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Education as Philosophy and Philosophy as Education: lessons for disciplinarity from running a philosophy course within an academic development programme

Gough, A.Martin (2011) Education as Philosophy and Philosophy as Education: lessons for disciplinarity from running a philosophy course within an academic development programme. In: Learning and teaching conference organised by the Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies “Foundations for the future”, 13-14 July 2011, University of Greenwich, Greenwich campus, London. (Unpublished) (KAR id:28025)

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I shall give an account of my efforts trying to propose, formalise and succeed variously in running philosophically framed courses as part of academic programmes defined by another discipline, namely education. Philosophy of education as a sub-discipline has a long pedigree, institutionally placed normally under education rather than philosophy, despite the celebration in western philosophy of the agenda for epistemology set by Socrates, who, as described in the Meno, infamously teaches Pythagoras’s Theorem in his distinctive way to the slave boy. However, the academic schools of education in higher education institutions normally focus on learning and teaching issues in compulsory schooling environments. In trying to set up a new philosophy-oriented course in programmes focusing on learning and teaching and other aspects of practice at professional and higher education levels, I met with unprecedented tangible resistance.

I find a significant cause of this to lie in the placing of education as a concrete discipline typically within the social sciences fold and its concomitant performance indicators. The attempt to refine the disciplinary credentials of education by, for instance, establishing certain methodologies has given rise to the sort of problem Barry Stierer notes in observing the difficulties variously experienced by higher education lecturers in writing their assignments for academic development programmes. Education is not instead a sub-discipline, and therefore a different sub-disciplinary concern respectively for each regular discipline (this theoretical point is not at the same time to argue against the strategic importance of discipline-oriented resources for teaching development). Education is, rather, as Keith Hoskin explains, supra-disciplinary. This means, among other things, that, as long as the pedagogical approaches are sound, the learning of new disciplinary practices will not demand too much of course participants competent in their own various different disciplines. For pedagogies to be sound, they need to be thoroughly disciplinary but at the same time they may foster ‘transdisciplinarity’ in the learner, making them, in Michael F.D.Young’s term, ‘connective specialists’.

It remains another interesting question whether or not, for instance, studying philosophy, rather than other subjects, enables graduates to be more transdisiplinary. My concern has been how to integrate non-philosophers into relatively philosophically oriented courses and what sort of attainment to expect out of them. I illustrate this through my setting up two courses: one on issues in research practice, aimed primarily at science research students on professionally oriented programmes such as the Engineering Doctorate; and one on philosophical issues in higher learning, aimed at higher education lecturers.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Additional information:
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Divisions: Divisions > Directorate of Education > Centre for the Study of Higher Education
Depositing User: Martin Gough
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2011 21:14 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:06 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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