The next three weeks of the course focus on the philosophy of education which is a sub-discipline of the field of educational studies.
The philosophy of education
is defined by The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (♾
) as "the branch of applied or practical philosophy concerned with the nature and aims of education and the philosophical problems arising from educational theory and practice."
As a field of study, the philosophy of education is important because 'education' is one of the few professions where the fundamental "aims" of the profession are openly contested by the profession's stakeholders (including parents, teachers, students, politicians, researchers, and the public at large). (In contrast, few would argue that the fundamental aim of the health care system and hospitals is to heal the sick.)
While it is true that 'learning' is central to the "aims" of education, what is it exactly that students should learn and how should they learn? As the answer to these two fundamental questions are widely contested (see the Week 10
and Week 19
course content for some competing philosophies), it is important for anyone studying 'education' to consider for themselves what the "aims" of education should be.
For teachers, answering this question is especially key to formulating a personal philosophy of education that can guide:
- how you relate to your students (e.g., as a detached authority figure or as a friendly mentor)
- how you teach (e.g., using direct instruction or using experiential activities)
- how you assess student learning (e.g., through rigorous tests or through informal student observation)
- how you set up your classroom (e.g., into rows of desks in which students are separated from one another or into groups in which students work together)