Philosophy of Education: Essays and Commentaries

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

tioned arise when permissiveness is espoused (explicitly or implicitly) as a basic doctrine of educational practice and is not something a teacher occasionally is. When it is espoused as a basic doctrine, it, like all other dogmatisms, leads not to democracy but rather to authoritarianism in the classroom.


The Role and Nature of Theory in the Education of the Gifted

Virgil S. Ward*


INTRODUCTION: THE UNFORTUNATE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE

On almost every hand in the panorama of American culture a regrettable dichotomy is observed between two broad modes of thought and inquiry, both of which are essential to the advancement of knowledge and human welfare. We refer to the systems of thought or behavior known as "rational," or speculative, on the one hand, and on the other "empirical," or more narrowly, "experimental." Not since Bacon in the Novum Organum explained how either of what he termed the "sophistic or theoretic school" or the "empiric school" of inquiry could, in isolation from the other, "corrupt natural philosophy," have these techniques of inquiry been held in proper relationship to each other.

It is known that science, by which term we mean the continuous unfolding of reliable information concerning the elements and processes of nature, moves forward through deliberate transactions between reason and deliberation on the one hand, and on the other, precise sensory observations, measurement, and careful relating of antecedent and consequent conditions in the search for cause and effect. We believe that in American science, research, whether of the "basic" or "applied" nature, has suffered from the neglect of deliberative, speculative, and critical play of intellect over its diverse enterprises.

Theory goes begging in the academic setting as well. This unfortunate dichotomy between the rational and the empirical is expressed in the production of dissertations in universities across the nation. Experimental designs, which by their nature are mere instruments of inquiry, often receive a degree of meticulous attention not similarly afforded the idea of the problem into which inquiry is pressed. To render his statistics fool-proof, and to look carefully to the role of what Sorokin calls "calculating machinery," is expected of the student in far too many institutions, with insufficient regard for the significance of the proposed problem in terms of the existing structure of science. And at the level of the education of teachers, or lawyers for that

____________________
*
Reprinted by permission from Educational Theory, X ( July, 1960), 210-216.

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