Philosophy of Education

Spring 2000

Marist College

Dr. Greg Moses

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Course Description:

In this course, we will explore contemporary problems of violence and inequity in American life, asking about the role that education should play in addressing such issues. Then we will sample some important contributions to the philosophy of education, paying special attention to a new collection of women's philosophies. A classic text from Dewey will help us revisit issues of democracy, knowledge, and the role of education in America.

Required Texts:

  • Garbarino, James. Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How we Can Save Them. New York: Free Press, 1999.
  • Sadker, Myra and David. Failing at Fairness. Touchstone, 1995. (0-684-80073-X)
  • Titone, Connie and Karen Maloney. Women's Philosophies of Education: Thinking through our Mothers Merrill, 1999. (0-13-618042-6)
  • Woodson, Carter. Miseducation of the Negro. Africa World, 1990 (0-86543-171-X.)
  • Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. Free Press, 1997. (0-684-83631-9)

  • Assignments and Grades: The final grade will be based upon an average of the following components, each receiving equal weight. Please see the college catalogue for a general description of grading criteria. Also, please note that the instructor places heavy emphasis upon excellent habits of scholarly citation.

    Outcomes: By the end of course students should be able to (1) discuss contemporary social issues with reference to expert literature, (2) articulate representative philosophies of education, (3) assess the likely merits of philosophies of education in relation to informed analysis of social issues, (4) and propose a personal philosophy of education that is linked to contemporary social challenges. Four papers will assess each objective in turn.

    Attendance Policy: Students are expected to attend all classes. Given the wide range of personal needs that may arise, the instructor is willing to make allowance for one absence (the equivalent of one week.) Any absences beyond this limit must be excused and documented, or they will count against the student's final grade. Documentation will be accepted within two weeks of any absence. Two unexcused absences (two weeks) will result in a letter grade reduction from the final average. For more than three unexcused absences (three weeks), the instructor reserves the right to enter a failing grade.

    Schedule of inquiry:

    1. (Jan. 17-21)--Introduction & Welcome to the "House of Life."

    2. (Jan. 24-28)--Looking for philosophy of education.


    Each student should prepare an informal exploration of two effective and two noneffective methods or practices in teaching, drawing upon personal experiences as a student or teacher.
  • Workshops: Share explorations. Draw up a common list to share with class. Of the methods or practices listed by your group, pick two effective and two noneffective methods that you would like to present with some elaboration of personal experience.
  • Forum: Compiling a class list. What we tend to say about methods and practices in education. But how do we decide or choose our preferred methods or practices? What are we valuing such that we approve of these methods or practices? How might we explore the universe of values and assumptions that would have to be affirmed in order to warrant our approval of our preferred methods or practices?


    With two effective and two noneffective methods or practices in mind, each student should prepare an exploration of the values and assumptions that would help support positive evaluation of the selected methods or practices.
  • Workshops: Sharing explorations. Please list assumptions and values that would seem to support our preferred methods or practices.
  • Forum: Listing values and assumptions that tend to support positive evaluations of our preferred teaching methods or practices. Now, how would we begin to evaluate the values and assumptions that support our methodologies? To answer the question: "What is your philosophy of education?" one thus begins at the level of values and assumptions that would guide our selection of methods.
  • In-class exercise: What is your philosophy of education?

    3. (Jan. 28-Feb. 4)--Lost Boys

    A. Thinking about the problem of violence in America

  • Read: Garbarino, Chs. 1-5
  • Prepare: (1) One paragraph summarizing the highlights of your portion of the reading, with a few key quotes (properly cited). (2) One paragraph reflecting your own experience with boys (i.e., based upon your own experience does Garbarino make sense, and why?) (3) One paragraph exploring the needed shift in values and assumptions that would follow from Garbarino's analysis.
  • Workshops: Share summaries, experiences, and explorations of the kinds of re-valuations implied by Garbarino's work. Prepare for class discussion.
  • Forum: Reviewing Garbarino's highlights. Reflecting on our own experiences. What are some of the implied challenges to values and assumptions of American education? A question about the difference between evil acts and their rates. When do personal problems become systemic?

    B. Thinking about the solutions and the role of education

  • Read: Garbarino, Chs. 6-8
  • Prepare: (1) One paragraph summarizing the highlights of your portion of the reading, with a few key quotes (properly cited). (2) One paragraph addressing your own opinion about the prospects for solution generally, but especially considering the role of education. (3) One paragraph revisiting the question of values and assumptions implied by Garbarino's work. How might we read Garbarino in terms of his implications for a philosophy of education?
  • Workshops: Share summaries and experiences. Prepare for class discussion.
  • Forum: Reviewing the highlights of Garbarino's solutions. Exploring the philosophical implications. What do we think about the prospects of re-valuing education in America?

