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Re-Thinking the Relevance of Philosophy of Education for Educational Policy Making

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Re-thinking the relevance of philosophy of education for educational policy making

Morwenna Griffiths


The overall question, ‘What kind of ‘philosophy of education’ is relevant to educational policy makers?’ is addressed by focussing on the following four themes: What meanings are attached to the term philosophy (of education) by philosophers themselves? What meanings are attached to the term philosophy (of education) by policy makers? What difference does place and time make to these meanings? How do these different meanings affect the possibility of philosophy (of education) influencing policy? The question is addressed using both philosophical methods and also some empirical evidence from conversations and conversational interviews with some philosophers of education and other educational researchers. The argument begins with an investigation of different ways of understanding philosophy and philosophy of education in relation to education and educational policy. It then examines first the current policy context and secondly some evidence about the practices of policy makers in relation to ideas and to research. It goes on to present some of the findings from the conversational evidence. The paper is drawn together in the penultimate section where I make some suggestions about possible fruitful relationships between philosophy and policy making. Finally, in the concluding section, I point out some further – thorny – questions that are raised by my analysis, especially in relationship to ethics and social justice.

I Introduction: Questions and themes in the paper

Philosophers of education rightly want to influence educational policy makers (among others). But are they doing so? And, if so, how? The overall question addressed in the paper considers what kind of ‘philosophy of...

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