Foundations of Education


Introduces the 'education for disciplinary initiation' philosophy.

Key Concepts

  • disciplinary initiation

Education for Disciplinary Initiation

The 'education for disciplinary initiation' philosophy aims to instill in students a deep understanding of the major disciplinary traditions (e.g., English literature, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, history, geography, drama, music, and visual arts).

Below is a summary of the disciplinary initiation philosophy (reproduced from Week 20's 'Five Philosophies of Education Compared' chart) plus an example teaching philosophy.


Fall Term Correspondence: Week 8

Root Metaphors: Discipline / Understanding

Aim: To instill in students a deep understanding of the major disciplinary traditions.

Knowledge Acquisition: Follows a transmission path. For the uninitiated, knowledge is inculcated. A strong disciplinary focus.

Values: The value of scholarly inquiry is absolute. Intellectual, aesthetic, and moral judgments derived from scholarly inquiry are promoted over subjective values.

Curriculum: A core curriculum that can be explicitly communicated to students. The sovereignty of segregated disciplines is emphasized.

Subject Focus (Geography): A strong focus on geography and other place-related sub-disciplines (e.g. landscape art and natural history). The wisdom, structure and methodologies of each discipline are emphasized.

Instructional Path: Inculcation of disciplinary knowledge.
📌 The 'education for disciplinary initiation' philosophy has an important historical Canadian connection. In 1953, Dr. Hilda Neatby (), a University of Saskatchewan professor, published So Little for the Mind, a scathing critique of Canadian schools. The book lamented (as the book's title implies) the loss of intellectual rigour in schools. The book's publication resulted in much mid-20th century public debate about the role and purpose of K-12 education in Canadian society.


Jasmine is a teacher who believes that each subject should be taught by a subject specialist who is an expert in the discipline under study. She divides her school day into structured blocks of time which are each devoted to a single subject, such as language, math, biology, or history. Jasmine rarely integrates the subjects she teaches. For example, when they are studying biology, she wants to her students to think like biologists and closely follow the scientific method. On a weekly basis, Jasmine tests her students' understanding of the content she is covering, providing remedial support to those students who are falling behind.