Philosophy of Education

What is the Philosophy of Education?

The philosophy of education seeks to study the process and discipline of education in order to understand how it works, improve its methods and perfect its applications in society. The philosophy of education ultimately seeks to improve education and its systems and methods for the betterment of humanity. Ideally, it informs and raises the quality of cirriculum, teaching methods and the overall educational experience.

Educators have a tremendous responsibility not only to prepare students for their lives ahead, but also to contribute to the evolution of knowledge for future generations. Ultimately, these philosophies can effectively further the evolution of the human race. Each generation educates the next, and as the torch is passed we refine our methods. Our knowledge base grows richer and more accurate. Educators set the tone in the classroom, and the performance of students often rises (or falls) to match the expectations of the educator. A clearly defined philosophy of education is something that every educator should cultivate, and it can contribute to overall quality of life for individuals going forward.

Plato Education Philosophy

Plato - Education Philosophy

Since there are a multitude of disciplines within education as well a great number of philosophical approaches, the Philosophy of Education is a very diverse field. It ranges from the classical philosophies of the early development of education to the more progressive and lenient ones of today.

One of the earliest and foundational philosophies of education was put forward by the Greek philosopher tabula rasa” theory was Englishman John Locke, one of the most influentional Age of Enlightenment philosophers. He too believed that human beings were born as a “blank slate,” and that one acquired knowledge through experience and sense perception. His essay Some Thoughts on Education was considered the most influential philosophical work in England for well over a century. It has greatly influenced Western ideals about the educational system. For optimal results, Locke advocated the development of the body and the character as well as the intellect, and thought that all people and classes — not just priviledged white men — should have access to higher education.

William James Educational Philosopy

William James - Educational Philosopher

One of the most influential educational philospohers in America was William James. He lived in the early part of the 20th century and advocated what has been called a “pragmatic theory of truth.” He believed “truth” was valuable in so far as it corresponded with actual, provable utility in the world. He also believed that truth was not static and fixed, but could change and evolve over time. He believe that to deny this would be rigid and inflexible. His pragmatic beliefs about life, knowledge and learning still influence the American philosophy of education today.

One of the more innovative philiosphies of education is the Montessori method. It was created by Italian educator Maria Montessori in the late 20th century. This approach advocates experimentation, and the child is given a great amount of latitude — very unlike many of the educational philosphies that preceded it. Dr. Montessori believed that when children were given freedom and autonomy within their educational experience, their “true nature” could shine through and be actualized. Some Montessori methods included an emphasis on studying other languages and putting time and energy into innovative projects as oppoed to just following a textbook or pre-determined curriculum. In the Montessori method, the child is encouraged to think independently and choose projects and curriculum that truly resonate with her talents and interests.

Where is the educational philosophy headed? Ultimately, only time will tell. Technology has already influenced education greatly, and must be a factor in future philosophies of education in the 21st century and beyond. The way we learn has changed over the centuries, and the evolution seems to be happening at a more rapid pace than ever before. The attention span of the average student is shorter, and information is more readily available to us now than at any other time in human history. There is almost an “instand gratification” effect with technology such as computers, internet and search engines putting a virtual library of knowledge literally at our fingertips. It’s an exciting time. Human potential continues to unfold, and no doubt the philosophy of education will reflect these innovations going forward.
Further reading

Philosophy of Teaching
Teaching Philosophy Guide
Sample philosophy of education essay
Video from a Philosophy Professor explaining about Education at the end of this page
Alternatively, you can read another authors point of view below:

Educational Philosophy

Philosophy of Education Highlighted

Philosophy of Education

Education is a process where knowledge and information is imparted to a student in order to develop him mentally. How this is done is determined by how well the learner internalizes the concepts of the discipline taught. They say you’re only as good as your teacher and this adage holds true for education as well. Every teacher has a philosophy of education and hence they help their students learn accordingly. Some emphasize on critical thinking skills while some emphasize on creativity. It is the philosophy of education which forms various education models in the world; each with its clear objectives on how the country would wish to have its citizens access education and become better people.

The Changing Philosophy of Education

The Philosophy of education has been shaped over centuries with certain philosophers and their thoughts directly affecting it. A good example is Plato and his educational philosophy that was christened Republic. He argues that the society would be holistic if children at a tender age would be raised with a system of education that natures their intellectual capabilities with facts, physical discipline, music, art and skills.

The same principles can be applied to an individual institution. This can be defined as a collective approach informed by educational philosophy to aid in teaching in a way that the objective of imparting knowledge is achieved within a reasonable time. This philosophy of education is subject to review and modification, total over haul or improvements depending on whether the constant evaluation shows whether the goals set have been achieved or not. Most of them have been informed by idealisms that govern a given state affairs in terms of trade, technology and even governance. The essence of education in the first place is for the country to achieve a set of goals in these fields and more. For this reason, the countries would think of a given education philosophy, which supports the objectives.

The drastic advances in technology have also affected the educational philosophy. The world is moving towards the web 2.0, where technological interaction between learners and teachers is emphasized. Another factor that informs education philosophy is the fact that the world is changing its educational strategies. At one point in history, education was a transit of knowledge from the tutor to student. With nationals encouraging innovations and research in various fields, students are encouraged to discover, be inquisitive and get to learn through active experiments and research. This is a way that has revolutionized the way education policy makers and other stakeholders define philosophy of education. The relevancy of a given philosophy of education therefore, is determined by the educational needs of a given society.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

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Abiodun Tochi Charity March 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Philosophy of education is that which produces better students as they are made to be thinkers.Hence,they are able to intellectualy challenge and profer solutions in the educational process.I love the montessory system whereby the child participates.His talent and creativity is stired up and harnessed. This helps a great deal to shape the individual and the society @ large.This makes education flexible and moving.It keeps reshaping the society.The society keeps moving foward as a result of good educational policies.


charles mwangi April 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm

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