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.