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Philosophical And Psychological Foundations Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5404 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1.0 Abstract

This assignment aim to identify the importance of considering philosophical and psychological foundations in developing a curriculum, in which how do the philosophical and psychological aspect influence the construction of a learning curriculum. This assignment will discuss in detail on the definition of curriculum, four components contain in a curriculum, such as the four curricular of school, the explicit and implicit curricula and finally null curriculum.

This assignment also will be discussing on the meaning of philosophical in brief and why it is important to consider the philosophical factor in order to construct the curriculum and how the psychology factor can be relevant in playing the role to the philosophical aspect in constructing the curriculum.

Nevertheless, this assignment aims to identify the impact of instilling the philosophical and psychological aspect in constructing a curriculum in developing human capital.

2.0 Literature Review

According to the Wikipedia, the word curriculum comes from the Latin word meaning “a course for racing”. However, in formal education, a curriculum is the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university. Referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults. A curriculum is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard. Curriculum has numerous definitions, which can be slightly confusing. In its broadest sense a curriculum may refer to all courses offered at a school. This is particularly true of schools at the university level, where the diversity of a curriculum might be an attractive point to a potential student.

Meanwhile according to the New International Dictionary it can be define as the whole body of a course in an educational institution or by a department, while The Oxford English Dictionary defines curriculum as courses taught in schools or universities. Curriculum means different things to different people. Most people, including educators equate curriculum with the syllabus.

While a few regard curriculums as all the teaching-learning experiences a student encounters while in school. Various theoreticians and practitioners have proposed definitions of curriculum for example, as the planned and guided learning experiences and intended outcomes, formulated through the systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experiences under the auspices of the school, for the learners’ continuous and willful growth in personal social competence (Tanner, 1980).

Curriculum can also be define as the contents of a subject, concepts and tasks to be acquired, planned activities, the desired learning outcomes and experiences, product of culture and an agenda to reform society (Schubert, 1987) or as a written document that systematically describes goals planned, objectives, content, learning activities, evaluation procedures and so forth(Pratt, 1980).

Finally, curriculum also can be define as a plan that consists of learning opportunities for a specific timeframe and place, a tool that aims to bring about behavioural changes in students as a result of planned activities and includes all learning experiences received by students with the guidance of the school (Goodlad and Su, 1992).

3.0 Components of a Curriculum

When people use the word curriculum, they are generally referring to the content chosen to be taught as the official curriculum. In schools that have adopted standards, the official curriculum reflects the content of those standards. The curriculum had been develop in order to cater the needs of the society, mainly the purpose of the curriculum is to produce citizen equip with the knowledge and skill aspect necessary in order for the citizen to accommodate themselves to the needs of the society and also their own needs in life.

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Nevertheless, the other aspect in which also important in the implementation of a curriculum is the non-academic aspect. This can be refer as the moral value factor in which can be consider a part from the basic aspect of curriculum element which is to provide the target with knowledge and skills. This non-academic aspect however crucial in developing citizen that are bound to rules necessary in maintaining the peace and harmony of the society.

Therefore, the component crucial in constructing the curriculum can be discussed into four components.

4.0 The Four Curricula of Schools

According to Cuban, L. (1995) there is at least four different curricula in use in our schools. The curriculums are the official curriculum, the taught curriculum, the learned curriculum and finally the tested curriculum. The official curriculum is referring to what state and district officials set forth in curricular frameworks and courses of study. They expect teachers to teach it and they assume students will learn it.

The taught curriculum is what teachers without exterior factor or influence actually choose to teach. Their choices derive from their knowledge of the subject, their experiences in teaching the content, their affection or dislike for topics, and their attitudes toward the students they face daily.

The learned curriculum consist of beyond what test scores reveal about content learning, referring to unspecified lessons embedded in the environment of the classroom. Depending on what the teacher models, the student will learn to process information in particular ways and not in others. They will learn when and when not to ask questions and how to act attentive. They may imitate their teacher’s attitudes. They learn about respect for others from the teacher’s own demonstration of respect or lack thereof. The learned curriculum is much more inclusive than the overtly taught curriculum.

The tested curriculum is referring to what is tested is a limited part of what is intended by policy makers, taught by teachers, and learned by students. The farther removed teachers are from the actual construction of the tests, the worse the fit between the other curriculums and what is tested. Standardized tests often represent the poorest assessment of the other curriculums.

