Philosophy of Education

Spring 1999

Marist College

Dr. Greg Moses

Please consider the following links:

Course Description: Beginning with a sample of recent historical developments in education, we will examine the distinctive role and contribution of philosophy. Then we will explore the comprehensive philosophical treatment offered by John Dewey. With the value of democratic criteria in mind, we will explore the challenge of gender equality and racial equality. Finally, we will formulate and reflect upon our individual philosophies of education as they have been developed with reference to the materials of this course.

Required Texts:

  • Grant, Gerald. The World We Created at Hamilton High. Harvard, 1988. (0-674-96201-X)
  • Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. Free Press, 1997. (0-684-83631-9)
  • 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.)

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.

  • Preparation and Participation: Daily preparations are completed on time and reflect quality efforts. Students contribute to an interesting class conversation.
  • Paper on terms of value in education (see 3 b., below)
  • Paper on Dewey's philosophy of education (see 7 b., below)
  • Paper on the challenge of equity in education (see 13 b., below)
  • Final paper that states and reflects upon your philosophy of education (see Final Exam, below)

Outcome Assessment: By the end of the course, students should be able to (1) identify the distinctive role and contribution that philosophy can make in education, (2) demonstrate competence in philosophical engagement with course materials and educational experience, and (3) be able to formulate and defend a preliminary philosophy of education. Assigned papers and class exercises (see below) will assess these outcomes.

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 two absences (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. More than two unexcused absences will result in a letter grade reduction from the final average. For more than four unexcused absences, the instructor reserves the right to enter a failing grade.

Schedule of study (Each week is divided into two sessions, a. & b.; preparations are due typed at the beginning of the indicated session):

1. (Jan. 21-22)

Overview: review syllabus; welcome to the "House of Life"; nominations for video presentations. Preliminary remarks on the distinctive role and contribution of philosophy, especially as contrasted with the study of teaching methods. Organize workshops. Begin looking for news clips due next week.

2. (Jan. 25-29)

a. Four post-war periods in U.S. education

Read: Grant, Chapters 1-4. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) summarizing the major features of the historical period of your designated chapter; (2) highlighting the educational issues that accompanied these events. Workshops: Share preps. Forum: Reviewing the four periods of post-war education and the issues that arose. On the importance of developing a habit for situating issues historically.

b. Gathering issues for today

Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) as you see it, what are the issues that face education today? (2) how would you situate the issues historically? Attach a news clip about education. Workshop: share preps and clips. Forum: What is the period of our own time? What issues arise? Preparing for next time: Divide readings for Chapters 5-8.

3. (Feb. 1-5)

a. Identifying terms of value in education

Read: Grant, Chapters 5-8. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) identifying and explicating a term of value that Grant uses in your designated chapter and (2) assessing the validity of the term as helpful or not as a guide for understanding education. Workshops: Share preps. Forum: What are Grant's terms of value and to what extent are they still applicable?

b. Viewing video of teacher-hero

Guiding question for viewing: What terms of value guide the actions of the teacher in this video? Do you think such terms might be useful to you? Prepare: One-page statement answering the question, "What is your philosophy of education?"

Assignment due next time, "Terms of Value in Education": Prepare a four page paper (1,000). The first two pages should offer a scholarly assessment of two terms of value important to Grant's book. How are the terms used? How do they contribute to understanding education? Please pay close attention to habits of citation. The second two pages should offer your own nominations for terms of value that would assist understanding your own experiences in education. Please offer clear examples from your own experience.

4. (Feb. 8-12)

a. Video, part two:

Review guiding question above.

b. Assignment due

Workshops: Sharing papers and terms of value. Nominate one paper to share with the class (second half of the paper only). Forum: Terms of value and philosophy. Philosophy as the sustained, scholarly examination of terms of value and their use as a guide to educational practice.

5. (Feb. 15-19)

a. Doing Dewey--"Dipping In"

Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) identifying and explicating one term of value that you find in Dewey's index (2) exploring the relevance of Dewey's treatment of the term. Workshops: sharing summaries and reflections. Forum: A first look at Dewey's terms of value.

b. Dewey's democracy

Read: What is the "Democratic conception in education"? Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) explicating Dewey's democratic conception (2) assessing the value of Dewey's democratic conception. Workshops: Share summaries and reflections. Forum: The democratic conception in education. What is it? Is this worth pursuing? How close are we?

6. (Feb. 22-26)

Dewey and "formal" terms of discipline and education

Read: What does Dewey say about "formal" education and discipline? Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) explicating Dewey's philosophy of "formal" education or discipline (2) assessing the value of his approach. Workshop: Sharing preps. Forum: On the relation of "formal" aspects of education to the rest of life and learning.

b. Dewey's epistemology

Read: Dewey, Chapters 11, 12, & 25. Prepare: Two paragraphs on your selected chapter (1) summarizing Dewey's view of thinking, knowledge, or epistemology and (2) assessing its value for you. Workshops: Share summaries and reflections. Forum: Pragmatist epistemology--What is thinking? How do we teach it? A philosophical approach to method.

