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Article

“Decolonial philosophy of education” is an almost nonexistent term. Consequently, rigorous intellectual and scholarly conversations on education tend to be centered around a specific set of concepts and discourses that were (and still are) generated, picked up or analyzed by thinkers from a specific geographical and political space, such as Socrates, Rousseau, Dewey, Heidegger, and Foucault. This has led to the systemic ignoring and violating concepts and ideas generated from other spaces and lived through by other people. This legacy can also be related to some philosophical aspirations for gaining total, hegemonic, and universal perceptions and representations often formulated by male Euro-American philosophers; when this intellectual passion for universality becomes coupled with or stays silent about imperial and expansionist ambitions, it can see itself implicated in creating assimilationist or genocidal practices: in education, the manifestation of universality associated with imperialism is observed in Indian residential schools. While the words education, literacy, curriculum, learning of languages, acquiring knowledge, school, school desks, and school buildings might normally echo positive vibes for many, it can make an aboriginal survivor of an Indian residential school shudder. It is furthermore hard to ignore the aspirations for a European/Universalist definition of human and man in the famous “Kill the Indian to save the child” policy of Indian Residential Schools. However, the likelihood of deeming such assimilationist attempts as benign acts of trial and error and as events external to philosophy is generally high. Therefore, the “colonial edge” of these philosophies are, more often than not, left unexamined. This is the plane where decolonial philosopher dwell. They deliberate on essential key moments and discussions in philosophical thought that have either not been paused at enough or paused at all, and thereby question this lack of attention. There is an important reason for these intellectual halts practiced by decolonial philosophers. While these might seem to be abstract epistemic endeavors, decolonial philosophers see their work as practices of liberation that aim beyond disrupting the eminence of mainstream Euro-American philosophical thought. Through these interrogative pauses, they hope to intervene, overturn and restructure the philosophical, political and social imaginations in favor of the silenced, the ignored, the colonized, and the (epistemologically and physically) violated. This article engages with certain key decolonial theses and is concerned with the hope of initiating and further expanding the dialogues of decolonization in the philosophy of education. The article will, however, stay away from adding new theses or theories to decolonial education. The author believes that this field, much like other paradigms, either can or will at some point suffer from theoretical exhaustion. Instead, it directs the readers to pause at some of the decisive moments discussed in decolonial theories.

Article

As a highly developed religion, Buddhism has very rich ideas related to ethics and morality. Buddhism itself is a way of education. It guides the method and action of cultivating one’s moral character. These practices can be applied in thinking about education, especially specific to education’s ethical and moral implications. In the early 21st century, Buddhist theory has multiple applications in the field such as applied psychology, counseling, and meditation. Though it is an ancient wisdom, its viewpoint can be used to solve contemporary social problems and human crises caused by the process of modernization. Mahāyāna Buddhism believes that this world is constituted by emptiness, which is the perspective on essence-absent ontology. Everything is in its becoming, which is dependent on everything else, following the law of cause and effect. When an important aspect of one’s daily behavior is to cultivate goodwill, the desirable consequences will be returned to them later. That is, one good turn deserves another. On the contrary, bad will receives ill effects back. This is the basis of the Buddhist moral concept. In this way, human beings are active agents who can decide their own conduct and the result of their life. Buddhism encourages an individual to perform practices of precepts, meditation, and wisdom all the time to rid oneself of craving, hatred, and delusion. The latter are origins of human suffering. Humans cannot reach the ultimate spiritual realm of Nirvāṇa until these three poisons are given up. As an approach to self-education, Buddhist ethical thoughts allow learners to search for their self-nature. Buddhist moral claims of compassion and equality can contribute to the thinking of modern educational issues, such as peace education, ecological education, and equality in education.