4.1 Explicit and Implicit Curricula

The explicit curriculum according to Eisner, E. (1994) is similar to Cuban’s official and taught curricula, is a small part of what schools actually teach. Revising the content of this explicit curriculum does nothing to address the implicit curriculum because the implicit curriculum of the school is what it teaches because of the kind of place it is. And the school is that kind of place with various approaches to teaching. It consist of what kind of reward system that it uses, the organizational structure it employs to sustain its existence, the physical characteristics of the school plant and finally the furniture it uses and the surroundings it creates. These characteristics constitute some of the dominant components of the school’s implicit curriculum. These features are intuitively recognized by parents, students, and teachers because they are salient and pervasive features of schooling.

Eisner describes one of those lessons where most school rooms are designed as cubicles along corridors and have a kind of antiseptic quality to them. They tend to be repetitive and monotonous in the same way that some hospitals and factories are. They speak of efficiency more than they do of comfort. Most of the furniture is designed for easy maintenance, is uncomfortable, and is visually sterile. The point here is not so much to chastise school architects but to point out that the buildings that we build do at least two things: they express the values we cherish, and, once built, they reinforce those values. Schools are educational churches, and our gods, judging from the altars we build, are economy and efficiency. Hardly a nod is given to the spirit.

Many caring teachers resist this sterile, impersonal environment, finding it as uncomfortable as do the students. These teachers do what they can to create an appealing environment. They do what they can to personalize their classrooms and their relationships with students. They do this in spite of the ever-present bells that trigger automatic movement from one class to the other much like the salivating of Pavlov’s dogs. Despite the efforts of these teachers, the kind of place school is heavily influences the behavior of both teacher and student.

Teachers learned that their pupils’ interest is in a subject is less important than keeping to the class schedule or lesson plan. They learn that social interaction is less important than the efficient functioning of passing periods. And they learn that a consistent set of rules applied to everyone is more important than helping an individual student understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Fundamentally, they learn that, as individuals, they are relatively unimportant in the scheme of things.

4.2 The Null Curriculum

What curriculum designers and teachers choose to leave out of the curriculum is no less important than what they choose to include. Those choices are based on a number of different factors.

Educators have personal beliefs about the importance of various parts of the official curriculum. Given that they do not have time to teach everything, they automatically choose those concepts they consider more important or with which they feel more comfortable. Often, teachers choose topics simply because they find them more enjoyable or believe that the students will find them interesting.

The same criteria for inclusion may apply for those who write the curriculum. However, in many cases, there is a more pervasive and unexamined motive. That is the current mindset, worldview, or paradigm of the culture or the individual. Because the Newtonian or mechanistic worldview still permeates traditional education, the universe of knowledge is consistently broken into parts. The goals of the curriculum are stated in broad terms, but the actual content tends to be specific bits of information and skills to be learned.

The paradigm shift that produced the Renaissance or the multitude of factors that converged to trigger the Civil War, are occasionally mentioned at the beginning of each content section. However, the “small chunk” mentality is so deeply ingrained that these big ideas merely become handy titles for lists of specific facts to be learned. Little time is spent exploring these big ideas because there is no easy way to test students on them. Big ideas become part of the null curriculum.

The null curriculum supports the implicit curriculum. With economy and efficiency as the underlying societal values, big ideas are to be avoided. If big ideas became the reigning paradigm, curriculum developers and standards writers would find it difficult to identify specific concepts that everyone must know. There are simply too many perspectives when it comes to thinking of big ideas, because there are too many connections and interactions, any and all of which might be correct.

In most schools, the prevailing worldview, such as mechanism or scientism, is taught. People in Western nations have adopted a relatively unquestioned worldview that the only valid way of solving problems of nature and man is science. This worldview is the one that prevails in westerns schools. Stepwise and objective problem solving is specifically taught. Intuitive knowledge is ignored and sometimes actively discouraged. It is part of the null curriculum.

This is done covertly rather than overtly. That is, by the teacher talk about the subject both presupposes the truth of these views and uses them to explain the subject matter. This is compounded by the fact that most popular textbooks also presuppose these views, presenting concepts in those frameworks without ever mentioning that there are other ways to explain them.

