a subject matter. 3. Teaching and learning presuppose a necessary subject matter. 4. Teaching and learning presuppose the necessary subject matter. 5. Cultivation presupposes the necessary subject matter. 6. Cultivation presupposes a (necessary) subject matter. On top of these, we can draw the following deductive consequences: 8. Person-in-community-in society is one of the aims, ends, and/or make-up of schools. 9. A necessary subject matter is one of the aims, ends, and/or make-up of schools. 10. Teaching and learning in the schools is necessary (obligatory). 11. A subject matter in the schools is necessary (obligatory). 12. Cultivation, which presupposes that which is necessary in the way of teaching and learning and a subject matter, is necessary for schools to undertake. Now, as we have shown with regard to teaching and learning and the curriculum, as all of these are necessary conditions the consequence is, if absent one of these, the others do not follow. Questions of logic aside (we will come back to these), it follows that if subject matter, cultivation, and person-in-community-in-society are not in place in and for schools, teaching and learning and the curriculum will not follow. What metaphysical conclusions can be drawn from the logical conclusion that these deductive claims insist upon one another? That school is a necessary institution for the cultivation, through teaching and learning, of the curriculum. Let us assert this in the guise of a hypothetical claim: School is the necessary institution for the cultivation of a subject matter through teaching and learning Here we have yet another generic claim about the human being: it is necessary for a human being to be educated in a subject matter in schools as a condition of
teaching and learning.2 Recall from the last section the claim that the normative features of human existence are generic. Here we can fill out that claim through adding that what it means to exist as human is to be educated and education demands a subject matter as a condition of teaching and learning, and that this subject matter is to be made available (i.e., taught) in schools. In terms of a concept, this claim, as with claims for teaching and learning and the curriculum, demands and creates its concrete instances. These will be concretized as instances of actual subject matters in the context of teaching and learning and schools. And these instances will involve the normative claim of human as a cultivated person-in-community-in-society. For all practical instances of the hypothesis, we should generate concrete instances of schools having this necessary relation to teaching and learning and the curriculum.
Logic In keeping with our discussion of teaching and learning and the curriculum, what logical consequences can be drawn from the hypothesis, “There is an institution necessary and sufficient for the cultivation of the person-in-community-in society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning and the curriculum?” To begin with, let us rephrase the above in the form of a conditional. If there is an institution necessary for the cultivation of the person-in-community-in society it would be in accord with the answer to the question of teaching and learning and the curriculum. Let us recall the deductive consequences from the hypothesis in regards to teaching and learning. a) That an answer to the question can be given, whether now or later, involving perhaps various method(s). b) That each of the terms can be logically got at sufficiently to work with them to produce inferences.
I would, in the interest of inclusion, count “home-schooling” as an institution of schooling, though I much prefer children to be educated in formal settings. There is a large literature on the pros and cons of school choice, which the reader can readily consult. The locus classicus for most of this literature is doubtless Brighouse, School Choice and Social Justice.
Problems in Philosophy of Education
Now certain deductive consequences follow from this conditional. 1. An answer to the question can be given, whether now or later, involving perhaps various method(s). 2. Each of the items of the terms can be logically got at sufficiently to work with them to produce inferences. Additionally, 3. The answer to teaching and learning accords with the subject matter necessary for teaching and learning. We see that the answer to teaching and learning and the curriculum requires an answer to the question of a necessary institution for their cultivation.3 Now these are statements logically equivalent (by way of hypothetical necessity) to the hypothesis. As such, conceptualizing the terms through their concrete instances is sufficient to logically demonstrate the hypothesis. This latter move, the move of induction, is premised on the consequences. The kinds or principles that are developed from these deductive consequences in terms of concrete instances will be the test of the worthiness of the principle or concept. The logic is once again from hypothesis to deductive consequences to principle or concept, with the concrete instances the manifestation of the concept and the concept actualized through the grasp of the concept by its concrete instances. In all events, teaching and learning are bound up with the question of the subject matter and both bound up with school, and cannot be detached from it: as with the case of subject matter, we will have to answer the question of school if we are to also answer the question of teaching and learning.
Theory of knowledge Following the discussion of the theory of knowledge discussed in Questions One and Two, we once again ask over the justification of conceptual claims. The conceptual claims in question are now
As I have alluded to already, sufficiency isn’t one of my criteria. Of course, we long for an institution (and teaching and learning and curriculum) that is sufficient for our needs, aims, wishes, etc. But this continues to elude us and always will. The breakdown of the concept attests to this. Nevertheless, that aim of further sufficiency is one that the concept strives for, and occasionally attains, if only briefly. Sufficiency on this account would be “sufficient for a concept to grasp its instance and be grasped in turn.”
1. Curriculum/subject matter 2. Teaching and learning 3. School And with regard to school, the justification of schools in regard to teaching and learning in and through subject matter. Each of these conceptual terms requires justification. As we have seen in regard to teaching and learning and the curriculum/subject matter, justification proceeds primarily by induction. That is, it is an affair of the concept grasping its concrete instances and being grasped in turn. The concrete instances in respect of teaching and learning and the curriculum are many. And since this is not a static concept, there is no limit to the number or quality of concrete instances the concept can potentially grasp. Of course, and as we have seen, the limit is with those practices that cannot be grasped by the concept; those particular instances that do not fall under the terms teaching and learning and the curriculum. This is also the case for schools. This is the point at which concepts begin to crack. We also have the issue of the justification of schools in regard to teaching and learning through subject matter. The precise justificatory relationship needs to be made clear. We can make some preliminary observations here. 1. An account of subject matter is necessary (though not sufficient) for an account of teaching and learning in the schools. 2. School lacking an account of teaching and learning absent an account of curriculum is a failed one; likewise, an account of teaching and learning absent an account of the curriculum taking place in schools is a failed one. 3. A concept of school requires a concept of teaching and learning and a concept of curriculum, with the two provisos, above. I have said all along that what ultimately justifies a concept is the ability of that concept to grasp its concrete instances and be grasped in turn. In terms of the relationship between accounts of schools, teaching and learning, and curriculum, the concepts must grasp one another and one another’s concrete instances and be grasped in turn. That is to say, to give an account of teaching and learning must imply the concept and the concrete practices of the subject matter and vice versa. Giving an account of schools implies the concrete practices of teaching and learning and the curriculum and vice versa. To repeat: it is not simply a set of concrete practices intrinsic to that concept that must be grasped and be grasped in turn; for concepts to be in a state of necessary relation, the other concepts and the other concepts’ concrete instances must
Problems in Philosophy of Education
also be grasped and grasp in turn. If the concept of subject matter includes concrete instances of reading aloud in class, for example, then the concept of schools, in relating to the concept of subject matter, must also incorporate as part of that relation the concrete instances of reading aloud and reading aloud must incorporate the concepts of subject matter. And if the concept of school grasps the practical matter of seat row management, the concept of subject matter, in relating to the concept of school, must also incorporate as part of that relation the practical matter of seat row management and be grasped in turn.
