Summary of Philosophies of Education – Part 3 on Foundations

This article will briefly attempt to summarize the views of the classics Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, eastern Confucius, and Lao Tzu and the Western Modern Locke, Pestalozzi, Rousseau, Froebel, and other philosophies of the Foundations of Education.

Let us revisit the classic foundations of Education from the first western world philosophers. The vision of these men comprises the foundations of the academic world as well as the values of the interaction for the learning process.

The first and foremost of these was Plato, he taught, focusing on that every man should devote his life to his talents, therefore for him, the importance of education is determining what each individual is capable by nature of doing best. The criticism of this model or philosophy is that it lacks leadership encouragement and carries probable wrong personal decisions. The Cave projection analogy by Plato taught us to separate from the world of ideas and visions of the mind, where physical objects are not permanent representations and ideas alone are true knowledge known by the mind.

For Plato, the concept of Social Justice is about just and fair retribution, to give what is due when is due to whom is due. Plato conducted an Intellect aristocracy as ruler of the intellectual elite of his time.

The second most renowned philosopher of Education would be Aristotle. In his philosophy, the end of education is not merely knowledge by itself but the convergence of the individual’s innate intellect and her/his will. There is a shift towards knowledge expressed as an action too. Now Virtue, understood as goodness, righteousness, and moral excellence is not merely the possession of knowledge anymore but the condition of the will.

According to Aristotle the process of thinking can be broken down to the rules like those of physics and geometry, and therefore can be taught to any mind. He advocated practicing moderation. Vices were already conceived as irrational practices because they often come from emotion which frequently goes beyond reason. Finally, his overall approach to Education is a scientific approach.

The third classic and no least important, is Socrates, a disciple of the previous who became as well into one of the most famous philosophers. In his view of Education, the Virtue of holding knowledge is better seen as wisdom, and the problem of ignorance results in the creation of evil. Ignorance is vice and Knowledge virtue. The art of living is managed through the right actions which come from the right knowledge viewed as wisdom.

Another renowned philosopher who influenced the Foundations of all Education especially in the East is Confucius. In Confucianism, the development of the moral and ethical principles serve to promote peace and order and also to preserve individual dignity. The importance of Family which serves as a model. And his golden postulate or rule for all men ”To treat others as you would like them to treat you”. For him, order and harmony begin in the inner nature of the individual.

The observance of God’s laws in the individual conscience will according to Confucius bring peace, harmony and happiness to man. Another of his celebrated postulates is “He who conquers others is strong, but he who conquers himself is greater” emphasizes the key role of self-control. In his philosophy, reason regulates and rules man’s lower passions and appetites. And justice and love go hand in hand.

Another main exponent of Far Eastern Philosophies is Lao-Tzu. His foundations are to emphasize the value of humility, frugality, and passivity, The way to achieve happiness is to live harmoniously within the Tao, governing principle of the universe, teachings. In fewer words, to be happy be natural, be yourself, live according to your true good nature.

Let us review quickly some of the main philosophies and vision of those who have also shaped the current view of Education but were not Classic Greeks nor Eastern.

These other main exponents of the Philosophies Founding Education came chronologically afterward and we will only attempt to mention their highlight or main value-added. The philosopher Comenius believed in the order of natural law. and promoted visual aid use in classrooms.

The French philosopher Locke emphasized formal morals and discipline therefore his Instruction methodology includes habit formation through drill and exercise, memorization, and reasoning.

Another French well-renowned philosophy shaper was Rousseau. He claimed that the individual is good and virtuous by nature. And that the individual possesses inherent endowments which should be nurtured.

The philosopher Pestalozzi Viewed education as an organized development social process in accordance with natural growth laws. Lessons came from direct experience through observation, inquiring, and reasoning. For him, the reality was objective and fixed based on natural law. And values were absolute. For the first time, the syllabus became more humanistic.

Another one was Froebel, also known as the “Father of Kindergarten” who was a supporter of creative classroom expression and the spirit of informality and joy in Education. The development came from self-activity where all individual differences were to be respected. Undeniably his contribution was to promote spontaneous activity to promote self-realization, in other words, to Educate through Playing.

These summarize the historical proponents of philosophies of Education from the Classical Greek, and from the Easter to the Western and some of the Modern. We have left minor but yet important shaper philosophers of Education out as Herbert, Spencer, or John Dewey to cover the following articles.

Foundations of Education – Part 2

In our previous article on Education Foundations we covered the interdisciplinary relations focusing on the basis, the different perspectives, and started the evolution of the Educational Schools of Thought from the Greeks, The Eastern, The Classic and up to the modern, please refer to that article as a introduction or complement to this continuation, in which the remaining of the Evolution of the Foundations of Education and School of thoughts

Education Foundations has all the angles and study disciplines entangled in it, from the Philosophical perspective, the following Major Schools of Philosophical Thought have shaped the Philosophy Behind Education and the whole of Education after all.

