Thursday, May 16, 2013

Today I am inspired to write about educational philosophy. I took the class I'm teaching this summer in 1998 when I was a doctoral student. At the time it was taught by two different faculty members, neither of whom are at the university any longer; one retired and the other went to greener pastures. One professor focused exclusively on the roots of the field: Greek philosophers, European Renaissance thinkers, with Dewey’s progressivism as the most modern approach covered. The other, and this is the class I took, addressed the subject from a feminist and socio-economic perspective. The Greeks, Europeans and even John Dewey were never mentioned.

When I was preparing to teach this class, I reviewed the syllabi of the faculty who have been teaching it more recently. For many years after the two professors I described moved on, an adjunct from another local college taught the class. He is no longer teaching it, but two other professors are. Two-thirds of the syllabi reflected the “roots” approach, while the remaining syllabus indicated “roots” plus a more modern approach.

I’ve been teaching educational philosophy as one of seven themes in my undergraduate foundations classes for years now. When I first tackled it, I (pretty much) had to learn the subject from scratch, as my own experience was not very helpful – whatever it was we studied, I knew it was not educational philosophy. I now devote about four weeks of the semester to the discipline, and have come to believe that it is the most important of the educational foundations.

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