Philosophies of Education Final
A Comparison between Philosophies of Education:
Liberal vs. Progressive Education
Student’s Full Name
In this essay, we intend to describe and compare two different philosophies of education. After describing, and comparing them, we shall focus on how the selected philosophy shapes our practice as an adult educator. To do so, we shall compare and assess ourselves in the Liberal against the progressive education philosophies. After careful thought, we chose the Liberal education philosophy as it fits us better, and will allow us to do an unbiased analysis and comparison.
Before entering the subject, we believe necessary to speak briefly about what the Philosophy of Education is, and means. Philosophy is a broad subject, and to speak about a sub-field of something that big, might be hard. In philosophy, unlike many other disciplines, it is difficult, to find the truth, or at least an uncontested certainty. Besides, many people with shady backgrounds, or pseudo-scientific intends to identify with the term “philosopher”. This, of course, becomes a problem. When a field as broad as philosophy, or not as well guarded, as others, like physics some “pseudo-intellectuals” can freely roam in its premises and misuse, or misinform genuinely interested people.
Philosophy of Education, as an academic field refers to the study of education as the study of the problems related to education. This study is on education, or on the problems related to it. In this light, philosophy of education, as an applied field of philosophy, is regarded as a way to bring philosophical ideas to the world. However, it is weird there are no departments of philosophy of education in philosophy schools, but in schools of education. In the same way, it is important to note, that educational theories are not the same as philosophies of education. The first one refers to adapting philosophies of education into theories, tailored to address specific subjects of education (Noddings, 1998). While the other refers to theories drawn from philosophies
We made this difference because the field is littered with people who want to provide their insights into the subject. However, they lack the formal training; or the background required to do an important contribution on any philosophical subject. To prevent that, our discussion will rely on facts, without non-academic, or scholar sources that might hinder our understanding, or give us wrong ideas toward the subject. In the same way, the intellectual and social trends from the past centuries have contributed toward the idea of a philosophy of education. Those trends, have also been followed anddiscarded like fashion styles. And a philosophy that have had a significant development, might be subject to use on education. Philosophies such as Marxism; Existentialism; phenomenology; liberalism; and even feminism have been used as background in many educational theories. However, many philosophies are not meant to be used in education. The personal views of the educators might interfere, or enrich the teachers. We are not saying the personal views or philosophies would not interfere in the educator’s teaching process, but they should tread carefully, as it might confuse the students. However, as most theories do, philosophies concerning education, grow and thrive. Many practices that used to be innovator not so long ago, have now become staples in the education methods. In the same light, it is important to note that adult education is a young field, and it is still maturing. That is why, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that Progressive and Liberal philosophies, with the other educational philosophies, have still a long way to run.
In the same way, being able to understand how values and beliefs can influence teaching, can make teachers better. For those teachers who are unsure of their orientations, Lorraine Zinn has come with the Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI). Nevertheless, we have to be aware that despite being precise, this inventory might compartmentalize each philosophy too squarely, in an intent to oversimplify a reflective process of the self. Besides, we have to be aware of the difficulties of encasing in a philosophy that only reflects partially their beliefs (Day, 1990)
Description of the Liberal Education Philosophy
I. The Purpose of the Philosophical Orientation. The purpose of the Liberal education philosophy is to develop intellectual powers of the mind, to enhance learning in its broadest sense. In that case, to provide a well-rounded education, is the purpose of the Liberal education. (Zinn, 1994). Liberal education is influenced by the idealism and realism, philosophically speaking. Also, it is content-centered,.Which means the person who gives the knowledge is an expert on the subject and knows what he is doing. Liberal educators believe that a theoretical education is more valuable than an education centered on vocation and vocational training. To liberal educators, the curriculum should include an education centered on the values; virtues, and rational issues. In this sense, we might say that liberal education is designed to be a timeless education (Zandvanian, 2009). Plato proposed the basic elements that have remained part of the heart of the liberal education. To Plato, education should be composed by Literature; history; mathematics, and philosophy –Although Plato considered philosophy as the knowledge of the natural phenomena- (Noddings, 1998). Contemporarily, Liberal education refers to a learning approach that empowers individuals, preparing them to deal with the complex, diverse, and ever-changing nature of the world. That is why, instead of focusing on vocational education, Liberal education focuses on providing a wider knowledge of the world, as a way to have applicable knowledge in the real-world. Also, many liberal schools try to instill a sense of social responsibility, a sense that come from an idea of global citizenship.
