Applicability of the philosophy of John Passmore in modern educational policy and practice
Schultz, Lawrence Robert
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This study concerns John Passmore (1914-2004) and the applicability of his philosophic work to American education policy and practice. Passmore, an Australian educator and philosopher, is rarely cited by scholars of American education and his possible influence on public policy governing education in America are yet to be articulated. This study applies the methodology of analytical educational philosophy, with which he is often associated. The Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework (MELACF) is used to illustrate the practical value of Passmore's work to education today. This dissertation examines the life and published scholarship of John Passmore to investigate the relevance and significance of his work as a guide to the paths American educators might follow or avoid in forming policy and directing practice. His nine education constructs, found in The Philosophy ofTeaching (1980), are a primary source of this analysis. The study is mindful of the evolution of American culture from its earliest days through the present. It considers the influence of the politico-social environment, philosophical trends and religious forces upon the establishment of public and private education. Perennialism, essentialism, romanticism and reconstructionism are reviewed comparatively. The impact of Nation at Risk and No Child Left Behind in light of current national educational policy trends is also considered. The utility of Passmore's work is tested by an in depth analysis of Massachusetts English education policy. The period of interest dates from the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 to the present implementation of MELACF, and its guiding principles, strands and standards. Modifications that could effectively be made are noted. Criteria for a just and democratic society set forth by the analytical political philosopher, John Rawls, informs education policies and practices consistent with those necessary to promote the free, just and democratic society. It concludes with questions aimed to inform the limits and duties of the federal, state and local governments in secure the health, safety and rights of their citizens. An integral part of those limits and duties must be directed toward preserving democracy through thoughtfully conceived public education.
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