Posted by: Principal/Editor | October 25, 2013

More discussion questions related to philosophy of education

(1) On the aim of education: How can you incorporate Eastern and Western aims of education as an educator?
(2) On the values in education: Do you believe that there are universal and objectively valid moral principles that are relative neither to the individual nor to society? If so, which moral principles (Divine Command Theory, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Ethical Egoism and/or Virtue Ethics) do you subscribe to?
(3) On the curriculum in education: Do you think you are teaching ‘knowledge’ (justified true belief) or mere ‘belief’ as an educator? Which theory/theories of truth and types of justification does your conception of ‘knowledge’ rely on or privilege? Is your conception of knowledge consistent with your personal philosophy of education?
(4) On the pedagogy in education: How could you incorporate elements of Dewey’s Inquiry/Pragmatism as an educator? How can you promote Socratic dialogue and Community of Inquiry as an educator?

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Responses

  1. On Question 2, I support the notion that virtue ethics are objectively valid morale principles that straddles across society and religion. For instance, one should respect the elders and seniors, which is the virtue of respect. Another example is that one should always help the unfortunate which is the virtue of sharing. Comparing the other principles such as Kantianism or Divine Command Theory, virtue ethics does not take an extreme position. If a person in practice generally adopts a mix of all the ethics theories depending on circumstances, then I believe more often than not, virtue ethics will more often be the one selected.

    • This is confusing the mind… On one hand we say there are views that are objectively valid and are not relative to the individual nor society; on the other hand, most people in reality adopt a combination of various moral theories. Which means that everybody actually have their own custom theories which are different from others. If everybody’s theory is different, doesn’t that mean that morals are subjective in the first place?

  2. In a world replete with unpredictability and rapid changes, the essential aims of education entail strengthening one’s moral character and preparing one to lead a purposeful life as responsible citizenry in democratic contexts. With that being said, what implications are there for local educators incorporating both Eastern and Western aims of education in an educational system that has been decried as possessing a “utilitarian and technocratic view of education” (Tan, 2011, p. 164)? In engaging students to possess a hunger for life and love of learning, an educator must endeavor to customize their pedagogy and teaching to one that is student-centered and attuned to the plethora of student needs, competencies and interests. Students should ideally, be exposed to a breadth of curriculum comprising crucial ideas from liberal arts and the Sciences before being guided to adroitly synthetize and critique knowledge (spanning diverse cultures and time) to conceptualize novel solutions to 21st century problems which rarely have textbook answers. Thus, it is imperative that educators aid students in making sense of the nature of self- knowledge and introspection encapsulated in the Platonic ideal of ‘knowing thyself’ so that they are cognizant of their personal beliefs and values before ascertaining how they can articulate reasoned arguments to defend their convictions during dialectical conversations with their peers within the classroom.

    Admittedly, this presupposes that students are comfortable adopting a Socratic inquiry process that is self reflexive and evaluative of the veracity and soundness of the multifarious perspectives presented, for after all, many may be more at ease being rote-learners that imbibe knowledge from experts (educators and books) while viewing education as a pragmatic means to an end. Yet, in order to hone their intellectual abilities as espoused by Peters and Hirst, the onus falls on the educator to be tenacious in harnessing constructivist pedagogy while refraining from intervening too much into the inquiry process to foster a thinking culture where students feel safe to critique each other/ their teacher’s views constructively in an atmosphere of trust, inclusiveness and respect. Furthermore, since education should be both critical and orientative (Sankey, 2008), educators will have to facilitate dialogical discussions comprising moral conundrums that emerge from current social and global issues in order to hone students’ abilities to become grounded ethical leaders within their respective cultural communities. This will hopefully, engender greater active participation in civic activities, taking into account the Confucian ideal of fostering moral responsibility for looking after one’s family and state.

  3. In response to question 1:
    It seems to be that eastern aim of education focuses more on rules and regulations and control of desires as depicted by the phrase “存天理,灭人欲”; whereas the western aim of education stresses on intellectualism and active learning.

    In our classrooms, it is not difficult to find Maths educators, emphasising values like discipline and hard work in trying to solve different types of problems and with varying difficulties. We also do not easily compromise on rules like presentation of workings or steps. Concurrently, with the reforms of education, educators are testing various ideas to engage the young minds.This allows more discussions and dialogues in the classrooms and hence igniting curiosity and promoting inquiry among our students. Flipped classrooms is one of the approaches where teachers put up online resources to allow communication with students and among students at home and in schools.

