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Topics in Philosophy and Education 20/30 CATS

Mode of Study

9 x 1 hour lecture

9 x 2 hour seminar


30 CATS: 2 x 2500 word assignments

20 CATS: 2 x 2000 word assignments

Optional Module for:

MA Educational Studies
MA Educational Leadership and Management
MA Drama and Theatre Education
MA Educational Innovation

This module is highly recommended to students in outside departments

Introduction to the Module

In this module we will examine philosophical texts in order to view education through the prism of philosophy. In the West, the cultural and intellectual origins of education trace back to Plato’s Academy in ancient Athens. Historically, and to the present day, a significant interconnection between philosophy and education has persisted which demands careful exploration. Rather than viewing education as a field to which philosophy is disinterestedly or abstractly applied, this module examines how education and philosophical thought intertwine. We will discuss education as a process of Bildung (self-formation/enculturation) that expresses and enacts a philosophical framework. As Bildung, the principles and characteristics embodied by different educational systems and idea(l)s themselves demand philosophical scrutiny and evaluation.

Although the course will draw upon carefully chosen selections of philosophical texts, there is no expectation that students will have a background in philosophy.

Students on MA programmes in the Centre for Education Studies will take the 30 CATS variant of this module. Students in other departments (e.g. Philosophy, Politics) should take the 20 CATS variant.

Sample Topics

The specific topics to be examined vary from year to year but may include:

  • Intellectualist and rationalist traditions
  • Poetics and aesthetics of education
  • Technologies of education
  • Mythologies and educational discourse
  • Deconstructing educational institutions
Indicative Reading
Primary texts
  • John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education.
  • John Dewey, Education and Experience.
  • Martin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?
  • Hannah Arendt, ‘The Crisis in Education’ in Between Past and Future.
  • Jacques Derrida, 'Of the Humanities and the Philosophical Discipline. The Right to Philosophy from the Cosmopolitical Point of View (the example of an international institution).'
  • Stanley Cavell, ‘Philosophy as the Education of Grownups’ in Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups (edited by Naoko Saito and Paul Standish).
Further reading
  • Gordon Bearn (2012) ‘Sensual Schooling: On the Aesthetic Education of Grownups’ in Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups (edited by Naoko Saito and Paul Standish)
  • Babette Babich (2016) ‘Getting to Hogwarts: Michael Oakeshott, Ivan Illich and J.K. Rowling on ‘School’ in Education and Conversation (edited by David Bakhurst and Paul Fairfield)
  • David Bakhurst (2011) The Formation of Reason (chapters 1 and 6)
  • Jan Derry (2008) ‘Technology-enhanced Learning: A Question of Knowledge’ in Journal of Philosophy of Education 42:3-4
  • Simon Glendinning (2005) ‘Thinking about (going to) the university’ in Critical Quarterly 47:1-2
  • Sebastian Rödl (2016) ‘Education and Autonomy’ in Journal of Philosophy of Education 50:1
  • Naoko Saito (2006) ‘Philosophy as Education and Education as Philosophy: Democracy and Education from Dewey to Cavell’ in Journal of Philosophy of Education 40:3
  • Richard Smith (2012) ‘University Futures’ in Journal of Philosophy of Education 46:4
  • Paul Standish (2004) ‘Europe, Continental Philosophy and the Philosophy of Education’ in Comparative Education 40:4






Module Leader

Emma Williams

Emma Williams


2016/17 module content

Please note: this is a link to the moodle site which will become available towards the end of Autumn 2016

Philosophy of Education at Warwick

An interdisciplinary research group running termly seminars and special events in philosophy of education. Sponsored by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain and the Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick

Jacques Derrida

Derrida Reading Group

An interdisciplinary reading group for Jacques Derrida's Margins of Philosophy