Epistemology and EducationFor generations we have pursued a "knowledge-based" curriculum that was developed at a time when access to information was scarce. Today’s digitally connected world offers unlimited, immediate and accurate information to nearly all the world’s questions. As answers to questions we already know provide little, if any, competitive advantage in today’s world it can be argued that education should now focus on stimulating and promoting the discovery of new possibilities.
An under-current of change driven by new teaching practices with proven success includes greater focus on functional skills, collaboration, creativity, understanding and evaluation of online data, social and cultural awareness, global connectedness and effective communication. This shift has seen acceptance of the sharing of learning outcomes and a move from ‘covering the curriculum’ to ‘discovering’ it.
‘The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardise education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions” (Robinson, 2009)
Ontology, Axiology and Epistemology
Ontology, axiology and epistemology are important related concepts in philosophy.
Ontology originally referred to the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being and reality. In short, ontology refers to our ideas of reality and how it is constituted.
Epistemology, in turn, is interested in how we can acquire knowledge about that reality. The Greek word, ‘episteme’, refers to knowledge. Epistemologists try to identify the essential, defining components of knowledge. Thus, both of these provide a basis for learning and teaching, and they appear in learning theories. Equally, what we understand by learning and teaching leads to ontological and epistemological assumptions.
In addition to ontology and epistemology, there is a third concept of axiology that relates to value theories. It considers the values related to both ontology and epistemology. In its broad sense in the context of ontology, it addresses questions such as what is considered valuable in our world and our existence in it. The ideas educational systems adopt reflect what society regards as valuable for its success and welfare. (Audi, 1995)
Kent Lofgren's video "What is epistemology? Introduction to the word and the concept", which we view in class, defines epistemology as the study of knowledge, and contrasts empiricism (based on experience and observation) and rationalism (based on reason and logic). He also compares formal, genetic and social epistemology.
Of course 'Western' views of epistemology are not the only perspectives. “While Western science and education tend to emphasise compartmentalized knowledge which is often de-contextualized and taught in the detached setting of a classroom or laboratory, indigenous people have traditionally acquired their knowledge through direct experience in the natural world. For them, the particulars come to be understood in relation to the whole, and the ‘laws’ are continually tested in the context of everyday survival.” (Barnhardt & Kawagley, 2005).
Philosophy of Education
If you want, you can read http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/education-philosophy/ and reflect on your own teaching practice and personal views on the Philosophy of Education and Knowledge.
Purpose of Education
Gert Biesta helps us to a wider view of education by focusing on the question of purpose – putting the ‘why’ of education before the ‘how’. He suggests these three broad domains of educational purpose:
The purpose of Maori education
In February 2001 the first Hui Taumata Mātauranga provided a framework for considering Māori aspirations for education. It resulted in 107 recommendations based around the family, Māori language and custom, quality in education, Māori participation in the education sector and the purpose of education. There was also wide agreement about three goals for Māori education:
to live as Māori
to actively participate as citizens of the world
to enjoy good health and a high standard of living
7 Skills students need for their futureDr. Tony Wagner, co-director of Harvard's Change Leadership Group has identified what he calls a "global achievement gap," which is the leap between what even our best schools are teaching, and the must-have skills of the future: * Critical thinking and problem-solving * Collaboration across networks and leading by influence * Agility and adaptability * Initiative and entrepreneurialism * Effective oral and written communication * Accessing and analyzing information * Curiosity and imagination