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TOPIC 4: THE PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR TEACHERS (MIDSEM TEST)4.1 Introduction The philosophy of education will be discussed first, since we need to understand the philosophy of education, before we can discuss about its significance for teachers. The lecture will cover seven philosophies of education (idealism, realism, pragmatism, existentialism, essentialism, progressivism, and social reconstructionism); followed by the significance of four of these philosophies (pragmatism, existentialism, essentialism, and social reconstructionism) for teachers.4.2 The Philosophy of Education Philosophy of education, as we know, focuses on the values, beliefs and attitudes in relation to the process of growth of individuals and society. These values, beliefs and attitudes determine the direction of our education, particularly the aims, goals, objectives, contents, delivery and assessment of education. Now, we will look some educational philosophies which will help us to understand better the goals of education. • Idealism: “Ideal” means “a conception of objects as something that are perfect, having noble character, visionary, and existing only in imagination”. Idealism views that education should focus on moral, spiritual and mental aspects of human being; and that the truth and values are absolute, timeless, and universal. Education should concern with ideas and concepts and their relationship, with the final outcomes of education are the most general and abstract subjects. Mathematics is important to develop abstract thinking; while history and literature are important to develop moral and culture. • Realism: “Real” means “a conception of objects as something that are actual, existence, and authentic, rather than imaginary”. Realism views the world in terms of objects and matter; and everything is derived from nature and is subjected to its laws. Realism suggests that education should focus on objects and matter; and views that people can learn about the world through their senses and reasons. However, just like idealist, realist views that the ultimate goals of education are the most general and abstract subjects. Realist stresses that the subjects such as ethical, political and economics are important in life; while reading, writing and arithmetic are necessary as basic education. • Pragmatism: “Pragmatic” means “a conception of objects as something that are real, and having cause-effect relationship and practical values”. Pragmatism views the world as not fixed, but constantly changing; and views knowledge as process and not as product. Education, therefore, should focus on experiencing the process, for example, learning occurs as pupil engages in problem solving. Knowing is an interaction between the learner and environment (both are undergoing constant changes). Teaching is not focused on “what to think”, but on “how to think critically”; and hence, it should be more exploratory than explanatory. The ultimate goal of education is for the learner to acquire the process of solving problems in an intelligent manner. • Existentialism: “Existential” means “a conception of objects as actual being, existing, occurring, appearing, or emerging”. Existentialism views the world as subjective, depending upon one’s perception; and that knowledge is a personal choice. Education should focus on emotional, aesthetic and philosophical subjects; such as literature, drama and arts. Learners are allowed to choose the subject(s) for their self-fulfillment. Curriculum should stress on self-expressive and experimentation activities that will create emotions, feelings and insights. The ultimate goal of education is to develop consciousness about freedom to choose, and the meaning one’s choices and responsibility in relation to these choices. • Essentialism: “Essential” means “a conception of objects as something that are absolutely necessary, indispensable, or vital”. Essentialism views that education should focus on the fundamental and essential subjects, such as the 3 R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) as the fundamental subjects at primary school level; and five academic subjects at secondary school level (English, mathematics, science, history & foreign language). Essentialism rejects the subjects such as arts, music, physical education, homemaking and vocational education. The ultimate goal of education is the acquisition of culture and mastery of essential skills, facts, concepts, and thinking skills. • Progressivism: “Progressive” means “a conception of objects as something that are moving forward toward specific goal, further stage, or cumulative improvement”. Progressivism views that education should promote 1
democratic society in which students could learn and practice the skills and tools necessary for democratic living; which include problem-solving methods and scientific inquiry; and learning experiences that include cooperative behaviors and self-discipline; which are important for democratic living. Since reality constantly keeps changing (similar to pragmatism), progressivism believes that there is little need to focus on fixed body of knowledge. • Social Reconstructionism: “Social reconstruction” means “a conception that the social problems; such as poverty and lack of educational and employment opportunities; can be solved through education”. Social reconstructionism believes that “people are responsible for creating social conditions, whether they are good or bad”. It views that education should prepare people to create new good and just society and to bring the have- nots into a better society. Other than those who are fortunate helping out those who are unfortunate, education can play its role by preparing students to meet their intellectual, emotional, personal, and social needs, to solve their social problems.4.3 Significance of Philosophy of Education for Teachers The significance of the philosophy of education