Philosophy of Education

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“Considering the vast spectrum of ideas that were alluded to in the Session Releases, as well as the webinars, for your assignment consider any media representation of a teacher (film, tv or literature). In 750 words, draw out either:

  1. “One aspect of how ‘the good’ of education is represented,

Using one of the above, evaluate how it agrees with or goes against your developing personal philosophy of what it is to be an educator.

Introduction

In referencing a philosophical media representation, I could think of none other more applicable than Mr. George Feeney. A teacher in the fictional show Boy Meets World, he is a character that displays all the philosophical ideas and actions that I would believe to be considered ‘the good of education’. 

When querying what is the good of education there were a variety of different meanings or understandings of it. Higgins (2011, pg. 48/49) wrote ‘A good is something we judge to be worthwhile to have, achieve, attend to, or participate in’. This description is one that best describes the educator.

 He is seen by the author to be that of a teacher who is truly immersed in education for all the right reasons. He continually acts and advises the students in a way that is guiding them to always think ethically, morally, and philosophically in their decisions and also to crucially reflect on the outcomes of those decisions, regardless of if they are right or wrong.

Philosophical style

Certainly, Mr. Feeney had a strong belief that was evident in any written or spoken dialogue on the show. He had an emphasis on students doing right, making the right decisions but through their process. It was clear that he would provide them with the information, or question students to get them thinking about the topic. He would do so with a quote, open-ended or rhetorical question not by berating or criticism. Through this style of teaching, he wanted the students to reflect on what he had just said and to come to their conclusion. An example of this type of teaching is supported by (Coulter, Wiens, and Fernstermacher, 2009, p.27 ; Dunne,2006, p.15 )  who describe how the relationship between a good educator and their students can come to students being ‘active protagonists in their own learning’. 

This is a key element of what I believe was part of the good of Mr. Feeney’s teachings. To reference this point Mr. Feeney is quoted as ‘To me, a real hero is someone who does the right thing when the right thing is not the easy thing to do’. (Boy Meets World, Season 3 Episode 5). This is a great quote as it gets the students to think philosophically. This quote can relate to any area in life and can be questioned daily. “What decisions do you make every day that are the right decisions”? “How do you go the extra mile to do the right thing, when the wrong thing can be so much easier to do?” These are two questions that you can reflect on after hearing a statement like that and provide scope for deep, reflective thinking.

Through Mr. Feeney’s good of teaching, it is clear to see that he is actively engaging in trying to get students to become good people, to become morally and ethically strong as opposed to being told to do so. This philosophy of children thinking about something and making their mind up, not only applies in school but more crucially to life.  

He believes strongly in doing the right thing and having the right reasons for doing so. His philosophical take is all about experiencing, deep reflection, and growing from each event. Again, this supports the good of him as an educator and a philosopher. This viewpoint can be seen when he discusses growth as an individual ‘If you let people’s perception of you dictate your behaviour, you will never grow as a person (Episode 16, Season 2). It is the strong belief of Mr. Feeney when discussing with the students how you must be strong in your own beliefs and not to be swayed by the noise around you. He goes on to confirm his belief by stating ‘But if you leave yourself open to experience, despite what others think then you will learn and grow’. Like many philosophers, he is all about the growth of individuals. (Episode 16, Season 2). 

Philosophical Development

While each person or educator has their own beliefs, there are some correlations between Mr. Feeney and some philosophers. Nel Noddings (2007, p.14) describes how Rousseau references education in Emile. Rousseau, she describes strongly believes that educators are there to guide children as they are already moral. This is like Mr. Feeney whose style is to guide the students to stay on the right path. Noddings (2007) further explains how the role of the educator is to ‘preserve that goodness while facilitating the growth of the various competencies required for adult life’. This is very relatable and in effect some up the philosophical thinking of the character; to facilitate the growth of students as people.

A real hero... said well by Mr. Feeny | Boy meets world quotes ...
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Conclusion

As a prospective teacher, the philosophical educational views of Mr. Feeney would be very aappealing. I reflect on an excellent quote of the type of educator I wish to be, from a philosophical view. ‘Through education, we want our fellow individuals to think for themselves and to make reasoned ethical decision’. (Hare and Portelli, 2013, p. 36). This quote explains how an educator is providing the tools to the learners to think ethically in a self-reflective manner and to come to their conclusions. The teacher is not there to ask a question, get an answer, and move on. Each part of education can be reflective, and self-learned. 

When broken down, as an educator your responsibility is related to providing the education required so that students would have ‘joyful engagement now and contribute to satisfaction, contentment or happiness in the future (Noddings, 2002, p.212). Rosseau(1762, p. 119) spoke in Emile how an educator’s role is to guide and support and not enforce their values on children, by allowing them to ‘see, think, and feel for themselves , a similar philosophy of education that Mr. Feeney shares. This would be a personal, professional philosophy l that I would hold as an educator and person.  Show them and guide but let people and students ultimately make their own decisions and come to their own conclusions.

Word Count: 999

References

  • Coulter, D.L., Wiens, J.R., Fernstermacher, G.D., (2009) Why Do We Educate: Renewing the Conversation. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Hare, W., Portelli, J.P., (2013) Philosophy of Education: Introductory Readings 4th edition. Brush Education.
  • Higgins, C. (2011) The Good Life of Teaching: An Ethics of Professional Practice. Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.

  • Noddings, N. (2007) Philosophy of Education Before the Twentieth Century. 2nd Edition. Philosophy of Education.
  • Rousseau, J.J., (1762) Emile: Or, On Education. Translated by Barbara Foxley.  The Floating Press, 2009.