Ethics Recall that in Question Two we drew the following deductive consequences from the hypothesis. 1. Human beings live in a social context. 2. Social transmission is the way (though perhaps not the only way) to pass along features that are normative. 3. Social transmission takes place from one generation to another. 4. There are normative features that are passed along from one generation to another. 5. Human beings in social contexts practice social transmission of normative features from one generation to another. From these, we drew the following ethical consequences from the meta-concept, education. To practice education is minimally to, 1. Be human 2. Be in a social context 3. Practice and/or endorse normative features of (human) existence, including desiring, wanting, wishing, approaching, valuing and valuation, and intelligence 4. Engage in social transmission, either as receiver or received (and likely both) 5. Engage in social transmission by receiving from elders and passing to children 6. As a human being in a social context engaging in normative activities, transmitting those features to others and/or being the recipient of that transmission
Recall also in Question Two we drew the following deductive consequences from the hypothesis: 7. The subject matter that is necessary is normative, not merely descriptive. 8. The subject matter has as its end an ethical-political state of affairs. 9. The end of teaching and learning is coterminous with the end of the subject matter. 10. Cultivation is a normative pursuit involving a subject matter that is necessary. Here, we will want a set of deductive consequences that follow from the hypothesis of this section. The hypothesis in question is There is an institution (school) necessary for the cultivation of the person-incommunity-in-society (including cosmopolitan society) that is in accord with the answer(s) to the question of teaching and learning and the curriculum To begin with, the following are straightforwardly deducible: 1. The institution of school, in carrying out the subject matter of teaching and learning, plays a normative role and function. 2. School serves the subject matter in its end as an ethical-political state of affairs. 3. School has its end as coterminous with teaching and learning and the subject matter. 4. Cultivation is the normative pursuit that takes place in the institutiondesignated school. Now each of these deductive consequences can be framed in terms of (ethical) concepts. That is to say, each of these has its concrete practical-ethical instances that, when grasped, imbue an ethical concept with content. The first deductive consequence—that the institution of school is normative and not merely descriptive—requires that any instantiation of the concept must take place within a normative context. In our case, this is a context involving subject matters—the curriculum—involving the normative features of human existence. The second deductive consequence—that the school serves subject matter in its end as an ethical-political state of affairs–requires that instantiation of the concept must take place with respect to ethical-political ends, themselves built of human beings engaging in social contexts wherein normative activities take place. Furthermore, the ends of the concepts must involve subject matter and the
Problems in Philosophy of Education
structures of systems that institutionalize these (as well as teaching and learning). The third deductive consequence—that the end “school” is coterminous with the end of the subject matter and teaching and learning—requires that the school has as its end the same ends as the deductive consequences of subject matter and teaching and learning. The final deductive consequence, that cultivation is a normative pursuit that takes place in the institution of school, follows on (2) and suggests an obligatory role (of perhaps wide latitude) for schools to play in the cultivation of subject matter and teaching and learning. To the meta-concept education, we will add the above deductive consequences. We now have a meta-concept that is composed of deductive ethical consequences from three domains—teaching and learning, the curriculum, and school. These are the minimal consequences of practicing education. These consequences are concepts; they are kinds that operate in the larger context of the meta-concept, education. They are (from the previous section), A. Be human B. Be in a social context C. Practice and/or endorse normative features of (human) existence, including desiring, wanting, wishing, approaching, valuing, and valuation and intelligence D. Engage in social transmission, either as receiver or received (and likely both) E. Engage in social transmission by receiving from elders and passing to children F. As a human being in a social context engaging in normative activities, transmitting those features to others or being the recipient of that transmission G. Following and using a subject matter that is necessary is normative, not merely descriptive H. Following and using a subject matter that has as its end an ethical-political state of affairs I. Having the end of teaching and learning be coterminous with the end of the subject matter J. Envisioning cultivation as a normative pursuit involving a subject matter that is necessary To these we add K. Have schools be that institution in which the ends of teaching and learning and subject matter come together
L. Have schools as the institutions that carry out the ethical obligations associated with teaching and learning and subject matters M. Have schools as the institutions that promote cultivation of students through teaching and learning and subject matter
Socio-politics In Sections One and Two, we discussed the necessity of there being political institutions that help to carry out the consequences of ethical living. This, we said, is akin to the idealist understanding of Sittlichkeit. We said that if education is the ethical meta-concept then political institutions must be formed that instantiate education in practice. We said we already have a number of deductive consequences gathered under the meta-concept education; deductive consequences that are properly general kinds (concepts) that must grasp their concrete instances and be grasped in turn if they are to survive and thrive. It will do to envision what sort of instances these will be. Let us add to this list already begun in Section Two. To begin with, consequence or concepts K, L, and M require as their concrete instances institutions that cater to humanity (in its largest sense), sociality, and ethics (as valuing and valuation). This is in keeping with the conclusions of Section Two. Additionally, schools must have tight enough obligations toward both teaching and learning and subject matters such that they can effectively carry out their roles as the institutions that support and carry forward those ends, including the ethical obligations that inform those ends. Finally, schools must have the wherewithal to develop, to cultivate, students. This is done primarily through supporting the domains of teaching and learning and subject matter. Of course, we speak in generalities at this level of discourse; what will count is the ability of the concepts to grasp their instances in practice and be grasped in turn. Ethical obligations that purportedly follow from school, for example, are instances of the broader concept that are notoriously prone to differing opinions and interpretations, and frequently herald breakdown. The failure of the deductive consequences or concepts will be the failure of these to grasp their concrete instances and be grasped in turn. In fine, it will be the failure of these to build and maintain social and political institutions sufficient to teach subject matters and cultivate the learner in the matters of normativity. What goes for teaching and learning and the subject matter goes as well for school. As I have said, though it is not my aim to question existing social institutions, it certainly seems as if cracks and fissures in the concepts of school
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and related institutions (including the legal and governmental-bureaucratic institutions that run schools) have formed and continue to form. These cracks and fissures will eventually bring down the very notion of the school and may even result in the questioning of the meta-concept, education. Indeed, a new form of life in terms of what once was education may soon be upon us.
Wither the Concept? We now have three concepts—teaching and learning, curriculum (subject matter), and school, all under the umbrella or meta-concept education. Each of these concepts is a kind or general instance that has grasped its concrete or particular instances and is grasped in turn. In so doing, each is tested and tested inductively. The relevance of the concept will be maintained insofar as it continues to grasp its concrete instances and be grasped in turn. Should this no longer occur, fracture and breakdown are heralded. This will signal the need for reconstruction or jettisoning of the old concept; ultimately, a new or reconstituted concept will take its place. In addition to the three concepts and the meta-concept, we have five accounts of philosophy representing the main branches: metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. Within each branch of philosophy are further concepts; concepts that mesh or integrate with the concepts teaching and learning, curriculum, and school, yet are not exhausted by these. These are concepts that relate to these other concepts in regard to their philosophical instances. In other words, when considering the philosophical aspect or dimension of the three concepts, these accounts are invoked. For each concept in each branch of philosophy there is a hypothesis. This hypothesis is couched in the form of an if-then or conditional statement. From each hypothesis, certain deductive consequences follow. These deductive consequences are rendered into kinds that can then be tested through grasping their particular instances and being grasped in turn. We have three hypotheses for each of the five branches of philosophy corresponding to the three concepts. Now, each of the branches of philosophy has its hypothesis for each of the concepts. Thus, the concept teaching and learning has its hypothesis in metaphysics, in logic, in theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics, and so for curriculum and school. These are beginning concepts—they are but the beginning of a fuller range of concepts that will be developed largely through their limitations or breakdowns. What counts as teaching and learning will vary
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with context and social practice. Adjustments will have to be made to the overall concept; this will necessitate changes in the understanding of the concept’s function. It may be the case that ad hoc adjustments to concepts are made. These are adjustments fitted to serve an existing problem or crisis in the concept and this allows them to remain viable in the face of a countervailing instance. Eventually, all concepts break down and so, too, will these. But adjusted concepts are likely concepts that have served particularly well thus far, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This is the business of philosophy of education—to hypothesize, deduce, and ultimately test concepts through their ability to grasp their practical or concrete instance and be grasped in turn. What remains to be done is to take these concepts and continue to find practical instances that instantiate them. These are but three concepts; doubtless we will hypothesize more. But it is important that we do not create ad hoc hypotheses until we are satisfied that a breakdown of one of the concepts is upon us. To create ad hoc hypotheses without sufficient evidence of breakdown is arbitrary. And there are enough arbitrary concepts in philosophy of education—concepts that do little in the way of grasping practical instances. The practical instances do not drive the concepts; we do not first come upon a practical instance and attempt to grasp it, for without a concept we will have nothing from which to work. Instead, we operate with existing concepts and when these are insufficient or fail, we reconstruct them or generate new ones. The overall tension in the concept will be a matter of how well the features, attributes, and characteristics of the grasping of practical instances accord with the novel instance. Novel instances always introduce an element of uncertainty, as the concept must relate itself in terms of its existing features to the novel instance, as is also the case with the instance. It will do to briefly discuss what this will look like with respect to each of the concepts in the five branches of philosophy. I will discuss these branches in turn.
