Assignment 1 (Philosophy of Education: Short Essay Questions) ____________________________________________ ESSAY ____________________________________________ In partial fulfilment of the requirements in Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Intermediate Phase) (PGCE IP) at Cornerstone Institute ____________________________________________ by RC LANDRY 38192 26th FEBRUARY 2019 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page: What is Philosophy of Education and How Does It Assist Us as Educators? 1 Inquiry vs. The Transfer of Knowledge: The Tension Between Models and CAPS 2 The Aims of Education and the South African Context 3 Personal Educational Philosophy 4 Reference List 5 Honour Pledge 6 1 What is Philosophy of Education and How Does It Assist Us as Educators? This short essay will attempt to not only define Philosophy of Education, but also discuss its importance and relevance for the modern teacher—specifically how it can assist us in the classroom environment by helping us define our own teaching ontology. If we take Warburton’s (2004:1) explanation of philosophy as “an activity: a way of thinking about certain sorts of questions” and combine this idea with Teichman and Evans’ (1992:1) explanation that it is a “study of problems that are ultimate, abstract, and very general […] problems concerned with the nature of existence, knowledge, morality, reason, and human purpose,” we see that philosophy aims to answer questions about our ontology and epistemology. The term “our” is used here very loosely as these can differ greatly from culture to culture or even person to person. If the purpose of philosophy is then to answer questions about the nature of our reality and existence, then it follows that the Philosophy of Education would serve to answer the great questions of education: Who do we teach? How do we teach them? How much do we teach them? When should we teach them? One could even inquire as to the nature of learning and what constitutes an education. One’s educational philosophy would then be “a set of principles that guides professional action through the events and issues that teachers face daily” (LeoNora & Gelbrich, 1999:1). One’s personal answers to these questions would then also heavily draw from one’s own ontology, epistemology, cosmology and cosmogony. A Christian or Muslim teacher would theoretically teach according to their understanding of the nature of the world, their religious values, their ethics and morals, gender roles, social hierarchy, etc. In exactly the same way, a Christian or Muslim teacher choosing to ignore some of their religious teaching in favour of perhaps more liberal views would be the very act of philosophising over education; an editing of an educational philosophy. How then, does understanding our educational philosophy assist us as educators? LeoNora and Gelbrich (1999) state that if when we examine educational philosophies that are different from our own, we can weigh the differences and merits of each, ultimately either strengthening our own views, appending or amending them, or even changing them altogether. Simply understanding one’s own educational philosophy and knowing that all are fallible and with no perfect method existing can broaden our understanding of education as an ideal and open us up to trying and experimenting with new ideas and practices. Word Count: 412 2 Inquiry vs. The Transfer of Knowledge: The Tension Between Models and CAPS This short essay will attempt to explain the difference between an inquiry approach to education and the approach of the transfer of knowledge. A suitable example will be used to explain each, the tension between both methodologies, and their roles within CAPS. We will conclude with a look into why the South African curriculum has struggled with ideology and implementation. As was made evident by the video provided, there exists a duality—or perhaps dichotomy— in education that has existed since the origins of education itself. An “inquiry approach” would be to teach students how to learn; to give them the tools and abilities to reason, think and adapt—to create people that appreciate the work and knowledge of those that have come before. The opposite thereof would be the “transfer of knowledge”—teaching specific skill, knowledge and abilities for a specified purpose. As an example of the inquiry approach, we need only to look to the romanticism of Rousseau, who believed that education’s primary purpose was the development of questioning minds as well as everyone experiencing the widest educational experience (Bartlett & Burton, 2007). Today, these ideas would fall under what is considered progressivism, a movement led by John Dewey (LeoNora and Gelbrich, 1999: 6-7). This is an active, child-centred approach— one very similar to that adopted by South Africa after the fall of Apartheid. The essentialist approach to education would here be an example of a practice of the transfer of knowledge. This approach focuses on the teacher and a strict, set curriculum as well as students acquiring necessary societal knowledge (LeoNora and Gelbrich, 1999: 6-7). CAPS, as well as its predecessors, NCS and Curriculum 2005, adopted an outcomes based educational system, essentially adopting a student-centred, inquiry based learning style. Meighan and Siraj-Blatchford (2003), quoting Russel (1926) note that “any social change should be subject to review and revision,” which is currently what we see in South Africa. The lofty goals and admirable aspirations of the thus-far instituted curriculums have been mediocre at best. “The education equation is still failing to balance. Such failure indicates a possible error in the current learner-centered interpretation of teaching and organising systematic learning;” (Horn, 2009:1) hence each iteration of our new curriculum back-peddling towards a more traditional, essentialist style of learning. In conclusion, while the more admirable, aspirational, and ideal form of education and learning would indeed to the inquiry approach, in certain circumstances, places and environments, the transfer of skills and knowledge in the more “traditional’ way is still, seemingly, essential. Word Count: 415 3 The Aims of Education and the South African Context This short essay will outline the aims of education from a sociological viewpoint and discuss how these aims are enacted in the South African perspective. Harðarson (2012: 224), quoting Stenhouse, accepts education as being comprised of at least four different processes: training, induction, initiation, and instruction. Harðarson continues to quote, stating that “[e]ducation enhances the freedom of man by inducting him into the knowledge of his culture as a thinking system” (ibid.). This quote is followed up by the assertation that the goal of education is to make people intellectually independant—an idea similar to the one mentioned earlier about education’s goal being to provide the tools for thought rather than teaching them what to think. Knight (1989:11) defines education as a life-long process embodied by the