Philosophy of Education — Course Lectures

phil-of-ed-titleThis fifteen-part video course covers philosophical issues that bear directly upon education.
Professor Hicks discusses philosophers — Plato, Locke, Kant, Dewey, Montessori, and others — who have influenced education greatly, and he compares systems of educational philosophy and their implications for education in practice.
This course presupposes no formal knowledge of philosophy or education.

Jump to Part 1: Introduction to the Course. Part 2: Metaphysics. Part 3: Epistemology. Part 4: Human Nature. Part 5: Ethics. Part 6: Transition. Part 7: Idealism. Part 8: Realism. Part 9: Pragmatism. Part 10: Behaviorism. Part 11: Existentialism. Part 12: Objectivism. Part 13: Marxism. Part 14: Postmodernism. Part 15: Conclusion. Appendix.


“Philosophy” of “Education”
What education is
Some philosophical questions about education
What philosophy is
The relevance of philosophy to education
Motivation for the course
[View all of Part 1 at YouTube.]


Introducing metaphysics: our hybrid civilization
Two philosophical stories:

 The Big Bang story
 The Creation story
 Comparing the two stories

The argument from design
The argument from evil
Metaphysics and method
[View all of Part 2 at YouTube.]


Introduction: What epistemology is
Reason — a developmental story:

  The Semmelweis case
  The “Juliet is the sun” metaphor
  Education’s epistemological mission
  Asch’s conformity experiments
  Milgram’s obedience experiments
  Two more virtues: independence and courage
  The value of reason

From reason to faith:

  Phase One: Copernicus, Bruno, and Galileo
  Phase Two: the rise of natural theology
  Phase Three: “I found it necessary to deny reason … ”


  Kierkegaard, Luther, and Tertullian
  The story of Abraham
  Kierkegaard’s lesson: Abraham as model of faith

Educational implications:

  Choose your hero — Semmelweis or Abraham?

[View all of Part 3 at YouTube. Further Readings: Semmelweis and Childbed Fever. Galileo Galilei. Quotations on Faith.]


Five issues in human nature
The physical and the psychological:

  Dualism of mind and body
  Reductive materialism
  Mottos and graphics
  Reasons for and against dualism

Implications for education:

  The “problem child”
  Physical education?
  Cognition: theory and/or practice?
  Sex education?

[View all of Part 4 at YouTube.]


Six questions in ethics:

  Preamble: What is the meaning of life?
  Nature or Supernature [Where?]
  Reason or Non-reason (faith, tradition, feeling) [How?]
  Universal or Relative [When?]
  Teleology or Deontology [Why?]
  Egoism or Altruism [Who?]
  Values and virtues: health, wealth, pleasure, friendship … [What?]

Our hybrid civilization:

  Two ethical traditions: Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christianity
  The Declaration of Independence and a Priest’s Vows


  What is the meaning of life?
  Egoism: end in oneself, self-responsibility, investment, achievement
  Egoism’s educational mission

The Myth of Gyges:

  Predation’s solution: power, aggression, win/lose
  Altruism’s solution: selflessness, sacrifice, lose/win service to others

The Three Options chart:

  Role models
  Cases: money, sports, sex

[View all of Part 5 at YouTube.]


From issues to “isms”:

  Philosophy “horizontally”: metaphysics, epistemology, human nature, ethics
  Philosophy “vertically”: integrating positions into systems
  Placing our seven “isms"
  Why those seven: influence on contemporary education and philosophical diversity

Six primary educational values:

  Knowledge, Method, Skills, Individuality, Socialization, Morality
  Implications: hiring teachers, curriculum, assessment
  Quotations on the six educational values

[View all of Part 6 at YouTube.]


Idealist philosophy
Plato on education: The Allegory of the Cave
Immanuel Kant on education: Obedience, imposed discipline, disobedience, punishment
Idealist education
[View all of Part 7 at YouTube.]
[Further Readings: Plato and Immanuel Kant.]


Contrasting Realist to Idealist philosophy
John Locke on education
Realist curriculum:

  3 R’s, foundational knowledge and methods
  Example: Science, math, and technology
  Example: Physical education
  Example: Art

Theory and practice integrated:

     Example: Younger kids and baseball math
     Example: Middle-school kids and bike-jumping
     Example: High school kids, auto mechanics and theater

Tracking issues
Character, discipline, and liberty
[View all of Part 8 at YouTube.]
[Further Readings: Aristotle and John Locke.]


