PHIL 285.001 – Moral and Philosophical Issues in Education

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Instructor: Macy Salzberger. This course meets MWF 10:10 – 11:00 a.m. in CW 105.

This course will serve as an introduction to the moral and philosophical issues in education today. During the course, we will primarily investigate two questions. First, we will ask ourselves what sorts of experiences students should have in schools. Second, we will ask ourselves how those experiences should be distributed. In order to answer these questions, we will begin the course by surveying  the important concepts for understanding the aims of education, such as adequacy, autonomy, flourishing, and education’s “neighborhood effects.” We will then examine the politics of education. Given any particular aim of education, how can we politically justify a public institution of education? Should we appeal to democracy to justify education? Should we appeal to political liberalism?  Then, we will look at how our politics affect educational practice through educational policy. If we appeal to political liberalism, should a political liberal endorse school choice? Should they endorse affirmative action?  Finally, we will look at how our conception of education and its aims, political justification, and policies, should affect the content and modes of instruction. What should our curriculum look like? What should our teaching practices look like? The substantive goal of this course is to work toward familiarizing ourselves with the various voices in contemporary debates on education, carefully evaluating the arguments they give and trying to develop rationally defensible positions of our own.