idea of deliberate control towards a desired goal; a form of directed learning. Knight later warns that the school— while traditionally considered the establishment of formal education—exists in a “complex educational milieu [and that] components of that milieu may not all be espousing the same message in regard to reality, truth and value” (Knight, 1989: 13) Having already discussed how one’s ontology and epistemology affect their perceived sociological views as to the aims and outcomes of education, let’s instead look at these two perceptions on the aims of education in regard to the South African context—the dream of an equal education for all. Having such an amalgamation of creeds, cultures, languages, social inequalities, as well as a dark history, it is difficult to ascertain what culture our educational system should be trying to induct upon our learners. Much of the traditional, western schooling system is propagated by western teachers and in turn, western culture and languages. Although much has been done to address these inequalities, the fact remains that South Africa is a unique environment in the educational landscape; it has a struggling system that cannot be cured with a single panacea. As Knight points out, the messages of reality, truth and value that our schools espouse are not necessarily fitting with what out students consider their reality—their needs and values. In conclusion, the aims of education are to train, initiate, instruct and induct; to learn our culture’s thinking systems; and to learn to think for ourselves. In the South African context, this can be a complex and challenging problem as our diversity, history, and inequality make for defining how to do this equally for everyone a difficult task. Word Count: 407 4 Personal Educational Philosophy This essay will attempt to define my personal, unique educational philosophy, specifically in regards to the challenging, South African schooling context. Firstly, personal experience has taught that to simply box one’s own philosophy on any subject: education, religion, politics, is counterproductive to the process of philosophy itself—one should be adaptive and willing to learn; accepting new, better ideas as one’s own and discarding that which is lesser. When discussing or teaching poetry, one can be both perennial; teaching the works of Frost or Poe—and progressive; encouraging children to write their own and to share with friends. An educator may spend an hour on a teacher-centred lesson, explaining algebra or pastperfect continuous tense, and then the next on a learner-centred activity. A modern educator needs to understand the different models and manners of teaching and adapt and use these models to work within unique situations in the classroom. According to LeoNora and Gelbrich (1999:6), one would classify me as an essentialist as I believe that students “should be taught hard work, respect for authority, and discipline [as well as] that there is a common core of knowledge that needs to be transmitted to students in a systematic way.” Indeed, it is because of these core beliefs that I question the student-centred approach to learning in South Africa. It is easy to find oneself agreeing with the sentiment that “the focus on the students’ needs should not be at the expense of a focus on the powerful knowledge the students seek to get access to and what the specific legitimation rules are for that knowledge” (McKenna, 2013:2). One cannot achieve the ideal of education; self-learning and appreciation of knowledges past, if one is lacking in the fundamental skills required for higher learning. Horn (2009) notes that the learner-centred educational theory holds the high ideal that it can transform each and every child into a successful learner, but that not all ideals lead to facts. While the theory has had great success in some European countries, it has failed numerous times in others, even the United States. In conclusion, my personal educational theory is mostly essentialist, but it is a highly adaptive one, changing for each situation. This, I believe, would work better in the South African context due to the shortcomings of student-centred learning as the cornerstone of the current educational system. Word count: 390 5 Reference list Bartlett, S. & Burton, D. (2007). Introduction to Education Studies. London: Sage Publications. Harðarson, A. (2012). Why the Aims of Education Cannot be Settled. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 46(2) 223-235 Horn, I. (2009). Learner-centredness: an analytical critique. South African Journal of Education, 29(4), 511-525. Retrieved February 25, 2019, from http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S025601002009000400006&lng=en&tlng=en. Knight, G.R. (1989). Philosophy and Education: An Introduction in Christian Perspective. Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University Press LeoNora, M., Gelbrich, C. & Gelbrich, J. (1999). Notes on Philosophical Perspectives on Education. Oregon: Oregon State University McKenna, S. (2013). The Dangers of Student-Centered Learning – A Caution about Blind Spots in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Grahamstown: Rhodes University Meighan, R. & Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2003). A Sociology of Educating. London and New York: Continuum. Teichman, J. & Evans, K. (1992). Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford: Blackwell. Warburton, N. (2004). Philosophy: The Basics. New York: Routledge. 6 Plagiarism Declaration/Honour Pledge Plagiarism is inconsistent with several of Cornerstone’s core values: inasmuch as it involves academic dishonesty it is contrary to our value of integrity; it does not give due credit to others and thus constitutes a lack of respect; it reflects a lack of thinking for oneself and thus demonstrates a lack of creativity; and it is completely opposite of a commitment to excellence. In recognition of this truth, I hereby declare that: 1. I understand that plagiarism is to use another’s work and represent it as one’s own, and I know that plagiarism is wrong. 2. I have used the Harvard Referencing convention for citation and referencing. Each contribution to, and quotation in, this essay/report/project from the work(s) of other people has been attributed (to the author(s)), and has been cited (with in-text referencing) and referenced (with full bibliographic details). 3. I acknowledge that copying someone else’s Assessment or essay, or part of it, is wrong, and declare that this essay/report/project is my own work. 4. I have not allowed, and will not allow, anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work. 5. I have read what the Academic Guidelines and Yearbook documents say about plagiarism and understand that plagiarism may result in failure of an Assessment, failure of a module, and/or other disciplinary actions. Signature _______Raymond Landry__________ Date ______26th February, 2018___________ Note that agreement to this declaration does not exonerate the student from Cornerstone Institute’s Academic Integrity Policy.