7. (Mar. 1-5)

Three aims in education

Read: Chapters 8 & 9. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) explicating one of the three aims and how it is valued by Dewey (2) assessing the value of the aim from your own point of view. Workshops: Sharing the trilemma. Forum: Dewey's ethic of independent values and conflicting goods.

b. Concluding Dewey

Read: An untouched chapter of your choice. Prepare: Two paragraphs on your selected chapter (1) summarizing Dewey's lesson and (2) assessing its value for you. Workshops: Share summaries and reflections. Forum: How Dewey deconstructs dualisms--the difference between distinctions and dichotomies? Progressive, holistic, pragmatist--three labels.

Assignment Due Next Time: Five-page paper (midterm take-home). For the first three pages, present a scholarly treatment of some area of interest in Dewey. In the final two pages, evaluate the relevance of Dewey's philosophy of education from your own point of view. Perhaps one page could be devoted to agreement, another page to disagreement.

8. (Mar. 8-12)

a. Midterm review

Review: Grant and Dewey. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) defining philosophy and its relation to educational methods (2) the use of philosophy in education.

b. Midterm due

Workshops: Sharing midterm paper on Dewey's philosophy of education.

Spring Break

9. (Mar. 22-26)

a. Seeing the Hidden Lessons of Sexism and Racism

Read: Sadker, Chapters 1-4. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) describing some ways in which Sadker argues that sexism is habitual and (2) what you think about the case presented in the first four chapters. Video Presentation: Higher Learning. Guiding question: How are racism, sexism, etc., embedded in normal habits of campus life?

b. Bigotry and Racism: A Discussion of Terms

Workshops: Share thoughts on Sadker and checklist of answers to the guiding question above. Forum: Talking about the "isms"--interpersonal intentions and structural habits. Democracy revisited. How much trouble is it worth? Should education get involved?

10. (Mar. 29-Apr. 1)

a. Gender Norms (Racial Norms?)

Read: Sadker, Chapters 5-8. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) summarizing the argument from your chapter and (2) evaluating the argument from your point of view. Workshops: Sharing preps, selecting reps. Forum: On norms and standards in gender and race.

b. Concluding Sadker

Read: Sadker, Chapters 9 & 10. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) summarizing and (2) commenting on Sadkers' closing arguments. Workshops: Sharing preps, nominating reps. Forum: Sorting the issues.

11. (Apr. 6-9) [No class on Monday]

Exploring women's philosophies: first selection

Read: Introduction and nominated chapter from Titone and Maloney. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) presenting a terms of value and (2) evaluating relevance. Workshops: Sharing preps, nominating reps. Forum: How does gender perspective affect terms of value?

12. (Apr. 12-16)

a. Women's philosophies: second selection

Read: Nominated chapter from Titone and Maloney. Prepare: Two paragraphs (1) explicating and (2) evaluating a term of value from the reading. Workshops: Sharing preps. Forum: Critical, philosophical assessment.

b. Women's philosophies: third selection

13. (Apr. 19-23)

Women's philosophies: fourth selection

Women's philosophies: fifth selection

Assignment due week 15: A six-page paper on the challenge of equality in education. The first three pages should present a scholarly explication of sexism and the contribution of women's perspectives, making use of materials from Sadker & Sadker and Titone & Maloney. The final three pages should evaluate the importance of these lessons for a philosophy of education. In other words, how does the study of sexism affect the way we formulate a philosophy of education?

14. (Apr. 26-30)

a. Introducing Woodson

Read: Chapters 1-4. Prepare: Explication and commentary on a term of value from your selected chapter. Workshops: Sharing preps. Forum: "The problem of the century." And the problem of self-determination.

b. Woodson, part two

Read: Chapters 5-9. Prepare: Explication and commentary. Workshops: Sharing preps. Forum: Methods of miseducation.

15. (May 3-7)

a. Woodson, part three

Read: Chapters 10-13. Prepare: An explication and commentary that does not confine Woodson's lessons to black education, but takes Woodson seriously as a philosopher of education generally. What is he saying about the role of education in general? Workshops: Sharing preps. Forum: What is Woodson saying to teachers, whatever the audience?

b. Conclusion

Review: Final chapters of Woodson. Prepare: Concluding impressions of Woodson, his cautions about racism in education and about education in general.

Final Exam: A one-page answer to the question, "what is your philosophy of education" with four pages of reflection on your own terms of value and their importance to the challenges facing education today. Be sure to draw upon material presented in class with appropriate habits of citation.

Final Exam Due by May 14, 5 p.m.

Contact Information:

Telephone extension: 2217.

Email: JZ7R@maristb.marist.edu

Office: cubicle in Humanities temporary offices, ground floor of Student Center (SC 149)

Office hours: TBA.