Philosophy and Education

How do you begin to think about an educational philosophy as an educator?

Every teacher has a philosophy of education.  It goes along with being thinking and living beings.  Some might call our educational philosophy as a sum of our biases, and others might refer to them as preferences.  I think the sum of our biases and preferences make up our best guess to deliver an effective education.  I strongly believe that all teachers have the best intentions and truly value students, learning, teaching and character.  That being said, schedules and demands make it difficult at times to keep our head up to plan, evaluate and implement long term passions.  Some long term passions include creating an environment that welcomes creativity, evaluating the effectiveness of the social environment of the class, establishing an expectation of dialogue and exploration.  Some educational philosophies lend itself to this style of instructional strategies.  I think that Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and many of the early philosophers enjoyed asking questions making others think through their assumptions and relative understanding of reality.

Connecting to our philosophy and building time in the classroom to fulfill our understanding of the purpose of education is critical to our success as individuals in education.  Here is a framework to help you think through philosophy and how it relates to education:

There are three primary categories of philosophy.  George Knight (1980) wrote a book titled, Philosophy & Education,that helped categorize and structure for an individual to construct an educational philosophy.

  1. Metaphysics
  2. Epistemology
  3. Axiology

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of what is real (i.e. composition and materials).  Metaphysics will seek to address questions like:

  • What is the reality regarding cosmology?
  • What is the reality regarding theology?
  • What is the reality regarding anthropology?
  • What is the reality regarding ontology?

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with the study of nature, sources, and the validity of knowledge. Epistemology will seek to address questions like:

  • What is the nature of knowledge? (skpeticism & agnosticism)
  • Is truth relative or absolute?
  • Is knowledge subjective or objective?
  • Is there truth independent of human experience?

Axiology is the branch of philosophy that deals with the study of value.  Axiology will seek to address questions like:

Teachers should think about what is real (Metaphysics), what is truth (Epistemology), and what is valuable (Axiology) to determine the foundation of the educational philosophy.

Dr. Nathan Herzog

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