Pragmatic philosophy: Evolution, skepticism, and democracy
John Dewey on education
Pragmatic education:

  Groups and socialization
  Teacher as facilitator
  Historical “truth”

[View all of Part 9 at YouTube. Further Reading: John Dewey.]


Behaviorist philosophy:

  Psychology and the progression of the sciences
  20th century psychology: Freud, Behaviorism, Cognitivism
  Two preconditions for a science of psychology
  On scientific observation
  On correlating cause and effect: The "standard model" in psychology
  The problem with the standard model
  The behaviorist solution
  Black box methodology
  The assumption of environmental determinism

Behaviorist education, with quotations from John Watson and B. F. Skinner:

  Behaviorism as a how of education, not a what
  2 x 2 chart of techniques
  Applying what we’ve learned from psychology
  Overcoming the resistance to conditioning:
  Resistance 1: Behaviorism sounds so authoritarian
  Resistance 2: Behaviorism makes teachers too accountable

[View all of Part 10 at YouTube. Further Reading: B. F. Skinner.]


Existentialist philosophy:

  God is dead
  Albert Camus and “The Myth of Sisyphus”
  Jean-Paul Sartre and “Existence precedes essence”
  Religion and science as dehumanizing
  Authentic humanism

Existentialism’s educational implications:

  General themes: choice, commitment, responsibility
  Contra the good-news-sunny-skies approach to life

[View all of Part 11 at YouTube. Further Reading: Jean-Paul Sartre. Albert Camus.]



  Rand's entrepreneurial philosophy

Value philosophy — Romanticism, Liberalism, Egoism:

  The Romantic sense of life
  Liberal politics
  Rational self-interest

Metaphysics and Epistemology:

  "Primacy of Existence"
  Consciousness as Relational 
  Cognitive tabula rasa
  Francis Bacon's “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed”

Human nature:

  Mind/body integration, volition, reason and emotion, tabula rasa morally

Ethics and social philosophy:

  Individualism: self-responsible living and the virtues
  Egoism versus the false alternative of altruism or predation 
  Optimism: philosophy and history

Ayn Rand on education:

  The purpose of education
  Howard Roark’s expulsion as example
  Critique of mainstream education
  Rand on Montessori

Montessori education:

  Montessori practices and principles
  The compatibility of Objectivist philosophy and Montessori education

[View all of Part 12 at YouTube. Further reading: Ayn Rand, “The Comprachicos” and selected quotations. Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method and selected quotations.]


Marxist philosophy:

     The science in “scientific socialism”: 
     Environmental determinism
     Economic forces as fundamental
     Philosophy, art, politics, and religion as superstructure
     Religion as an example
     The socialism in “scientific socialism”: 
     Necessary economic developmental stages
     Capitalism’s dynamic: “The rich get richer ...”
     Revolution, not evolution
     Religion as the opium of the masses
     The role of teachers in developing revolutionaries

Marxist education:

     Marxist teachers in a capitalist system
     Education during the dictatorship of the proletariat
     Education under socialism

[View all of Part 13 at YouTube. Further Reading: Karl Marx.]


Postmodern philosophy:

     What modernism is
     The Enlightenment vision
     Post-modernism’s themes
     Quotations from Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida
     Problems from Marxism
     Pomo: skeptical relativistic rhetoric against modern society

Henry Giroux on education
Postmodern education

  Teacher training

[View all of Part 14 at YouTube. Further Reading: Henry Giroux. Chart: Defining Modernism and Postmodernism. A 56-page transcript of the video lecture.]


The Importance of the Philosophy of Education:

  What is the value of Philosophy of Education?
  Personal growth
  One's professional mission as a teacher
  Understanding the contemporary school system
  Progress and reform
  Our students

[View all of Part 15 at YouTube.]


Course flyer and table of contents for the lecture series.
Supplemental readings booklet: Philosophy of Education [pdf].
These video-lectures can also be viewed via playlists at CEE's channel at YouTube or at the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship's site.

The lectures were recorded during the 2009-2010 academic year.

A complete listing of my education-related posts.

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