Methods in Philosophy of Education

By Frieda Heyting; Dieter Lenzen et al. | Go to book overview

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An analytic perspective on education and children's rights

John White and Patricia White


The analytic tradition in British philosophy of education

How and why each of us in this book approaches philosophy of education as we do is bound to have a lot to do with the tradition of philosophising in which we have been brought up. In the case of the present co-authors, this is the so-called 'analytic' tradition of post-war British philosophy, partly influenced as it was by the work of the later Wittgenstein (Hacker 1996). British philosophy of education in its present form was propagated from this parent stock when the analytic school of thought was in its full flowering, that is to say in the early 1960s. The person responsible for this creation was Richard Peters, who turned his energies towards philosophical issues in education upon his appointment in 1962 to the chair of Philosophy of Education at the University of London Institute of Education. This followed a distinguished earlier career in the Philosophy Department of Birkbeck College, University of London, where he specialised in philosophy of psychology, ethics and social philosophy. The present co-authors were both pupils of his between 1960 and 1966 and in the mid-1960s joined him as colleagues in the Philosophy of Education Department of the Institute of Education.

What do we mean by the 'analytic' tradition of post-war British philosophy? In the next two sections we argue that the term 'analytic' needs careful delineation, so as not to confuse the philosophical tradition we have in mind with, first, an earlier 'analytic' movement, to which the later was partly a reaction; and, secondly, certain stereotypes and misunderstandings of this later movement. These stereotypes and misunderstandings have produced a misleading picture not only of 'analytic' (or 'Oxford') philosophy in general, but also of analytic philosophy of education in particular. Even today, forty years since Richard Peters crossed the road from Birkbeck College to the Institute of Education, the old misconceptions of the kind of work we do still exist.


Post-war analytic philosophy in Britain

The post-war 'analytic' school - largely based at Oxford - did not share the preoccupations of the 'analytic' movement of the first half of the twentieth

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