The lists of laws, rules, principles, definitions, and steps that make up so much of the official curriculum convey the implicit message that such knowledge is absolute. There is little or no discussion about how and why they came into being and what problems made them necessary. When the process becomes separated from the product, the human element disappears. Knowledge, such as the rules of grammar or the laws of motion, takes on the aura of the sacrosanct, immutable and true in some absolute sense. And that is what students are taught.

4.3 Philosophy

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. The word philosophy comes from the Greek philosophia which literally means “love of wisdom”.

Definition of philosophy according to the oxford dictionary can be defined as the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline, a particular system of philosophical thought and the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience. Oftentimes, the result of philosophy is not so much putting forward new philosophies or propositions but making existing philosophies or propositions clearer. Philosophers study the works of other philosophers and state anew what others have put forward as well as proposing new philosophies. A philosopher can be a person who knows philosophy even though he or she engages in little or no philosophising. Philosophy also refers to the collective works of other philosophers. It can mean the academic exploration of various questions raised by philosophers. For centuries, philosophers have been interested with such concepts as morality, goodness, knowledge, truth, beauty and our very existence.

Education and philosophy, the two disciplines, are very closely related and in some areas they overlap each other. It is quite often said that, philosophy and education are two sides of the same coin in which the education is the dynamic side of philosophy. To elaborate further, philosophy and education are the two flowers of one stem, the two sides of one coin. One can never be thought of without the other. The presence of one is incomplete without the other.

The art of education cannot be completed without philosophy and philosophy cannot convert others to its aims and values without education. There is a close interaction between the two. Education is practical in nature and philosophy is theory. It is not vague to say that theory and practical are identical. The educator, who has to deal with the real facts of life, is different from the arm chair theorist who is busy in speculation.

But a close observation of the various interpretations of philosophy will prove that these two are nothing but the one and same thing seen from different angles. Philosophy is the study of the realities, the pursuit of wisdom. It is not mere theorizing but something which comes naturally to every individual. A person who goes deep into the reason and nature of things and tries to arrive at certain general principles with a view to apply them in his daily life, is a philosopher.

Philosophy is a way of life. In a wider sense philosophy is a way of looking at life, nature and truth. It sets up the ideals for an individual to achieve them in his life time. Education on the other hand is the dynamic side of philosophy. It is the active aspect and the practical means of realizing the ideals of life. Education is a sacred necessity of life, both from the biological and sociological point of view.

It is true that education works like a catalyst for a better life, a social desirable life. As a pot is made out of clay and a finished product comes out of raw material, so also from the immature child comes out the civilized man through education. Education renews and re-builds the social structure in the pattern of philosophical ideals. Human being, who is born and grows up with inherited propensities, determines the basic trails of man, but education paves a long way for his success in life.

Education according to Indian tradition is not merely a means to earn living, nor is it only a nursery of thought or a school for a citizenship. Rather, it is the initiation into the life of spirit, a training of human souls in pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue. The basic relationship between philosophy and education can be analyzed as follows. It is philosophy, that provides the purpose or the aim and it is education which makes it practical.

Philosophy shows the way and education moves on in that direction. When we define education as the modification or behaviour, the direction in which, modification to be carried out is determined by philosophy. Thus philosophy deals with the end and education with the means. In fact, we can observe that the great philosophers of all times have been also great educators. For example, Socrates and Plato, the great philosophers, were also famous educators.

A teacher is not a teacher, in true sense of the term, if the teacher is not able to discover the relationship between philosophy and education. Every teacher should realize the importance of philosophy in education.

Good philosophy thus would not only conceive the type of society which is needed in the society. It is philosophy which would give to the teachers a sense of adventure.

A true teacher should have knowledge of the subject he/she teaches the pupils and the society. He or she should also have the moralistic sense which comes from philosophy.

The choice of students must cater to the principles and purposes of philosophy. Choice of curriculum needs philosophers or leaders of thought. With the change of time and circumstances, the curricula also changes and this change can be brought out by philosophers alone.

The necessary conditions should be fulfilled so that the child is allowed to go in a free atmosphere with the ultimate aim of becoming a happy and a rightly adjusted person of the society.

The learning process is an active way of doing things; hence the curriculum for the child should concern itself with the realities of life.

As far as the methods of teaching are concerned, it can be said that the child is influenced; to give a particular shape to his life by the way he is taught.

