Philosophy: Ethical Perspectives Griffith University Assignment

3127 words - 13 pages

Student Number: s5103267 Student Name: Tania Zeidan
1699- Philosophy and Ethics in Education
Statement of School Philosophy
“At Rosemary High School, we take every opportunity to nurture our students by creating a self-reliant environment that teaches them to self-orient their learning. This approach allows students to be objective in the sense where they are able to develop lifelong skillsets and ensure their ability to be independent. We encourage our students to flourish and thrive based on their own natural interests. Teachers at Rosemary High School recognise the diversity between learners and use a variety of creative approaches to meet our students’ learning needs. They acknowledge that effective feedback and empowerment play a significant role in our code of ethics, as it supports students’ emotional and intellectual dimensions. Our approach is committed to understanding our students and pushing them towards actualising their potential, because meeting their needs is our priority. The function of our educational system and the work of our teachers is constructed to meet our students’ necessities with careful intervention, so that they never feel completely dependent on their teachers’ will, but rather self-direct and gratify their own talents and desires. This confirms that we defend students against dishonour or intellectual oppression; therefore, motivating them to embark on their own self-directed journey towards achieving their dreams and goals in life. Our community also revolves around creating a caring, collaborative environment based on mutual respect. We value the concept of building healthy relationships where social responsibility and personal liberty are a product of understanding one another, rather than passing judgment. This encourages our students to embrace their personal growth as it makes each one unique in their own way.”
Justification of School Philosophy
The three basic arguments that revolve around the educational system are based on humanism, academics, and vocationalism. As progressive education movements flourished throughout the 20th Century, underlying tension between these arguments have been brought to the attention of many educators (Grant & Chapman, 2013). Along with the exploration of critical questions that reflect the relationship between these arguments and education, the articulation of multidimensional perspectives can potentially aid with understanding the barriers that build these tensions up. This discussion investigates the implications of humanistic philosophy and the diverse aspects of each argument. The purpose is to reflect on the difficulties of overcoming the inevitable tension between these arguments in regard to educational systems. As each argument embodies its own pros and cons, the reason behind why the humanist argument is favoured over the academic and vocational arguments in the school philosophy above will also be delved deeper into.
The true nature of humans embodies curiosity about the world, resilience, and basic capabilities to continuously learn. One of the key messages of the humanist argument revolves around the notion of “nature being the best teacher” since individuals are exposed to socioemotional and intellectual development naturally (Philosophy of Education, 2014). Along with this exposure, unfavourable circumstances inevitably force people to practice the ability to learn from their mistakes and embark on a resilient, self-directed journey by means of adaptation. In a condition where nurturing young individuals’ self-love occurs, liberty to express their true interests and intuition becomes profound. Educators must be aware of this concept as it is a key milestone for tying the relationship between the natural curiosity of students and the abundant knowledge that man has created thus far. The connection between teachers’ skills and characteristics, as well as the quality of learning that takes place is deeply dependent on how sensitive and self-aware teachers themselves are throughout their practice. Individuals naturally gravitate towards ideas and concepts that spark their interest. If teachers intentionally display encouragement and positive reinforcement towards a student’s interest, they will inevitably feel as though their inner direction is supported and nurtured (Review of Educational Research, 1981). This implication of stimulating motivated behaviour and mindsets also demonstrates that students have a higher chance of achieving higher outcomes willingly rather than feeling forced to do so. In modern society, humanistic educators help students implement skills that will aid them with taking intentional action towards their learning through the use of metacognitive strategies. Although this concept aligns with one of the perspectives of the academic argument, that being that students require external support and guidance from developed educators in order for them to achieve and learn, this contradiction can be dismissed. According to humanist philosopher, Rousseau, the ideal teacher is a teacher that “facilitates for students’ inquires rather than impose their own objective for learning” on their student (Learning Guide 4, p. 8). This means that educators must be coherent and articulate when guiding students throughout their learning process and ensure that they do so with minimal intervention in order for students to maintain the independent mindset. This also links back to the crucial notion of self-love since imposing a will upon a student’s learning process can be perceived as a form of intrusion. It also causes the student to feel as though their self-directed ways are faulty. The student then becomes insecure about their own personal intellect and succumb to a state of dependence on their educator. This continuous paradigm of trying to gain back the educator’s approval and acceptance displays the tension between the academic argument and the humanist argument. One of the prominent criticisms of Rousseau is that society as a whole has conditioned people to view themselves the way others view them. This underlying barrier itself is destructive in the sense where the healthy self-love that humans inherently possess is at stake. It defeats man’s original wholesome self-concept, causing them to feel less valued and as a result, continuously judged by their surroundings. Not only does this mental process deviate humans from finding their true self and embracing their instincts, but it also points their attention outwards, causing them to lose their original direction. This is why the humanist approach tends to be favourable among some educators: not only does this active approach role model resilient behaviour, but it also protects the original version of a student’s anchored inner child. Nevertheless, the tension that lies between these two concepts can be profoundly confronting in the sense where some may argue that students simply cannot be left