In this article, I will be taking you through things you need to know about history of Philosophy of Education. So, stay with me while I explain this for you!

Remember, no knowledge is wasteful. So, take your time to read this through! 

Without much further ado, let’s get started on 20th and 21st Century History of philosophy of education.

Modern History of Philosophy of Education

The following are the people who contribute on the modern history of philosophy of education;

Firstly, we will mention is Rudolf Steiner.

Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf education)

Waldorf education (also known as Steiner of Steiner-Waldorf education) is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based upon the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Now known as Waldorf or Steiner education, his pedagogy emphasizes a balanced development of cognitive, affective/artistic, and practical skills (head, heart, and hands). Schools are normally self-administered by faculty; emphasis is placed upon giving individual teachers the freedom to develop creative methods.

Steiner’s theory of child development divides education into three discrete developmental stages predating but with close similarities to the stages of development described by Piaget. Early childhood education occurs through imitation; teachers provide practical activities and a healthy environment. Steiner believed that young children should meet only goodness. Elementary education is strongly arts-based, centered on the teacher’s creative authority; the elementary school-age child should meet beauty. Secondary education seeks to develop judgment, intellect, and practical idealism; the adolescent should meet the truth.

Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements. Schools and teachers are given considerable freedom to define curricula within collegial structures.

Check this out: WHY STUDENTS FACE DIFFICULTIES WHILE ASSIGNMENT WRITING

John Dewey

In Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, John Dewey stated that education, in its broadest sense, is the means of the “social continuity of life” given the “primary ineluctable facts of the birth and death of each one of the constituent members in a social group”. Education is therefore a necessity, for “the life of the group goes on.” Dewey was a proponent of Educational Progressivism and was a relentless campaigner for reform of education, pointing out that the authoritarian, strict, pre-ordained knowledge approach of modern traditional education was too concerned with delivering knowledge, and not enough with understanding students’ actual experiences.

In 1896, Dewey opened the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago in an institutional effort to pursue together rather than apart “utility and culture, absorption and expression, theory and practice, [which] are [indispensable] elements in any educational scheme. Transactionalism as a pragmatic philosophy grew out of the work he did in the Laboratory School. We get the case of the child vs. the curriculum; of the individual nature vs. social culture.”

Maria Montessori

The Montessori method arose from Dr. Maria Montessori’s discovery of what she referred to as “the child’s true normal nature” in 1907, which happened in the process of her experimental observation of young children given freedom in an environment prepared with materials designed for their self-directed learning activity. The method itself aims to duplicate this experimental observation of children to bring about, sustain and support their true natural way of being.

William Heard Kilpatrick

William Heard Kilpatrick was a US American philosopher of education and a colleague and a successor of John Dewey. He was a major figure in the progressive education movement of the early 20th century. Kilpatrick developed the Project Method for early childhood education, which was a form of Progressive Education organized curriculum and classroom activities around a subject’s central theme. He believed that the role of a teacher should be that of a “guide” as opposed to an authoritarian figure.

William Chandler Bagley

William Chandler Bagley taught in elementary schools before becoming a professor of education at the University of Illinois, where he served as the Director of the School of Education from 1908 until 1917. He was a professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia, from 1917 to 1940. Bagley was a proponent of educational essentialism.

A.S. Neill

A.S. Neill founded Summerhill School, the oldest existing democratic school in Suffolk, England in 1921. He wrote a number of books that now define much of contemporary democratic education philosophy. Neill believed that the happiness of the child should be the paramount consideration in decisions about the child’s upbringing, and that this happiness grew from a sense of personal freedom.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger’s philosophizing about education was primarily related to higher education. He believed that teaching and research in the university should be unified and aim towards testing and interrogating the “ontological assumptions presuppositions which implicitly guide research in each domain of knowledge.”

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget was a Swiss developmental psychologist known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called “genetic epistemology”. Piaget placed great importance on the education of children. As the Director of the International Bureau of Education, he declared in 1934 that “only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.” Piaget created the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955 and directed it until 1980. According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget is “the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing.”

Jean Piaget described himself as an epistemologist, interested in the process of the qualitative development of knowledge. As he says in the introduction of his book “Genetic Epistemology” “What the genetic epistemology proposes is discovering the roots of the different varieties of knowledge, since its elementary forms, following to the next levels, including also the scientific knowledge.”

Mortimer Jerome Adler

Mortimer Jerome Adler was an American philosopher, educator, and popular author. As a philosopher he worked within the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions. He lived for the longest stretches in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Mateo, California. He worked for Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Adler’s own Institute for Philosophical Research. Adler was married twice and had four children. Adler was a proponent of educational perennialism.

Harry S. Broudy

Harry S. Broudy’s philosophical views were based on the tradition of classical realism, dealing with truth, goodness, and beauty. However he was also influenced by modern philosophy, existentialism and instrumentalism. In his textbook Building a Philosophy of Education he has two major ideas that are the main points to his philosophical outlook: The first is truth and the second is universal structures to be found in humanity’s struggle for education and the good life. Broudy also studied issues on society’s demands on school. He thought education would be a link to unify the diverse society and urged the society to put more trust and a commitment to the schools and a good education.

Jerome Bruner

Another important contributor to the inquiry method in education is Jerome Bruner. His books The Process of Education and Toward a Theory of Instruction are landmarks in conceptualizing learning and curriculum development. He emphasized intuition as a neglected but essential feature of productive thinking. He felt that interest in the material being learned was the best stimulus for learning rather than external motivation such as grades. Bruner developed the concept of discovery learning which promoted learning as a process of constructing new ideas based on current or past knowledge. Students are encouraged to discover facts and relationships and continually build on what they already know.

Paulo Freire

A Brazilian philosopher and educator committed to the cause of educating the impoverished peasants of his nation and collaborating with them in the pursuit of their liberation from what he regarded as “oppression,” Paulo Freire is best known for his attack on what he called the “banking concept of education,” in which the student was viewed as an empty account to be filled by the teacher.

Aspects of Freirian philosophy have been highly influential in academic debates over “participatory development” and development more generally. Freire was a proponent of critical pedagogy. 

John Holt

In 1964 John Holt published his first book, How Children Fail, asserting that the academic failure of schoolchildren was not despite the efforts of the schools, but actually because of the schools. Not surprisingly, How Children Fail ignited a firestorm of controversy. 

Nel Noddings

Nel Noddings’ first sole-authored book Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984) followed close on the 1982 publication of Carol Gilligan’s ground-breaking work in the ethics of care In a Different Voice. 

Noddings’ contribution to education philosophy centers around the ethic of care.

So, With this article “History of Philosophy of Education”, I hope you gain one or two things. Thanks for reading!

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