The Cultivation of Reason Giving: The Primary Purpose of Education?

Dr Sue Knight,
Dr Carol Collins
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Drawing on a long tradition in the West, we claim that the fundamental goal of education is one of equipping individuals to partake of the good life, as members of a democracy which extends the potentiality of the good life to all, in other words, to function optimally as members of a just democratic society. We argue that both optimal individual functioning (and more importantly for the purposes of this pater) just democracy requires that individuals develop the disposition to judge complex individual and social issues impartially, on the basis of sound reasons, in short, to think evaluatively. Research in cognitive psychology, more particularly in the field of Epistemological Levels research, shows that current forms of education fail in this. We argue that current environmental crises and social inequalities on a global scale underline the urgent need for educational change. On the basis of work within philosophy, and particularly the Philosophy for Children program, as well as within cognitive psychology, we outline how schooling and education more generally might be changed so as to foster the development of the requisite disposition to think evaluatively.

Keywords: Aims of Education, Epistemological Levels Research, Evaluativist Thinking, Philosophy, Philosophy for Children, Cognitive Psychology
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness, Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Cultivation of Reason Giving, The

Dr Sue Knight

Lecturer, The School of Education, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, The University of South Australia

Dr Sue Knight has a PhD in philosophy from Adelaide University and teaches and researches in the fields of ethics and Philosophy for Children in the School of Education, University of South Australia. My focus is on teaching all branches of philosophy in primary and secondary schools. At present I have a special interest in ethical inquiry and the teaching of reasoning skills. My areas of specialisation within philosophy are metaphysics and the philosophy of science. I am a founding chair of the South Australian Association for Philosophy in the Classroom, and inaugural chair of the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia, Philosophy Subject Advisory Committee.

Dr Carol Collins

Lecturer, School of Education, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, The University of South Australia

Dr Carol Collins teaches and researches in the field of social and environmental education at the University of South Australia, and serves as a consultant in Philosophy for Children, has a special interest in ethical inquiry within the Society and Environment Curriculum Area and serves as Chair of the South Australian Association for Philosophy in the Classroom.

Ref: H05P0901