Raphael's School of Athens, detail of Plato and Aristotle
PHIL 432
Philosophy of Education
Course Schedule
Course Introduction
I.  Raising Questions about Education: Plato's Republic
Workshop 1: Censorship
Workshop 2: Tracking/Ability Grouping
Workshop 3: Moral Education
    Plato paper draft due
Workshop 4: Person and Task of the Teacher
    Plato paper due
II.  Educational Theories: Rousseau and Dewey
Spring Vacation
Workshop 5: Open vs. Structured Education
Workshop 6: Religion and Education
Workshop 7: Male/Female Education
Workshop 8: Education, Culture, and Multiculturalism
Workshop 9: Political Implications of Educational Policy
Workshop 10: Education, Truth, and Relativism
    Education theory paper draft due
III.  Contemporary Education Reform
    Education theory paper due
Contact me by email at calhoun@calvin.gonzaga.edu

Th 1/20 Course Introduction: What is Philosophy of Education?
I.  Raising Questions about Education: Plato's Republic and Socratic Method
T 1/25 Republic II (all, but see especially 358e-360d, 369a-370c, 373d-383c)

What problem is Socrates attempting to address with the educational system he devises?  What is the importance of the soldier or guardian class in the state Socrates describes?  What characteristics should they have?  What form will their education take?  Why?
Th 1/27 Republic III
What kinds of persons must the guardians be?  How will Socrates' proposed education promote the desired qualities?  What sorts of stories will the rulers tell to the citizens of the state?  What relationship does Socrates seem to think holds between art and character?
T 2/1 Workshop 1: Censorship
Does sound educational policy require that students be screened from certain types of information?  If so, on what grounds, and according to what standards?  If not, what is the value of unimpeded informational access?  In considering this controversy, think about specific applications to contemporary school issues (school and classroom libraries, internet access, etc.).
Th 2/3 Workshop 2: Tracking/Ability Grouping
Should students be separated into distinct ability groups for educational purposes? What different forms do ability grouping or tracking plans take (e.g., gifted, special, vocational vs. academic)?  What are the benefits and drawbacks of ability grouping or tracking policies?  On balance, is ability grouping helpful or harmful to students?
T 2/8 Republic IV, 424a-427a;  434d-445e;  V, 451d-457c
On what theory of human nature is Plato's educational theory grounded?  How does this theory of human nature provide the basis for a theory of the four cardinal virtues (bravery, wisdom, temperance, and justice)?  What natural differences exist between men and women?  Should those differences result in different educational programs?  Why or why not?
Th 2/10 Workshop 3: Moral Education
Should students be taught right and wrong?  Or "values"?  Why or why not?  If they are to be taught values, whose values will they be taught?  How does a teacher go about teaching values?  Should they be inculcated in the students, or drawn out of the students?  Why?
T 2/15 Republic V, 473aóVI, 489d;  VI, 502c-511c
What does Socrates mean by saying that philosophers must be rulers, and why does he think that it is a true statement?  What are philosophers, and what do they know?  What is the Good, and how is knowledge of it related to all other types of knowledge?  How do Socratesí analogies of the Sun and the Line illustrate his point?
Th 2/17 Republic VII (all, but see especially 514a-521d, 531d-541b)
In what ways is the Cave an image of education?  What does Socrates think true education is?  What curriculum must be used for the philosopher-rulers to accomplish the aim of knowing the Good?  What is the rationale for each of the subjects to be studied?  What is dialectic, and why is it appropriate as the last step?
F 2/18 Plato paper draft due 12 noon (required)
T 2/22 Socratic Method--Plato, Meno (online excerpts); David H. Calhoun, "Which Socratic Method?" (online reserve)

