CLASS: Philosophy and Education

Below are three spring courses offered by the Program in Philosophy and Education.  They are open to Masters and Doctoral students from across the College.  No prior philosophical training is required, although some background in the humanities will be helpful.  The main requisites are a passion for reading and for trying to think deeply and systematically about education.

A&HF 4190: American Philosophies of Education (2-3 points)
CRN: 52075
Dr. Jeffrey Frank
Wednesdays, 5:10-6:50

Course description: In this course, we will consider the educational significance of a variety of American writers from Ralph Waldo Emerson to the present day.  Readings will include work from Emerson, William James, Gertrude Stein, W.E.B. Du Bois, John Dewey, James Baldwin, Susan Wolf and Cheshire Calhoun.  In addition to developing our understanding of these authors as individuals, we will also attempt to trace lines of interest and develop general themes from across the readings. Some of these themes may include: the significance of “experience,” the importance of indirect education, the place of aesthetics in learning, the moral dimensions of styles of writing, and the ethics of teaching and learning.  Our broad aim will be to develop a critical sense of the richness in American philosophy of education.

A&HF 4196: Identity and Ideals – Visions of Human Flourishing (2-3 points)
CRN: 51690
Prof. David Hansen
Wednesdays, 3:10-5:00pm

Course description: In this course, we will examine a millennia-old strand of philosophical work on education.  This strand is sometimes called the “wisdom” tradition in philosophy, describing education as preparing people to be wise (rather than merely knowledgeable) in their actions.  It is also called “the art of living,” picturing philosophy as a practical, on-the-ground, embodied endeavor.  This strand has long been concerned with notions of self-cultivation, or self-formation, in aesthetic, ethical, moral, and reflective terms.  It has also addressed, from the start, what it means to be a teacher and to deepen one’s participation in this time-honored role.    Readings will be drawn from ancient and contemporary sources; possibilities include Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Michel de Montaigne, Marie de Gournay, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Etty Hillesum, Pierre Hadot, and Michel Foucault.

A&HF 5591: Education Debates in Philosophical Perspective (2-3 points)
Theme: Ethics and Education
CRN: 51695
Prof. Megan Laverty
Tuesdays, 5:10-6:50pm

Course description: This course provides students with an opportunity to discuss philosophically the ethical dimensions of education.  To get clearer about the nature of ethics we will read foundational thinkers such as Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill and John Dewey.  They provide us with ideas for thinking about questions of anthropology (What does it mean to be human?), epistemology (How do we know when an action, person or culture is ethical?), professionalism (What is the meaning of “good” in good teaching?) and pedagogy (How do we educate ourselves and others to become good?).  We will explore these questions through the reading of short fictional stories and teacher case studies, as well as through class discussions and lectures.  This course will not make you an ethical expert – no course can accomplish that – but it will deepen (and no doubt complicate) your understanding of your own ethical commitments, preparing you to participate in educational institutions with greater ethical sensitivity and integrity.