The aims of education: Philosophical issues for educational research
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The paper addresses philosophical issues in educational discourse and thinking. According to the author, the role of philosophy is to question of what are thought to be agreed meanings. Referring to educational discourse, the author analyses the meaning of central but contestable concepts such as ‘academic’, ‘child-centred’ and ‘standards’. The author also considers two approaches to establishing of and giving meaning to the purpose of education. The first one is expressed in the language of performance management and attaches great importance to raising of educational standards. The second approach is based on the metaphor of conversation and views education as engagement between learner and teacher, and between learner and the products of human activity. According to the author, educational standards lie in the quality of this engagement, not in the preconceived and measurable targets to be hit. Education is therefore an engagement between minds, not a set of interventions aimed at causing preconceived behavioural outcomes. In his concluding remarks, the author claims that failure to address philosophical questions leads to defective educational policy, practice and research.
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