First, the Idealism, where ideas are believed to be enduring and the center of lives, where all existed within the mind of God and Man and none out of it. Its objective is to develop the spirit, mind and moral discovering and developing each person’s abilities and moral excellence through the Lecturing, Critical Discussions, Socratic Method, introspection, reflection on content such as literature, history and philosophy.

In this methodology the learner imitates the ideal of the teacher, striving towards his perfection, while The Teacher is the example of an excellent role model for the student- intellectually and morally. And to exercise great creative skills in providing opportunities for the learners’ minds to discover, analyze, synthesize and create, encouraging logical thinking to train future leaders, develop morality and values emphasizing on mind, character and discipline development.

Then came the School of Realism. Realism highlights that the world is made up of substantial and material real entities, so the sensory experience is where knowledge is derived, aiming to give students resources to survive the natural world, besides the lectures and inductive logic the sensory input was central, as were sciences and mathematics.

The learning or studying process has always been evolving, though not so many changes came after postmodernism, The Teacher is presented as a guide with mastery of the knowledge and expert in life reality who requires from the student to explain, compare and recall facts. Eventually interpreting relations and inferring new meanings.

Following the clash of the idealism and realism schools logically derived in the Pragmatism School of Education, also denominated Experimentalism. In it pragmatists believed teaching students to adjust to the demands of an ever changing world. The syllabus showed utilitarian and practical content. The teaching techniques at the time were the open discussion, individual problem-solving, research and Project Methodologies.

While the student found the experimental practical from experiencing interaction to the environment, capturing their own interests to build on them with the natural motivation, each learning style was accommodated. The main proponent of Pragmatism was John Dewey.

Afterwards came the Modern Philosophical School of Thoughts:

The Perrenialism who believed students are immersed in the study of profound and enduring ideas, that knowledge, those experiences which has endured time and space and should be the foundation of education.

Perrenialists will learn for its own sake to be true intellectuals aiming to develop the thinking power.One of it main proponents was Robert Hutchins. While the teacher is seen as interpreters of eternal truth the students are passive recipients. Time is spent teaching about concepts rather than in explaining how these are useful to students

The School of Essentialism was based on teaching the essential knowledge and basic skills to promote students’ intellectual growth. The main proponent was William Bagley. The teacher students dynamics was to receive instructions in skills as reading arithmetic and writing (3Rs) while the teacher focused on test score achievements to evaluate progress

The Progressivist School of Education is in the development process mainly. Progressivists focus on cultivation of individuality, experiences, abilities and interests. Progressivists aim at making school interesting and also useful. As well its aim is similar, trying to provide students with necessary skills to interact with and update the environment. Originally proposed by John Dewey and Johann Pestalozzi.

The Existentialism derived from the lack of perception of the presence of God after the World Wars where the Idea was to shape human life as it was being lived, in the existentialist philosophy knowledge is subjective and persons decisions make it up into experiences, varying from one person to another but always trying to find significance and meaning in our existence. The most famous proponent was Jean Paul Sartre. For the first time the trust of the teaching philosophy was fully deposited in the experimenting of the Learner where he/she determined their own rule, and the teacher works more as an aid assisting students in their own journeys.

The school of Social Reconstructionism which focussed on addressing social questions to construct a better society by improving human conditions and overcoming oppression. It’s main proponent was George Counts. Finally real and social problems such as international terrorism, hunger, inflation, discrimination, inequality and environmental problems are concerns.

These are up to now the main tendencies in philosophies of education. There are other instances at times when a different mechanic rules over the classroom experience. Take for instant these relevant philosophies which operate as philosophies of education in many classroom situations and historical social contexts. Some of these can be Reconstruction Existentialism Democracy Idealism Realism Humanism and Pragmatism, all are also different Philosophies applied in Education which will be discussed in another blog article.

There are plenty of other Authors who have studied, written and modified Educational Foundations and Philosophies, take for instance within the Liberal Philosophy of Education all renown proponents as are Plato, Buther, Froebel, Hegel, Herbart, Aristotle, Broudy, Berckeley, Aquinas, Martin, James, Pierce, Brameld, Peztalozzi, Dewey, Janes, Perce, Sartre, Marcel, Mowes, Soderquist among many others.

A note on Eastern Philosophies and Eastern Philosophies of Education must be made. Within these scope we will find: The Hinduism by world renowned pacifier Mahatma Gandhi, which enhance the commitment to an ideal life of honesty, self-control, purity, non- violence, courage, service and faith. This philosophy affected Education in that the knowledge is imparted by the teachers own life example and is as a Mahatma, responsible for the spiritual welfare of the learners. Thus, the teaching methods are memorizing and oral discussion and debates.

