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Education as a philosophical practice

Walsh, Paddy; (1992) Education as a philosophical practice. Doctoral thesis , Institute of Education, University of London. Green open access

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1. Linguistic analysis is a revelatory philosophical strategy on the conditions of (i) a presumption of interdependence among the uses of a term being substituted for the usual presumption of the dependence on some single 'paradigmatic' use of all other uses, (ii) recognition of the adaptability of important terms to denominational and individual points of view, and (iii) treating usages, and the habits of thought embodied in them, as open to crWic!ism (1.1). Applied to 'education' and cognates, the reformed strategy reveals a complex unitary concept of education and a manifold of uses structured on three key correlativities: between '(formal) education' and 'education (in the widest sense)' - which underwrites the educational aspiration to a coherent view of life as a whole; and between descriptive and normative uses, and open and loaded uses - which, together, foreshadow the complex logic of educational theory and debate (1.2 - 1.4). 2. The new paradigm of educational theory as emergent in practice provokes an overdue analysis of the distinctive profile of this practice which reveals it to be (inter alia) 'philosophical' by virtue of its integral quest for a coherent view of life (2.1). A theory that is adequate to this practice will be a 'cluster' of four 'discourses', utopian, deliberative, evaluative and scientific (each already in use within mature practice itself) (2.2). The inclusion of science can be defended on the basis of the dialectic between detachment and human interest that is characteristic of proper human science considering its basis in communication between researcher and researched (2.3). In the discourses generally a tough objectivity, properly construed, accommodates a sensitivity to the circumstantial1 a ]arge freedom, a decent humility and scepticism, an acknowedgement of the role of vision in paradigm choice, and an acknowledgement that disagreement is inevitable over important values (2.4). 3. The manifold connections between ordinary curriculum practices do not necessarily amount to a true curriculum coherence in which the elements would combine into a quest for a general view of life. This latter is an ideal whose feasibility is not to be presumed in our fragmented culture, and for which the idea of 'the academic' is an insnff9nt substitute (3.1). However, we can work towards it, first, by an ordering of general educational values, and, second, by an analysis, broadly related to that ordering, of our cultural capitaL (i) We may identify 'possessive', 'experiential', 'ethical', and 'ecstatic' values. While acknowledging the real claims of the first three of these categories, and the services to them of philosophers like Dewey and Peters, the fourth category - which is encapsulated in the idea of 'love of the world' - can be argued to be primordial and presumed by the other categories (3.2). (ii) In analysing cultural aims, levels of being, and aspects of personality, preserves the link with the previous value-ordering, and is to be preferred to attempts - among which Hirst's is particularly worth engaging with philosophically - to enoompass everything of significance on a single map (3.3). 4. The proposed substanUve 'scheme of things' needs to be articulated and tested in the ntext, also, of particular curriculum areas recx)gnzed as having an importance in their own iight The current upgrading of technology education may be understood, defended, and pointed in terms of the earlier value-distinctions and value-ordering (4.1). Debates on literacy education often turn on whether literacy is a set of highly useful techniques or, as may be argued, is better oonstrued as a form of mental development in which fundamental goals (relating esperlly to experiential values) are themselves transformed (4.2). Finally, a strong case may be made for a broad-minded 'piety', a love of past human beings and worlds, as the most fundamental of the reasons for historical education. This case paraflels the earlier more general arguments about human science and about love of the world.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Education as a philosophical practice
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos...
Language: English
Keywords: Philosophy of education,Educational theory,Role of education,Aims of education,Curriculum relevance,Education,Educational values
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10019085
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