Philosophy of Education: Essays and Commentaries

By Hobert W. Burns; Charles J. Brauner | Go to book overview

beginning, namely, an educational problem. Then by persistent analysis of the problem it can be pushed back and back until its philosophic roots are exposed; and Broudy is convinced that the budding and flowering of such problems is clear evidence of philosophic roots somewhere hidden. Once the philosophic aspect of a problem is identified, progress toward a solution may proceed more smoothly and efficiently since the deepest issues at hand are more clearly understood. Broudy describes this method as the ". . . systematic discussion of educational problems on a philosophical level--i.e., the probing into an educational question until it is reduced to an issue in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, or esthetics, or a combination of these."

Virtue takes this as dramatic evidence that many educational philosophers do in fact (and all should) draw upon general philosophy to help them resolve problems in educational theory and practice.

Running through Virtue's argument, like the chain stitch in a sewn garment, is the implicit belief that given different answers to ontological, epistemological, and axiological questions, we will see not only a difference in general philosophies but a consequent difference in educational philosophies, and therefore, differences in educational policies and practices. But the fabric of his argument is like the fabric of the garment: if the chain stitch is pulled out, if the assumption is invalid, the entire fabric dissolves into a mass of tangled strings.

Virtue concludes by pointing out that as general and educational philosophers come to appreciate the role each might play in the understanding and improvement of the educational enterprise, sociologists will begin to report a thawing out of the cold war between academic and educational philosophers, and an armistice, if not a peace treaty, may be achieved.


General Philosophy and the Philosophy of Education

Charles F. Sawhill Virtue*

The thesis of this paper is that general philosophy is the matrix of educational philosophy, and that responsible evaluation of philosophies of education requires at least a modest exposure to metaphysics, epistemology and axiology. One would not expect to make sense of the educational theories of Plato or of Rousseau, to cite two historical examples, without some acquaintance with Plato's theory of ideas as ontological forms, or of Rousseau's romantic naturalism in ethics; so one can hardly deal intelligently with John Dewey's educational instrumentalism without coming to terms with his

____________________
*
Reprinted by permission from Educational Theory, VIII ( October, 1958), 203-212.

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