Buddhism , also a eastern religion based philosophy, believes in the law of karma and in the four noble truths. Its main proponent was Siddharta Gautama

The Confucianism is based on the teachings of Confucius, focussing on benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and sincerity as the five cardinal virtues. Also the Taoism by advocating simplicity, frugality, Let things come naturally (Wu Wei) of its main proponent who was Lau-Tzu. His ethics emphasized moderation, humility and compassion.

The Japanese Zen Buddhism which introduced the Third eye, to see the invisible around us by the mind awakening achieved through meditation.

Finally, in the middle east and part of the far east the Islam, which beleive in Allah thorugh its prophet Mohammed. The Islam in Education looks mostly at knowledge is necessary for the self and humanity promoting the adequate citizen.

All these schools of thoughts have built over the previous and tackling the new needs of society and history and those times. The fusion of all these is what we have today as the underlying basis for our modern contemporary philosophy of education.




Foundations of Education

The importance of Educational Foundations is to strengthen and maintain the role of disciplines and strong basis, the cornerstone of Educations ideas and practice, rooting from the interaction among teachers, staff, students in all its diverse modes in and out the classes, in the preparation of educational staff aimed to enhance the analysis and study of the quality of the education and its policymaking.

The foundations of educational studies and education policy studies involve the analysis of the development and practicing of education using disciplines such as philosophy, anthropology, history, psychology, sociology, social psychology, political science, and economics, and also interdisciplinary fields such as international and comparative education, multicultural education, community or adult education, and others. Foundational studies in Education are at a constant testing of the nature of assumptions regarding all types of schooling effects on our lives.

In further defining Foundations of Education it can be conceived as a broad field of Educational Study flowing from methodology from other academic disciplines and combinations of them. Bare in mind that the study in Education Foundations is not an “Introduction to Education” coursework which is taught by well trained professionals in Foundations of Education.unless such study clearly addresses the three perspectives of education further explained in this essay, as are indicated in the Standard.

The values driving the Foundations of Education can be summarized in the following quote “To provide and promote values education at all levels of the educational system for the development of the human person committed to the building of a just and humane society and an independent and democratic nation’’

Furthermore, there are different approaches to the Foundations of the Education, some of these can be from the Education Psychological Foundations, which depend mostly on the behavioral sciences that study human interactions; there are also the Social Foundations of Education, addressed here in the explanation of the Standards, which focuses mainly in history and philosophy, social sciences (political science and sociology).

The objective of Foundations Studies is to apply these disciplinary resources in developing interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives on education, both within schools and outside of them.

As aforementioned, the Education study mainly focuses on the critical, normative and interpretive perspectives in analyzing, understanding and practicing educational theory. Some traits of these perspectives are:

  • Critical perspectives use normative interpretations to help students challenge their inquiry skills, develop the questioning of educational assumptions and identify arrangements and contradictions among educational policies and practices.

    Their objectives are sharpening students’ understanding and examination of educational application and achieving improvement in policy-oriented educational responsibility, schooling awareness within the environment culture.

  • Normative perspectives are more related to the value orientations of the different Education systems. These aid students in understanding the core guidelines, ethical behavior and visualizing the influences in educational norms in practice.

    They study the values within policy analysis and to which extent policymaking reflects values. At last, students are encouraged to assume their own values in education.

  • Interpretive perspectives use concepts from humanities and social sciences to examine, understand, and explain education. Studying the goals and effects of educational institutions, with special care on how its interpretation varies from historical and cultural perspectives.

In America the origins of the Education Foundation date back to 1986, when the Council for Learned Societies in Education, initially founded in 1980 by seven member associations: American Educational Studies Association (AESA), Comparative and International Education Society, History of Education Society, The John Dewey Society, Philosophy of Education Society, The Society for Educational Reconstruction, and the Society of Professors of Education, nowadays formed by twenty member organizations, issued in 1986 the Standards for Academic and Professional Instruction in Foundations of Education, Educational Studies, and Educational Policy Studies, then these standards were reviewed and in 2000 the council was renamed Council for Social Foundations in Education and reissued these standards

The main objective of the standards issued by the Foundation Council is to offer guidance regarding the concept, functions, and importance of study in the Foundations of Education to national educational and policymaking organizations, as higher education institutions, state education agencies, and others.

The Foundations of Education study uses, as mentioned above, a series of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives to understand how schools prepare young and adults to assume roles in society. It is intended to do this through analysing the connection between schools and their socializing mission.