By Abdallah Zbir
By Abdallah Zbir
Morocco World News
Chicago, October 22, 2012
A meaningful definition of a critical term such as philosophy may be of an absolute difficulty. It requires much more extensive piece of writing and analysis than a limited dictionary-type definition. Defining Philosophy is a valuable exercise that requires careful thinking and consideration as “the philosophical knowledge is a continuous, ongoing reflective process” (Young, F.C. 1999, p.2) and the philosophical conclusions of human experiences and its course are not definite and absolute.
Philosophy has allowed us multiple chances to reflect and absorb the historical experience and knowledge. Our reflections on things are basically inquiries at their ends and philosophy helped us to understand the complexities and paradoxes of these inquiries. Philosophy is a questioning of the fundamental foundations of human life and an explanation of its implications. It expands our perspectives and our views, influences and directs our conduct and explores the mysteries of our inner selves. “It provides fresh approaches to evaluate and critique diverse established theories. It facilitates and nurtures the desire for a continuous intellectual curiosity and enables the pursuit and entertains whatever other possible alternatives there yet may be.” (Young, F.C. 1999, p.2).
The ends of Philosophy and its accumulations in education are not an exception in Frank C.C. Young’s definition of philosophy as the love of wisdom. Yes, the wisdom every teacher needs to lead a righteous path for his or her students. The wisdom that can reflect on our understanding of the historical structuring of Academia and the schemas of today.
The interest in education was always dominant in human societies as teaching is thought to be “the second oldest profession” or activity. The reason is simple: humans need to construct their knowledge of their surroundings and to comprehend the mysteries of their living sphere. They needed substantive knowledge to ensure an awareness of who they are. For Annick M. Brennen, “Education is the most important and most noble of human endeavors. All other activities have their foundation in education. Education is so important that it will continue even in eternity. It enables humans to achieve their fullest personal, spiritual, mental, social, and physical potentials. (Annick A. Brennen, 1999, p. 1).
I think these words can only inspire every one of us to provide his or her contribution to the current debatable understanding of teaching/learning complexities. In the past and in the present, philosophers have been trying to allow various directions of thinking on education and its ends and to provide specific answers to questions such as: how do we learn? How can we improve learning? And for what purposes? The “what,” the “why,” the “who,” and the “how” of knowing where and still be major concerns in academic studies.Philosophy of Education certainly has its own subjects and its own specific influences. Yet, it investigates the critical characteristics of our social and historical contexts as Philosophy in general do.
Cognitivism views Education as a circle of occurrences that leads to expected outcomes. “It did give us a better understanding of our thinking though it limited its occurrences in a pre-determined process.” (Zbir, 2011). Behaviorism considers us “as programmed animals prepared to respond in a certain manner to a certain factor.” (Zbir, 2011). It denies other possibilities and refers our knowing to a stimulus-response structure vacuuming out other alternatives. “Constructivism states that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it.” (Zbir, 2011). It is a process of knowing the pre, now and post structures. Within its perceptual limits, learning can only occur in a constructed structure.
Radical Behaviorism does influence the action-reaction mechanism of learning. However, it permits emotion, stimulation and the sphere to play a role in the learning processes. Perennialism emphasizes a basic understanding of learning by encouraging the study of reason and promoting rationality in schools’ agendas. For Perennialists, schools should prepare students to a perfect use of mind and be rationale in their work. Idealism pursues perfection, allowing teachers to be models for students and enjoy significant authority in their classrooms.
Realism focuses on a simple analysis of things and intensive interest in observations. At its ends, it is highly practical and pragmatic. Experimentalism views learning as an ever changing aspect. It encourages learning processes based on inquiries and problem solving practices. What is true and practical is basically what is experienced and actually operated. Existentialism fosters the presence of personal subjectivity and individuality. It encourages the study of interpretations in subjects such as Art and Photography to increase students’ knowledge of themselves and their societies. Yet, it lacks significant keys to the locks of learning.
For me, it is still difficult to conclude a certain direction of my understanding of what is best and what is practical. The field is so vague and complicated that assuming a single approach of thinking to be the most effective is still unreachable. My philosophy cannot be limited and referred to a specific direction or understanding. It is a variety of choices, correspondences, and reflections on different approaches. My thought cannot be determined through one single source of ideas or beliefs. Rather, it can be anything that I strongly feel is applicable, practical, and productive. I may be an eclectic. The term was first used in Greek culture to refer to “choosing the best.”
I adopt the same concept that was approached by numerous ancient philosophers such as Seneca and Cicero who did not “hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.” (Wikipidia, p. 4)
Our academic institutions have been undergoing radical changes in their demographic bodies, schooling structures, and expectations forcing us to enhance a different thinking of our teaching and administrative practices. “School is now only a “shell casing,” a shadow of what it was a hundred years ago, or even a decade ago. Text has become hypertext, and time, space, media, and students, the critical variables in any curriculum, have taken on new forms” (Bondi, Sowell & Wiles, 2002, p. 5) and so should our styles and thoughts. Change is no longer an option. Change now is a necessity.