  4. 1)On the aim of education: How can you incorporate Eastern and Western aims of education as an educator?
    As an educator, I can incorporate their intellectual and moral aspects of teachings as my aims for education. I will modify the Confucius’ six arts: rites, music, chariot riding, archery, computation and calligraphy and seven forms of Socrates: music, poetry, physical, training, science, mathematics and dialectic (Lecture note, 2013, p47) and implement them as a broad application of liberal arts, as the educational curriculum. Its applications, such as calligraphy, can then be extended to lifelong learning, self-cultivation and practice as published in the Straits Times recently, where certificates of this art were awarded to graduates in their 50s and 60s. A further example, in the context of liberal arts, Yale-NUS has offered the students, their curriculum, which includes the understanding of the natural world, human psyche and social life, literature, the arts and history, and philosophical and mathematical thoughts (www.yale-nus,edu.sg/) for their choice of selection in the university studies. The curriculum is a new educational model, which focuses on broad-based learning and inculcating critical thinking skills, which will prepare graduates for employment, public service and enrich the lives of others (Lecture note, 2013, p45)

    (2) On the values in education: Do you believe that there are universal and objectively valid moral principles that are relative neither to the individual nor to society? If so, which moral principles (Divine Command Theory, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Ethical Egoism and/or Virtue Ethics) do you subscribe to?

    There are no universal or objectively valid moral principles applicable to both individual and society as all have their own persuasions. For me, I am comfortable with the principles of Virtue Ethics simply because the former focus on excellences or dispositions that are part of one’s character such as a good person will demonstrate both intellectual and moral virtues. Accordingly, a virtue man is one who will perform his function well. His intellectual virtues are defined as forms of goodness proper to intellect such as prudence, knowing where and how to find things out, understanding the interrelatedness of issues, right and just judgement and ingenuity (Lecture note, 2013, p. 27). His moral virtues would include courage, magnanimity, patience, proper ambition, truthfulness, wittiness, just to a few (Lecture note, 2013, p, 28).

    (3) On the curriculum in education: Do you think you are teaching ‘knowledge’ (justified true belief) or mere ‘belief’ as an educator? Which theory/theories of truth and types of justification does your conception of ‘knowledge’ rely on or privilege? Is your conception of knowledge consistent with your personal philosophy of education?

    I am teaching justified true belief. Correspondence theory of truth (Lecture note, 2013, p54)
    , Coherence theory of truth and pragmatic theory of truth (Lecture note, 2013, p55). These truths are justified by the knowledge of reason (Lecture note, 2013, p57), memory (Lecture note, 2013, p58) and testimony (Lecture note, 2013, p59). For example, I impart the knowledge that “John Slaps Mary”. It is a fact because I saw it (Correspondence truth), witnessed by James (Coherence truth) and there was redness with John’s finger prints on the right cheek of Mary (Pragmatic truth) immediately after she was slapped by him, as witnessed by both myself and James and a pictured was taken for it.
    These truths were justified by the knowledge of testimony, reason and memory and triangulated (Lecture note, 2013, p60) by myself, James and picture taken. Yes, it is consistent with my personal philosophy of reality, which is objectivity, because John did slap Mary as I saw it, witnessed by James and a picture was taken to verify it.

    (4) On the pedagogy in education: How could you incorporate elements of Dewey’s Inquiry/Pragmatism as an educator? How can you promote Socratic dialogue and Community of Inquiry as an educator?

    I can promote thinking or inquiry: an active, persistent and careful consideration of a belief or supposed knowledge, make appropriate connections to it, its implications based on different hypotheses and test it according to our knowledge to reach a well-proven conclusion (Lecture note, 2013, p67). For example, we said Allan liked Mabel. Allan knew Mabel for four years. Allan bought her favourite high chairs so that she could sit on it on play her guitar. Allan bought not one chair but two. One chair for her to play the guitar in the church and another for her to play it at home. But, he did not buy any for another female guitarist in the church (connections). Who, on earth, will buy two chairs for the same person? (Rationalisation) But, Allan did it for Mabel (fact and implication that Allan liked her). True enough, after six months, we see them going out together, hand in hand (evident of liking for each other). When asked, both Allan and Mabel admitted about their relationship, saying that they were going steady from now on (verification).

    In my class, I asked several students a question (promoting Socratic dialogue). What is your reason for not littering in public? Student A said “somebody will have to clean it”. Student B said “I fear of punishment –pays fine or does corrective work order”. Student C said “my girl-friend will be angry”. Student D said, “God will not be pleased”. Then I asked them all, which do you think gave the best answer? They all unanimously said “God will not be pleased is the best answer”. (promoting community of Inquiry) (Lecture note, 2013, p96).


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