II. Key scholars and Historical Adult Educational Events Related to the Philosophical Orientation. As we discussed earlier, Plato, and Aristotle were the ones who set the groundwork for modern liberals to polish what they had already done. We owe Plato the traditional school’s curriculum. We also owe Plato what we know as the Socratic Method [We understand that Socrates proposed it, but since he did not write about it; we owe Plato for writing about it] Socratic method bases on asking the right question to get an answer the person did not knowbefore. Concerning Aristotle, he believed, as Plato did, that people should be educated so they find their proper place in life. He believed in a values system, on which every person has their particular set of skills and values, and by training to use them, they will excel. On the modern side, we find the works of John Henry Newman, who considered that education is what makes us more human, and that education is only successful if it makes us better human beings (Ker, 2008). In the same note, we find the works of Thomas Huxley, who being a self-educated man, considered that education have to be something that could be used in the real world.
III. The role of the learner related to the philosophical orientation. The Liberal education places the learner as an active asset to the process. An ideal learner would be a person who seeks out the resources in order to acquire the knowledge it might be looking for. In the same way, the learner looks to understand the subjects presented satisfactorily who encompasses all the possibilities, instead of referring only one subject. In the liberal education is the learner who has the responsibility for their education (Axelrod et al, 2001)
IV. The role of the Adult Education Related to the Philosophical Orientation.We have stated that Liberal education looks forward to offering a non-vocational education. That is why, the teacher must play a role as a savant of the subject in question, a person who is aware of what the students must do, directing them in the thinking process. In this case, since a person inclined toward liberal education would be generally speaking a Renaissance-man kind of person, it will seek knowledge as a way of self-actualization, rather than a mean to an end. (Zinn, 1991). In a strict sense, the overall purpose of the Liberal education is to turn people into better human beings by giving them the tools to self-actualize.
V. The source of authority related to the philosophical orientation.Among the sources of “authority” related to Liberal education philosophy, we find Great Books society, a non-profit organization that encourages literacy and critical thinking as a way to reach an equitable society. We also found the Paideia program, proposed by Adler. He proposes that the lesson time should be reduced and replaced with open-ended seminars that would convey the knowledge better. Last, we found the Center for the Study of Liberal Education; a center who seeks to begin or improve adult education programs, to grasp a deeper sense of responsibility for the Liberal education of adults.
VI. Appropriate Facilitation Methods Related to the Philosophical Orientation. On the fitting methods of learning and teaching related to the liberal education, we found that Liberal education favors teacher-led discussion that engage the participants in situations that bolster critical thinking. Also, the critical analysis of the texts or opinions seen in class is a method employed by the Liberal educators to convey the meaning of the lessons. In the same way, lessons have to fit each individual’s potential while liberal education makes use of standardized tests as a way to be able to determine the learner’s knowledge of a subject or theme.
Comparison between Liberal and Progressive Education Philosophies
In this essay, we are presented with two educational philosophies. The first one, the Liberal, has its roots in the classic Greek education. The other, the Progressive, stems from the progressive movement in the 1900s. On the other hand, Liberal philosophy of existed since the renaissance, and stems from its ideals. However, afterimposing Progressive philosophies in many educational centers in the 1920, Liberal education has declined. Nevertheless, many educational centers and adult teaching centers are starting to see the value of a liberal-focused education (Spurgeon & Moore, 1994). To gain a thorough understanding of both philosophies, we shall do a comparison between them.
The progressive movement was an integral part of the early 20th century, as it impulse a reform that aimed at rebuilding America through a social, and cultural uplift. The reasons were many, but after the Great Depression, many people lived in poverty, and a reform was needed. Progressive reforms aimed at the active participation of the citizens in the democratic life. John Dewey, the father of progressive education, explained a revolutionary way that intended to reform the educational systems and theories, based on the relation between the democratic life and education. In that sense, the learner must not be a passive part of the education, but an active learner who interested for the subjects taught. Progressive education also called for the use of better methods that bore participation of the individual in the society, and the use of problem-solving skills to address the daily situations. Progressive education emphasizes the relations between education and society. It also focuses on the experience as a way to gain knowledge. This philosophy also highlights the vocational instruction and the education on the democratic values. (Elias & Merriam, 1980).
On the comparison between Liberal and Progressive education, we found there are many common grounds, but at the same time, there are several differences that make them irreconcilable. For instance, Liberal Education intends to provide a well-rounded education, that will eventually develop the powers of the mind. Whereas Progressive Education focuses on the societal part of education, or to educate people who would eventually become part of the society. Regarding the role of the learner, both philosophies expect learners to be attentive, and active parts of the education. Without them, the process would not complete. However, Progressive education favors an experiential learning while Liberal favors the theoretical understanding. Another part susceptible of comparison is the role of the teacher in both philosophies.