Metaphysics A metaphysical account of the concept(s) has as its dominant feature a claim about the generality of human nature. Metaphysics operates at all junctures where necessity comes into play. Thus, there is metaphysics in logic (necessary inferences); metaphysics in theory of knowledge (necessary justifications/ justifications of necessity); metaphysics in ethics (imperatives, obligations, duties); and metaphysics in socio-politics (unconditional rightness). Necessary
Wither the Concept?
consequences deduced from hypotheses are metaphysical, as are general principles tested and found applicable. (Following Peirce, I include highly probabilistic consequences as well.) So too are ideal limits placed on the continuity of our conceptions. Admittedly, this is a very thin understanding of metaphysics. Does a philosophy of education require a more robust account of metaphysics? The answer is yes, but not yet; for the account of metaphysics must be one that is constructed from the necessary consequences of hypotheses yet to be formed, and from application of general principles yet to be ascertained. Following Kant, I am calling necessity the linchpin of metaphysics. Necessity is a judgment: it is a judgment of claim, statement, or proposition (or even of perception or experience, duly propositionalized) that this state of affairs cannot be otherwise, or that these conditions must obtain. The claim this water will begin to evaporate at 212ºC
is a claim for the necessity of an activity to take place with respect to a subject matter, event, or situation. Notice this is not an entirely semantic understanding of necessity; there is an activity required to make the judgment.1 As discussed, judgments of necessity involving our philosophical conceptions are of the hypothetical-conditional form, “If I were to do X, then Y would occur,” or “should A be the case, B would follow.” Of course, the diagnosis of necessity requires that the conditional bear out; but in making a conditional of this sort, we are already committing ourselves to this fact. I don’t want to belabor this issue of justification, here. I will save this for later. Here, I want to discuss the metaphysical importance of necessity. To say of a claim that Y would occur under condition X or that concept P grasps instance Q is to commit us to a state of affairs in which conditions and concepts and the instances they grasp are reals. They are real, practical events, situations, and consequences of thinking and acting in a certain way. These are not ideals in the mind. At the outer limits of a philosophy of education has to be some sort of commitment to the practical consequences of believing in a world and states of affairs therein that are real, or at least real enough to order, control, and predict with sufficient confidence that our hypotheses, our deductive consequences, and our applications of general principles turn out to be correct. We will also need a commitment to fallibility, to change, and an openness to the likelihood of (eventually) being wrong about our judgments. This leads me away from Sellars and Brandom somewhat: I find their accounts to have little to no purchase on reality, with the consequence of a fully functioning linguistic idealism left in their wake. I prefer in this regard to stay on this side of classical Pragmatism, with its role for experience.
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Just which philosophies of human nature are suited for a description of the outer limits of philosophy of education is best left for elsewhere. But I think that a philosophy that accepts elements of both idealism and realism, yet is exhausted by neither, is best. There are of course deductive consequences in which necessity does not play a role (so-called predictive consequences), and I will discuss these under logic.
Logic The logic of a philosophy of education is threefold: first, we begin with hypothesis formation. We do so against a backdrop of already proven states of affairs, gelled into habits. These habits include concepts and dispositions to act in certain ways given certain contexts and problems. Hypotheses are arguments to the best explanation; they are not random claims.2 Strong hypotheses (hypotheses that are most likely to be correct) have fruitful deductive consequences: consequences that follow necessarily from the hypothesis. The relationship between the hypothesis and the deductive consequences is one of bivalence; there is a logical equivalency between the hypothesis and the deductive claims that follow. Thus we can speak of a hypothetico-deductive method, common to the natural and social sciences. These deductive claims are hypothetically necessary, in that their necessity takes its cue from the hypothesis.3 Both claims take the form of syllogistic inference. The opening premise is similar to a major premise in a BARBARA-style syllogism: All M’s are P’s.4 The demonstrated deductive consequences then become either necessary claims (laws or principles or generals) or (as in the case of social, natural, and physical scientific claims), statistical claims (probability claims) in which a percentage or quantum of All is put forth. These are then used in grasping Something along the lines of Peirce’s considered account of abduction is what I have in mind.
“The surprising fact, C, is observed But if A were true, C would be a matter of course Hence, there is reason to suspect that A is true.” (Peirce, “Pragmatism as the Logic of Abduction,” 231) 3 In the social, natural, and physical sciences, they can, of course, also be probable, which is measured through statistical techniques. 4 In social, natural, and physical-scientific claims, concluding statements will tend to the necessity of a proportion of M’s (say, through random or semi-random sampling) as P’s. Notice that even in the case of probability claims, the syllogistic inference from All or some proportion of All is maintained. This is why this is a deductive, rather than an inductive, move. This is roughly Peirce’s probabilistic inference. See Peirce, “Sundry Logical Conceptions,” 138.
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particular instances of P. To the extent that particular instances of P are grasped, the claim (now a law, principle, or concept) is correct; to the extent that particular instances of p are not grasped, or a preestablished percentage of instances of p are not grasped, the claim fails. Failure of the claim necessitates reconstruction or jettisoning, as I have maintained throughout. But there is a greater feedback loop in operation, here; a feedback loop that leads back to the very hypothesis itself. For it is the hypothesis that initiates the inquiry, and if the result of the hypothesis is the failure of the concept to grasp its practical instance, it may well be the hypothesis itself is faulty. Failure of multiple concepts necessitates a reexamination of the three basic phases of logical inquiry, leading to possible reconstruction or jettisoning of the hypothesis.
