Academic journal article International Education Studies

A Survey of the Foundations of Liberalism Axiology and Its Implications for Education

Academic journal article International Education Studies

A Survey of the Foundations of Liberalism Axiology and Its Implications for Education

Article excerpt


The present study is an attempt to survey the foundation of liberalism axiology and its implications for education. To this end, educational viewpoints of liberal scholars including Locke, Smith, Hume, Kant, and Russell are examined along with an introduction to liberalism axiology. Additionally, the implications of liberalism for education from will be discussed from two viewpoints, 1) foundations of value system of education, and 2) education system goals. The results highlighted some of the foundations of liberalism axiology such as individualism, liberty, humanism, intellectualism, empiricism, scientism, law, modernism, epistemological pluralism, believe in achievement, tolerance, equality, and social justice. On the other hand, the value foundations of liberal education are rationality, autonomy, and equality of respect. Furthermore, among the liberal educational goals the most important ones include public education, civil education, applied and practical education, autonomous and liberal individuals, mental development, and expansion and promotion of secular curriculum. Such educational viewpoints, however, have attracted criticism regarding radical individualism, autonomy, ethical anarchism, and negligence of public interest.

Keywords: liberalism, education, values

1. Introduction

Education is one of the critical issues of our age. Proper education system is supposed to educate human forces helpful to and in harmony with the needs of society. Adopting fruitful and critical viewpoints to education is one of the main aims of education scholars and researchers, which is not possible unless different viewpoints of education are examined in detail. Thus, we have the necessity to evaluate current educational viewpoint to find their strengths and weaknesses. Is it notable that the values promoted by the education system must fit the norms of the society; otherwise, various cultural and value-based problems are expected. It is essential, therefore, to see whether it is possible to create a harmonious and synergic society based on the structure of education system.

One of the main viewpoints to education in our age is liberalism. The term "liberalism" coming from the Latin root Liber (freedom) refers to all the ideologies and ways that seek maximum individual's freemen. Proponents of liberalism are known as liberals (Ashouri, 1994, p. 280). Supporters of liberalism believe that man is born free, blessed with will and autonomy; therefore, he must grow as free as possible. In this regard, liberalism is the school/philosophy of seeking freedom (Pazargad, 2006).

Of the heated debates in this philosophy is its proponents' approach to axiological issues. It must be stated that followers of this school of thought put particular emphasis on values. Some of the values recognized by liberalism are paternalism, commutative justice, democracy (rule of majority), private property, individual liberty, equality of respect, consistent rationality, political and religious tolerance, and open market system (Comblisis, 1996).

Halstead and Taylor believe that the value foundations of liberal education are evident in the value foundations of liberalism. He argues that educational approaches followed in the West are led by the principle values of liberalism; values such as personal autonomy, independence and autonomy of academic system, equal opportunities, openness to criticism, rational ethics, respecting different beliefs, not imposing ideas and beliefs, and rejecting personal definition of "good" (Halstead & Taylor, 1996).

Although liberalism is based on liberal approaches which have found wide acceptance in educational systems all around the world, we need to delve deeper into the value foundations of liberalism before adopting it in the Iranian educational system and to harmonize such foundations with Iran's educational system.

Given the above introduction, there is a clear need to evaluate the axiology foundations of education from liberalism viewpoint and its implication for education. …

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