Philosophy of Education: Essays and Commentaries

By Hobert W. Burns; Charles J. Brauner | Go to book overview
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based on our new awareness of the sociality of the human species and the discovery that he learns much of his character and personality by mere association with his kind, we may infer that the types of things he learns from his kind are more associated with his social behavior than with the manipulation of intellectual concepts in his mind. Hence a grading system to measure growth in behavior, in addition to the one we already have in measuring growth in intellectual manipulation, is seen to be a necessary hand maiden to the idea of social promotion. And if this social creature called man requires for his developing sociality a geographical proximity to his fellows and a freedom to turn physically toward them and associate himself with them, then there is a clear rationale for the introduction of movable furniture.

Conceived in this sense, theory is the primary unifying agent in our lives. It makes possible a criticism of what we do to see if it is logically coherent with all else that we do. In this special office, theory performs a very practical task.

Viewed in this light we can say that a good theory is the most practical thing a man can possess. For as we stumble around from day to day, as we get lost among the trees of practical action, we can often save ourselves by withdrawing and viewing the forest of social reality in which we all move.

It is this connecting of trees with forest, practical action with theory, that is the singular, continuing obligation of modern man.


The Implications of the Permissiveness Doctrine in American Education

Fred N. Kerlinger*

The doctrine of permissiveness in education and its relation to democratic ideology have been tormenting problems to American educators. Most thinkers apparently agree on a rather large measure of permissiveness in the education of children. The idea seems basically to be that children, if they are to mature into democratic individuals and citizens, must not be too restricted in the pursuit of their own interests and needs, since such restrictiveness will somehow have the unfortunate consequence of producing undemocratic citizens. If children are not "permitted" a good deal of freedom--more specifically, decision choice--then they will not mature into autonomous, cooperative, and generally democratic individuals. In short, without permissiveness we run the danger of creating authoritarian individuals and an authoritarian society. Certainly, the argument goes, we now have a generally authoritarian school system which is systematically warping millions of

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*
Reprinted by permission from Educational Theory, X ( April, 1960), 120-127.

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