How Philosophy Has influenced Education Down Through The Ages

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This topic discusses how educational philosophy has changed down through the ages, up into our own day. The author also concludes by giving his own personal philosophy and explaining why it is so necessary in today's world.

Submitted: March 19, 2017

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Submitted: March 19, 2017



Philosophy in education has dictated the course of educational history. As an encompassing rule,  the primary clash has been that of ideology versus basic practicality, as such concerns the positive development of society at large. Once the compromise between these two primary approaches has been made, the the issue along the same lines would be in regard to specifically what subjects or disciplines we are going to value, versus those that we jettison aside. This battle over educational curriculum has raged since the dawn of western society.

    In ancient society, few common people knew how to read, for example, and thus were handicapped from learning many additional skills, as well as being handicapped in everyday life . A direct consequence of a prevailing illiteracy was that this same mass of the population did not know how to write, thus they lacked an additional life skill. The only mathematics that these people ever learned was that which they may have used in everyday life by assisting an elder or a family member in the line of duty in his personal business, or possibly on an assigned employment task.

Educational philosophers such as Plato, reasoned that society lacked at large when it’s population went through life being uneducated. While the individual may have survived in daily life, he or she failed to reach his greatest potential, thus the prevailing society suffered from that potential loss of productivity. As a result of this line in reasoning, educational philosophers such as Plato determined that access to education should be made available to the masses in such a manner that the individual has access to the basics. Advancement in education could be determined by the individual.

As time moved onward, the issues of specifically what it is that students should be taught began to dominate discussions involving educational curriculum. While educational philosophers such as Plato placed great emphasis on reading, writing and mathematics, with introductions to literary studies, history and the sciences, other philosophers disagreed with focus in these areas alone.

Philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, ( 1724-1804) for example, firmly believed that in addition to the above basic practicalities, qualities of virtuous character and moral instruction should be included in school curriculum. His philosophy of education merged back in with basic practicality when he advocated the ideal of learning by doing. Such advocacies create their own subjective scenarios when the question is proposed as to specifically how do we go about applying the concept of learning by doing in an academic setting? Such questions continue to radiate back down to us in educational settings during our own day and time.

In modern times the shift in education has been known as critical pedagogy. This philosophy focuses on ideals of passion and consequently deduced principle, in an effort to encourage social change. The roots of this movement reach backward into Marxist theory. Examples of chief philosophers in this field are Paulo Freire . The primary theme of Freire's work is liberation of the individual from oppression.

  In the end the age old philosophical conflict remains, yet in recent times has assumed new plateaus, and even influenced the functionality of schools outside of academic curriculum. What specifically do we teach, and specifically how do we go about teaching it, so the age old questions continue to ask?  In innumerable current day examples this age old clash between practicality and idealism is still yet alive, and it prevails not just in the curriculum aspect of the school environment, but also in the daily functional environment.

Outstanding examples that have recently made headlines are issues such as; do we continue busing for the sole purpose of achieving political objectives, when lack of funds make busing totally impractical? Do we mandate tolerance courses and one world inclusion philosophy, when we need to place far more focus on mathematics, sciences, computer skills and development of general technical skills, for the purpose of adaptation in a briskly transforming employment reality?  Basic survival and the changing world around us command that elected leaders make these difficult considerations, especially in the light of ever growing fiduciary concerns, and an ever diminishing tax base.

  My own personal educational philosophy has developed out of the observation that today's employment environment demands skills that the present day educational realm is not sufficiently developing in students. These skills include the age old basics of reading, writing, and particularly mathematics and science, with clear focus on applying these skill in a computerized technical realm. Morality, all inclusive one world philosophy, in company with ideologies of tolerance for diversity;  are personal interests and should be treated as such, since they are also time consuming, and we as educators no longer have the extra time to devote to it,  if we expect student to possess the ability for competition in an ever changing employment environment.

  My educational philosophy is that schools should focus on the basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics, developing all areas in relation to these primary ones to the fullest. This technique would give adequate attention to subjects inside these realms as diverse as literature, history, algebra and calculus, beginning at an early age. In high school these subjects could advance, to include computer skills as diverse as computer repair, programming, and how to create websites, for example. On a student’s own time and at his or her freedom to choose, he could immerse himself in studies of philosophy, tolerance and one world politics, morality, music, art and the like. The sad truth is that US students and citizens at large,  simply do not have the extra time to spare for devoting to these issues, if they are to compete with other citizens of the world.

© Copyright 2017 H.L. Dowless. All rights reserved.

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