What Is School?

Education is, as a rule, the strongest force on the side of what exists and against fundamental change: threatened institutions, while they are still powerful, possess themselves of the educational machine, and instill a respect for their own excellence into the malleable minds of the young. Reformers retort by trying to oust their opponents from their position of vantage. The children themselves are not considered by either party; they are merely so much material, to be recruited into one army or the other. If the children themselves were considered, education would not aim at making them belong to this party or that, but at enabling them to choose intelligently between the parties; it would aim at making them able to think, not at making them think what their teachers think. Education as a political weapon could not exist if we respected the rights of children.

- Bertrand Russell, On Education

Podcast of the Day

Should children taking non-scripture classes in primary school be offered an ethics course instead? In NSW, ten schools have just begun a ten week trial of ethics for children not taking religious education. We're joined by one of the creators of the ethics course as well as a Professor of Theology at the Australian Catholic University. We find out what they will learn in terms of the two 'R' words - reason and relativism.

Listen to The Philosopher's Zone podcast on Ethics in the Classroom

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...The university curriculum leaves students disengaged from the material they are supposed to be learning.  They see most of their courses as intrinsically “boring,” of value only if they provide training relevant to future employment or if the teacher has a pleasing (amusing, exciting, “relevant”) way of presenting the material. As a result, students spend only as much time as they need to get what they see as acceptable grades (on average, about 12 to 14 hour a week for all courses combined).  Professors have ceased to expect genuine engagement from students and often give good grades (B or better) to work that is at best minimally adequate...

Continue reading Gary Gutting's article: What Is College For?

Further Reading

...The issue of what should be taught to students at all levels of education—the issue of curriculum content—obviously is a fundamental one, and it is an extraordinarily difficult one with which to grapple. In tackling it, care needs to be taken to distinguish between education and schooling—for although education can occur in schools, so can mis-education, and many other things can take place there that are educationally orthogonal (such as the provision of free or subsidized lunches, or the development of social networks); and it also must be recognized that education can occur in the home, in libraries and museums, in churches and clubs, in solitary interaction with the public media, and the like...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the Philosophy of Education by Phillips and Siegel

Related Topics

 Childhood | Testimony | The Value of KnowledgeYouth

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