to orient their learning independently as that leads them to getting carried away from what ‘truly matters’ in regard to the academic curriculum. The academic approach supports the idea that without external guidance there is no tool that leads to the knowledge of what we do not know. How will individuals be able to seek enlightenment regarding what they do not know that they do not know without the external guidance of educators with broader understandings? Not only does the humanist approach limit students’ ability to have a wider outlook on what life has to offer, but it can also subconsciously ingrain the mindset of ignorance; in which external support is subconsciously dismissed based on the habit of learning with personal liberty. However, the danger of supporting the academic argument without the consideration of the humanist approach is due to the risk of teachers positioning themselves in an authoritative light in which their will and perception is forced upon learners. As diversity can be seen among students, it can also be seen amongst the wide spectrum of teachers that uphold different views and values. Therefore, this creates a prominent disadvantage for learners. How is it possible to ensure that the teacher’s way is the correct way? Rousseau highlights this barrier when he describes the education system as ‘faulty’, based on the idea that “educational institution are not following the example of nature”. Another dimension that influences this tension revolves around the inevitability of students being sectioned and grouped in a style that goes against their own interests. Academic subjects tend to be favoured over arts subjects. This fabricates the idea of long-term success in the sense where academic students are percieved to have brighter futures than students that pursue arts. This form of social inequality directly undermines the value of expressing interest in the arts curriculum and discourages their ability to view themselves as potentially successful individuals. It is also because their original self-concept and self-love are exposed to judgment and sabotage instead of compassion and insight. Therefore, the downfall of the academic argument is that it challenges the educator’s responsibility of nurturing students towards achieving their best possible outcome in life as they fail to meet the basic humanistic needs of students. It can be seen that philosopher Plato also supports this phenomenon as he states that “knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind” (The Republic, 380BC). The concept of building a sound knowledge of the fundamental scientific and literary resources through a structured and sequential system, while disregarding students’ interests also leads to oppression and change in student behaviour. Rousseau claims that an unmotivated, dysfunctional society is inevitably birthed when students are bound to depend on educators to veer them in the direction that is based on their perception of what is correct. The academic argument states that students are trained to acquire skills that support their ability to become independent learners. While this is true in the sense that educators are responsible for teaching the content adequately, the underlying dependence on which subjects students choose to study still revolve around the judgment of academic critics. Therefore, student behaviour is highly dependent on how effectively their humanistic needs are met in order for them to grow as individuals and expand their personal intellect. This is why Rosemary High School supports the humanist approach as we simultaneously encourage teachers to apply elements of the academic argument into practice. These elements include the responsibility of providing students with sufficient academic resources for the subjects that they intuitively choose based on their interests, while also integrating extra-curricular activities that allow students to explore and enhance their intuitive learning process. As the famous Martin Luther king (1964), what brings significance to somebody is their service. Linking this key milestone of education to contemporary educational systems, liberty is overshadowed by the notion of achieving; therefore, supresses every opportunity of flourishment. When you shift the paradigm of whatever it is that you choose to do to service and bring significance to, success will eventually follow. This highlights the fruitlessness of how the outcomes of shaping students based on the educators’ will truly is. Although categorising students based on academic preference can create an opportunity for development in academic fields of education, true satisfaction in life becomes unattainable if genuine motivation is not ignited (Learning Guide 3, p. 4). Two different qualitative categories of academic approaches for teaching are the ‘focused approach’ and the ‘content-focused approach’. The ‘learning approach’ portrays how the knowledge/subject content is built to facilitate for students’ learning process whereas the ‘content-focused’ approach is based on how the content is transmitted and absorbed by learners. When linking these approaches to assessment tasks, both of them do not consider the sensitivity and mindfulness of the educator that cater for the requirements diverse learners need in order for them to learn. This also affects educational systems’ productivity as it threatens the relationship between the socioemotional environment and students’ motivation to effectively learn. The initial step of gratifying students’ own authentic desires in education is rendered and feared of when teachers shy students away from pursuing pathways that are low on the social hierarchy, therefore ultimately fearing their own self-love. The division of the wholesome, healthy self-love of an individual cannot be justified based on philosophical reasoning in order to completely support the academic argument, as the result of this is inevitably flawed. Meaning that the optimal outcome of education that educational systems have been trying to possess is unachievable if the academic argument is promoted without the implications of meeting humanistic needs of students. Therefore, ‘learner-centred’ approach to education can be used as a tool to apply both humanism and academics into practice. One of the implications of overcoming these tensions through a ‘learner-centred’ approach is to apply the method of environmental control where expression is promoted in all fields of education. An example of applying this would be including collaborative classes at the end of each week in which all students communicate their interest in the subjects that they have chosen and also elaborate on why it sparks their interest. Therefore, students that are genuinely compelled towards science and mathematics can reflect on what they have learnt and in turn, listen to what students that are genuinely compelled towards the fields of arts and drama have learnt in class. When ideas are communicated between peers, class