Philosophy of Education

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The label of the philosophy of education is applicable in referring to the study of the reason behind, the process, nature as well as the ideals of education. This makes it be considered as both an aspect of philosophy and education.  This paper seeks to review the aspects of the philosophy of education as a personal declaration of the beliefs of an individual.

The definition of education can be put across as the teaching and learning of particular skills; the conveyance of knowledge, perception and wisdom. This dwarfs the societal institution of education as is frequently spoken of. The philosophy of education is considered by several educationalists as a weak field. They claim that is application is far isolated from the real world, thereby undermining its usefulness. However, much thought and emphasis has been put into the field by philosophers dating back to Plato as well as other. Their work has played a big role in shaping the education practice over time (Dewey, 1916).

The Ancient Era

In his contribution to this subject, Plato advocated for methods of education that were deemed to be rather extreme in their approach. The advocated for children to be removed from the care of their mothers and for them to be raised the state’s wards. He also called for children to be differentiated in terms of their capabilities, with the highest education being given to the best.

This, he claimed, would enable them to be the custodians of the cities and enable them to take care of the children who were less able. Plato also advocated for education to be exhaustive, comprising of facts, physical discipline, art, skills and music. He believed that the distribution of talent as well as intelligence is not genetic; hence they should be found in children that are born into all social classes.

Another philosophy of thought pertaining to education was provided by Aristotle. He considered that the nature of humans, their habits as well as thinking were forces that could be equally cultivated through education. The opined that these should be done to produce citizens who were good and virtuous.

Many other philosophers of education have been put across. These range from the Perennialism that was formulated in the medieval period, to other modern era philosophies. Examples of these include philosophies made during the Renaissance by Michel de Montaigne in the 1500s to the Neil Postman of the 20th century.

Aristotle’s View on Education

Aristotle’s scientific explorations and scientific speculations had a wide range of topics and issues. Based on his works that are still in existence, Aristotle painted a picture of education being central. He also portrayed that an educated man was a fulfilled man, given the elements of education that contributed to this status.

His works bear testament to the notion that the individual thinking of educators, as well as their practice should be filled with an intelligible philosophy regarding life. This should be accompanied by a concern for political and ethical issues of the society. He articulates that teachers should ask themselves the question on what would make up the improvement of the welfare of human welfare (Siegel, web, 2007)

Aristotle, as well as other philosophers of his time emphasized on development that was balanced in its attributes. The forming of the mind, soul and body were a function of the plays, music, physical training and the study of sciences. This is demonstrated through the events that happened in the different phase of his life.

Also, he looked at education through the perspective of both reason and habit. This he explains by saying that everything that is learnt is actually learnt by practical involvement (Aristotle, p. 91). He further emphasizes that indulging in just acts makes people just, temperate actions make people temperate and brave actions make people brave.

Aristotle on the Scheme of Education

His views on the desirable scheme of education are similar to that of his teacher Plato. He expressed his belief in the responsibility of early education being that of the parents. After the child grows, the responsibility of education becomes that of the state. This however, does not imply that parent neglect their responsibility because of state involvement. He also emphasized on the responsibility of children’s moral education lying on parents.

The role of schools is therefore put across as a place where future leadership of political, economic and other sets of leaders is molded to the character of these responsibilities. Schools have to give them the empowerment and exposure to of tackling issues that may arise in their capacity as leaders.

Such exposure should however be timed, and responsibilities be designated with regard to the experience of such students. This is most likely to be based on the age of students. Younger students are believed to be lacking the experience to learn and address some issues that might pertain to social, political and economic problems of the society (Reich, 2002) Children are born illiterate and ignorant to the society’s norms and achievements in cultural development. Teachers have the role of training and guiding them into understanding the models of their immediate environments. These could be parents, older siblings, and trained teaching professionals with the help of the resources available to facilitate this.

They gradually gain the ability to read, write and calculate, as well as in most cases act in ways that are deemed culturally appropriate. These skills are acquired with relatively more facility than other skills. Therefore, education plays the role of a mechanism of sorting the society. It also has an upper hand on the economic fate of individuals. This can be owed to the fact that education allows people to be equipped with the knowledge and skill that puts them at a better position to define and follow their goals and ambitions. It also gives them an opportunity to take part in their respective communities’ life as autonomous citizens who are fully fledged (Ulich, 1954).

Some issues that came up with regard to the topic of education were the view of education as a knowledge transmitter versus it advancing of skills of inquiry and reasoning that are desirable for autonomous development of individuals. Another question was what the imparted skill and knowledge ought to be, the possibility of learning and what it was to have actually learnt something. This sparked concerns on the basic targets and ideals of the enterprise of education and the accomplishments that the trainers and educators aim to accomplish. It can be observed that a majority of the figures in the Western philosophical traditions who had different distinctions and qualifications rendered the promotion of reason and/ or rationality and the key aims of education (Callan, 2000).


