Some discussion questions and notes on David T. Hansen’s Ethical Visions of Education: Philosophies in Practice:
Foreword, Daisaku Ikeda
Preface, Virginia Benson
Introduction: Ideas, Action, and Ethical Vision in Education, David T. Hansen
- What themes, if any, do you see across the various visions presented in the book? some candidates might be the importance of art, moral responsibility, nature, and the valuing of ordinary life?
- What, if any, are the stark differences among these visions?
- Based on these chapters, which of the theorists show the best practical, hands-on experience with their philosophies? Do you know of other works showing that if it’s not expressed here?
Part I. Foundational Perspectives on the Aims of Education
Chapter 1: John Dewey on Education and the Quality of Life, David T. Hansen
Chapter 2: Paulo Freire’s Politics and Pedagogy, Stephen M. Fishman & Lucille McCarthy
Chapter 3: W. E. B. Du Bois and an Education for Democracy and Creativity, Rodino Anderson
- How is culture is created through aesthetics?
- The liberating arts help people recognize what their community has to offer to a cosmopolitan culture. Can arts provide the means for finding unity, while also recognizing and valuing diversity?
Part II. Political Pressures, Educational Responses
Chapter 4: Value Creation as the Aim of Education: Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Soka Education, Andrew Gebert & Monte Joffee
- Does value (soka) creation imply a split between fact and value that Dewey, Peirce, and other pragmatists would question?
- What is Nicheren Buddhism?
- How does the value creation idea relate to Dewey’s idea of art overcoming anesthesia, or lack of feeling (Art as Experience)? To what extent does creating value mean articulating feeling for experiences?
- How similar is Soka education to the PACHS curriculum?
Chapter 5: Learning from Experience: Jane Addams’s Education in Democracy as a Way of Life, Charlene Haddock Seigfried
- How do Soka and Dewey’s aesthetics (see above) relate to Hull House aesthetics, as described in Ryan Musgrave’s Cosmopolitan Ethics through Art: Addams, Starr, and Hull-House Aesthetics?
- We often think of theory as something to learn and later apply in practical situations. To what extent did Jane Addams’s work provide the practice first, which then became the basis for Dewey’s theories?
Chapter 6: Tao Xingzhi and the Emergence of Public Education in China, Zhang Kaiyuan and Wang Weijia
- Is doing before knowing the same as Vygotsky’s idea that activity precedes development?
Part III. Unleashing Human Growth and Potential
Chapter 7: Peace as a Premise for Learning: Maria Montessori’s Educational Philosophy, Jacqueline Cossentino & Jennifer Whitcomb
- Have you had experiences with Montessori schools (as student, parent, teacher)?
- What is the basis for William Heard Kilpatrick’s critique (The Montessori System Examined, 1914), which killed the enthusiasm for Montessori’s work in the United States? See also Zia Ahmadi, The Montessori Method.
- How do Montessori’s ideas relate to Rousseau’s? Piaget’s?
- Do you agree with Cossentino and Whitcomb that Montessori’s emphasis on the whole over the parts “distinguishes her educational vision from that of nearly every other major educational reformer, and most dramatically from Progressive Era contemporaries, such as John Dewey”?
- Where do Dewey and Montessori, or indeed, any of these theorists, stand in relation to hermeneutics theory, which sees the need for movement between, or a dialectic, of part and whole?
Chapter 8: Art, Nature, and Education: Rabindranath Tagore’s Holistic Approach to Learning, Kathleen M. O’Connell
- The theme of freedom is central for Tagore, as it is for Montessori, Freire, and others. But are they talking about the same thing?
- Nature is another theme that runs across these writers, as here in “The Parrot’s Training.”
- What are the parallels between Tagore’s and Dewey’s concepts of the arts and nature?
- Tagore emphasizes, “Unity did not mean uniformity,” which seems similar to Dewey’s report on education in Turkey in which he sees “a great difference between unity and uniformity, and that a mechanical system of uniformity may be harmful to real unity.”
Chapter 9: Artful Curriculum, Evaluation, and Instruction: Lessons Learned from Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritually Based Waldorf Education, Bruce Uhrmacher
- Steiner’s synthesis of academic and vocational education appears to be similar to Dewey’s, especially at the University of Chicago Laboratory School.
- How important is the religious aspect of Steiner, e.g., his anthroposophy?
- Religion is a common element in many of the works in this book, although the formulations are often ecumenical.
Chapter 10: Caring for Others as a Path to Teaching and Learning: Albert Schweitzer’s Reverence for Life, A. G. Rud
- Schweitzer’s reverence for life reminds me of Louise Michel’s, and how that reverence for all life leads to a philosophy of education.
- Rud makes the case that Schweitzer’s work and ideas have implications for education today, even though they’re rarely realized.
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