According to Aristotle, ‘education is the process of creating sound mind in the sound body’. Even more fertile ground for comment, in recent years, has been Rousseau’s proposal for the education of girls, developed in a section of the novel (Book V) that bears the name of the young woman who is destined to be Emile’s soul-mate, Sophie. An empty record or even the tabula rasa has become the original and important concepts of education planned by Sara Locke, an English thinker referred to as the Daddy of Liberalism.
The National Research Council (NRC)—an arm of the U.S. National Academies of Science—issued a report, influenced by postpostivistic philosophy of science (NRC 2002), that argued that this criterion was far too narrow. Feminist philosophers of education critique traditional and often tacitly male-oriented perspectives on the appropriate aims and methodology of education. The most important thing that I learned from watching TEACH is that education is vast and diverse and always growing and changing.
These habits and dispositions can best be acquired by a tutorial education at home, by a method of pitting one instinctual desire against another in order to establish them, and by presentation of clear and distinct ideas to the pupil in the order and connection possessed by their objects. The criterion of growth shows that the objective of education ought to be the democratic society and the intelligent man. Our students are members of this society and share its strengths and weaknesses.
It is therefore unfortunate that the pursuit of philosophy of education as an area of philosophical investigation has been largely abandoned by general philosophers in the last decades of the twentieth century, especially in the United States. The next section treats issues arising at the intersection of knowledge, curriculum, and educational research. If this becomes the principle factor for appointment (you only get the job if all the competencies can be ticked) and for development (we train you where you fall below the competency line) then it can be said that the guiding philosophy is one of adequate competence.
And the radical philosophers are interested in beneficial changes that should happen in a society from time to time, and the role of education in bringing about political, social and economical changes. Rousseau’s despair of achieving the national welfare led him to advocate the cultivation of individual self-sufficiency; and while it was no part of their theories, the effect of the work of Pestalozzi and of Froebel was to further attention to the individual student in the practice of education. The purpose of education is to help give students the support, knowledge, and skills they need to be successful in life.