Philosophical Conversations in Education

MQF Level: 7

ECTS Value: 4 ECTS

Self Study Hours: 48

Contact Hours: 20

Duration: 8 sessions

Assessment Hours: 32


Overall Objectives and Outcomes

This module introduces course participants to educational questions about the nature and purpose of education. Course participants will become acquainted with central thinkers and texts in the history of philosophy and shown the impact these ideas have had in the shaping of the Western understanding of education. Moreover, course participants will be expected to engage with contrasting views on central themes in education such as freedom and truth which will bring to the fore the political nature of the curriculum and the way these determine pedagogical practice in the classroom and future individual and social identities.  Course participants will also be expected to use these insights to problematise their own understanding of education and the role of the educator. Through this latter aim, course participants will be rendered cognisant of the centrality of a critical engagement with educational discourse in the development of a professional teacher identity.

By the end of this programme, participants should be able to:


a) Examine and formulate responses to contemporary educational issues.

b) problematise the legitimacy of educational curricula.

c) Apply the theories discussed in a manner that will allow the course participant to gain more ownership over his/her classroom practice.

d) Critically analyse educational policy and those other discursive practices that shape the practical side of teaching thereby gaining more ownership of one’s own practice in the classroom.


a) Describe major theories in the field of philosophy of education.

b) Identify the need for a continuous re-negotiation of one’s teaching identity.

c) Identify central issues in education and engage with them in a critical and theoretically informed manner.

d) Explain the different approaches at addressing educational questions including traditional, progressive, critical, postmodernist and post-critical theories.


a) Demonstrate an understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of educational policy.

b) Demonstrate an understanding of the responses that have been given to key educational questions.

c) Understand significant themes of key theorists in philosophy of education

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed through: Assignment.

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List
  1. Dewey, J. (2001). Democracy and Education. Hazleton, PA: Penn State University Press.
  2. (1991). Republic (2nd ed.; A. Bloom, Trans.). New York, NY: Basic Books.
  3. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and Punish. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.
  4. Freire, P. (2014). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  5. Noddings, N. (2018). Philosophy of Education. New York, NY: Routledge
  6. Rousseau, J.J. (1979). Émile: Or on Education (A. Bloom, Trans.). New York, NY: Basic Book.
Supplementary Reading List
  1. Allen, A. (2008). The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. Allen, A. (2014). Benign Violence: Education in and beyond the Age of Reason. London: Continuum.
  3. Biesta, G., & Stams, G. J. (2001). Critical thinking and the question of critique: Some lessons from deconstruction. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 20, 57–74.
  4. Biesta, G. (2006). Beyond Learning: Democratic Education for a Human Future. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.
  5. Biesta, G. (2010). Good Education in an Age of Measurement: Ethics, Politics, and Democracy. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.
  6. Carr, D. (1991). Educating the Virtues: An Essay on the Philosophical Psychology of Moral Development and Education. New York, NY: Routledge.
  7. Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New York, NY: Macmillan Co.
  8. Gutmann, A. (1999). Democratic Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  9. Illich, I. (2000). Deschooling Society. London: Marion Boyars Publishers.
  10. Masschelein, J. (2004). How to conceive of critical educational theory today? Journal of Philosophy of Education 38, no. 3: 351–67.
  11. Nussbaum, M. C. (1997). Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  12. Rorty, R. (1995). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Skip to content