Category Archives: philosophy of education

social welfare, the handicapped, and special education

Common sense may suggest that increases in social welfare are more easily obtained by focusing resources on the mentally and/or physically handicapped, rather than using those resources instead to marginally improve non-handicapped individuals’ lives. The capabilities approach, as developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, would also imply that resources are well-spent when devoted to […]

book review: Ivan Illich’s “Deschooling Society”

Ivan Illich‘s “Deschooling Society” is a classic in the alternative education scene, so I had been meaning to read it for ages and finally did. The book has seven shortish chapters, and is a pretty quick read. The first chapter, “Why We Must Disestablish School,” is very clearly the strongest one. Illich argues that institutionalized […]

abolishing schools of education, or MacIntyre on the non-practice of education

Recently, someone brought to my attention this article on abolishing schools of education. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity argues that we should doubt the value of schools of education: holders of degrees in education do not seem to be any more effective at teaching than non-education majors, because the schools sometimes try to […]

on the non-normativity of value-added analysis

As you are likely to have heard by now, the Los Angeles Times recently conducted and published a value-added analysis of some of the city’s elementary school teachers, using data that had been collected by the school district but never previously analyzed in this way. There was a nice summary of the value-added analysis and […]

plagiarism, etiquette, and morality

Plagiarism by college students has gotten some attention in the New York Times lately, and it occurs to me that I have dropped the ball on a series of posts about plagiarism that I started earlier this summer. Although I had planned to write other stuff next, I’m instead going to allow myself to be […]

education, the state, and protecting children from ignorance

The other day, I started Education and the State by E.G. West.¬†It is sometimes argued that state funded, state regulated, and state provided education is justified by the necessity of ¬†protecting children from ignorance. So, West begins with two chapters exploring this argument philosophically and assessing how well this “protection” works in practice. These chapters […]

what’s in a name? – labels and tracking

Yesterday, I discussed the issue of whether work-related language is appropriate for describing learning. Here’s another language in education controversy that has made it into the news lately: ‘At hope’ kids better than ‘at risk’?: Washington state lawmaker wants to banish negative labels The bill is motivated by the good-hearted desire for disadvantaged children to […]

the work of learning

Recently, Alfie Kohn tweeted an older article of his, “Students Don’t ‘Work’ — They Learn.” Sounded interesting, so I went and read it. Kohn’s main point is that work-related language ¬†encourages thinking about education in ways that are detrimental to student learning. This work-related language pervades education discourse – “homework,” “seat work,” “get to work,” […]