for teachers can be discussed by looking at the goals of education, role of students, role of teachers and teaching methods for various philosophies of education (Figure 6.3, p 151). We are going to look at four philosophies of education as examples, i.e. the Existentialism, Pragmatism, Essentialism, and Social Reconstructionism. • Pragmatism: The goal of education under this philosophy is “developing and applying practical knowledge and skills for life in a progressive democratic society”. The role of students is to show “active learning and participation”. Hence, teachers need to plan teaching and learning activities that encourage students to actively participate in learning. The role of teachers is to “teach inductive and deductive reasoning, scientific method, and the power of observation and practice”, which can be achieved through the teaching methods of “hands-on curricula, group work, and experimentation”. • Existentialism: The goal of education under this philosophy is “developing authentic individuals who exercise freedom of choice and take responsibility for their actions”. The role of students is to “develop independence, self-discipline, set challenges, and solve problems”. Teachers should know this goal to decide what to teach, how to teach, how students learn and how to assess learning outcomes. The role of teachers is to “encourage students to philosophize about life and to recognize and fulfill personal freedom”, which can be done through the teaching methods of “discussion and analysis, examination of choice-making in own and other’s live”. • Essentialism: The goal of education under this philosophy is “acquisition of culture and cultural literacy for personal benefit”. The role of students is to “receive knowledge and demonstrate minimum competencies”. The role of teachers under this philosophy is to “deliver a standard curriculum”, which can be done through teaching methods of “subject-centered direct instruction”. Teachers need to know this role in order to plan teaching and learning activities that are subject-centered and can deliver the standard content through direct instruction. An example of a subject with standard curriculum is history. A teacher can prepare the content of a lesson and delivers the content through direct instruction. • Social Reconstructionism: The goal of education under this philosophy is “solving social problems and create a better world”. The role of students is to “inquire, apply critical thinking skills, and take action”. The role of teachers under this philosophy is to “ask questions, present social issues and problem solving challenges, and serve as organizer and information resource”, which can be done through the teaching methods of “stimulating divergent thinking and group discussion”. Teachers should give emphasis on social studies, social problems, global education, and environmental issues.4.4 Tutorial Activity • Read Chapter 6 of the textbook from page 152 to 156. Explain in your own words of your understanding about the philosophies of Marxism, Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Perennialism and Essentialism. 2
TOPIC 5: THE SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION (MIDSEM TEST)5.1 Introduction • In Topic 1, we defined “education” as “the growth process of the individuals and society”; and in Topic 2, we defined “sociology” as “the branch of knowledge that deals with the origin, development, organization and functioning of human society”. Since, sociology of education is a branch of sociology that focuses on education, it can be defined as “the origin, development, organization and functioning of human society that are associated with the growth process of the individuals and society”. • Some argued that education is a valued-based activity in which individuals experiencing and accepting what is valued by our society. Few argued that education is the transmission of culture. As we all know, a society is made up of people with different customs, beliefs, values, languages, religions and social institutions. Beside all these “local” cultures, our society is exposed to “global” cultures brought to us by foreign visitors and various technologies, such as internet, CD’s, magazines, films, etc. Ask ourselves, “Which of these cultures should we transfer to children/youths?”5.2 Social Foundations of Education • Transmitting and Improving Society: John Dewey (an American educator) believed that aims of education were of both transmitting and improving society. To do this, educators must be very selective in determining and organizing the experiences for the children and society. Hence, educators, together with others in the society, are responsible in determining the content and activities (experiences) that can help individuals to grow and finally to improve their society. The aims of transmitting and improving society were carried out by the schools which educate and socialize the younger members of the society. • Modal Personality comprises of a set of characteristics that differentiate citizens of one country to those of other countries (“mod” means “distinguished attributes”). For example, there are certain behaviours, attitudes and feelings that distinguish the Americans from Europeans, which are believed to be the outcomes of schooling. American schools, among other things, focus on the national civic culture to inculcate modal personality. How do Malaysians differ from citizens of other countries? Is it due to their schooling (formal education) or other institutions, such as homes or religious institutions (informal education)? • Though each country has cultural pluralism, there still exist a modal personality for all citizens of that country. They gain this modal personality through schooling, which offers standard curriculum that develops the modal personality. Do Malaysians have modal characteristics? Can we list some of them? We in Malaysia have a large number of foreign workers that came from many countries. Do