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PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
It has been said about the Hegelian philosophy that it died of being misunderstood. The same has been the case with general philosophy as well. So much has it been misconceived, mistrusted and misused that the word 'philosophy' is more often than not used contemptuously to brand anything that is vague, confusing and abstruse. To a great extent the so-called philosophers and the teachers of philosophy are responsible for this plight of philosophy. Therefore, before we embark upon our avowed task of establishing the correlation between philosophy and education, we shall do well to see the exact nature and function of philosophy, education and philosophy of education.
What is Philosophy?
Etymologically, philosophy means love of wisdom but functionally it means both the seeking of wisdom (process) and the wisdom sought (product). This wisdom, it must be made clear, is in no way mereabstract ratiocination. It really means practical orientation and vision (for use in life) based on pure knowledge. Philosophy, thus, stands both for the theoretical knowledge of the nature of reality and nature of life and its conditions, and the practical (applied) knowledge of the principles of conduct for the guidance of life. It is a systematic reflection over the entire reality with a view to fathom its mysterious potentialities. Human life is the most important facet of the reality and therefore it is one of the most important tasks of philosophy to solve the riddles of human life and existence.
In twentieth century under the impact of empiricism and positivism an attempt was made by some philosophers to restrict the scope and function of philosophy to mere linguistic analysis. Undoubtedly such an analysis has its own importance to clear the rubbish from the path of philosophical thinking but that is not the end-all and be-all of philosophy. That is just the preliminary task. Philosophy has to dosomething deeper and more serious. It has to address itself to the imminent problems facing the humankind, failing which it would cease to be the 'Queen' of all the disciplines. It is redeeming to note that in twenty first century there is a welcome shift in philosophizing and philosophy has become applied as well.
Against this background we can formulate three important tasks of philosophy viz,
(i) to study the nature and phenomenology of our knowledge, and to formulate the norms and criteria of its sources, validity and truth.
(ii) to ascertain, in the light and by the means of the instruments and equipment so developed, the nature of the reality – within (human life), without (external world) and above (supra-mundane Reality).
(iii) and, finally, in the light and on the basis of the enlightenment so gathered, to develop and formulate, for life's guidance, the goals or values and the means and modalities to realize the same.
What is Education?
Education is a deliberate conscious process which consists in a modification of the natural development of human. Human is imperfect by nature. His life is a process of development which tends towardssomething which is more perfect. This results in the modification of his behaviour pattern. In order that this modification may not fall short of its goal it must be well engineered. This presupposes an adequate formulation of beliefs and aspiration of human existence which, in other words, are called as aims or objectives of education.
Education, moreover, is a medium through which the society transmits its heritage of past experiences and their modifications, system of values and the modes or skill of acquiring the values. Thus, all education is a means for the betterment of human life. It is the fruitful utilization of the knowledge attained by the humankind for the enhancement of human existence.
Philosophy and Education
Every philosopher, if he is to make his philosophy of any worth, must determine what his philosophizing implies for the process of education, because to know is to be (i.e. knowledge for the sake of being) and in order to be education is the only means which is proper and adequate. History of humankind testifies the fact that all the great educators were also great philosophers, and their philosophical views were inevitably reflected in their educational schemes.
Since education is an instrument for the betterment of life, all educational questions in their ultimate analysis rest on the philosophy of life. Although not very many of the modern educationists attempt for a precise formulation of their philosophy of life, none can afford to miss it. As it has been said, there can be no alternative between philosophy and no philosophy but only between a good philosophy and a bad philosophy. If the dependence of education on philosophy is that inevitable then why to neglect it; why not to admit it from the front instead of pushing it in from the back?
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