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Philosophy of Education: Philosophy of Teaching, Learning, and Instruction


What is the Philosophy of Education?:

The Philosophy of Education deals with how children should be educated, what they should be educated in, and what the ultimate purpose of education should be for society. This is an often neglected field of philosophy and, when it is addressed, it tends to only be in educational programs designed to train teachers - in this context, it is a part of pedagogy, which is learning how to teach. For religious theists, the philosophy of education can often be tightly integrated with theology and religious indoctrination in order to instill religious values, doctrines, and commitment at a young age.

Why Should Atheists Care?:

The Philosophy of Education doesn't touch upon as many subjects relevant to atheists as other branches of philosophy, but it does involve a couple of important issues. For many religious theists, religious education is an indispensable part of the learning process because religions is necessary for instilling values and morals. Many would like to see this happen in public schools, believing that their religion should be taught as a basis for social order. Atheists typically oppose such measures, but this can be done on a firmer basis if one has a better understanding of what education is all about.

Why is it Important?:

How and why a society educates its children will be dispositive for the following generations and long-term political health. In other words, we define our society and the society of our future by how and why we educate the young. Do we want our children to be educated for democracy or consumerism? Should children learn by rote memorization or through creative problem solving? Does school exist to teach values or skills for use in the job market? Because these decisions will affect the course of society for decades to come, the questions asked are as important as those found in any other branch.

Questions Asked in the Philosophy of Education:

What should people learn?
How should people learn?
What is the purpose of education?

Important Texts:

Thoughts Concerning Education, by John Locke
Emile, by Jean Jaques Rousseau

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