The philosophy of the teacher is reflected in the child by his method of teaching. So the course of life of the child is definitely influenced by philosophy. Here comes the utility of philosophy.

The Education- philosophy relationship may be further pointed out as given below:

According to Alfred Weber (1955) the philosophy is a search for comprehensive view of nature, an attempt at a universal explanation of the nature of things a person who searches into the reason and nature of things, who tries to arrive at a general principle, and who attempts to apply those principles to daily conduct of life, acts like a true philosopher. According to Dewey, J. (1952), philosophy is critical reviewing of just those familiar things.

The Major Branches of Philosophy are, metaphysics or the discussion about the nature of ultimate reality and the cosmos, epistomology or the theory of knowledge, ethics, the theory of morality, aesthetics or the discussion of beauty, and logic or the study of ideal method of thought and reasoning. Philosophy influences even the daily life of every individual.

An educator not only holds certain beliefs and ideals of life, he also tries to convert his pupils to his own views and his own way of life.

The influence of a person, holding a vital belief, brought to bear upon another person with the object of making him also to hold that belief, is education. Thus education means to lead out, through the modification of the native behaviour of the child.

Education is a laboratory where philosophic theories and speculations are tested and made concrete. Education may, therefore, be rightly called applied philosophy.

Philosophy is wisdom; education transmits that wisdom from one generation to the other.

Philosophy is in reality the theory of education. In other words, education is the dynamic side of philosophy, or application of the fundamental principles of philosophy.

Philosophy formulates the method, education its process. Philosophy gives ideals, values and principles, those ideals, values and principles.

A philosopher tries to live in accordance with those aims and values and also wants others to be converted to his beliefs and live according to them. This he can achieve through education which is the best means for the propagation of his philosophy.

Neo-Darwinism gave rise to the Prominence of the principles of struggle for existence, cut-throat competition, gradually process of adaptation of the purpose of life, intellectualism and man’s faith in reason.

Humanism, faith in higher principles and values of life, character development and emotional integration gained greater impetus.

4.4 Psychology

Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors. Psychology has the immediate goal of understanding individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases, and by many accounts it ultimately aims to benefit society. In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist, and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and neurobiological processes that underlie certain cognitive functions and behaviors.

While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in many different spheres of human activity. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings.

There are several types of study related to psychology which is often used as guide in the teaching strategy. This used of psychology theory in teaching and learning method is often referred as pedagogy in the world of education. These types of study psychology are behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism and humanism.

4.4.1 Behaviourism

Behaviourism views human learning as the association between a stimulus and the accompanying response. Behaviorism, also known as behavioral psychology, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. Behaviorists believe that our responses to environmental stimuli shape our behaviors.

According to behaviorism, behavior can be studied in a systematic and observable manner with no consideration of internal mental states. This school of thought suggests that only observable behaviors should be studied, since internal states such as cognitions, emotions and moods are too subjective.

There are two major types of conditioning, the first one is known as classical conditioning where it is a technique used in behavioral training in which a naturally occurring stimulus is paired with a response (Pavlov, I. P. 1927). Next, a previously neutral stimulus is paired with the naturally occurring stimulus. Eventually, the previously neutral stimulus comes to evoke the response without the presence of the naturally occurring stimulus. The two elements are then known as the conditioned stimulus and the conditioned response.

Meanwhile, the operant conditioning which sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning where it is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior.(B.F. Skinner, 1953)

Operant conditioning argues that the connection between a stimulus and a response can be strengthened by reinforcement. Social learning occurs when a person attends, retains and reproduces the modeled behaviour and is motivated to do so because it is of value.

4.4.2 Cognitivism

Cognitivism involves the study of the mental activities or events that takes place when a person learns, solves a problem or makes decisions. Meaningful learning is making connections between prior learning and the new information learned. Jean Piaget (1955), explains cognitivism is where the information that is attended to is absorbed by the senses and the human mind goes to work to organise it and to impose personal understanding by relating it to what it already knows. When the new information is assimilated through existing ideas and beliefs, it is usually combined with existing knowledge and reinforces the existing views.

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Cognitivism is a proses of thinking development of a human beginning with the sensorimotor stage which occur since birth to age 2. In the early stage, the child’s reactions are based on reflex operations and progresses towards being able to differentiate self from objects. By the end of this stage the child achieves object permanence and realises that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen or felt.

