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P HILOSOPHY OF E DUCATION B Y N EL N ODDINGS Chapter 9: Social and Political Philosophy Note: To click on links you must be in Slide Show mode.

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Presentation on theme: "P HILOSOPHY OF E DUCATION B Y N EL N ODDINGS Chapter 9: Social and Political Philosophy Note: To click on links you must be in Slide Show mode."— Presentation transcript:

1 P HILOSOPHY OF E DUCATION B Y N EL N ODDINGS Chapter 9: Social and Political Philosophy Note: To click on links you must be in Slide Show mode

2 T HE C URRENT D EBATE Focused on individuals Concerned with liberty and equality Liberals-greater emphasis on equality Conservatives-greater emphasis on liberty Classical Liberalism Click on link above Focused on communities How individuals are developed within communities What individuals owe to their community Liberalism Communitarianis m

3 I MMANUEL K ANT ( ) Ethics is highly individualistic Liberated ethics from the authority of the church, ruler, and community Rely on individuals “good will” and logic “Act that you can logically will that your act should become law; that is, act so that you can logically will that all others in similar situations will be bound to do what you have chosen”

4 R ENE D ESCARTES ( ) Emphasis on individual knowers working toward knowledge through systematic doubt Knowledge liberated from authority and placed on a rational base The “individual” is a generalized rational agent – not a real person with attachments, emotions, and community affiliations

5 K ANT AND D ESCARTES Individuals are a general mechanism of practical reasoning The individual as an actual, embodied person is irrelevant Complex people are reduced to a reasoning machine Paradox: great emphasis on autonomy but uniformity is expected for the products of that autonomy

6 K ANT AND U TILITARIANISM Utilitarianism – assumes an impartial, individual calculator Prioritizes the good (usually happiness) over the right Increased theoretical and practical interest in individual rights All attention focused on the rights of individuals Critics claim it has become difficult to talk about the rights or legitimate demands of a community Strips people of their identifiable social characteristics and reduces them to utilities Require thinking that is hyperrational and is not the sort of thinking that most of us do in moral situations

7 J OHN R AWLS ( ) Locates himself in the Kantian tradition “The original position” – people are fully rational, but have no idea what their actual positions in society will be; they must create the rules by which they will live The “individualist paradox” – the individual is sacred, his or her rights are “settled,” and yet he or she is not recognizable as an individual More on Rawls Click on link above

8 J OHN R AWLS T HEORY OF J USTICE Persons in “the original position” are behind a “veil of ignorance” – they know nothing of their own character or personality The “veil of ignorance” Click on link; ignore the parts where he talks about video games First Principle: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others Second Principle: social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage, and attached to positions and offices open to all The underlying assumption: individuals exist before communities and that they enter a “social contract” when they form communities and societies

9 R IGHTS OF I NDIVIDUALS Certain rights are settled and not subject to political bargaining Products of negotiation or a consensus of beliefs Describe how certain ethical rules, customs, procedures arise from the moral life of communities Prescribe how we should think and act in building and critiquing moral communities RawlsCommunitarians

10 T HE C OMMUNITARIAN A RGUMENT The persons deliberating behind the veil of ignorance are not real people and what emerges are just hypotheses for real people to try out Rawls and Kant rely too much on rationality and the procedures that come from purely logical processes Real people are affected by things that are not strictly logical

11 J OHN D EWEY ( ) Rejected utilitarianism A mistake to claim one greatest good Objected to the separation of means and ends He is a “pragmatic liberal” or a “democratic communitarian” “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.”

12 J OHN D EWEY ( ) Has sympathies for just procedures but insists they be tested in real communities Justice comes from consequences, not procedures that come before deliberation and reflection Separates himself from the whole social contract Does not agree with hierarchy, elitism, and exclusivity (common with communitarians) Insisted on a dynamic view of community People must be taught the values and mores of a community before they can communicate effectively “Pragmatic Liberal” “Democratic Communitarian”

13 J USTICE & E QUALITY IN E DUCATION Inequalities in physical resources Physical facilities Instruments Maps Books Inequalities in relationships Children with no academically competent, loving adults in their lives Inequalities in the curriculum All the same curriculum?

