Foundations of Education: An Exploration of Meaningful Learning and Teaching from Plato to the Present

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This course will begin with a reflection on philosophical approaches to teaching and learning, as we investigate the implications of learning as acquisition, manifestation, and transaction. Students will read excerpts from the historical writings of Plato, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel to better understand the roots of meaningful teaching and learning as exemplified in modern educational thought. We will then turn to a review of the history of public schooling in the United States, considering the role of education in a democratic society, as conceptualized by educational leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann, and John Dewey. We will examine the challenges and achievements of public education from colonial times to the present, with special emphasis on Dewey’s educational philosophy and practice and its impact on American education, as well as its relevance for contemporary practice. From this vantage point, we will then explore a series of issues facing educators today, as we consider perspectives on meaningful education for a diverse society and views of the learning process in contemporary culture, including philosophical and political implications and variations in classroom experience and practice. Students will keep a journal of reflections on their readings, together with a collection of relevant articles from newspapers and periodicals concerning current educational issues, and write a major paper focusing on their own educational values.