Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The confused Frenchman : some considerations of 'freedom' in Rousseau's writings and its educational implications
    Sands, Caroline Ann ( 1987)
    The focus in this thesis is the concept of 'freedom' and, more specifically, how this concept is used by Rousseau. An attempt will first be made to clarify the meaning of 'freedom' and then Rousseau's discussions about it will be examined. Particular emphasis will be placed on an analysis of educational freedom and what Rousseau writes about it, especially in Emile. It will also be argued that the ideal political freedom that Rousseau proposes in The Social Contract is an extension of the freedom he talks about in Emile. Some critics have levelled the charge that Rousseau is not consistent in his definitions of what constitutes freedom and Max Rafferty has even referred to him as 'the confused Frenchman'. In this thesis it will be argued that this confusion is only apparent and not real. In this respect, the critical literature about Rousseau's theories on freedom will be analysed in an attempt to show that there is indeed an internal consistency of definition in Rousseau's works and that his view is of positive, rather than negative, freedom.
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    An analysis of John Dewey's philosophy on 'education as growth'
    Stent, Gregory R ( 1989)
    This thesis' approach to John Dewey's philosophy, specifically his ideas on 'education as growth', while aiming to provide a critical analysis, is also sympathetic. Hence it is not entirely committed to another school of thought. Rather it leads to the criticisms which are set forward in two ways. First in attempting to state his thought clearly, we are forced to note that, at times, there are crucial ambiguities in Dewey's use of key terms. These ambiguities are of special importance in considering what Dewey has to say about the empirical method and what he has to say about the nature of events. Second, and more important, in attempting to state the relationship between his views on fundamental topics, we find conflicting 'intellectual tendencies which are not resolved by Dewey. John Dewey's educational writing has been analyzed with a view to determining his views about the aims and general character of education. This thesis has examined whether Dewey's basic recommendations about educational. aims and methods are logically connected with his technical philosophical formulations or are 'rendered more likely by them. At almost every point, the upshot of this analysis has been to suggest that the logical or philosophical links that Dewey claimed or assumed between his technical philosophical formulations and educational recommendations do not in fact exist.
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    Yoga and education
    Taylor, David P ( 1982)
    This expository thesis looks at the relationship between the principles of Classical Yoga and the Prospectus of the School of Total Education conducted by the Helen Vale Foundation in Melbourne. A brief overview of the nature of. Classical Yoga is given. This is followed by an examination of the two basic tenets of the school, viz.,the concept of total education and the need for the school students to be given a philosophy of life. The examination presents these two factors in the light of their origins in Yoga philosophy. This is followed by an investigation of the major aims and objectives of the school and their relationship to the principles of Yoga. In particular, moral education, the control of the ego and the emotions, detachment, spirituality, the physical and psychosomatic practices and the role, function and methods of the teacher are discussed. The conclusion attempts to suggest the possible relevance of the yogic and educational aims, methods and practices of the School of Toil Education for education generally.
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    A philosophical analysis of the concept of education
    Ozolins, John Talivaldis ( 1989)
    The thesis critically examines some of the concepts involved In the elucidation of the concept of education developed by R.S. Peters who says that education Is a family of processes whose purposes are the development of desirable states of mind. In particular, it critically examines the concept of mind built into Peters' conception of education and argues that Peters is correct to imply that the mind cannot be reduced to brain states. Education, I .claim is a telological concept primarily concerned with the transmission of cultural values. The thesis begins by briefly looking at behaviourist views of mind, and introduces the Identity Theory as an attempt to provide a better explication of the nature of mind. Feigl's views on the nature of mind are examined, in particular, his attempted reduction of the mental to the physical. His rejection of the concept of emergence is challenged and what is meant by the reduction of one theory to another is elucidated. It is concluded that the mental cannot be reduced to the physical. The features of scientific explanation in general are explored. It Is found that scientific explanation is applicable largely in physical science contexts, and so is of limited use in explaining the concept of mind, and so the concept of education. Teleological explanations are examined, since it is apparent that education is a teleological explanation. The question of whether teleological explanations can be reduced to non-teleological explanations is considered. It is found that there are at least three forms of teleological explanation, (i) functional explanation, (ii) goal-directed explanation and (iii) purposive explanation. It is clear from an examination of these that education is explained in terms of purpose. An examination of the concept of intention and its relationship to action forms a major portion of the thesis. The problem of whether there can be several descriptions of one action is considered, as well as whether Intentions are entailed by desires. The relationship between actions and events is considered, discussing in particular the concept of cause. Five uses of the term "cause" are outlined. It is postulated that the causal power In agent causation is the "act of will", which forms part of the intention to act. The concept of a process, and some of the ways in which it may be defined, is examined. The concept of development is briefly considered in the light of the analysis of the concept of a process. It is concluded that education may be termed a super-process. As a process, education can never be completed, but continues throughout an Individual's life. The purposes of education and what might be meant by desirable states of mind are discussed. The primary purpose of education, it is asserted, is the imparting of values. The question of who decides what states of mind might be termed desirable is considered and it is concluded that it is society, or the community who decide what values are to be imparted.