Article

Intersectionality is celebrated in education research for its capacity to illuminate how identities like race, gender, class, and ability interact and shape individual experiences, social practices, institutions, and ideologies. However, although widely invoked among educational researchers, intersectionality is rarely unpacked or theorized. It is treated as a simple, settled concept despite the fact that, outside education research, it has become in the early 21st century one of the most hotly debated concepts in social science research. Education researchers should therefore clarify and, where appropriate, complicate their uses of intersectionality. One important issue requiring clarification concerns the question: “Who is intersectional?” While some critical social scientists represent intersectionality as a theory of multiple marginalization, others frame it as a theory of multiple identities. Either choice entails theoretical and practical trade-offs. When researchers approach intersectionality as a theory of multiple marginalization, they contribute to seeking redress for multiply marginalized subjects’ experiences of violence and erasure, yet this approach risks representing multiply marginalized communities as damaged, homogenous, and without agency, while leaving the processes maintaining dominance uninterrogated. When scholars approach intersectionality as a theory of multiple identities, meanwhile, they may supply a fuller account of the processes by which advantage and disadvantage co-constitute one another, but they risk recentering Whiteness, deflecting conversations about racism, and marginalizing women of color in the name of inclusivity. A review of over 60 empirical and conceptual papers in educational research shows that such trade-offs are not often made visible in our field. Education researchers should therefore clarify their orientations to intersectionality: They should name the approach(es) they favor, make arguments for why such approaches are appropriate to a particular project, and respond thoughtfully to potential limitations.

Article

Koji Matsunobu and Liora Bresler

From rites of passage to closer community bonding, the practice, enjoyment, exchange, and transmission of music—regardless of the setting—is an integral element of the history of human civilization. While the field of music education research has long focused on school music and institutional teaching, it is increasingly reaching out to the wider community, in the process involving people at different life stages who are operating in a variety of societal contexts. Consequently, research in music education explores a broad spectrum of musical engagements (including composition and improvisation, in addition to singing, playing, and listening) and a wide-ranging repertoire (including jazz, popular music, folk, and world music), together with diverse pedagogies both inspired by and borrowed from these genres. This process reveals how these forms of musical transmission can, on the one hand, create new meanings and experiences at individual levels, and, on the other, shape collective identity formation through the facilitation of cultural sustainability and transformation. By means of quantitative, qualitative, historical, and philosophical methods, and typically drawing on the fields of—among others—psychology, sociology, and anthropology, music education researchers have addressed social, cultural, pedagogical, and ethical issues of music teaching and learning.

Article

David R. Cole

Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995) was a French philosopher, who wrote about literature, art, cinema, other philosophers, capitalism, and schizophrenia. His wide-ranging oeuvre has begun to be considered seriously in education, because his ideas act as springboards for further elaboration and application in connected areas such as research, learning theory, early childhood education, curriculum and policy studies, and teacher education. Whilst it is impossible to track exactly how, when, and indeed if “Deleuze Studies in Education” will mature and progress to occupy a mainstream position in education, it is worth considering the influence of the French thinker as a mode of renewal and new thought. The questions that concern “Deleuze Studies in Education” therefore shift from positing thought from “the known” to “what can be done.” Deleuze’s solo work acts a basis for new thinking in the philosophy of education. His series of philosophical studies track and develop a new philosophy, that redraws Western concepts of the subject, knowledge, learning, and thought. The intent of this new philosophy is to open up fixed Western ideas to their international and historical counterparts and to produce a way of thinking that occupies a middle ground, disconnected from the dominant, intellectual empire building that has predominantly hailed from the West. Deleuze’s writing with the French intellectual activist, Félix Guattari (1930–1992), takes on a distinct shift and urgency away from the rewriting of the Western philosophical tradition until their last joint work called: “What is Philosophy?” and which presents a new philosophy that is sketched out in the second half of this book, and which deploys affect, percepts, concepts, and forms and functions, to move away from the ultimate horror of the present situation as they saw it: “commercial professional training.” “Deleuze Studies in Education” is deepened and reinvented through their dual work and is transformed into a mode of critical capitalist and environmental studies, which adds historical/subjective valence to how one understands current shifts in educational practice. Lastly, the specific oeuvre of Félix Guattari, which is often less investigated and focused upon in education than Deleuze, serves as a pressing and ethical engagement with theory that can be readily applied to issues such as environmental concerns, inequality, power, and activism. Guattari’s ideas are present as a lasting aspect of “Deleuze Studies in Education” because they demonstrate many of the links to practice that Deleuze theorized throughout his philosophy.

