Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education / Edition 4

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131138094
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 4/19/2004
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education: A Biographical Introduction developed from my more than three decades of teaching the history and philosophy of education at Loyola University Chicago and as a visiting professor at Northern Michigan University, Otterbein College, and the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Over time, the identification of the biographies and development of the chapters were stimulated by discussions with my students. The book reflects my belief that educational biography is a valuable, powerful, but too-often neglected medium for preparing teachers, administrators, and other professionals in education. I hope the book's fourth edition will continue to focus more attention on the use of educational biography in professional education programs.

Organization and Coverage

As the book's title indicates, I have organized its contents around three broad themes: major movements in world history, the biographies of leading educators, and the philosophies and ideologies that came from their ideas. As a historian, I have been intrigued by the interaction of individuals in their historical contexts and how they create meaning from their transaction with the cultural situation of living at a given time and place.

As a teacher of the history and philosophy of education, I decided to organize the book around the major movements in world and western history: the age of Confucius in ancient China, the classical periods of ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the age of revolution, the foundations of the United States, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of ideologies, the progressive movement, the end of imperialism in the postcolonial world, the rise of African American consciousness, and the development of liberation pedagogy. This kind of periodization around broad historical currents helped me to construct a cognitive map on which I could locate people and events and give myself a perspective on the past. However, I also determined that this kind of periodization should not simply be chronological but should be enlivened by lives that represented the efforts, the trials and errors, and achievements of those who shaped the history and philosophy of education.

My interest in biography—the stories of lives—provided a means to give the great movements of educational history a personal face. Biography enables us to see ourselves through the lives of others. For each of the great movements in history, I identified an important contributor to educational philosophy and method. For ancient China, there was Confucius, an educator whose philosophy exerted a powerful force on Asian culture; for ancient Greece and Rome, there were Plato, the founder of idealism; Aristotle, the founder of realism; and Quintilian, an exemplary teacher of rhetoric. Medieval Christianity was epitomized by the great theologian Thomas Aquinas. Erasmus was the ideal representative of Renaissance humanism. John Calvin and Johann Amos Comenius represented two different ways of interpreting the educational changes produced by the Protestant Reformation. For the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment eras, the figures of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi stood out in bold relief. For the age of revolution and republicanism three persons—Thomas Jefferson, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Horace Mann—were leading characters. Jefferson made the intellectual connection between the Enlightenment's rationalism and the republican impulse in North America. Mary Wollstonecraft undertook a revolution for women's rights. Horace Mann was a strong voice for creating public education for the new American republic. Educational responses to the Industrial and Darwinian revolutions came from such theorists as Robert Owen, a utopian socialist; John Stuart Mill, a liberal; and Herbert Spencer, a social Darwinist. Early twentieth-century progressivism is exemplified by Jane Addams, founder of Hull House, and John Dewey, America's leading Pragmatist philosopher. The rights of children were asserted by Friedrich Froebel, founder of the kindergarten, and Maria Montessori, who ~created her own version of early childhood education. The attack on colonialism came from Mohandas Gandhi, who won India's independence by nonviolent resistance. W E. B. Du Bois's commitment to equality of persons signaled a rising African American consciousness that would lead to pan-Africanism. The liberation pedagogy of Paulo Freire encompassed important strands in contemporary educational criticism such as neoMarxism, existentialism, postmodernism, and critical theory.

At various times in my academic career, I have taught courses in philosophy of education. As I examined the lives of the great educators in their historical contexts, their views on philosophy of education-what constitutes the educated person-surfaced and came into perspective. I found that my students, too, gained deeper insights into philosophy of education by making connections with founding figures. For example, an examination of Plato's ideas leads to a consideration of philosophical idealism, Aristotle's ideas to realism, Thomas Aquinas to Thomism, Erasmus to humanism, Comenius to Pansophism, Rousseau to naturalism, Dewey to Pragmatism, and Freire to liberation pedagogy.

I found that the lives and ideas of certain key figures provided students with an understanding of ideology and how ideology influences educational policy. Here, Robert Owen provides insights into utopianism, Mary Wollstonecraft into feminism, John Stuart Mill into liberalism, Herbert Spencer into social Darwinism, Jane Addams into progressivism, and W E. B. Du Bois into pan-Africanism.

Although the various major historical, philosophical, and ideological currents are rich and complex, how the world's leading educators interacted with the context of their lives to create their own meanings of education cuts across this complexity. Because an individual's life is multifaceted, biography becomes a tool that provides a clear, interdisciplinary way to look at the development of educational ideas. Each educator treated leads us to a broader and more generous appreciation of our educational heritage, and often illuminates current challenges.


