In teacher education programs, there is a prevalent belief that having teacher candidates compose personalized ‘my philosophy of education’ (MPE) statements is a valuable exercise that prepares them for the teaching profession. This paper argues that the prevailing intentions for, and common practice of, assigning these MPE statements to teacher candidates are problematic because they distort both the discipline of philosophy and the purpose of philosophy of education courses. The argument’s first section situates the practice of assigning MPE statements within the context of teacher education programs’ strong commitments to social constructivism and the reflective practitioner, and relates the problems associated with those commitments. It then reviews literature that describes the common properties and practices of assigning MPE statements. The second and third sections then develop the arguments that MPEs rely on and reinforce distortions of philosophy as a discipline and misconceptions about the purposes of philosophy of education courses in teacher education programs. Those two arguments share a theme that MPE statements reduce philosophy and philosophizing about education to declaring and clarifying an unexamined personal commitment, and hence drift toward enabling relativism. Finally, the conclusion relates how, in conjunction with those distortions, the use of MPE statements has acquired the function of certifying a teacher’s suitability to fit within the status quo. This situation, it claims, unfortunately distracts candidates and others in the teaching profession from developing their critical philosophical skills in responding to the epistemic, moral, and political realities of education and schooling.
This article examines a Confucian conception of competence and its corresponding response to the competencies agenda that underpins international large-scale assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). It is argued that standardised transnational assessments is underpinned by technical rationality that emphasises proficiency in discrete skills for their instrumental worth at the expense of moral cultivation and personal mastery. Challenging the competencies agenda, this paper draws upon a relational model of competence proposed by Jones and Moore (1995) that views competence as essentially communal, situated within social practices, and manifested through tacit achievement. A Confucian notion of competence is advocated where skills are premised on the virtue of ren (humanity) and demonstrated through appropriate judgement in everyday settings. A Confucian perspective offers an alternative to the behaviourist and generic notions of performance in global assessments by highlighting the social, cultural and ethical dimensions of competence.
At a time when an ethics based on responsibility for the Other offers a counter to the individualism of neoliberal ideology, I argue that it is crucial to recuperate the possibility of creating the conditions for ethical moments of facing through all means possible, including art. I deliberate the possibilities for art in sustaining Levinas’s conception of an ethical intersubjective interaction, including: the call to listen to the Other, the implications of being called into question, the overflow of self, and the humility of response. To begin, I contemplate art as an Other that is able to face and break apart the bonne conscience. Second, I posit that the overflow that results from an interaction with the Other, as the bonne conscience is surpassed, can serve as a source of inspiration for artistic creation. Third, in the face of the ethical call, though one is first required to listen, one also has an obligation to respond; I contend that art can operate here, too, as a means of reply. I conclude the work with a discussion of the implications for pedagogy, including art as a means of broadening sociality.
The problem of paternalism, widely discussed in moral and political philosophy, has not received much attention in the philosophy of education. Yet Johannes Drerup claims that paternalism should be considered ‘an indigenous concept’ of educational theory, and ‘the indigenous model of justification’ in education. This essay explores Drerup’s claim, considering conceptual and normative aspects of paternalism and education. The first idea put forward in this essay is that, in the search for ‘indigenous’ educational concepts, we should focus on education, not paternalism. In a second step, however, this essay makes clear that the debate on paternalism might inspire conceptual and normative discussions in the philosophy of education. In this vein, a core notion of educational practice (as educational address in asymmetric constellations) is sketched, and it is outlined what it means to justify education. The idea is that certain forms of educational address require a specific form of (quasi-paternalistic) justification that goes beyond the justification of educational aims.
Numerous studies have shown that secondary and college students are increasingly apathetic and disengaged from their schooling. The problem of student disengagement is not confined to under-represented socioeconomic groups; it is found across the country—in cities, suburbs, and rural communities; in wealthy schools and poor schools; in public schools and charter schools; in majority white schools and those composed largely of students of color. In this essay, we argue that Friedrich Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy contains crucial pedagogical and conceptual resources for responding to this widespread problem. The conception of “Dionysian pessimism” Nietzsche advances in this early work and its relationship to the escapist, “Alexandrianism” he observes in late 19th century German education are relevant to the contemporary problem of student disengagement, we argue, because they address head on the reality of struggle in students’ academic experiences and can potentially explain the disengagement they experience when they fail to acknowledge, accept and even embrace the struggle of education. When struggle is seen as something to be avoided and endured only for the sake of later academic and career success, as it often is, Nietzsche argues that apathy, disengagement and even resentment can result. Thus, while Nietzsche’s diagnosis is rooted in an analysis of his own culture and time, this essay hopes to show that it has the potential to speak to important practical issues in contemporary education.