you think they have the Malaysian modal personality? If we have a modal personality, regardless of religion, national origin, race, class or gender; we will still have common points of likeness. • The Americans, for example, despite of having different economic level, education, manners, taste, ethnic group, origin and tradition; they have many points of likeness, such as language, diet, hygiene, dress, basic skills, land use, community settlement and recreation. They are closer together in their moral outlook, political beliefs and social attitudes; compared to other nationals. Do we have any points of likeness in Malaysia? What are they? Most of these points of likeness are society behaviours, which are actually the sociology of a community. This is in fact an example of the social foundations of education. • Belief in the possible is perhaps another point of likeness that the Americans have, i.e. belief that “anything is possible”. Slogans such as “Work hard and you will succeed”, 3
“Just do it”, “Anyone can grow up to be president” and “What counts is not where you came from but what you do” are just some examples of this belief. US schools are promoting this message throughout the country. What can these slogans promote for the American people? Perhaps right attitudes and the belief that “The measure of a person is his or her achievements”. • Belief in moral bases for right action is another point of likeness for the Americans. When American educators discuss about the rights of individuals to an education, they belief that people have a moral right to further their humanness (to be good people). The belief also will guide the Americans in their individual and collective (group) conduct (behaviour). The slogan such as “Just say no” to either sex or drugs indicates the influence of this belief. This is another social phenomenon that influences education.5.3 A Dynamic, Changing Society • The social foundations become very important in education because of the rapid change in our society. The appropriate education for various groups cannot be determined accurately, since the groups are changing, ethnic demands are emerging, information is exploding, behaviours are being modified, and values are being altered. What are the changes that we see in Malaysia? May be food preferences, entertainments, etc. How do these affect education? Thus, we have difficulty to set education for the present, and even more complex for the future. • As the society changes rapidly, the education should also change accordingly. For example, as most mothers are now working, they have problems taking care of their young children. In response to this change, the schools now have the provisions of taking children as young as four years old. Parents can send their younger children to nurseries either at private place or at place of work. The idea of literacy is no longer confined to reading and writing, but must be expanded to cultural, scientific, computer, technological, electronic and research literacy. • The number of Asian immigrants in US increases from 13% to 38% in 1981-1990. In California, people of colour are already majority. In Seattle schools, over 34 languages are spoken. English as second language is a must for the students. Education must be responsive to the needs of the diversity of students, while at the same time, transferring the civic culture that serves as the binding for the American nation. Schools need different learning outcomes, pedagogical approaches, flexible curricula, and different teaching environments.5.4 Tutorial Activity • National Philosophy of Malaysian Education (NPME): “Education in Malaysia is an on-going effort towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonic, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God. Such an effort is designed to produce Malaysian citizens who are knowledgeable and competent, who possess high moral standards and who are responsible and capable of achieving high level of personal well-being as well as being able to contribute to the harmony and betterment of the family, society and nation at large” (CDC, MOE, 1988). • Discuss the Malaysian philosophy of education from the perspectives of the philosophy of education and the sociology of education. Which philosophy(s) matches the NPME? What are the social aspects of human relations that are covered by NPME? 4
TOPIC 6: HISTORY OF EDUCATION (FINAL EXAM)6.1 History of Education: Introduction • History, in Topic 2 is defined as: “the branch of knowledge that deals with past events”. Therefore, history of education can be defined as: “the branch of knowledge that deals with past events that were related to education”. The events that took place during a particular period of time in a country had influenced the education of that country, that is, the history of particular country becomes the foundations of education of that country. Think of Malaysia, can you recall an event that had changed our goals of education? • Curricula are prepared or created within political, social, economic and cultural contexts. The people who created the curricula have firm belief in appropriate social action, views of knowledge, acceptance of political ideologies, allegiances to class value systems, incorporation of economic motives, and even adherence to religious convictions. These values are sometimes being challenged by various sectors of community. Can you think of one curriculum that was not yet accepted in Malaysia? We are going to look at American history of education as an example.6.2 The Colonial Period: 1642-1776 • In the northern (New England) colonies, the history of American education started with the education in the earliest colony of Massachusetts, a settlement of the Puritans (members of a sect of Protestant from England) who hold strictly to religious discipline. The earlier schools in Massachusetts were concerned with the doctrines of Puritan church. The major purpose of schooling was to teach children