The book provides students with an interesting and personal but structured way to examine the historical and philosophical foundations of education. The first chapter examines how educational biography can be used in teacher and professional education programs. The following sections are included in each of the subsequent 24 chapters:

  • The Historical Context that places the educational thinker in the historical, cultural, and philosophical situation of her or his time.
  • A Biography of the educational thinker that analyzes the formative persons and events that shaped his or her educational philosophy or ideology.
  • An Analysis of the Educational Thinker's Philosophy or Ideology that identifies the theorist's principal ideas about truth and value, education and schooling, and teaching and leaning.
  • A Conclusion that assesses the educational contributions and significance of the theorist.
  • Questions for Reflection and Dialogue, intended to stimulate personal reflection and group discussion, that relate the educational thinker to her or his time in history and illuminate current issues and controversies in education.
  • Projects for Deepening Your Understanding that encourage a further engagement in reading, research, and field work and that help to stimulate readers to apply history and philosophy to educational issues and controversies.
  • Suggestions for Further Reading that include both long-standing and recent books.

Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education: A Biographical Introduction, Fourth Edition, offers the following features:

  • An examination of the historical, philosophical, and ideological foundations of education through the study of the biographies of the world's leading educational thinkers.
  • An examination of the history and philosophy of education in a single book that is especially useful in courses that integrate these fields.
  • A solid grounding in the historical and philosophical foundations of education based on sustained teaching experience.
  • Questions for Reflection and Dialogue and Projects for Deepening Your Understanding.
New to This Edition

It is not easy to choose the major figures to treat in a book such as this. Every professor of history and philosophy of education has his or her own favorites. After consultation with professors who used the third edition, I determined to again feature the 21 theorists, philosophers, and educators who were treated in that edition. The fourth edition includes two new chapters, Chapter 2 on Confucius and Chapter 24 on Paulo Freire. I decided that a discussion of Confucius would broaden the book into more of a world history and philosophy of education by examining an educator whose ideas were—and remain—a powerful force in Chinese and Asian culture and education. A discussion of Freire provided the opportunity to not only examine liberation pedagogy but also to conclude the book by commenting on new trends in educational philosophy such as neo-Marxism, existentialism, postmodernism, and critical theory. I have included my ongoing research on Maria Montessori and her method in a revised Chapter 21.

The fourth edition has been updated and the suggested readings revised to include recent publications in the field. In particular, biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Addams, John Dewey, Maria Montessori, and Mohandas Gandhi have been expanded to reflect new biographical treatments of these people. Chapter 13 on Wollstonecraft has been revised to position her more firmly as a pioneer in feminist theory of education. Chapter 19 on Addams includes more insights about her struggle against the conventional Victorian restrictions on women's freedom to make career and life choices. Chapter 20 on Dewey, examining his early life and education, portrays him as a person who responded to his times emotionally as well as philosophically. Chapter 21 on Montessori includes more discussion of her conception of a science of education, her orientation to educational psychology, and her broader social theories. Chapter 22 on Gandhi places him more deeply in the South African and Indian contexts in which he formulated his philosophy of nonviolence.

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Table of Contents


1. Educational Biography and the Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education.

2. Confucius: Proponent of Educating for a Harmonious Society.

3. Plato: Idealist Philosopher and Educator for the Perfect Society.

4. Aristotle: Founder of Realism.

5. Quintilian: Rhetorical Educator in Service of the Emperor.


6. Thomas Aquinas: Scholastic Theologian and Creator of the Medieval Christian Synthesis.

7. Desiderius Erasmus: Renaissance Humanist and Cosmopolitan Educator.

8. John Calvin: Theologian and Educator of the Protestant Reformation.

9. Johann Amos Comenius: Pansophist Educator and Proponent of International Education.


10. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Prophet of Naturalism.

11. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi: Proponent of Educating the Heart and the Senses.

12. Thomas Jefferson: Advocate of Republican Education.

13. Mary Wollstonecraft: Proponent of Women's Rights and Education.

14. Horace Mann: Leader of the Common School Movement.

15. Robert Owen: Utopian Theorist and Communitarian Educator.

16. Friedrich Froebel: Founder of the Kindergarten.

17. John Stuart Mill: Proponent of Liberalism.

18. Herbert Spencer: Advocate of Individualism, Science, and Social Darwinism.


19. Jane Addams: Advocate of Socialized Education.

20. John Dewey: Pragmatist Philosopher and Progressive Educator.

21. Maria Montessori: Proponent of Early Childhood Education.

22. Mohandas Gandhi: Father of Indian Independence.

23. W. E. B. Du Bois: Scholar and Activist for African American Rights.

24. Paulo Freire: Advocate of Liberation Pedagogy.


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