Article

A common definition of listening distinguishes between hearing and listening. The basic distinction describes hearing as a passive action of perceiving sounds, whereas listening involves paying active attention to various layers and elements of what one is hearing. Active listening to music, featuring the discerning of sounds, musical structures, harmonies, and the interrelations between the sounds, is akin to contemplating complex ideas. Providing meaning for this nexus of relationships requires listeners to grapple with these complex musical nuances, listening to different layers of the melody and harmony and connecting them to cultural and historical aspects. Challenging students to grapple with the complex nuances of musical pieces, to listen to different layers of the melody and harmony, and to connect those elements to cultural and historical aspects will provide them the opportunity to reflect upon the social and cultural contexts in which they live. The concept of what it means to be active (or mindful) has been examined from various perspectives and theories and holds great potential in advancing individual growth and social sensitivity.

Article

Peter Nelson

Fostering self-direction in students has long been an aim for both educators and parents as they fear the potentially coercive influence of peer pressure and the many sources that compete to influence what we think and what we do. These fears have motivated educational philosophers to explore the contours of what such self-direction or autonomous thought and action entails on the demands of individual thinking and behavior but also on the types of educational environments needed to foster its emergence. Likewise, educational philosophers have also argued the merits of promoting autonomy in public schools out of fears that some forms of autonomy may limit the ranges of conceptions of the good life that are available to students; many are concerned that promoting autonomy may inspire students to reject family and community ways of life. Despite those concerns, drawing upon thought that traces back to the ancient Greeks, contemporary educational philosophers continue to debate the contours of and justifications for an autonomy promoting education.

Article

Karin Murris, Kaitlin Smalley, and Bridget Allan

Conceptions of child and childhood have been variously (re)constructed by adults throughout history, and yet systematic questioning of the epistemological, ontological, political, and ethical assumptions informing these conceptions remains a relatively new field of academic inquiry. The concepts of child and childhood are philosophically problematic because, although children can be biologically and physiologically categorized, the normative values attached to these categories matter politically and ethically in educational practices and theory. The philosophy of childhood is therefore concerned with the following: questions about adults’ claims to knowledge of childhood and child subjectivity; the limitations and implications of the notion of “development” structuring theoretical claims about child and childhood; the construction of various alternative and intersecting figurations of child; the examination of the socio-historical, philosophical, and biological bases of these figurations, and their ethico-political implications—particularly for education. Furthermore, more radically, contemporary postcolonial, postdevelopmental, and posthuman theorists deconstruct traditional adult–child binaries by claiming that understanding the logic of childhood is reflected in, and socio-historically situated in relation to, colonialism. This same logic used to justify the silencing and structural oppression of children is applied to Indigenous peoples in settler-colonial states. Postdevelopmental conceptions of childhood problematize the very notion of development on which psycho-social scientific theories of childhood depend. By drawing on disciplines other than academic philosophy, in particular childhood studies and early childhood education, a wide range of conceptions of child and childhood can be mapped that shape educational theories and practices in all phases of education: “developing child,” “scientific child,” “psycho-social child,” “subhuman child,” “superhuman child,” “philosophical child,” “postdevelopmental child,” “savage child,” and “posthuman child.”

Article

In 1954, Hannah Arendt wrote that talk of a crisis in education “has become a political problem of the first magnitude.” If one trusts the steady stream of books, articles, jeremiads, and statements from public officials lamenting the fallen status of our schools and calling for bold reforms, the 21st century has shown no abatement in crisis as an abiding theme in education discourse. But why does education occupy such a privileged space of attention and why is it so susceptible to the axiomatic evocation of “crisis?” Arendt provides a clue when she argues that “Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token, save it from the ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable.” The crisis in education has come to signal a variety of issues for which the teacher is either a direct or indirect participant: declining student performance, inadequacy of teacher preparation, inequities of opportunity as well as outcome, or a curriculum ill-fitted to the shape of the modern world. However, at base is the issue of social reproduction that Arendt sees at the heart of education. Thus, the crisis in education serves as a forum for expressing, critiquing, and instantiating the values that are at play when considering “the coming of the new and the young.”