Is Socrates a teacher?  What sorts of things does he do in the dialogue?  What is the exchange with the slave boy supposed to illustrate?  Is Socrates teaching the boy?  What answer do Socrates and Meno reach on the question of whether virtue can be taught or not?
Reflection: What does the "Socratic Method" have to do with the apparent practices of Socrates himself?
Th 2/24 Workshop 4: Person and Task of the Teacher
What kind of person must a teacher be?  What is good teaching?  What characteristics and activities mark the good teacher?  Is a teacher a professional?  If so, in what sense?  What roles must the teacher play?  Can or should the teacher be a counselor for students?  (Thought experiment: how are teachers portrayed in TV, movies, and other popular media?  Does this indicate what we expect teachers to be like?  How realistic are these portrayals?)
F 2/25 Plato paper due 12 noon
II.  Educational Theories: Rousseau and Dewey
T 2/29 Rousseau, Emile, I (read pp. 37-42, 47-54, 61-68 in Bloom edition)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
What are Rousseauís basic educational principles?  How does he apply them to infancy and early childhood?  In what sense is his approach "natural"? Who is the best teacher, and why?
Th 3/2 Rousseau, Emile, II (read pp. 77-93, 112-16)
What subjects does Rousseau include in the early curriculum, and why? What things does he eliminate, and why?  What is the teacherís primary objective in his intereractions with the student in early childhood?
3/4-3/12 Spring Vacation
T 3/14  Rousseau, Emile, III (read pp. 165-72, 178-82, 184-88, 195-98)
What is the key physical attribute of the adolescent child?  How does it affect educational plans and curricular emphases?  How can life experiences be used to stimulate education?  What book does Rousseau wish Emile to study, and why?
Th 3/16 Rousseau, Emile, IV (read pp. 211-15, 219-23, 235-37, 255-59, 266-77)
What change in the child is most important for education in adolescence?  Should males and females be treated differently?  Why or why not?  What objective does the teacher have with respect to the passions of the child?  At what time and in what way should the child be introduced to religion?
T 3/21 Workshop 5: Open vs. Structured Education
Ever since Rousseau, a number of educational theorists have stressed the benefits of an unstructured or "open" educational environment.  Recent versions of this approach have included Montessori education and the "open schooling" model put in to practice at A. S. Neillís experimental school Summerhill.  Of course, some of these theorists would admit that apparent chaos in the classroom is an illusion created by the careful teacher.  On the other hand, some theorists such as the behaviorists assert that a highly structured learning environment is most likely to produce educational success.  Can student interest supply the structure for formal education, or must structure be imposed from without by the educator?
Th 3/23 Workshop 6: Religion and Education
To what extent (if any) should religious questions and topics be incorporated in the school curriculum?  Should religion be treated at all in public school curricula?  Why or why not?  What is the current state of the law regarding religion and public education?  What are the problems and possibilities of integrating religion into education?
T 3/28 Rousseau, Emile, V (read pp. 357-68, 377-85, 471-80)
Do men and women have the same natural abilities and ends?  If not, how do they differ?  What does this imply for the principles and objectives of educating females?  What about education concerning religion and social relationships?
Th 3/30 Workshop 7: Male/Female Education
Should males and females be educated equally?  Should males and females be educated identically?  (Note that equal education does not necessarily require identical education.)  Are male and female roles based on differences of nature between men and women, or are such roles culturally constructed?  What perspective do contemporary feminists offer on these questions?
T 4/4 Dewey, Democracy and Education, Chap. 1-2

John Dewey
What does Dewey think the objective of education is?  How does education promote the healthy functioning of society?  What role does environment play in education?  What psychological model grounds Deweyís account?  How does Dewey's general account apply to formal schooling?
Th 4/6 Dewey, Democracy and Education, Chap. 6, 7
What distinguishes "formation," "recapitulation," and "reconstruction" as general approaches to education?  Which does Dewey prefer, and why?  What "technical definition" of education flows from Dewey's analysis?  Why, on Dewey's view, is a democratic state the ideal context for education?  How does Dewey contrast his position to Plato's and Rousseau's?
T 4/11 Workshop 8: Education, Culture, and Multiculturalism
Should education emphasize our shared cultural heritage, or our diversity, or both?  How?  What is the aim of a liberal education?  Does liberal education exclude the contributions of non-Western cultures?  If not, how can it include them?  What is multiculturalism?  What issues are at stake in trying to implement a multicultural education?
Th 4/13 Workshop 9: Political Implications of Educational Policy
How are educational aims of a system of schooling related to the political context in which education takes place?  Is it the task of an educational system to support the political regime, or to call it into question?  Put another way, is education primarily conservative or revolutionary?
T 4/18 Dewey, Democracy and Education, Chap. 12, 15
What does Dewey mean by "thinking," and why does he identify it as the most important task for schooling?  How is his emphasis on thinking related to his general objective of preparing students for citizenship in a democracy?  How does Dewey think that immaturity leads to growth?  What are the respective roles of play and work in this process?  How is Dewey's ultimate criterion for the success of any educational program related to his theory of growth?
Th 4/20 Dewey, Democracy and Education, Chap. 24-25
What is Dewey's conception of philosophy?  What is the relationship between philosophy and education?  What is dualism and why does Dewey find it troublesome for education?  What theory of knowledge, in Deweyís view, offers the most promise for a democratic system of education, and why?
T 4/25 Workshop 10: Education, Truth, and Relativism
The differences between the theories of education offered by Plato and Dewey demonstrate the epistemology--the theory of knowledge--has important implications for educational policy.  Are there ultimate truths?  If so, what implications will that have for educational policy?  By contrast, what sort of education results from a non-essentialist theory of knowledge?  What is relativism, and how should education address it?
W 4/26 Education theory paper draft due 12 noon (required)
Th 4/27 Inquiry Teaching;  Teaching and Community
Postman and Weingartner, Teaching as a Subversive Activity (reserve)
What is the inquiry method?  What sorts of classroom activities, both for students and teachers, does it emphasize?  What sort of educational content is most appropriate for it?  What do Postman and Weingartner mean by "relevance," and how does one determine what is "relevant" for a class?
Parker Palmer, "Community, Conflict, and Ways of Knowing" (reserve)
How does education raise problems of community?  What does Palmer mean by "epistemology," and why is it important to the educational project?  What epistemology does Palmer advocate, and why?  What are the consequences of Palmerís account for the structure of education?
III.  Contemporary Education Reform
T 5/2 Current Projects in Educational Reform
Th 5/4 Course conclusion: What are the proper objectives of an educational system?
M 5/8 Education theory paper due 12:30 p.m.


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