What to be taught to students at the various levels of education is a key one. In addressing it, stakeholders should be keen to make distinctions between schooling and education. This is due to the fact that both education and mis-education can occur in schools. The latter refers to the educationally orthogonal things that might be acquired or might happen in schools. It should also be observed that education can occur at home, churches, libraries, clubs, museums, as well as in solitary interaction with media.

Difficult decisions have to be made in developing a curriculum. Matters such as ideal ordering and / or sequencing of topics, time allocation for topics, excursions and laboratory work required or projects are all issues that should be resolved educationalist and other experienced experts in the field of learning.

Aristotle proposed that students should be led by their teachers systematically, while utilizing repetition as a prime tool for the development of good habits. The teachers should do this by ensuring a balance in both practical and theoretical aspects of the subjects they taught. These subjects are mathematics, reading, music, writing, physical education, history, literature and sciences.

The formulations of Plato and Aristotle are both valid because the institutions of education should equip students for the pursuit of a good life. This is not clear due to the fact that definitions and expectations vary, as well as the opinion that it is a matter to be decided y the students themselves rather that in advance by the institutions and their curricula (Phillips, & Siegel, 2013). Other sources champion for education to foster autonomy based on the obligation to treat students respectfully as persons, other than being on the basis of flourishing o the human populace (Scheffler; Siegel 1988).

It is justifiable to regard the curriculum as an educational vessel for advancing economic and socio-political well being of the society by teaching doctrines and virtue that facilitate student understanding of such agendas. It is also viable to consider that the curriculum could be used by leaders to advance the goals of the ruling class, to serve as an avenue for controlling the masses and/ or as a medium of social engineering (Apple, 1990, 8-9).

In working to ensure that the curriculum helps students acquire maximum self sufficiency as possible doctrines such as that facilitate this being should taught in schools. Metaphysics is the study of the nature of reality. This gives an insight to its origin, and structure. Belief in metaphysics can be portrayed in the choice of curriculum systems.

Aspects of the nature and origin of human knowledge are studied under epistemology. This has an influence on the methods employed to teach since it focuses on things come to be known. This has a close relation to how things are learnt hence it should be taught to student to empower them in seeking solutions (Ulich, 1954)

Ethics is an aspect of study that deals with what are perceived good and bad in the context of human behavior, feelings as well as thoughts. The curriculum should include such lessons to empower students with the ability to discern between good and bad. This should be done both directly and through the use of models. This will gave a wide range of scenarios to help students employ their best judgment through understanding situations.

The study of political philosophy analyzes how the societies of the past and present are organized and governed. It also gives a platform on which better societies of the future can be created. This can be learned in practice by introducing systems o governance in schools where selected students can be given the authority to maintain order and participate in formulating plans and ideas that concern their colleagues (Callan, 1997).

Practically, they can help in making decisions in how the classrooms will be arranged, among other decisions. This insight into leadership will guide them into future leaders of institutions and governments. As leaders, they will make decisions on how social institutions and governments will be organized and governed.

Student-Teacher Relationship

Various scholarly works suggest that effective teaching instructors focus on the learning of the student. They adjust their strategies to capture the pace and intensity of the understanding of their students (Mandernarch, 2009). Teaching should be seen as an interaction between the student and the instructor.

Utilization of flexible teaching strategies enables instructors to match the capabilities as well as the existing knowledge that students might be having prior to the teaching exercise. Instructors hence need to create interactions that facilitate an interest and an understanding for each individual student. A cognitive perspective of development is emphasized by this approach.

Developmental theorists echoed the each other when they observed that the exploration of environments helps students learn best.  Support structures and systems have to be put in place to back understanding in this system of trial and error learning. Exploratory learning is reliant on the belief that learning environments that are effective indulge students actively with support material. They also promote significant interactions between the utilization of new and already existing material learning material.

Teaching skill should encompass the dynamic interaction that exists between the activities of educating and instructing, and personality. The nature of a course determines its particular learning goals, the level of education of the students and the course’s purpose within the department.

Also, the relationship that the course has with other that relates to it should give the determinants of the goals for teaching them. These are the fostering of critical thinking aimed at making students effective and efficient consumers of educational information taught; promotion of contents of the course and to encourage the application of material; related to the course in the context of the real world.

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  1. Apple, M., 1990, Ideology and Curriculum, New York: Routledge, 2nd Edition
  2. Aristotle The Nicomachean Ethics, London: Penguin.
  3. Callan, E., 1997, Creating Citizens: Political Education and Liberal Democracy, Oxford: Clarendon Press, Oxford.
  4. Dewey, J., 1916, Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, New York: Macmillan.
  5. Mandernach, B. (2009). Philosophy of Teaching Statement Focuses on Student Learning – Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning.
  6. Phillips, D., & Siegel, H. (2013). Philosophy of Education.
  7. Reich, R., 2002, Bridging Liberalism and Multiculturalism in American Education, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  8. Siegel, H., 1988, Educating Reason: Rationality, Critical Thinking, and Education, London: Routledge
  9. Siegel, H., 2007, “Philosophy of Education”, in Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
  10. Ulich, R., 1954, Three Thousand Years of Educational Wisdom, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Revised Ed.
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