Philosophies of Education

Philosophies of Education

Philosophies of Education

Philosophies of Education

Excerpt

There is widespread concern among Americans today about education. The rapid changes in modern life impose new conditions with which all citizens -- young and old -- must learn how to deal. The slower pace of earlier ages made the tasks of education far simpler than they are now, for there was a reasonably stable body of knowledge, skill, custom, and tradition which formed the material of instruction. In the past few decades all that made for security and continuity seems to have been shattered. Knowledge is multiplying far beyond the limits of general comprehension. The proliferation of new techniques is making even recently acquired skills obsolescent. Inherited modes of thought and conduct have been displaced or are under challenge. Mighty political, economic, and social convulsions are shaking the nations of the world, and militant new ideologies are offered for the salvation of men's souls.

In such a time it is little wonder that education is under fresh scrutiny. We want to know what aspects of past education have contributed to our present difficulties and what aspects have provided resources to meet them. Faced with a superabundance of things to be learned, we want to be able to choose the most important ones. We are searching for standards by which to distinguish essential from nonessential elements in the curriculum and desirable from undesirable kinds of instruction.

The problems of education are not presented to school teachers and administrators alone. Students and parents are also faced with them directly; but then so are all citizens in a democracy. Although the supervision of American education is ultimately the responsibility of the several states, we have long-established traditions of local control. Despite the recent growth in Federal responsibility for certain aspects of education, wide diffusion of authority has been the rule. Parents are granted freedom in choice of schools for their children, and great variations in school practice, in both public and non-public institutions, are permitted. It follows that to a large extent individual citizens can have an effective voice in educational affairs. The large issues to be decided are not merely for professionals or for big government; they are everyone's responsibility.

There are, of course, many decisions about teaching and learning which should be left to professionally trained people. Laymen cannot generally be expected to have the knowledge and experience necessary to make wise choices in such matters as the best teaching materials in . . .

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