Theory of knowledge The sort of justification this philosophy of education has in mind is threefold and occurs at the various phases of inquiry. First, there is the justification of the hypothesis. Ultimately the hypothesis is justified by how well inquiry works through the phases. But hypotheses are also justified by how well they respond to the problem, the “felt difficulty” at hand. The best explanation is what is wanted after, and the best explanation is the one that seems to have the most going for it. It is intuitively plausible, and is likely free from immediate objections. It may or may not be the simplest explanation—Occam’s razor does not necessarily apply here—but it will be the explanation thought most likely to succeed. And of course, it will have both necessary and probable consequences rendered in deductive claims that can then be fashioned into generalities and principles set to grasp particular instances. The deductive claims are syllogistic and/or probabilistic; they obey the rules of syllogistic logic or statistical probability. Of course, statistical probability is not often used in developing a philosophy of education and its justification in a particular philosophical deduction is unlikely. Nevertheless, it remains as a possible, if not actual, mechanism of justification. Necessary claims are far more likely, and these (aside from their metaphysical provenance) are what are obtained in syllogizing claims from the hypothesis. The claims of deduction are logically equivalent to the hypothesis, meaning that they necessarily follow from the hypothesis and they constitute what it means as a consequence of saying the hypothesis is correct.
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Justified deductive claims are those that follow necessarily or probabilistically from the syllogistic inference. These claims are then rendered in the form of a law or principle, or (in our favored terminology) concept. The logic of the concept is inductive and the justification of the concept consists in its ability to grasp its concrete instances. If the concept P includes all the instances of S1—SN, then the concept P is justified insofar as it grasps its instances of S1—SN. Failure to grasp each instance is failure of justification; and justification in this instance is practical, not (merely) theoretical. Practical instances are practical consequences, features, attributes, events, and situations first deduced syllogistically and present (or not) in concrete instances. If they are not there, if the concept is unable to grasp them (or cannot instantiate them), the concept fails justification.
Ethics The obligatory phases of concepts necessitate that if a concept is to manifest its practical instances the instances must be those that are obligated or are obligatory practices. The school, for example, is obligated to follow and to carry out the aims, ends, and make-up of teaching and learning and the curriculum. The ethical import of the concept is but the inductive phase or stage of the inquiry carried out: the originating hypothesis, too, is normative and in framing this as a conditional statement (if … would), normativity is maintained. The deductive consequences that follow from the statement of the hypothesis, as necessary claims, will be statements of obligation should the hypothesis be correct. That is to say, if the hypothesis first put forth is correct (and this is established through inductive testing), the deductive claims will also be correct, and we should expect to see the consequences manifest in particular instances of obligation and recognize these as such. A set of obligations seems quite Spartan in the context of a set of concepts (teaching and learning, the curriculum, school) that is to manifest a fully fledged ethical life. Certainly, a set of obligations cannot come close to providing for such a rich, Sittlich account of social practices. And it doesn’t. The set of obligations is merely the beginning for a set of concepts that will undergo reconstruction as these attempt to grasp further practical instances; instances that include rich, Sittlich ways of being and living. Certain subconcepts that are irreducibly ethical (though not without a logic) will doubtless need to be developed and take their
Wither the Concept?
place within and among the three major concepts here generated. As further practical instances are grasped, the concept will enrich itself. Of course, the concept will inevitably break down; and it just may do so over ethico-practical instances that it constrains itself to accommodate. But this should be no cause for alarm; for the breakdown of the subset of ethical concepts that go into the larger concepts of teaching and learning, school, and the curriculum will herald the stronger and fitter grasp of further instances.
Socio-politics This is the realm in which and upon which the school in particular has traditionally been thought to operate. We should expect the practical instances of the concept of school to consist in socio-political practices: practices that, though seemingly social, are extensions of, attached to or limited by, political practices. Thus, to grasp the social instances of the concept school is to grasp at least in part the political practices. And the concept school will very much stand or fall on this ability to grasp both. Now what this means in practice is pursuit of the instances through the various phases or dimensions of socio-politics, including attention to the various levels of decision-making. But the concept school also implies and invokes the ethical, Sittlich dimensions of socio-political practice. And it does so in an obligatory fashion (there are obligations the school must carry out). Thus, the concept must not only account for practical instances of itself at the levels of decision-making, but must do so with its obligations firmly in hand. This means that the concept cannot merely be a descriptive accounting or characterization of all the social and political practices taking place in, or influencing, the school. It must seek to grasp those practices that are instances of obligation, and resist those that are not. As the concept is a normative one, it implies the taking of a stand: an ethical stand. Indeed, this goes for each of the three concepts. For example, the school purportedly consists in practices that constitute the make-up of schooling, yet are not obligatory or cannot be construed to be obligatory. There will be remainders or superfluities in terms of the practical instances of the concept; the practical instances will outrun the concept of school. Attention to these remainders will have to be taken. In the cases of those that directly contravene or oppose the concept, breakdown is heralded and the concept must either established subconcepts to account for these or itself risk reconstruction or jettisoning.
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Final thoughts on the reconstruction of the concept What of the paradox of a concept that constrains certain practices, yet when those practices are to take hold, must somehow describe and explain them? What of schools in which practices take place that run counter to the school? To teaching and learning? To the curriculum? How does the concept take hold of what is foreign or opposed to it? Concepts are general principles and must instantiate their particular instances; those that cannot or do not are by the line of argumentation here presented, failures. And since each of these three concepts has to grapple with instances they obviously cannot account for, it seems they are failures straight out of the gate. The choice seems to be either to find a concept that can grasp literally every conceivable instance of itself (an obvious impossibility) or cynically conclude that no concept can ever do justice to the vast panoply of social practices. This is a false choice. For we are not talking of grasping every and all practices that take place in teaching and learning, the curriculum, or the schools. We are talking of those practices that are grasped by these concepts. There is a builtin limiting function in operation, here: a concept can only grasp instances of itself and not its other. For that to happen, for a concept to grasp its other as irredeemably other, another concept must be invoked. Thus, corporal punishment does not follow from a deductive consequence of the hypothesis of teaching and learning, because it does not follow necessarily from the concept: there is no practical instance of corporal punishment that is graspable by a concept of teaching and learning, even if corporal punishment takes place in the context of teaching and learning. Whereas online instruction modules do follow from deductive consequences of the concept, curriculum. Why? Because they can be grasped by the concept and can be shown to do so inductively. It is not the practice illogically inferable from the concept that heralds the breakdown of the concept; it is the practice that intuitively fits because it follows from a deductive consequence of the hypothesis, yet cannot be accounted for. Here we may think of a historical subconcept of teaching: rote. Rote was, for all intents and purposes, the dominant method of instruction in public schools in the nineteenth century in England and North America. As a subconcept of teaching, it grasped the instances of what counted as teaching, and what fell outside of it (other teaching methods—e.g., learning by inquiry or the discovery method) was not teaching. Yet these other practices also fulfilled the metaphysical, logical, epistemic, ethical, and socio-political conditions of what it meant to teach. Thus, either the subconcept of teaching was insufficient or the deductive consequences
Wither the Concept?
of the hypothesis were faulty. But the deductive consequences of the hypothesis were not faulty—they were obligatory conclusions—and so the hypothesis itself was charged with failure. A new hypothesis of teaching, involving new deductive consequences and a new concept (a general principle, inductively tested), was formed. Practical instances that follow from the deductive consequences of the hypothesis yet cannot be grasped by or cannot grasp the concept are those that herald reconstruction of the hypothesis and, ultimately, the concept. This is the key to the logic of inquiry of philosophy of education. All hypotheses have their obligatory, deductive consequences. From these, a concept or general principle is formed. This principle must grasp its concrete, practical instances. These practical instances follow from the deductive consequences. Practical instances that follow from the deductive consequences yet cannot be grasped by the concept or general principle imply failure of the concept and necessitate reconstruction of the principle. I have attempted here to develop from a set of hypotheses a further set of deductive consequences that can be put in the form of three general principles or concepts: teaching and learning, the curriculum, and school. The obligation is to now test these principles through having them grasp their particular, concrete instances. This will demand close attention to the prevailing practices in teaching and learning, the curriculum, and school. For it is there, in those practices, that the strength or failure of the concepts will be ascertained.