to read scriptures (passages) from the Bible and the notices of civil affairs department. The major goal of education then was to enable children to read and understand the principles of religion and the laws of the Commonwealth. The basic education in Massachusetts at that time was reading and writing; and Latin in addition was taught mainly to prepare students to go to Harvard College. • In the middle colonies, unlike in Massachusetts (everyone used English language), there were no common language or religion existed. Due to the differences in the language used and religious believes, no single school system could be established in the middle colonies. These differences motivated the settlers of different ethnic and religious groups to established parochial (provincial/ local) and independent schools, rather than the central or district-wide school system as in New England. The present concept of cultural pluralism in fact already existed 200 years ago in the middle colonies. Think of Malaysia, are there similarities to what had happened in the North America with respect to school system or cultural pluralism? • In the southern colonies, the education decisions were left to the family. There was no formal education here and the focus of education was only on vocational skills. Why vocational skills? The legislative provision was instituted only to the guardians of poor children, orphans, and illegitimate children, that is for them to provide private education or vocational skills to the children. The privileged class of white children (children of plantation owners) received their education through private tutors. The poor white children (children of the farm workers) did not have any formal education, with most of them could not read or write. They continued to become farmers just like their parents. The children of Black slaves were forbidden to learn to read or write. 5
• The curriculum of colonial schools in the northern, middle and southern colonies; despite the differences in language, religion, and economic system; was influenced by the English political ideas. The religious commitment had high priority in all schools and society, and the family played a major role in socialization and education of all children. The curriculum of colonial schools consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, and some religious faith, and lessons to develop manners and morals. The curriculum stressed on basic skills, social and religious conformity, faith in authority, knowledge for the sake of knowledge, rote learning and memorization. There were various types of schools existed during this period, such as the town schools (one-room primary schools), private schools (established by missionary, ethnic and religious groups), Latin grammar schools (for sons of upper class), academy (secondary school) and college (Harvard or Yale).6.3 The National Period: 1776-1850 • School curricula during Colonial Period were mostly based on religious needs. However, during the National Period, secular forces had changed American education from religious based primary and secondary education to more function based education. The secular forces argued that the time spent on studying the two dead languages (Latin & Greek), for example, should be better used to study science, to help the new America to explore and develop its natural resources. The secular forces also had influenced the development of democracy, strong federal government, an emerging cultural nationalism, the idea of religious freedom, and new discoveries in natural sciences. As a result of this movement, the federal government became more committed to education and had allocated 154 million acres of land for schools. The government even decided to give free primary, secondary, college and university education, • The school curriculum during the National Period (Rush’s curriculum) stressed on reading, writing, arithmetic and history in elementary school; English, German, the arts and especially sciences at secondary school and college level; and good manners and moral principles for all levels. Education was seen more for the development of natural resources, and to promote democracy. During this period also, grammar schools were built for gifted students and scholarships were given to gifted students who could not pay tuition fees. Half of the scholarship students were later assigned positions as primary school teachers. Educational policy makers (e.g. Rush, Jefferson, Franklin) were all concerned with equality of educational opportunity; and had proposed nationwide education for all children and youth. Students of superior ability were identified and given free secondary and college education. • During this period also, the Americans were thinking of having their own national cultures, for example having a national language and literature, which should be different from the English language and literature used in Britain. This language (spelling, pronunciation & reading) should be taught deliberately and systematically to the children and youth in the nation’s schools. The selection of literature was focused on portraying patriotism, heroism, hard work, diligence, and virtuous living; with the tone of moral, religion, capitalistic, and pro-American. Other than the cultures, the Americans also aspired to expand the moral and political ideas as their contributions to humankind. For example, they had shown to Europe the proof that institutions founded on equality and representation principles (democracy) were capable of maintaining good governments.6.4 Tutorial Activity • Read Chapter 4 of the textbook from page 90 to 102. Explain in your own words, your understanding about the influence of religion, politics, industry or others in each of the education described (Education in Southern Colonies, Middle Atlantic Colonies, New England Colonies, 6
Education for the Slaves, Education for Native Americans, Education in Spain’s Colonies,Education for Women). 7