Hogan, Padraig and Carr, Wilfred and Griffiths, Morwenna
The Study of Education.
In: The 2007 PESGB Annual Conference, 30th March to 1st April, University of Oxford.
In 1996, a collection of essays edited by J.W. Tibble and titled The Study of Education was published in the UK. This contained contributions on philosophy of education (R.S. Peters), educational theory (P.H. Hirst), history of education (B. Simon), psychology of education (B. Morris), sociology of education (W. Taylor). In 1983, three of the same authors (Hirst, Peters, Simon), together with J. Nisbet (educational psychology) and B. Davies (sociology of education, contributed to a further collection on the same theme. This was edited by P.H. Hirst and was titled Educational Theory and its Foundation Disciplines. The first book traced the historical development of education as a field of study in Britain and sought to establish for it the kind of academic standing enjoyed by other disciplines. The second sought to advance this purpose by reviewing the “major shifts in contents and methods” that took place in the contributing disciplines in the years since the Tibble collection, and to develop a domain of principles to guide educational practice. In the Introduction to the 1983 book, Hirst wrote:
The nature of educational theory as such, rather than organisations of it for teaching purposes, and the contributions to it of what continue to be the major disciplines on which it draws remain fundamental issues. It is these that are addressed in this collection. (Hirst, 1983, p.2)
Both books proceed from a pair of epistemological assumptions – one implicit and one explicit. The implicit assumption is that the study of education requires theoretical foundations. To make that assumption explicit would also bring to the foreground the question “Why does it?”. The second, or explicit assumption is that “educational theory is necessarily dependent on the development of a series of contributory disciplines with recognised academic roots quite outside educational studies” (Hirst, 1983, p.1).
Although, in the quarter century that has elapsed since the publication of Educational Theory and its Foundation Disciplines, epistemological controversies in the humanities and social sciences have critically weakened the “foundation disciplines” approach to the study of education, the twin assumptions just mentioned still remain influential in departments of educational studies in universities. This triple workshop offers perspectives on the study of education from three philosophers of education who share a critical stance towards the “foundation disciplines” approach to educational studies; a stance that not only takes account of the emergence of postfoundationalism but also acknowledges that the study of education is first and foremost the study of a human practice, or a constellation of practices (as distinct from a phenomenon, or a biological process, or a technology). This is not to suggest that uniformity should prevail in educational practice itself, or in the forms of study that seek to yield more incisive and advanced understandings of such practice. The arguments offered by the three contributors to this workshop reveal their own differences. Despite these differences however, each of the contributions will seek to move beyond a critique of the idea of “foundation disciplines”, in order to provoke an open discussion about how the study of education should be understood when it is no longer constrained by foundationalist assumptions and when the integrity of education as a practice is fully recognised and preserved. The study of any human practice requires at least this.
Conference or Workshop Item
||Educational Theory; Reflective practitioner; Action Research.
||Social Sciences > Education
Dr. Padraig Hogan,
||12 Jan 2009 17:18
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