Appendix: Philosophical Presuppositions Having completed an examination of original problems in philosophy of education, together with a projected program for their articulation, I am at the point in the volume where the philosophical presuppositions become important to articulate. With the questions and the concepts of teaching and learning, the curriculum and schools discussed, I am in a position to turn to the philosophical presuppositions for a regenerated philosophy of education. These presuppositions have only been hinted at thus far, mostly through the footnotes, and as such require further illumination. I presuppose a broadly idealist account of the method through which philosophy of education should proceed in developing its questions, an account that bears on classical pragmatism and some of the newer developments in post-analytic philosophy in addition to German classical philosophy. I highlight the account of method in C.S. Peirce, the account of experience in John Dewey, together with the semantic pragmatics of Wilfrid Sellars and Robert Brandom. Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel provide the backdrop to my claims regarding justification and (particularly) the development of the concept, including issues of authority and legitimation. These presuppositions form the content of a corresponding volume, a volume I tentatively entitle Philosophical Presuppositions of a Systematic Philosophy of Education. I hope to have this volume available to readers in the near future. This volume provides detailed accounts of the presuppositions along two axes: the first is the branches of philosophy, the second schools of thought. The branches are of course metaphysics, logic, theory of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. These follow the same pattern established in this volume. To these I add one further branch: philosophy of educational research. I do so because of its relevance to the historical questions of philosophy of education, especially as it bears on research. The schools of thought invoked in this further volume include German idealism, classical pragmatism, and certain neo-pragmatic and post-analytic accounts, specifically those of Sellars and Brandom. My hope is that the presuppositions will form a coherent account that will serve to buttress the claims for the concepts of teaching and learning, the curriculum and the schools as detailed in this volume. Along the way I will discuss certain aspects of philosophy of education germane to
Appendix: Philosophical Presuppositions
the philosophical presuppositions I discuss here; however, my exposition of these will be circumscribed by the exigencies of the topic at hand and will be relegated for the most part to the footnotes. Much more discussion of the specifically philosophical problems in philosophy of education will occur in the upcoming volume. Although largely relegated to footnotes owing to the larger purpose of laying bare the model of this volume, my thesis is idealism, broadly conceived, constitutes the best set of presuppositions a novel philosophy of education can utilize. This idealism need not be straightforwardly transcendental. Indeed, the idealism I recommend is comfortable with materialism, is not supernaturalistic, and is immanent rather than transcendent; in terms of its role in a theory of knowledge, it is emergentist and interactionist rather than parallelist or epiphenomenalist, and fallibilist rather than infallibilist. It draws more from classical pragmatism and (perhaps) less from the newer linguistic idealisms of which Brandom is representative. This covers quite a lot of territory, including much of the thinking of the philosophers I invoke here and there in this volume. But while my accounting of idealism owes a great debt to these thinkers, they do not exhaust it, as I will attempt to demonstrate in the various chapters of my upcoming Philosophical Presuppositions. I don’t establish models—the business of this volume—so much as provide a clear and detailed examination of the presuppositions only hinted at here. Readers will look in vain for a system in the pages of Philosophical Presuppositions. What the reader will find instead is the philosophical support for a systematic account of teaching and learning, the curriculum, and schools that, when merged with the question of origins and the establishment of a method as it is discussed here, is just such a systematic philosophy of education in its beginning stages. The rest of this appendix is given over to a summary account of the particular presuppositions I will discuss in detail in the upcoming volume. But before I turn to this summary, it will do to establish the basis for these presuppositions: why do we need such presuppositions given the development of a set of questions of origin that seems complete enough? The obvious answer is the need for mooring. Questions of origin appear to beg themselves if presuppositions aren’t forthcoming. Too often philosophies of education appear in media res, with little or no supporting evidence or argument for their particular positioning. This is especially a problem for social and political philosophies of education, as they very often begin with a set of assumptions put forth as self-evident, with little or no defence of their claim to be non-ideological. I am thinking of political philosophies of education that do
Appendix: Philosophical Presuppositions
not pause to defend the liberal or socialist basis upon which they stand. Much if not most of the text ought to be given over to just this defense, yet very often this is precisely what is missing. The assumption seems to be the philosophical backdrop is self-evident. In the upcoming volume, I argue this is a chief source of the problems endemic to philosophy of education. Any novel philosophy of education must not fall into the trap in which so many philosophies of education have perished. There is another answer, however, that is less obvious and it concerns another horn of the dilemma (or perhaps trilemma, given what I am about to say). If circularity is manifest in beginning a philosophical program for education in media res, absurdity is occasioned if we cannot account for relationships among phenomena. And regress is occasioned if we can’t foresee an end or ground to the series of phenomena. This will become an especially important concern in the chapters on logic and metaphysics, where continuity is taken up. Together these baleful logical conditions are known as the Agrippan Trilemma. The phenomena at hand may be straightforwardly of objects and their causes. Or they may be statistical, as in variables or functions. The point I am making is some accounting of the relationships between these is required if we are not to fall into the problems of regress, absurdity (the causal chain abruptly ends or correlation cannot be ascertained), and circularity. The chief need for philosophical presuppositions in one’s philosophy of education, then, is to ward off the specter of skepticism. Of course, this has the potential to infect all philosophical programs. But it is especially virulent among programs that don’t exhibit their presuppositions. In arming myself against an Agrippan skepticism, I realize I am opening myself up to an objection, given the thesis of the present volume. That thesis is to directly invoke no philosophical theory or school of thought in the process of formulating the questions of origin for philosophy of education. Indeed, the inability to avoid this invocation I see as one of the chief problems of current philosophy of education. An account of skepticism seems to violate just that thesis. Am I now violating my own admonition to not invoke a philosophical program or school of thought in laying out the philosophical presuppositions of the questions of origins? The answer is no. While these are philosophical presuppositions of the questions of origins, they do not constitute a philosophical program, nor do they represent a school of thought. And rather than representing a school of thought, they represent several schools of thought, at least to judge by the variety of positions I take in what follows. Nor do they co-exist logically or naturally: at least some metaphysical views of German classical philosophy are hostile to the naturalism
Appendix: Philosophical Presuppositions
of the classical pragmatists and the (later) semantic pragmatists of the postanalytic period. It is indeed the case that I will be emphasizing the naturalist impulses in German classical philosophy over the metaphysical ones; but there is a limit to doing so and that limit I will not cross.
Logic I begin Philosophical Presuppositions with logic. Logic is a topic not frequently covered in most recent philosophies of education (although this is historically not the case). I will discuss several topics of relevance to a philosophy of education that take seriously questions of origins. These include standard topics, such as identity and its companions (non-contradiction and the excluded middle)—the so-called topics of identity covered in detail by the classical German philosophers and again by Peirce and later, Dewey. But I will also discuss in detail logics of systematicity, holism, and organicism. These are topics of importance to German idealists such as Schelling and Hegel, but also of importance to Peirce and Dewey. Along the way, the issues of logic in regards to method (important for Hegel, Peirce, and Dewey) will be discussed. What all of this means for a philosophy of education that privileges a historical account of questions of origin and the development from these of a method for generating novel questions will also be discussed.
