Philosophy is vital to the study of education, and a sound knowledge of different philosophical perspectives leads to a deeper engagement with the choices and commitments you make within your educational practice. This introductory text provides a core understanding of often difficult philosophical concepts. By introducing key thinkers in the context of wider themes and frameworks, it creates meaningful connections between theories and links them to different aspects of, and perspectives on, education. Accessibly written, Education and Philosophy carefully analyses the common assumptions and conflicted history of education, provoking questioning about its nature and purposes. Thinking critically about education in this way will give students on undergraduate Education Studies degrees, initial teacher education and Masters-level courses a fuller command of their own role and practice.



The idea of a university

In 1950 the political philosopher Michael Oakeshott wrote an essay, ‘The idea of a university’. It is essentially a defence of liberal education at a time when it was under increasing threat from the utilitarian or instrumentalist ideas of education we have met with in previous chapters – ideas which are based on the assumption that education’s primary purpose is to serve the national economy. Oakeshott presents a picture of the university as a moment in time in which the undergraduate (generally assumed to be male) can experience a ‘break in the tyrannical course of irreparable events … a moment in which to taste the mystery [of the world] without the necessity of at once seeking a solution’.1 He ...

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