Scope of educational philosophy

Since philosophy and education are intimately related, it seems necessary to discuss their relationship in different fields viz,

(i) Aims,

(ii) Curriculum,

(iii) Teaching techniques,

(iv) Concept of discipline,

(v) Teacher and so on.

(i) Philosophy and Aims of Education.

Education being a planned and purposeful activity has manifold aims. These aims or objectives are formulated by the philosophy of life. It is again philosophy which formulates the aims of education based upon deep insight and fundamental thinking.

In the words of Rusk, “Philosophy formulates what it conceives to be the end of life; education offers suggestion how this end is to be achieved.”

We always require some sort of guiding philosophy in the determination of objectives of education.

Aims of Education are Co-related to the Ideals of Life.

The aims of education are related to the aims of life. In the light of changing philosophy of life we have aims of education which are at variance. They change with the changing philosophy of life. To prove the statement we can refer to the study of aims of education in their historical perspective. In short, “Philosophy is the determining force for laying down the aims of educations.” Unless we have philosophical understanding of life and some guiding philosophy, education will be meaningless and the teacher like rudderless boat. Unless we have some guiding philosophy in the determination of objectives, we get nowhere at all. With such a philosophical background we direct our efforts and energies towards achieving the goals. A philosopher lays down ultimate values of life and these become the aims of education for a particular society or nation. Hence it is clear that aims of education are determined by philosophy. Different philosophies have prescribed different aims of education.

(ii) Philosophy and Curriculum.

There are two sides of philosophy, one is theory and the other is practice. Curriculum being the contents of education may be deemed as the practical side of philosophy. Philosophy being an abstract though forceful entity, prescribes guidelines for the organisation of a curriculum for the achievement of its aims.

According to Rusk, “Now where is the dependence of education on. philosophy more marked than in the question of the curriculum.”

He is correct, for specific curriculum problems demand a philosophy for satisfactory solution.

Briggs says, “It is just here that education ‘seriously needs leaders-leaders who hold a sound comprehensive philosophy of which they can convince others, and who can direct its consistent application of the formulation of appropriate curriculum.”

Curriculum is constructed in accordance with the aims of education that are ultimately guided by the objectives of life over which philosophy has great bearing. In the light of different philosophies, different types of curriculum nave been prescribed.

Curriculum in the Light of Various Philosophies

Idealists, Naturalists and Pragmatists differ on the question of the contents of education.

  • Idealists emphasise higher values of life and prescribe the study of ethics, religion, logic, literature and humanities.
  • Naturalists prescribe those subjects and experiences which give due consideration to the present experiences, interests and activities of the child. Their main concern is physical sciences and direct experiences.
  • Pragmatists lay more stress on the study of functional subjects such as language, social studies, general science and various activities. Whatever the case may be, philosophy is in the background of every type of curriculum.

(iii) Philosophy and Methods of Teaching.

The next main problem is the impact of philosophy on the science of teaching. “It is on philosophy that the art of education must wait for a design of action.” The choice of methods of teaching depends on a philosophy of education, Kilpatrick’s use of the term philosophy of method shows that teaching methods and philosophy are closely related. Method is a means by which a contact is developed between the students and the subject matter.” In the absence of an adequate philosophy of life, the method of teaching employed by the teacher may repel the student from the subject.” This may lead to even disliking of the teacher by the students.

Different educationists and philosophers have prescribed different techniques of teaching according to their bent of mind or mental disposition and scheme of education. To support the statement, we can quote idealists, naturalists and pragmatists with their separate methods which are in consonance with their respective philosophy.

  • The naturalists lay emphasis on motivation, direct experiences and on maintaining interest of the child.
  • The idealists believe in lecture method and discussion. Their sole concern is to create suitable environments in order to influence the development of an individual.
  • Pragmatists recommend socialized techniques, projects and problem-solving methods and other activities as the teaching techniques. In the end it may be said that teachers who think that they can do without a philosophy of life render their methods of teaching ineffective.

(iv) Philosophy and the Concept of Discipline.

The nature of concept of discipline is again governed by the philosophy of life. In other words, discipline reflects the philosophy of life. It reflects the philosophical pre- possessions or particular ideologies. A belief prevalent in the past like, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” signifies a philosophy behind it.

  • Naturalists believe in the concept of discipline by natural consequences.
  • Idealists favour inner discipline-discipline of mind or intellect.
  • Pragmatists stress free discipline and self- discipline, inner or outer discipline.
  • Militant or self-imposed discipline has been propagated by different schools of thought and political ideologies.
  • Modern concept of discipline gives maximum freedom to child and provides opportunities to have self-control, co-existence and the inner discipline. This is a clear impact of democratic ideology and social philosophy.

(v) Philosophy and Teacher.

Every man is born a metaphysician. So every teacher is a philosopher. In the process of education, teacher is the pivotal point, the heart of the matter. Education takes place through the interaction between the teacher and the taught. The teacher influences the personality of the child and instils in him a thoughtful awakening, a new life and beliefs. This is in no way indoctrination. To be a successful teacher it is essential for him to know the philosophy of education and its related ingredients. He himself should have a desirable philosophy of life. His philosophy of life finds an expression in the philosophy of education. Therefore, knowledge of philosophy is fundamental not only to an understanding of education as a whole but also to have a clear grasp of the actual techniques of teaching and their effective use.

Different philosophies of education have prescribed the role of a teacher in the light of their principles.

  • Idealism assigns a very important role to a teacher who has to inspire and influence his pupils and mould them to become spiritual beings. He is a co-worker with God in perfecting man.
  • Naturalism regards teacher as the stage manager who has to provide educational environment.
  • According to pragmatism, teacher is a friend, a guide and a philosopher. He encourages self- education on the part of his pupils.

Thus, in all the cases, a teacher is guided by a particular philosophy of education.

(vi) Philosophy and Textbook.

Next important factor is ‘philosophy text-book’. Textbook is an important means for the realisation of educational aims. Philosophical implications are given special attention in the preparation of a textbook and in the selection of the content. We have to keep in mind some standard and judgement. These are formulated by philosophy. Textbooks also reflect philosophical approach to curriculum.

“A good text-book must reflect the prevailing values in life fixed by philosophy.” It should also be in accordance with the prevailing accepted social ideals, norms and standards. For further clarification, books also reflect the political ideologies. Present system of textbook writing is very defective. There is an apparent lack of consensus among its various phases. Textbooks need special care and attention. These must be written in accordance with the philosophy of the time, cultural, social and political background of a society or nation.

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