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Philosophy of Education (PH355-15)

Programme content

The module will normally cover a selection from some of the following key issues & questions:

  • Education and Authority in a Pluralistic Society: What justifies the state in compelling children to attend school? Is the state system rightly entitled to the power it exercises in establishing curricula that parents might find objectionable—as with the teaching of biological evolution instead of intelligent design, or the teaching of literature with themes parents find unsuitable?
  • Indoctrination and autonomy: Is the distinction really so obvious between education and indoctrination? Can education be non-indoctrinating, or is some element of indoctrination inevitable? What are the epistemic aims of education? What is it to be an autonomous knower?
  • Learning: How is learning possible? What is involved in acquiring new concepts and new skills? What role does training play in accounting for the transformation achieved on acquiring new concepts, new skills and abilities? Is learning a matter of initiation into the space of reasons, or formation of reason?
  • The individual, society, and autonomy: What is the place of schools in a just or democratic society? Does the aim of educating children for their own good conflict with the aim of educating them for the common good? Is the point of education to promote a thriving economy, to foster competent citizen scrutiny of those in authority, to give citizens the tools to make informed choices, to prepare them for the work force, or something else?
Topics covered

The following is a list of topics for this module in the 2015/16 academic year; precise seminar content may change from year to year.

  • Overview – education and philosophy
    of education; democracy and education
  • Aims of education
  • Cultivating reason – Siegel and know-how
  • Fodor's paradox
  • Social models of learning - Vygotsky
  • Initiation: Peters, Siegel & Williams
  • Learners: Carey
  • Dewey and Inquiry
Timing and CATS

This module will run in the Spring Term and is worth 15 CATS.