    Assignment Due Week 6:

    Seven-page paper on the needed transformation in values and assumptions that would begin to address the social challenges of violence and sexism in America. Summarize Garbarino ( 2 pages) and Sadker (2 pages.) Then reflect on your own assessment of the philosophical implications of these texts. Grades will be based upon (1) ability to provide interesting scholarly summaries of the texts, and (2) quality of reasoning that supports your assessment of the shift in values and assumptions that might address the problems of violence and sexism in America. The "C" paper will present competent summaries with appropriate scholarly citations, and will generally discuss values and assumptions. The "B" paper will begin to shape the textual summaries into a distinctive analysis that clearly prepares the reader for a careful reflection on the implications for a philosophy of education. The "A" paper demonstrates thorough mastery of textual material and analysis such that a coherent essay flows from beginning to end, displaying distinctive engagement with the difficult problem at hand.

    4. (Feb. 7-11)--Film about a teacher-hero

  • Some choices: Jaime Escalante, Joe Clark, Marva Collins. How do these teachers transform assumptions and values?

    5. (Feb. 14-18)--Failing at Fairness

    A. Seeing the Hidden Lessons of Sexism and Racism

  • Read: Sadker, Chs. 1-5
  • Prepare: Three paragraphs summarizing material, reflecting on your own experience, and exploring implications for values and assumptions.
  • Workshops: Sharing notes and preparing for class discussion.
  • Forum: How do the Sadkers reveal the everyday workings of sexism? Are values and assumptions of sexism always explicit? Exploring the values and assumptions latent in gut attitudes. In other words, how do socialized attitudes bear implications for our values and assumptions.

    B. Thinking about prospects for solution

  • Read: Sadker, Chs. 6-10
  • Prepare: Two paragraphs of summary and philosophical reflection. Please focus your reflections on prospects for solution, especially in education.
  • Workshops: Sharing notes and preparing for class discussion.
  • Forum: With the values and assumptions of sexism so deeply embedded in everyday practice, what are the prospects for improvement, especially in education?

    6. (Feb. 21-25)--Paper Workshops

  • Workshops: Share your papers, summarizing your approach to the first four pages (which points did you highlight) and then reading verbatim your final three pages. Select one paper for class presentation.
  • Forum: Presentation of papers.
  • Next time: Selecting two philosophers from Titone and Maloney.

    7. (Feb. 28-Mar. 3)--Two women philosophers.

  • Selections TBA.
  • Prepare: One page on each philosopher, first summarizing, then assessing the value of their work for your own philosophy of education. We will do the usual Workshops and Forums for each figure.

    8. (Mar. 6-10)--Two more women philosophers.

  • Selections TBA. Usual preps.
  • Prepare for cooperative readings of Woodson in two parts.

    Assignment Due Week 10:

    Reviewing the five philosophers of education that we have studied, what in your opinion are the four most helpful values and assumptions that are suggested by these texts? How have these values and assumptions been addressed by the various figures? Why do you think that these are important? (Two pages per value/assumption; total of eight pages.) The "C" paper will fulfill all items in the assignment with college-level competence. The "B" paper will begin to develop an interesting coherence in the arrangement of values and figures in preparation for a personalized response. The "A" paper will exemplify mastery of the material as the student shapes a personalized and coherent approach to the philosophy of education. Please take care to "locate" your own positions in relation to the above philosophers.

    9. (Mar. 20-24)--Woodson in two parts

  • Prepare: One page on each section of your reading for Woodson, first summarizing, then assessing the value of his work for your own philosophy of education. We will again do the usual Workshops and Forums.

    10. (Mar. 27-31)--Papers on representative philosophies

  • Workshops: Share your papers by summarizing the issues and figures, then reading verbatim the four pages that develop your own position. Nominate a paper to share with the class.
  • Forum: Sharing papers.

    11. (Apr. 3-7)--Dewey & Democracy. Selections TBA

    12. (Apr. 10-14)--Dewey & Aims of Education. Selections TBA

    13. (Apr. 17-21)--Dewey & Epistemology. Selections TBA

    14. (Apr. 24-28) Paper workshop

  • Papers on values and assumptions in Dewey (using model of previous paper, explore four values and assumptions that you find most helpful in Dewey).

    15. (May 1-5)--Workshop on personal philosophies of ed.

    Four values of our own (with appropriate scholarly reflections).

    Final Paper Due May 12


    Dr. Greg Moses
    Office: Cubicle in SC 149 (near the downstairs mailboxes)
    Telephone: x2217
    Email: JZ7R@maristb.marist.edu
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