Article

Søren S.E. Bengtsen and Ronald Barnett

The research field of the philosophy of higher education is young, having emerged within the last half-century. However, at this stage four strands, or pillars, of thought may be detected in the core literature, around which the discussions and theorizing efforts cluster. The four pillars are (a) knowledge, (b) truth, (c) critical thinking, and (d) culture. The first pillar, “knowledge,” is concerned with the meaning of academic knowledge as forming a link between the knower and the surrounding world, thus not separating but connecting them. Under the second pillar, “truth,” are inquiries into the epistemic obligations and possibilities to seek and tell the truth universities and academics have in a “post-truth” world. The third pillar, “critical thinking,” addresses the matter as to what understandings of being critical are appropriate to higher education, not least against a background of heightening state interventions and self-interest on the part of students, especially in marketized systems of higher education. The fourth pillar, that of “culture,” is interested in the possibility and ability for academics and universities to intersect and contribute to public debates, events, and initiatives on mediating and solving conflicts between value and belief systems in culturally complex societies. When seen together, the four pillars of the research field constitute the philosophy of higher education resting on four foundational strands of an epistemic, communal, ethical, and cultural heritage and future.

Article

Liberal democracies have convinced themselves that persistent attempts to regulate the dress codes of Muslim women are driven by a democratic imperative toward their “emancipation.” They have convinced themselves that the imposition of integration is in the best interest of a democratic society. As a result, Muslim women, or more specifically, their dress codes, have become the reluctant centerpieces of a debate that has much less to do with democratic preservation than it has to do with an overt, systemic discrimination against a particular group. By taking into account the ensuing tensions and controversies that perceivably exist between liberal democracies and Muslim women, there are certain questions worth considering. On the one hand, is the concern of Muslim women, who are seemingly viewed and treated as a homogenous group. Who are they? What informs their Muslim identities and practices? On the other hand, is the matter of liberal democracies, which, through their actions of trying to regulate the dress code of Muslim women in the public sphere, have brought into contestation notions of democratic principles and practices. Why have liberal democracies chosen to respond to Muslim women in the way that they have? What is it about the dress code of Muslim women, which presents such an aversion or undermining of liberal democracies? It would seem, and as will be discussed in this article, that what liberal democracies perceivably know about Muslim women might in fact not be how they (Muslim women) conceive of themselves. That is, unlike the perceptions created by liberal democracies, Muslim women might not necessarily interpret their particular dress codes as being irreconcilable with what it means to be and act in a democracy. In turn, while the interest of the ensuing discussion is on the treatment of Muslim women by liberal democracies, the implications of this discussion might not be limited to one group identity; instead, there are necessary questions and concerns about how liberal democracies respond to and reconcile with pluralist forms of being.

Article

Post-intentional phenomenology is a phenomenological research approach that draws on phenomenological and poststructural philosophies. In its early conceptualization, post-intentional phenomenology was imagined as a philosophical and methodological space in which all sorts of philosophies, theories, and ideas could be put in conceptual dialogue with one another—creating a productive and generative cacophony of philosophies/theories/ideas that accomplishes something(s) that these same individual philosophies/theories/ideas may not be able to do, in the same way at least, on their own. Although this desire remains, post-intentional phenomenology now serves as more of an invitation for others to play with and among philosophies/theories/ideas to see what might come of such playfulness—and to have the work of the methodology itself potentially produce social change, however great or small. The post-intentional phenomenologist is asked not only to identify a phenomenon of interest, but also to situate the phenomenon in context, around a social issue. An underlying assumption of this methodology is that all phenomena are both personal and social—that is, phenomena are lived by individuals and are in a constant state of production and provocation through social relations. Such a methodological configuration can be of use to studies of teaching—as the work of teaching (as a post-intentional phenomenon) is lived, produced, and provoked by all sorts of entangled complexities that may or may not be conscious to the individual.

