Philosophy of Education

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Moral Education and Community

In upcoming entries, I hope to explore the connection between moral education and community. First, it will be necessary to say what I mean by moral education and what I mean by community. Then, I hope to lay out the philosophical terrain as I understand it thus far with regards to moral education and community. I will look specifically at four figures, John Dewey, William James, Josiah Royce, and Alasdair MacIntyre. Some of the questions I find interesting are: (1) Is it necessary that a school be a genuine community in order for there to be the possibility of moral education? (2) Is a public school a genuine community? (3) Is there such a thing as neutrality with regard to moral education or is it going on whether it is intended or not? (4) If neutrality is impossible, then what kind of moral education is possible in a public school? (5) What kind of moral education is possible in a private school?

Another topic I wish to explore is the conflict between John Dewey's progressive educational philosophy and Classical education. It seems to me that most people on either side of the conflict do not really see what is at stake. Classical educators, in particular, need to see that behind Dewey's philosophy of education is his theory of knowledge. Unless Dewey's theory of knowledge can be refuted, progressive education will continue to dominate the schools. Furthermore, in The Quest for Certainty, Dewey raises some major challenges for Classical epistemology that need to be answered by Classical educators. It is not enough for Classical educators to simply point to the failure of the schools and blame Dewey for all that has gone wrong. Dewey himself argues against much of the way his philosophy has been implemented in Experience and Education. I am very interested in Classical education, but I realize that the difficult epistemological questions Dewey raises must be dealt with before Classical education wille ever gain the kind of footing it needs if the movement is to be sustainable. In future posts I hope to address these very issues.