At the age of 2 until 7 is the preoperational stage is where the child learns to use language and able to represent objects symbolically. For example, a chair is used for sitting. Thinking is egocentric in which the child finds it difficult to consider the viewpoints of others. He or she is able to classify objects by a single feature. For example, the child groups together all the red objects regardless of shape or all the square objects regardless of colour.

Then at the age of 7 until 11, is the concrete operational where the child can think logically about objects and events. The child can classify objects according to several features and can order them in series along a single dimension such as size.

Finally, the formal operations beginning at the age of 11 years and onwards, the young person can think logically about abstract ideas, evaluate data and test hypotheses systematically. He or she is able to analyse ideas and comprehend spatial and temporal relationships. At this stage, there are few or no limitations on what the young person can learn depending on his intellectual potential and environmental experiences.

Piaget’s view on how children think and develop has had a significant impact on educational practice and curriculum development. His ideas have been the basis for designing kindergarten and primary school curriculum. For example, learning materials and activities are designed to meet the appropriate level of cognitive development and to avoid asking students to perform tasks that are beyond their cognitive capabilities. Metacognition

Metacognition is the knowledge one has about one’s thinking. They learn for understanding by paying attention to their learning, monitoring what they are learning and using the feedback from this self-monitoring to make adjustments, adaptations and even major changes to what they hold as understanding (Brown, 1978). The question of how individuals coordinate their knowledge about cognitive structures has received little attention from researchers (King and Kitchener, 1994; Kitchener, 1983; Kuhn, 1989). We propose that individuals construct metacognitive theories for two reasons which are the first one is to systematize their metacognitive knowledge, and second is to understand and plan their own cognitive activities within a formalized framework.

4.4.3 Constructivism

Constructivism argues that learning is not passive but involves the construction of knowledge by the learner. Constructivism also suggests that learning is a social activity in which is a reaction to didactic approaches such as behaviorism and programmed instruction in which constructivism states that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation. Each person has a different interpretation and construction of knowledge process. The learner is not a blank slate (tabula rasa) but brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation. (Vygotsky, 1978).

4.4.4 Humanism

According to the humanist approach, learning should take into consideration the emotions and feeling of students. Humanism argues that the role of the teacher is that of a facilitator to help in the learning development. Humanistic psychologists believe that an individual’s behavior is connected to their inner feelings and self concept.

The humanistic approach in psychology developed as a rebellion against what some psychologists saw as limitations of the behaviorist and psychodynamic psychology. The humanistic approach is thus often called the “third force” in psychology after psychoanalysis and behaviorism (Maslow, 1968). 

Humanism rejected the assumption of the behaviorist approach which is characterized as deterministic, focused on reinforcement of stimulus-response behavior and heavily dependent on animal research.

5.0 The importance of considering philosophical and psychological foundations in developing a curriculum

Malaysian curriculum was made as base for the guidance in developing the ideal Malaysian citizen in order to meet with the year 2020 aspiration and inspiration. In order to fulfill this aim, it is crucial to reinsure all the element necessary is well organize to be implemented in order to produce citizen well equip with all the knowledge and skills necessary, nevertheless the moral values aspect is not neglected as to reinsure the peace and harmony can co-exist together with the development dreamed.

Therefore, it is importance to considering philosophical and psychology foundation in developing a curriculum as to produce a citizen that is well suited either intellectually, emotionally and ethically. This is parallel to the National Education Philosophy that is stated at the beginning of every standard curriculum document that is to produce an education that is an on-going efforts towards further developing the individuals in the holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonic based on a firm belief in and devotion to God. Such an effort is designed to produce Malaysian citizens who are knowledgeable and competent, who possess high moral standards and who are responsible and capable of achieving high level of personal well-being as well as being able to contribute to the harmony and betterment of the family, society and the nation at large. (Ministry of Education, 2010)

With the statement itself shows how important the element of philosophy and psychology in constructing the curriculum. The philosophy serves for moral development of a person meanwhile the psychology factors serve the purpose in both physical and intellectual development.

Both psychologists and philosophers have long been fascinated by the ways we conceive of the separation between our minds and bodies in which refer as a distinction between the mental world of forms and the physical world of images (Plato, 424 BC). Philosophy and psychology also are concerned with associating scientific truth


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