Freedom And education: an application of ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of mind to some of the problems associated with freedom in education.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosopy
It is generally acknowledged that educating children entails limiting their social freedom, (or liberty), to some extent. The question is, how far can children's liberty justifiably be limited in education, and on what grounds? One approach to this issue adopted in recent educational philosophy involves the idea that development of 'free' persons constitutes a key educational ideal, if not the educational ideal itself. It is argued that children's liberty should be regulated in accordance with the ideal of developing 'free' persons. After arguing in Chapter One that freedom may be construed both as a relationship obtaining between human beings and as a form of personality development, I examine philosophically the connection between children's liberty in education and the development of 'free' persons. Some educational philosophers identify 'free' persons with rational, (autonomous) persons, and suggest that the development of reason is consistent with - and may actually presuppose - considerable restrictions on children's liberty. In particular, development of 'free' persons may require that children be initiated into the rational disciplines. Given the analysis of "social freedom" which I advance in Chapter Two, this requirement can be seen to constitute a serious curtailment of children's liberty. I argue that there are good reasons for challenging the view that to be a 'free' person consists in being rational, and then advance an alternative account of "free persons". This has quite different implications for the social freedom of children in education from those of the 'rationalist' view. Indeed, I conclude that whereas the 'rationalist' account of "free persons" is well-suited to justifying a considerable degree of unfreedom for children, mine more obviously lends itself to a positive end: namely, suggesting ways in which children may be offered increased social freedom by comparison with much current educational practice.