14 I NEQUALITIES IN P HYSICAL R ESOURCES Jonathan Kozol’s description of urban schools: “Savage Inequalities” – windows boarded up, faulty heating systems, toilets that do not work, sewage backing up, paint peeling from walls and ceilings, crowded classrooms Review of Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol Review of Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol Click on the link above

15 I NEQUALITIES IN P HYSICAL R ESOURCES Arguments: A certain amount of inequality in society is necessary to promote the general welfare We would not seek equality if it meant misery for all of us When a substantial part of the population is content, social change is very hard to effect

16 U TILITARIANISM & I NEQUALITY Some people can live in comparative misery, but does not allow huge numbers to suffer Does not allow a small number to suffer horribly for the hedonistic happiness of many Does support a world in which most of the inequalities described by Kozol exist There is only so much money to spend on education How should it be spent to achieve the maximum benefit If children in community A are destructive to the school building, why waste money making repairs The money would be more effectively spent on science equipment and books for children in community B, who will not destroy what is bought for them

17 R AWLS & I NEQUALITY “The intuitive idea is that the social order is not to establish and secure the more attractive prospects of those better off unless doing so is to the advantage of those less fortunate.” Liberty and Equality (click on the link) Liberty and Equality The “difference principle” – to support inequalities, one has to show that the extra funds invested in the education of well-off children benefits the least advantaged First the conditions of the first principle have to be met – “each person has an equal right to the most extensive liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others” More on the Theory of Social Justice Click on the above link

18 O PPONENTS OF R AWLS Financial resources do not determine the quality of education Class size does not affect how teachers teach The low number of students taking college preparatory courses in poor schools is a result of poor student attention and ability Not a sign of neglect or the limitation of a basic liberty What can be done to demonstrate that children living in schools described by Kozol are deprived of basic liberty?

19 D EWEY & I NEQUALITY Face-to-face community life is key The problem with Dewey’s approach: important political decisions are no longer made in such communities Minorities and the poor are increasingly isolated in their own communities No communication between poor communities and those making the political decisions We must act in direct communication with one another

20 C RITICS OF D EWEY If nothing changes, how can we justify pouring more money into poor schools? Money is not the answer Dewey would respond “give money a chance” We should provide adequate resources Look for more than higher test scores when assessing consequences Care advocates: The conditions, not the money spent, are the real inequality No defense for miserable conditions

21 I NEQUALITIES IN B ASIC R ELATIONSHIPS School reforms mention importance of family involvement, but very little about quality of relationships to help build healthy intellectual, moral, and emotional development of children Two main reasons for this neglect: Theorist are reluctant to talk about the quality of relationships in cultures other than their own Traditional theories have concentrated on the public aspect of lives, not the private

22 I MPORTANCE OF R ELATIONSHIPS An impoverishment of spirit often accompanies financial poverty Working hard with little return; suffering humiliation of being helped; feeling helpless Doubting that their children’s efforts in school will ever pay off Poor parents become the living representation of meaninglessness and helplessness Teachers must represent whole persons, not just instructors Students need to see that possibilities in education are real for their own future

23 R ELATIONSHIPS & C OMMUNITIES Growing emphasis on importance of community Care must be taken Communities can be self-serving, exclusive, and demanding Communities can be coercive as well as cooperative, unforgiving and punitive as well as protective Community can be either good or bad, wise or foolish Liberty and Community Click on link above

24 C URRICULAR I NEQUALITIES Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Proposal: All students should have the same curriculum through 12 th grade Same education for all is a requirement of democracy Children have many different interests and talents Academic, mechanical, artistic, athletic, musical, etc. Society has organized schools and their curriculum by class not by individual interests

25 C URRICULAR I NEQUALITIES Michael Apple: “The decision to define some groups’ knowledge as the most legitimate, as official knowledge, while other groups’ knowledge hardly sees the light of day, says something extremely important about who has the power in society.” “…behind the educational justification for a national curriculum and national testing is an ideological attack that is very dangerous.” In the interests of national competitiveness and the privileged classes, children of the poor will be more rigidly ranked and more firmly stuck in their lower places

26 D EWEY AND C URRICULUM The content of study is not nearly as important as how it is learned and the amount of thought invested in learning Dewey recognized the importance of some common learning (i.e. geography) The “best and wisest parents” do not define equal education as identical education Education organized around a few broad talents and interests and enhanced by a serious study of common human problems, stands the best chance of achieving a meaningful equality

27 C ONCLUSION Today, the best the school can do is provide: Adequate facilities for all children Long-term caring relationships that support intellectual development Differentiated curricula


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