Metaphysics The chapter on Metaphysics is the central one in the volume. Several concerns are of interest, here. The question of being, of course, deserves attention. This question is bound up with the question of logical identity (what is and what is not); but it is also bound up with questions of knowledge and recognition (how do we justify what is, and how do we recognize it when we see it, etc.). In this chapter, I will examine several emergentist accounts of the metaphysics of experience—emergentist in the sense that mind, though having a material basis, is causal in regards to the body. My account is emergentist in this sense, but is also interactionist in regards to its causality. Body and mind, regardless of their basis, interpenetrate and interrelate. This excludes mind-body dualist accounts (such as Cartesian accounts), as well as epiphenomenalist accounts in which mind has no causal power over the (material) body. I am also opposed to
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accounts that posit separate paths or tracks by which the material and psychical operate. The accounts I am therefore opposed to are Cartesian, but also more recent accounts such as panpsychism and the psycho-physical parallelism common to late nineteenth-century experimental psychology. Important influences here are Kant’s account of the formal subject, Fichte’s account of self-activity and self-positing, Schelling’s account of the potencies (especially in the First Outline of a System of Nature, the Idea of a Philosophy of Nature, the System of Transcendental Idealism, and My Presentation of the System of Philosophy), Hegel’s account of Consciousness and Self-Consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit, Peirce’s accounts of Absolute Chance and Continuity, and Dewey’s naturalistic metaphysics, especially as expounded in Experience and Nature. The presuppositions I end up with at the end of the chapter include emergentism, interactionism, a naturalistic metaphysics of immanence, and an account of consciousness and self-consciousness as an activity rather than a straightforward unity of the subject. (I also try to move Kant in the direction of the formal unity of the subject as an activity rather than a passive accumulation of intuitions.)
Theory of Knowledge The chapter on Theory of Knowledge picks up where the chapter on Metaphysics leaves off. Here, I will discuss the consequences of an emergentist, interactionist, immanent, and naturalist metaphysics for a theory of knowledge. I will focus on three interrelated topics: method, justification, and (semantic) recognition and authority. In terms of method, I will closely follow Peirce and Dewey. The socalled hypothetico-deductive method (Peirce’s method of abduction, deduction, and induction and Dewey’s logic of inquiry) will be the focus. In terms of justification, I will examine foundationalist and coherentist accounts. I will reject foundationalism in favor of a modified coherentism that leaves open the prospect of grounding knowledge claims, though not in a priori intuitions or principles, nor in sense-qualia or other mental intermediaries. Having completed this, I will turn to how justification takes place—the questions of authority and legitimation. Here, I turn to the classical German philosophers once again, especially Fichte and Hegel on social recognition, and some recent thinkers on the questions they first posed. Then I turn to the semantic pragmatism of Wilfrid Sellars and Robert Brandom and look at the recent debates between the disquotationalists and foundationalists. I argue that a modified disquotationalism is the best
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hedge against the skepticism toward knowledge claims. I say modified because I hold out the prospect of a realism about causal events, together with a causal accounting of truth, that hearkens to Peirce and Dewey.
Ethics The chapter on Ethics begins by canvassing the three major schools of thought today: sentiment, principles, and virtues. I will discuss how each of these plays a role in a novel philosophy of education. From there, I turn to a discussion of family and community life. Hegel, Mead, and Dewey factor heavily in this discussion. I then turn to the question of how ethical decisions are made and what are the sorts of justification given to and for them. Here I draw on Dewey’s accounts of ethical inquiry in Human Nature and Conduct and Theory of Valuation: ethics involves deliberation—deliberation about means and endsin-view. Finally, I turn to the issue of self-consciousness and the (ethical) self. What does this look like? Of what is it composed? I will follow Fichte, Hegel, and the naturalized Hegelians—Dewey and Mead—here: self and self-consciousness are social and involve authority and (reciprocal) recognition. A discussion on the nature of the authority and legitimation of ethical deliberation leads us into socio-politics.
Socio-Politics The chapter on socio-politics is perhaps the most contentious of all, and for two reasons. First, I reject the tendency of philosophy of education to make political philosophy primary. (I also discuss this at some length in this volume.) Briefly, my argument is philosophy of education has spent entirely too much time and energy on the problems of schools and schooling (a political problem) in the past fifty or so years, and requires a return to issues of logic, metaphysics, and theory of knowledge. The detail of this claim discussed in Part One of this volume is augmented with a set of philosophical claims for the return. Second, I insist that the only sort of political philosophy that works for twenty-firstcentury Western-liberal, democratic states is a Western, democratic liberalism. I follow Michael Freeden’s admonition to not conflate ideologies at their cores. So, for example, there is a core to liberalism that cannot be conflated with the core to socialism. To do so inevitably weakens the political ideology that holds the
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entire edifice together, and invites self-contradictoriness. Any political theory of philosophy that has its ideological core in a non-liberal school of thought (e.g., socialism, communism, state corporatism, anarcho-syndicalism) is exempt from forming the philosophical presuppositions of a novel philosophy of education. With this in mind, I discuss the aims of education in a liberal-democratic state; the problems of freedom and justice in a liberal-democratic state, the role of education (if any) in political involvement, and the role of political consciousness for presuppositions of a novel philosophy of education. My accounts will be largely composed of claims by Kant, Hegel, Dewey, certain critical theorists, as well as prevailing thinkers of late twentieth-century liberal democracy.
Philosophy and Educational Research I depart somewhat from the account in this volume in discussing philosophy of science and social science and their bearings on educational research in the final chapter. Here, I will look at some of the schools of thought (positivism, postpositivism, sociology of knowledge, interpretation, poststructuralism) that have buttressed philosophers of education involved in discussions of educational research. I will also look at certain problems in educational research garnering the attention of philosophers of education (problems of causality, reliability and validity, justification of claims and results, and the problem of reductivism). Doing so will put me in a position to highlight the philosophical presuppositions for any further philosophy of education involved with philosophy of science and social science. I will draw on accounts of post-positivism, critical theory, and interpretation to examine what an account of experience for human behavior must contain, as well as an account of meaning.
Philosophical Presuppositions and Philosophy of Education Along the way through logic, metaphysics, theory of knowledge, ethics, sociopolitics, and educational research, I discuss certain philosophers of education and their roles in various programs I see active in the discipline. My thesis is, since Dewey, there have been no systematic philosophies of education. But this doesn’t mean there haven’t been programs, either under the auspices of previous philosophers and philosophers of education, or major contributions in one or more branches of philosophy. Philosophical Presuppositions will deal at
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length with a number of thinkers in philosophy of education, particularly those invested in theories of knowledge, ethics, and socio-politics. Certain programs conform with a systematic philosophy of education and others don’t and both will receive attention. I am particularly keen on examining certain politically motivated accounts of philosophy of education in terms of their capacity for systematization and for warding off skepticism. Needless to say, those programs that privilege immanent and fallibilist accounts of knowledge, ethics, and politics are more salient for this project than those which are transcendent and/ or dogmatic. Special attention to critical-theoretic, Marxist and post-Marxist, and cultural studies in the context of philosophy of education is provided.
