8 January 2014

IDS: Philosophy and Education: The Formation of Persons

Philosophy has often been construed as more than an intellectual undertaking: Pierre Hadot, among others, considers it as a way of life or a spiritual exercise. It is thus a process of formation, a concern with (self-)education. This may often be an implicit theme for philosophers, in their concern for the meaning of humanness and the proper goals of life, and the nature of the larger world and our relations with it (how we come to know and value being primary interests). Whereas these matters are of evident significance for conceptions of education, since early times philosophers have also reflected explicitly on the conduct of institutionalised and informal education, long before specialist philosophers of education emerged as a distinct guild.

Education is itself forming in(to) a way of life and educational practitioners have from time to time reflected philosophically on it. Paulo Freire is one prominent example, his influential ruminations being rooted in the very practical – and as he emphasises, also political – project of helping oppressed people achieve literacy. Obviously, Isocrates, Socrates and many other philosophers since were also teachers first and foremost. Like philosophy, education is similarly concerned with preparing people to live a particular kind of life, thus depending on the ways in which life’s primary purposes are construed.

This course will thus include philosophical reflections that emerge from both starting points.

We will explore the parallels and intersections between philosophy and education, by examining influential texts on education by those usually renowned as philosophers in the general sense (Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft) and those known more for their focus on education (Castiglione, Freire, Noddings).

Most of the authors we will study assume a form of Christian faith. We will be particularly interested in the ways all authors see their fundamental convictions playing out in the context of education, and how well these convictions and implications comport with participants’ understandings of a biblically-informed perspective on the purpose of life and correlative conceptions of the educational task.

ICS2400AC W14
Convenor: Dr. Doug Blomberg
Wednesdays 9:30am-12:30pm