Philosophical and Sociological Perspectives in Education

Table of Content

What is Philosophy of Education and How Does it Assist Us As Educators

The Oxford dictionary (2006),defines Philosophy as the study or creation of theories about basic things such as the nature of existence, knowledge, thought, or about how we should live. Etymologically the word philosophy is a combination of two Greek words: Philo, ‘love’ and sophy, ‘wisdom’ which translates to the love of wisdom.

Philosophy asks questions rather than provide answers, it focuses on problems (Tiechman and Evans, 1992). There are four main branches or types of questions in philosophy: namely metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic. Metaphysics deals with existence and reality. Epistemology questions the nature of knowledge and how people attain it. Axiology looks at values or fundamental principles. While logic examines how we reason.

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Bartlette and Burton(2007) define education as the all-round development of an individual this includes the physical, social, motor, language, creative, cognitive or intellectual, emotional, aesthetic as well as spiritual development. Education and philosophy are closely linked andcannot exist independently of each other. Philosophy lays the foundation for education by providing a way of thinking more clearly about situations. Philosophical thought methods can be applied in different areas of life (Warbuton,2004). All educational problems are questions of philosophy so, when we apply the principle to solve various educational issues, we call it educational philosophy. Educational philosophy answers questions as to why we teach/educate (aim), where to teach (school), whom we teach (child), who teaches (teacher), what we teach (curriculum), and how to teach (methods), when we teach, (motivation) and so on.’ (Dash, 2015). Therefore, according to Nodding 1995, the study of education and its problems is what we call educational philosophy.

Each teacher comes to the classroom with their own attitudes, ideas and beliefs. These unique set of principles and ideals affects their teaching and student performance. As the philosophy of education carries the most personal thoughts and beliefs on education it helps craft teaching methods and principles it important that teachers are familiarized with it. It can also help teachers understand their roles and their students needs and learning styles. A philosophy of education helps school the school community (teachers, students, parents, and governing bodies) coordinate their efforts towards achieving a unified goal (Sooraj,2011). [398 words}

Inquiry Approach vs a Transference of Knowledge

The way a teacher teaches, their general principles, pedagogy, and management strategies that they use in classroom instructions is known as instructional methods (Richa,2014). The choie of instructional methods depends on a number of factors like the curriculum, subjects, classroom setting, and the teacher’s personality, beliefs and mood. A transference style of teaching is a traditional approach, here the teacher is the main of information, they stand in front of the class, either teaching basic rules, giving instructions or monitoring tasks, while the learners, are sited and listening attentively or are busy completing tasks silently, all assessments are test-based, and the questions often have one correct answer (Hinchey ,2010). This approach is rigid and does not provide learners a lot of opportunities for accessing content, they memorize content and do not analyze, which leaves no room for critical thinking. Even when the learners are given some practice, they rarely receive any feedback on tasks. On the other hand, in Inquiry-based learning the focus moves away from the teacher to the learners, the teachers’ job is more of a facilitator, coach, mediator, prompter, and aid for student’s development. In this approach it is believed that certain activities and enhancements in the setting improve the meaning-making process, such as active learning using dominant learning styles of kinesthetic, visual and auditory, creating opportunities for discussion, nurturing creativity and providing a rich, safe and engaging environment (Bower, 2012).

The CAPS curriculum was made to support an inquiry-based instruction at a national and a regional level of schools, this may help boost the student accomplishment outcomes. The curriculum has clear outcomes and roles for both learners and educators. The curriculum allows educational authorities support their teachers confidently by providing continuous professional development, technical support and supplies. The CAPS curriculum content-based learner-centered approach, redefines the teacher’s role from that of a sole knowledge bearer to more of that of facilitator and monitor this motivates the learners to engage in lessons and respond in differently to specific content and teaching methods and strategies. This has also led to teachers having to adapt traditional teaching methods to meet their learners’ learning needs. Approaches to education shouldn’t have to change between fostering knowledge acquisition and learning through participation but rather combining both in a meaningfully (Sfard,1998).

Sociological Aims of Education

Many see education as the door to financial and economic freedom, one that decreases poverty and inequality, promotes social, economic and cultural growth. In South Africa, due to its political history the education system is said to be biased and designed for a certain race group and class while ignoring the needs of ethnic minorities and class. However, it can be also be argued that there are other factors that have caused these inequalities within the education system in South Africa (Meltzer, 1967:37).

The most obvious and stressed aim of education is linked to employment and future roles (Bartlet and Barton,2007). Education should help build up a qualified and creative workforce by providing people with the compulsory productive skill set and abilities that an economy needs to at least allow enter to and access the employment market. During Apartheid, ‘Bantu Education’ restricted instruction in certain subjects and was used to force minorities into the unskilled work (Asmal & James, 2001). After apartheid was abolished, education became compulsory for all South African children and schooling was no longer segregated.

The second objective of education is to develop individuals’ discipline with a respect for authority and tradition (Bartlet and Barton,2007). This should be consciously and selectively done because traditions need to be chosen for communication as well as oversight depending on their value and desirability in today’s democratic set-up. The graduates produced should not just represent individual culture, but should also be active representatives of communal culture through official channels. Since 1994 South Africa has shifted from an oppressive education system by taking down the scaffolding of apartheid and replacing it with a system that promised well-being, respect, and expression for all South Africans (DOE,2001).

The final aim of education is social service, here the maverick in education still maintains his distinctive ideals. A well-built society affects education as social structure is influenced by many factors such as religion, politics, and economy. Which in turn influences individuals. So, while preserving traditional values, education needs to develop new values and social patterns where citizens are rooted in their own cultures and yet open to other cultures and a Global outlook is fostered (Hemrom,2008).

Personal Philosophy of Education

My personal aim for each class that I teach is to challenge every learner and watch them develop to their full abilities and potential. I believe every child can learn and can contribute to their education. This means allowing them to actively partake their learning. I try to create a nurturing classroom that inclusive and provides a safe learning environment so that my learners can freely express themselves and be creative. When learners feel unsafe in in any way whether its emotionally or physically, they shut down and this can affect their learning capacity.

I believe that every class is a unique community and every member has something meaningful to contribute. So, I believe that group work is vital to having a successful class. Through group work, learners are able to use their strengths to help build each other’s weaknesses. As a teacher, it is important to teach and show learners how work with and to help others.

As an educator, I need to be aware of learning, motivation, behavior, and development philosophies in order to relate to my learners and push them to reach their full potential. This means constantly learning and finding ways to improve me. If learners do not relate to the content they are being taught, then they will not be interested in it. So, I try to make the content as relatable as possible through various activities and excises that are energetic, meaningful and cater for different learning styles. From my own learning experiences, I know how treasured reassurance, praise, and positive reinforcement from your teacher is. So, I aim to encourage learners while teaching them to be self-motivated through thought-provoking yet supportive classes. It is important to me that my learners, know that I work hard for them and expect them to work hard too.


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