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Index abduction 220 n.2, 230 Adler, Mortimer 16, 23, 134 n.28, 156 n.36 Almond, Brenda 82 n.23, 82 n.24 Anderson, Archibald 27–28 Anyon, Jean 135 n.29 APA Zero Tolerance Task Force 186 n.20 Apple, Michael 20 n.22, 79 n.14, 81 n.19, 135 n.29, 160 Applebaum, Barbara 110, 159 n.40 Arcilla, R.V. 36–9, 43, 55 n.5, 159 n.40 Aristotle 101, 129, 130, 148 Arnstine, Donald 38, 39 n.22, 43, 57 n.10 Ascham, Roger 130 n.12, 151 n.19 Augustine 100 Barr, Stringfellow 16 Beane, James 20 n.22 Beard, Charles 21 Berger, Peter 74 n.6 Besley, Tina 141 n.37 Bestor, Arthur 24 n.9, 131 n.14 Biesta, Gert 159 n.40 Blacker, David 137 n.33 Blake, Nigel 90 n.8 Bleazby, Jennifer 137 n.33 Bogoslovsky, B.B. 68 Boler, Megan 30–2 Bowles, Samuel 20 n.22, 79 n.14, 81 n.19, 82 n.20, 155 n.32 Brandom, Robert 6, 11, 121 n.40, 206 n.1, 219 n.1, 226–7, 230 Bredo, Eric 37, 43–4, 93 n.9, 162 n.48 Bridges, David 35 n.6, 55 n.7, 56 n.8, 82 n.24, 88 n.4, 114 n.31 Brighouse, Harry 159 n.43, 209 n.2 Brosio, Richard 20 n.22, 79 n.14, 81 n.19, 82 n.20, 115, 155 n.32, 160 Broudy, Harry 23–5, 29, 59 n.13 Bruford, William 143 n.38 Bruner, Jerome 134 n.28 Buchanan, Scott 16
Burbules, Nicholas 30, 36, 39–40, 107 n.24, 141 n.37 Butler, Donald 68 n.20, 68 n.21, 156 n.37 Butts, Freeman R. 101 n.9, 130 n.10, 132 n.19, 149–151, 153 n.25 Callan, Eamon 110, 137 n.33, 159 n.43, 185 n.19 Carr, David 41, 63 n.16, 73 nn.1–3, 90 n.8, 162 n.48 Carr, Wilfred 55 n.6, 61 n.14, 90 n.8 Chambliss, J. J. 57 n.11 Champlin, Nathaniel 26 Childs, John 21, 23 Comenius, Johann Amos 102 Conant, James Bryant 18 concrete instances/practical instances 6–7, 118–20, 123, 141–2, 163–4, 168, 171, 173–87, 189, 191–4, 196–9, 201, 203, 205–7, 209–13, 215, 217–19, 221–5 Coughlan, Neil 105 n.20 Counts, George 17, 21–2 Cremin, Lawrence 13 n.1, 13 n.3, 14 n.6, 16 n.10, 16 n.11, 17 n.15 Cuban, Larry 18 n.20 Cubberley, Ellwood 16 Curren, Randall 90 n.8, 101 n.7 Dalton, Thomas 105 n.20 deduction 7, 10, 120 n.36, 122, 172 n.3, 174, 176, 221, 230 deductive consequences 10, 171–5, 177–81, 183–6, 190, 192–201, 204–10, 212–15, 217, 219–22, 224–5, 230 Dewey, John 6–8, 11, 13–19, 21–2, 24 n.9, 26–7, 29, 31, 33, 36–7, 41, 43–5, 47, 51, 54, 56, 58–62, 66, 68, 88, 92–4, 99, 103–7, 110, 115–17, 124–5, 131–4, 137 n.33, 138, 143, 152, 154, 156–7, 162–3, 172, 173 n.4, 175 n.5, 175 n.6, 179 n.9, 179 n.10, 183–6, 226, 229–32
Index Diggins, J.P. 37 n.15 Doll, William 134 n.28 Donohue, John 101 n.8 Dykhuizen, George 105 n.20 Educational Philosophy and Theory 21 n.1, 43 n.1, 70 n.22 Educational Theory 1–2, 13–16, 21 n.1, 23, 27–9, 31–3, 36, 56–8, 60, 62, 71, 73, 108–11, 114–15, 126, 163 Eick, Caroline 77 n.10 Eisenhart, Margaret 93 n.9 Eisner, Elliot 134 n.28 Empiricism 5, 34, 36 n.10, 55, 68, 87, 90, 102, 118, 120, 122, 173–5, 179, 182, 191 n.1 English, Andrea 13 n.1, 104 n.17, 132 n.20 Fairfield, Paul 75 n.7 fallibilism 10, 143 n.40, 167, 177, 182 n.12, 183, 194, 207, 219, 227, 233 Feinberg, Walter 27–8, 33, 35, 59 n.13, 87 n.1, 89 n.6, 159 n.43, 161 n.46, 161 n.47 Fenstermacher, Gary 39, 89 n.5 Fichte, G. 6, 11, 81 n.17, 103–4, 120, 180 n.10, 183, 226, 230–1 foundationalism 78, 182, 230 Franks, Paul 120 n.37 Freeden, Michael 79 n.13, 231 Freire, Paulo 33 n.1, 41, 79 n.12, 79 n.14 Garrison, James 110 n.30, 162 n.48 Gee, James Paul 93 n.9 Geertz, Clifford 75 Gereluk, Diane 137 n.33, 185 n.19 Gintis, Herbert 20 n.22, 79 n.14, 81 n.19, 82 n.20, 155 n.32 Girod, Mark 94 n.10 Giroux, Henry 20 n.22, 30, 79 n.14, 81 n.16, 160 Good, James 105 n.20 Goodlad, John 159 n.44 Gordon, Peter 67 n.19, 154 n.28 graduate studies, philosophy of education and 16, 57, 64–5, 69–70, 168 Greene, Maxine 28, 29 n.33, 33–5, 81 n.16, 88 n.2, 89 n.6, 162 n.48 Gutmann, Amy 159 n.43
Haack, Susan 182 n.12, 183 n.14 Harris, H.S. 121 n.39 Harris, William Torrey 13, 68, 105 n.19, 121 n.39, 124, 132–3, 154 Hayden, Matthew 41 Hegel, G.W.F. 6, 11, 21 n.1, 74 n.5, 81 n.17, 99, 103, 105–6, 109, 112, 117, 120–2, 131–3, 143, 175 n.6, 179 n.8, 179 n.10, 183, 185 n.18, 226, 229, 230, 231, 232 Henry, Nelson 23 n.7 Herbart, J.F. 99, 103–4, 109, 132, 143 Hirst, Paul 55 n.7, 109, 136 n.31 hooks, bell 81 n.19 Hook, Sidney 22, 160 n.45 Howe, Kenneth 93 n.9 Hutchins, Robert 16 hypothesis 7, 10, 26 n.19, 74, 118, 122–3, 171–4, 176–81, 183–4, 186, 189–99, 203–4, 206–10, 212–13, 217–22, 224–5 idealism 6–7, 13, 23, 67 n.19, 68, 78, 99, 103, 116, 120, 154, 156 n.37, 162, 167, 177, 215, 219 n.1, 220, 226–7, 229 Illich, Ivan 155 n.35 induction 5, 10, 121–2, 173–4, 176–8, 182, 194, 197, 206–7, 210–11, 217, 220 n.4, 222, 224–5, 230 Jaeger, Werner 100 n.2, 128 n.3, 129 n.6, 149 n.2 James, William 33 n.1, 105, 115, 117, 182 n.12 Jardine, David 75 n.7 Jefferson, Thomas 33 n.1, 104 Johnston, James Scott 105 n.19, 105 n.20 Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 n.1, 70 n.22, 143 n.38, 152 n.22, 169 n.1 journals, philosophy of education and, 3, 21, 27, 28 n.29, 30–2, 39, 41, 51–2, 54–5, 60, 64–6, 70, 89, 106, 137, 168 Kaminsky, Jeffrey 15 n.8, 21 n.1, 43 n.1, 44, 51 n.1, 53 n.3 Kant, Immanuel 6, 11, 33 n.1, 41 n.31, 99, 103–5, 107, 109–10, 120, 124, 131, 133, 143, 153 n.24, 157, 219, 226, 230, 232 Karier, Clarence J. 19 Keating, Pamela 159 n.44 Kerr, Donna 25
