Philosophy of education

Ever since I attended my first philosophy class as a professional notetaker in England, I’ve been hooked on the subject. In many ways, I wish I had studied philosophy as an undergrad, but I don’t think I would have had the maturity to understand it, or articulate responses. A recent episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast looks at a very core, central, but unattended topic, the philosophy of education. As Sir Ken Robinson famously put, everybody has an opinion on it, because it affects us all.

Today, education seems to be direction-less, as it’s being pulled into too many directions. Education attempts to be forward looking, creating children into the image of an idealised future society we hope for, whilst at the same time, there are many people who don’t like change, and want to take education to the past with a “back to basics” notion. Then there is also a shift to regulate the quality of education by focusing on exam results, creating an exam washback, where the exam system becomes geared to quantitative results. Such a system does not qualitatively care for the child, but is concerned about population data instead.

More can be written, but this is just the introduction to these three great sources of inspiration for all teachers, novice, experienced, and expert to consider. The first is an audio file (podcast) from Philosophy Bites, of an interview with Meira Levinson. The second is the renowned TED speaker Sir Ken Robinson and his now famous How Schools Kill Creativity talk. The third and final is an unusual choice, a talk by Malcolm McLaren at an education conference. McLaren is famous for opening a clothing store with his then girlfriend Vivien Westwood, and for being the creator and manager of the punk rock band the Sex Pistols. He talks about education as a system of creating clones, rather than independent and creative thinkers. These three talks nicely complement each other, whilst not overlapping either. Please bookmark this page, and come back to it to see the others as time allows.