sociability increases. Students learn from one another about the concepts that they do not know that they did not know. Keeping Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when reflecting on strategies that could potentially make learning more meaningful also sparks further curiosity in students which naturally compels them to discover the great knowledge that they did not know that they did not know (Psychological Review, 1987). Not only does that open a window of opportunity for students to reflect on their interests between each other, but it is also a strategy that encourages independent learning since it allows students to recap their knowledge by trying to teach it to their peers. This also involves a minor element of the vocational argument in the sense where it promotes the practice of basic communication skills that adults need in order to take on adult roles. The vocational argument embodies the idea that individuals must be actively trained and shaped to apply these adult roles adequately in society (Learning Guide 2, p. 1). If learners have a natural intertest in a vocational based institution, then the tension between the vocational argument and the humanist argument is naturally resolved. Although John Dewey advocates for the vocational argument in education, it can be seen that he supported the idea of providing a collaborative environment where learners feel actively involved and safe throughout their learning process, prior to Piaget and Vygotsky’s constructivist theories (Journal of Learning Sciences, 2009). This relationship between the humanist argument and nature being the best teacher is governed by the concept of tacit knowledge. This is when informal information is developed through daily experiences in the workforce and leads learners towards their own personal journey of growth, resilience, and leadership skills when responding to the hardships of life. The limitations of the vocational argument when involving the academic argument is that the criticism of the academic outlook on vocational institutions undermine VET institutions and promotes the stereotypical idea that people that pursue academic subjects at school are guaranteed a pathway to higher education. This is why the vocational argument is not highlighted in the Rosemary High School’s philosophy. Not only does it undermine the students aspiration of potentially reaching a high socioeconomic class when pursuing Vocational Education and Training (VET), but it also influences “the relationship between teachers’ conceptions and student learning”. However, improving society and its members is highly dependent on the development of education. This means that ensuring the preservation of society by means of applying vocational programs is insufficient. Vocational education is unsatisfactory when compared to academic education since promoting wisdom in the sense where academic subjects are perceived to involve higher order thinking, logical analysis, and rational justification; unlike vocational subjects that teach students lower level knowledge in order for them to take on the same roles adults do without intellectually advancing. Therefore, overcoming these tensions involves focusing on the humanist approach as a fundamental approach for learning whilst encouraging young individuals to explore the arts, vocations, and academics freely and receive guidance based on their true, natural interests.
While the tensions between the three arguments have a great impact on the educational outcomes of each student, these tensions can be overcome when the relationship between each argument are addressed and linked together. If educators focus on the learning process of students and nurture them the way learners need to be nurtured in order for them to effectively learn, then the educational academic results are bound to be high. Additionally, academic expectations must not interfere with the process of implementing a humanistic approach towards helping students pursue VET programs. Students must take pride in self-directing their journeys, despite their choices of following artistic expression or vocational education.
Report on an Encounter
Natalie Spaic noted that I had not shown enough signs of being dialectical in which changes have been applied in the justification. In the body of my justification I elaborated on the ideas that I have integrated about the three arguments instead of listing them. This made my justification clearer and more cohesive in the sense where readers can understand that the humanist argument involves its own flaws, yet can be overcome by integrating the pro’s of the academic and vocational argument to release the tension between the three of them. Although we discussed that in this case humanism and professionalism may clash, this formative assessment showcased how that can also be overcome. Towards the middle/end of the body I added Martin Luther King’s example about service. This was intentionally implemented to depict that the most valuable part of teaching is giving students time, effort, and energy. This kind of service nurtures and cultivates students’ socioemotional intellect as provides students with opportunities to build upon their knowledge. Despite discussing the fact that it is simply impossible to completely overcome these tensions, the focus must be on promoting a healthier relationship with education which can be done by implementing humanist practices and de-problematising ourselves. Natalie also encouraged me to have a multidimensional perspective when articulating the crucial tensions between each argument instead of focusing on the humanist argument only. This is when I was able to recognise that the education system would not operate as adequately as it would if academic and vocational approaches were completely disregarded.
Word Count: 2963
Reference List
Brophy, J. (1981). Teacher praise: A functional analysis. Review of educational research, 51(1), 5-32.
Deschenes, S., Cuban, L., & Tyack, D. (2013). Historical perspectives on schools and students who don’t fit them. History of Multicultural Education Volume 5: Students and Student Leaning, 332.
Griffith University (2018). 1699EDN Learning Guide 2 – The vocational argument. Brisbane: Griffith University.
Griffith University (2018). 1699EDN Learning Guide 3 – The academic argument. Brisbane: Griffith University.
Griffith University (2018). 1699EDN Learning Guide 4 – The humanist argument. Brisbane: Griffith University.
Martin Luther king (1964) What brings significance to somebody is their service. Retrieved from
Maslow, A., & Lewis, K. J. (1987). Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Salenger Incorporated, 14, 987.
Roschelle, J. (1992). Learning by collaborating: Convergent conceptual change. The journal of the learning sciences, 2(3), 235-276. Chicago
Tesar, M., & Locke, K. (1973). The philosophy of education (p. 238). R. S. Peters (Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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