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What is Philosophy?

(By Roger Hiemstra, January, 2012)

Philosophy has been Wisdom


called many things and it
Reality
can have many
meanings Theories
Those single words or Meaning of Life
statements on the right Nature of being
side are only some of human
them
Life perspectives
What words would you
add?
Here is One Definition:

Putting the nature of the universe,


including meaning, people, and
relationships, into an understand-
able or explainable perspective

What is your definition???


The purpose of this presentation is to acquaint you
with various philosophical systems or models. Each
system or model can be interpreted in terms of the
education or training of adults.
Once you examine a particular system or model, ask
yourself such questions as (a) With what parts do I
agree and with what parts do I disagree? (b) How
might they impact on or affect the way I train or
educate adults? (c) What does the model have to say
for my role as an adult educator or trainer?
Examine the visual representation of these notions in
the next slide.
Various Philosophical Systems or Models
Other Other
Idealism Models Models Humanism

Can be Interpreted in Terms


of Educating/Training Adults

With Implications for With Implications for


Training/Educating Adults Adult Educator Roles
IDEALISM
(See http://www-distance.syr.edu/philchap.html, Figure 12.1)

Meaning is in the ideals of life itself


Reality is made up of absolute truths
However, a truth sometimes is only in the eye
of the beholder
Educationally this means the use of inductive
reasoning, lecturing
Plato was an early key proponent of this model
REALISM
Meaning comes through empirically proven
facts
Reality is made up of natural laws, facts
However, empirical facts are always subject to
change
Educationally this involves scientific
reasoning
Chisholm and Whitehead proponents
PROGRESSIVISM
Meaning comes through concrete facts
Theory based on truth makes up reality
Problem solving and experimenting are
instructional techniques
But does this diminish the teachers role?
John Dewey a leading proponent (had a
huge impact on American education)
LIBERALISM
Freedom comes through a liberated mind
Humans endowed with reasoning ability
Thus, educationally you teach learners the
classics and develop their minds
But, the past may not relate to modern
problems and situations
Aristotle was an early proponent
BEHAVIORISM
Human behavior tied to prior conditioning
External forces control all human behavior
Could learning be too complex for the control
of certain behaviors?
Teaching methods include behavioral
conditioning, feedback, drill and practice
B. F. Skinner well known proponent (he also
impacted heavily on U.S. education)
HUMANISM
(Read http://www-distance.syr.edu/sdlhuman.html for background)

Intellect distinguishes humans from


animals
Humans have potential/innate goodness
Thus, educationally you facilitate and
encourage self-direction
Some educational needs may be missed?
Abraham Maslow early proponent
RADICALISM
People themselves create meaning
Knowledge leads to an understanding of
reality and, ultimately, necessary change
This approach can be idealistic in nature
and often leads to confrontation
Teach by dialogue and problem solving
Paulo Freire prominent proponent
ECLECTICISM
Fortunately, there is a way of dealing with all the
various models
Eclecticism is not a philosophical system or
model, but rather is the synthesizing and per-
sonal interpretation of various models to draw out
the best components for yourself
Thus, you pull the best from various models in any
effort to build your own statement of personal
philosophy
Visit http://www-distance.syr.edu/ethics1.html
for Rogers personal statement of philosophy to see
how he drew from various philosophical models to
create his own statement. Go here for
other peoples statements.
You can do the same thing and you may want to use
the worksheets shown as Figure 12.2 in
http://www-distance.syr.edu/philchap.html, as
well as taking the Lorraine Zinn PAEI instrument, and
then scoring it (see Rog Hiemstra for information on
the instrument and scoring it), as a way of thinking
through the basics of your own statement
The overall point of this exercise is to help you see that
an ability to write a personal statement of philosophy
becomes foundational to an under-standing of ethics
and how you will apply such understanding to what you
do professionally.
Selected References
Archambault, R. D. (1964). John Dewey on education. New York: Modern Library, Random
House.
Bambrough, R. (Ed.). (1963). The philosophy of Aristotle (A. E. Wardman & J. L. Creed, Trans.).
New York: New American Library of World Literature.
Bergevin, P. (1967). A philosophy for adult education. New York: Seabury.
Brubacher, J. S. (1969). Modern philosophies of education. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Chisholm, R. M. (1961). Realism and the background of phenomenology. Glencoe, IL: Free
Press.
Cushman, R. E. (1958). Therapeia: Plato's conception of philosophy. Chapel Hill, NC:
University of North Carolina Press.
Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York: Macmillan.
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Macmillan.
Elias, J. L., & Merriam, S. (1980). Philosophical foundations of adult education. Malabar, FL:
Krieger.
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
Lindeman, E. C. (1928). The meaning of adult education. New York: New Republic.
Maslow, A. (1976). Education and peak experience. In C. D. Schlosser (Ed.), The person in
education: A humanistic approach. New York: Macmillan.
Rogers, C. R. (1969). Freedom to learn. Columbus, OH: Merrill.
Skinner, B. F. (1971). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Taylor, A. (1926). Plato: The man and his work. London: Methuen & Co., Ltd.
Whitehead, A. N. (1933). Adventure of ideas. New York: Macmillan.
Zinn, L. M. (1990). Identifying your philosophical orientation. In M. W. Galbraith (Ed.), Adult
learning methods: A guide for effective instruction. Malabar, FL: Krieger.