Writing in The Harvard Instructional Overview a few years in the past, I indicated my strategy to a philosophy of education by quoting a phrase of John Dewey’s and a sentence from William James. It is revealing to note some of the names that have been heavily-cited in a pair of recent authoritative collections within the subject (in keeping with the indices of the two volumes, and in alphabetical order): Adorno, Aristotle, Derrida, Descartes, Dewey, Habermas, Hegel, Horkheimer, Kant, Locke, Lyotard, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, Plato, Rawls, Richard Rorty, Rousseau, and Wittgenstein (Curren 2003; Blake, Smeyers, Smith, and Standish 2003).
First, there are works of advocacy produced by those non-technical, self-recognized philosophers” described above, who often have an axe to grind; they might wish to destroy (or to save lots of) widespread education, support or attack some innovation or reform, shore-up or destroy the capitalist mode of manufacturing, see their very own religion (or none at all) gain a foothold within the public faculties, strengthen the place of the basics” in the college curriculum, and so forth.
In stark distinction, a number of of Locke’s main philosophical writings—the Essay Regarding Human Understanding, and the Letter on Toleration—have been ignored by most educational theorists over the centuries, although they’ve enormous relevance for instructional philosophy, principle, policy, and apply.
Thus, for instance, if our view of human flourishing consists of the capacity to act rationally and/or autonomously, then the case could be made that academic institutions—and their curricula—ought to intention to arrange, or assist to organize, autonomous people.
But in different ways even these groups depend for their continuing survival on instructional processes, as do the bigger societies and nation-states of which they’re part; for as John Dewey put it in the opening chapter of his basic work Democracy and Schooling (1916), in its broadest sense training is the means of the social continuity of life” (Dewey 1916, three). Dewey pointed out that the first ineluctable information of the beginning and demise of each one of many constituent members in a social group” make schooling a necessity, for despite this organic inevitability the lifetime of the group goes on” (Dewey, 3). The great social importance of schooling is underscored, too, by the truth that when a society is shaken by a disaster, this usually is taken as a sign of academic breakdown; training, and educators, grow to be scapegoats.