In the Progressive philosophy, the teacher becomes an organizer that helps the students in working cooperatively toward the completion of the task. On the other hand, Liberal educators tend to be savants, or people who know their subject and are willing to impart knowledge about what they know. Another difference we would like to highlight is the difference between key ideas in both philosophies. Liberal education aims to create a sense of academic excellence, and traditional knowledge, while Progressive education and educators focus on the social responsibility, and the problem-solving skills their students might need. Last, we shall compare their methods. Progressive educators use a scientific method on which projects, group investigation, and cooperative knowledge. Liberal education is more individualistic, and it bases on critical thinking, and question and answers.
In this paper, we have referred two different educational philosophies, Liberal, and Progressive. The first, focuses more on the individualistic learning; in becoming a person who is capable of living in s society, as it has the knowledge to do it correctly. The second aims to provide an education centered on the societal needs, and in constructing a person with a strong democratic sense.
What does it mean to be Able to Understand the Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education?
A philosophy of education should not be regarded as a philosophy, in the strict sense. As we said before, it has elements of philosophy but its practical nature set it apart from the “academic” philosophy. However, to be able to understand the philosophical foundations of adult education allows us to address our students in the best way possible. For instance, being able to understand our beliefs, and how are those beliefs impacted by the learner’s needs; experiences, and motivations will help us adapt and assume the most appropriate roles for helping our students. Therefore, a philosophy adapted to the learners context, and the teacher’s philosophy will influence the way the curriculum, and the classes are taught. Nevertheless, it is not only being able to deploy a philosophy into a classroom. Without being aware of the context of the classroom, there is no way for the teacher to incorporate their methodologies into the classroom. (Wang &Sarbo, 2004). Having a solid philosophical background will help define our role as an adult educator, and provide a framework of action to incorporate into our methodology. It is not just a matter of thought, it is a matter of efficacy since a teacher with a strong background would offer its students a thorough and comprehensive teaching method.
To develop a philosophy of education will give teachers a starting point, a place to step on, and develop their own methods. However, teaching methods, and attitudes toward the profession change and teachers do not abide by a philosophy for the rest of their lives. On the contrary, teachers are expected to develop and thrive, to avoid staleness and boredom. Like students, teachers might get bored of what they teach, and by updating their philosophies, and methods they could keep their teachings up to date.
Our Future Practice as Adult Educator.
We consider that philosophies of education are forced to be practical, but practical in a sense of action. These philosophies should be used, not regarded dispassionately in a classroom. Despite our mind aims to rationalize our thoughts and its products. We have to be able to live as we think. In that way, we will be educators with a clear path and a common goal. Instead of being jacks of all trades, we have to turn into masters of one thing, and being able to take the compromise of being useful to society in the way we see fit. Teaching is like leading a country. In a classroom, you are surely to find differing points of view, a plethora of abilities, and a myriad of different goals. That is why, we consider our future in education, a bright one. We are armed with the tools, and the background needed to convey what we have to. What we have to do is find a way to get all the student’s potentials working together toward a common goal in the classroom.
That is whywe encourage the use of tools such as the Zinn’s PAEI, as a way to at least gain better understanding of our teaching inclinations. Possibly after a while, we do not consider ourselves proponents of a given philosophy, but that is the nature of education. Not to just set ourselves with an idea, and never change it. On the contrary, the role of the teacher is to innovate, to offer the students the best education possible and offer ourselves the coherence needed to fulfill that goal.
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Day, M. (1999). Philosophy of Education Activity. Retrieved from http://www.marietta.edu/~goldenc/courses/educ110/PhilEducActivity.pdfElias, J., & Merriam, S. (1980). Philosophical foundations of adult education. Huntington, N.Y.: R.E. Krieger Pub.
Ker, I. (2008). Newman on Education. Studies in Catholic Higher Education, 1-15. Retrieved from http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/Portals/0/CENTER/Ker Smallest Output WEB 2.pdfNoddings, N. (1995). Philosophy of education. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Spurgeon, L., & Moore, G. (1994). The Educational Philosophies of Training and Development Professors, Leaders, and Practitioners. 11-19.
Wang, V., &Sarbo, L. (2004). Philosophy, Role Of Adult Educators, And Learning: How Contextually Adapted Philosophies And The Situational Role Of Adult Educators Affect Learners’ Transformation And Emancipation. Journal of Transformative Education, 204-214. Retrieved from http://insightu.net/content/library/journals/jtevol02no03july2004204-214.pdf
Zandvanian, A. (2009). Recognition and Analysis of the Educational Philosophy of Yazd Province Adult Education Instructors. International Conference of Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from https://my.laureate.net/Faculty/docs/Faculty Documents/INTI Conferences/Parallel Sessions 3/3A/3A-07-P17 (Iran).pdf
Zinn, L.M. PAEI (1994), Lifelong Learning Options. Print.
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