The Cultivation of Reason Giving: The Primary Purpose of Education?
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
Dr Sue Knight
Lecturer, The School of Education, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, The University of South Australia
Dr Carol Collins
Lecturer, School of Education, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, The University of South Australia