Article

Matthew Thomas-Reid

Queer pedagogy is an approach to educational praxis and curricula emerging in the late 20th century, drawing from the theoretical traditions of poststructuralism, queer theory, and critical pedagogy. The ideas put forth by key figures in queer theory, including principally Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, were adopted in the early 1990s by to posit an approach to education that seeks to challenge heteronormative structures and assumptions in K–12 and higher education curricula, pedagogy, and policy. Queer pedagogy, much like the queer theory that informs it, draws on the lived experience of the queer, wonky, or non-normative as a lens through which to consider educational phenomena. Queer pedagogy seeks to both uncover and disrupt hidden curricula of heteronormativity as well as to develop classroom landscapes and experiences that create safety for queer participants. In unpacking queer pedagogy, three forms of the word “queer” emerge: queer-as-a-noun, queer-as-an-adjective, and queer-as-a-verb. Queer pedagogy involves exploring the noun form, or “being” queer, and how queer identities intersect and impact educational spaces. The word “queer” can also become an adjective that describes moments when heteronormative perceptions become blurred by the presence of these queer identities. In praxis, queer pedagogy embraces a proactive use of queer as a verb; a teacher might use queer pedagogy to trouble traditional heteronormative notions about curricula and pedagogy. This queer praxis, or queer as a verb, involves three primary foci: safety for queer students and teachers; engagement by queer students; and finally, understanding of queer issues, culture, and history.

Article

Daniel Tröhler

“Progressivism” is a collective term used in historiography to characterize historical phases in which particular ways to think about progress are detectable. Hence, “progressivism” is more a historiographical label used by historians than a term used by those thinkers identified as being part of a progressive phase in history. Even though important scholars have argued that the idea of progress can be traced back to antiquity, others have argued that ideas of progress—as a more or less linear alternative to a cyclical way of thinking—are found for the first time in the transition from the early modern period to modernity (ca. 1700). These ideas of progress can be linked to the advancement of knowledge, to the perfecting of the soul or then of the social order, and they link the notion of “progress” with notions like “perfection” and “development.” As a rule, “progress” did not include notions of future chaos or imponderability but rather was understood as an ordered proceeding to the future that was interpreted either as the redemption or materializing of a more or less predetermined road (individually and/or socially), as a contribution to adjustment of social development understood as dangerous or wrong, or as resulting from a forecast and planned future. All of these attempts over the last three and a half centuries to conceptualize progress in one way or another were connected to research, and they affected ideas on education; most of them were even closely related to educational aspirations, methods, programs, and/or policy. The two great and independent motives of “progress” can be identified first around 1700 in France and England with regard to advancement in knowledge and the sciences (1), and in Germany with regard to the perfection of the soul. The idea of human perfection and the advancement of the knowledge based on modern sciences were merged in the Enlightenment prior to the French Revolution and its philosophical legitimation (2), leading in the German realm to a philosophy of history that subordinated all of human and natural history to a great narrative from the past to the future (3). The emergence of sociology gave the narrative a national frame that was supported by the erection of modern schooling, but by the end of the 19th century, the modern conditions of social and political life as actual expressions of progress were perceived as not redeeming the promises of the Enlightenment and the philosophy of history, which led to a schism in the interpretation of “true” progress. These critical perceptions triggered a reaction labeled the Progressive Era, which aimed to readjust the modern conditions of life to particular, often religious ideals of social order in which progress was more tightly connected to (idealized) visions of the past (4). The educational ideas and ideals of this Progressive Era proved to be sustainable, but they were attacked during the Cold War period, which saw an emphasis on technocratic aspects of governance and specific ideas of economic and social development. The ramifications of this focus, which called for planning the future and adjusting education to these plans, can be seen in the case of the OECD (5).