246 Kilpatrick, William 17, 21, 23, 27, 28 n.29, 67 kinds and classes 10, 122, 172–7 Klein, Frances M. 134 n.28 Kliebard, Herbert 13 n.1, 18 n.20, 105 n.19, 132 n.20 Knight-Abowitz, Kathleen 38 n.20 Kohli, Wendy 33, 35 n.6, 35 n.8 Kuhn, Thomas 29 Kuypers, Stefan 54 n.4 Labaree, David 16 n.12, 17 n.17, 18 n.19 Lagemann, E.C. 17 n.14 LeGoff, Jacques 129 n.8, 129 n.9, 150 n.15 Levinson, Meira 110, 137 n.33, 161 n.46 linguistic discourse 15 n.9, 31, 34 n.1, 35 n.6, 121 Locke, John 18, 102, 103, 128, 130, 131, 151 Løvlie, Lars 143 n.38, 152 n.22 Luckmann, Thomas 74 n.6 Macedo, Stephen 159 n.43 Machiavelli, Nicolo 130 n.11 MacMillan, C.J.B. 21 n.2 Makreel, Rudolph 76 n.8 Mann, Horace 104, 132, 153 Marrou, H.M 100 n.2, 128 n.2, 128 n.4, 129 n.5, 129 n.6, 149 nn.5–10, 150 nn.11–13 Marsilius of Padua 130 n.11 Martin, Christopher 54 n.4, 157 n.38, 159 n.40, 185 n.19 Martin, Jane Roland 25, 30 Marx, Karl 19, 80 n.15, 82, 112 Matthews, Michael 90 n.8 Mayo, Chris 40–1, 107 n.25 McClaren, Peter 20 n.22, 79 n.14, 81 n.16, 160 McDonough, Kevin 159 n.43 Mead, G.H. 33, 81 n.17, 121, 231 Miller, David 83 n.25, 83 n.26, 139 n.35 Miller, John 135 n.30 Muir, James 21 n.1, 43 n.1, 44, 51 n.1, 53 n.2 Neatby, Hilda 131 n.14 Nechyba, Thomas 155 n.34
Index Niethammer, F. 131 n.17 Noddings, Nel 81 n.16, 162 n.48 Nussbaum, Martha 159 n.42 Oakeshott, Michael 34, 156 n.36 Oancea, A 35 n.6, 55 n.7, 56 n.8, 88 n.4, 114 n.31 Odeshoo, Jason 27–8, 87 n.1, 89 n.6 Okshevsky, Walter 157 n.38 Page, James 137 n.33 Payne, Charlton 104 n.15 Peirce, C.S. 6, 11, 78 n.11, 117, 143 n.40, 162, 172, 181–2, 219, 220 n.2, 220 n.4, 226, 229–31 Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich 103, 109, 110 n.26, 153 Peters, Michael 141 n.37, 159 n.40 Peters, R.S. 30 n.39, 54 n.4, 55, 88, 109–10, 157 n.38 Phillips, D.C. 29, 33, 35, 63 n.16, 88 n.3 Plato 21 n.1, 41, 51, 53, 99–101, 128–9, 148, 160–1, 164, 178–9 pragmatism 6–7, 11, 14 n.7, 16–17, 19–20, 23 n.9, 41, 68, 121 n.40, 167, 177 n.7, 219 n.1, 226–7, 229–30 Pugh, Kevin 94 n.10 Pulliam, John D. 154 n.27 Ravitch, Diane 19 n.21 Rawls, John 158, 159 n.40, 163 realism 23 n.9, 78 n.11, 101, 165 n.50, 181–3, 220, 231 Robinson, Daniel N. 110 n.26 Rorty, Richard 158–9 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 21 n.1, 33 n.1, 100, 103, 109–10, 128, 130–1, 143, 148, 152–3, 160 Rugg, Harold 17, 22 Ryan, Alan 105 n.20 Schelling, W.F.J. 6, 11, 103, 183, 226, 229, 230 Schroeder, William 107 n.23 Sellars, Wilfrid 6, 11, 121, 206 n.1, 219 n.1, 226, 230 semantics 121, 183, 219, 226, 229–30 Shavelson, Richard 93 n.9 Shor, Ira 155 n.33
Index Shusterman, Richard 14 n.7 Siegel, Harvey 30, 37–8, 43, 162 n.49 Slavin, Richard 93 n.9 Smeyers, Paul 90 n.8 Smith, Richard 90 n.8 social problems, philosophy of education and, 14, 15 n.9, 24, 37, 37–8 n.16 Socrates 2, 41, 53, 99–100, 109, 123 Soltis, Jonas 23–4, 25 n.17, 29 speculative, philosophy of education and, 5, 26, 59, 68, 78, 116, 121 Standish, Paul 90 n.8, 143 n.38, 152 n.22 Stengel, Barbara 38–9, 43, 57 n.10 Steufel, Jan 162 n.48 Strike, Kenneth 110, 159 n.40 Studies in Philosophy of Education 41 n.31 subjectivism 54 Suissa, Judith 169 n.1 Tamura, Eileen 74 n.4, 77 n.10 Tanner, Daniel 17 n.16, 21 n.2, 22 nn.4–6, 67 n.18, 131 n.14, 153 n.25 Thompson, Audrey 38–9 Thorndike, Edward 17, 110, 133–4 Todd, Sharon 82 n.24, 107 n.24
traits of existence 175, 178–9 Trilemma, Agrippan, Philosophy of Education and 228 Tröhler, Daniel 131 n.15, 152 n.21, 155 n.31 Tyler, Ralph 21–2, 67, 134 Van Patten, James J. 154 n.27 Violas, Paul C. 19 von Basedow, F. 131 n.17, 153 von Humboldt, Wilhelm 104 Walker, Vanessa S. 93 n.9 Watson, John 110, 134 Weber, Max 68, 74 Welker, Robert 16 n.13 Westbrook, Robert 105 n.20, 154 n.30 White, John 43 n.1, 51 n.1, 154 n.28 Whitehead, Alfred North 115 n.33 Willinsky, John 93 n.9 Wong, D. 94 n.10 Wood, Allen 80 n.15, 82 n.21, 120 n.37, 175 n.6 yearbooks of NSSE, the 22–3