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    Paulo Freire : the implementation of his theory
    Smith, Jan ( 1989)
    Paulo Freire achieved mythic stature in many educational and theological circles in the 1970s after the publication of his work in the Western world. He was welcomed by many for his philosophy of compassion and social change. His philosophy stems from his personal experience of struggle for survival in the Depression, and his theory of education was derived from his practice of teaching adult illiterates in north-east Brazil. Freire regarded literacy as the means by which oppressed people could become aware of and actively control and change their historical and social conditions. Literacy, for Freire, could thus never be a neutral activity. His early political aims were to educate people for the practice of democracy. However personal experience in Brazil led him to advocate revolution. For Freire literacy underpins revolution. Freire refuted traditional methods of teaching and learning, and so found much acceptance by Marxist educators and the youth of the 1970s anxious to change the world. They embraced his work for its view of human possibilities and for its revolutionary demeanour. Many supporters bestowed on him a god-like status for his radical views. Most of his supporters, however, applaud aspects of his theory but do not fully embrace it. Many conservative adult educators criticised Freire for his language and his view of human nature and society. Some contend that Freire has nothing new to say and that his theory is based on contradictions. They deplore the lack of academic rigour in his books. Many critics concede that Freire adds some valuable insights to the debate on literacy but claim that his hidden political agenda obscures these. He is also criticised for not offering people specific advice on how to utilise his theories in other contexts. Freire does not satisfactorily answer his critics, nor does he explain the discrepancy between his evaluation of his programme in Guinea-Bissau and that of the Guinea-Bissau government in 1980. However in self-defence he claims that he never wanted the adulation he received in the 1970s and that he never claimed universality for his work as a whole. He reiterates constantly that his theory must be re-interpreted in every situation. Some of his ideas are indisputable but no evidence is provided of a successful total implementation of his theory.
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    The role of tradition in the educational ideas of Michael Oakeshott
    Smyth, Julie ( 1986)
    Michael Oakeshott's writings provide a comprehensive support for traditional education. As such, they are in stark contrast to the direction of many modern, educational writers. Oakeshott's vision of the ideal school has probably never been realized by any actual educational institutions. The purity of thought achieved by his ideal scholar may not have ever been matched by any real person. Nevertheless, the idealism and integrity of his writings demand the reader give a fair consideration to traditional techniques of education. The negative aspects of traditional school systems are more widely known than their- strengths. Oakeshott supplies a proud review of the strengths as he sees them. This thesis traces the important role tradition plays in the educational ideas of Michael Oakeshott. The central task has been to demonstrate Oakeshott's strong commitment to conservatism and the preservation of tradition, and to analyse to what extent his central position is enhanced and limited by his 'philosophy of life'.
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    D.H. Lawrence, fulfilment and education : a presentation, interpretation and evaluation of his educational views, with specific reference to his core ideas of individual and social fulfilment
    Michel, Jacques E. Max ( 1981)
    Lawrence despaired of civilisation, which he considered to have left the rails and become profoundly dehumanising. It was all the more demoralising because he harboured what to him must have appeared a viable vision of 'fullness', of human fulfilment, which, he thought, it would be possible to articulate and realize through education. Man he saw as potentially spontaneous, integrated, vital, creative, authentic, flexible, possessed of every strength and virtue, once he would have fully recovered his birthright in a world permeated creatively by the Life-Force he assumed was active in the universe. He envisioned reconstructed Society as a projection, not as in contemporary Society, of distorting national ambitions or economic imperialism, or yet of purposes unconnected with human fulfilment, but of the regenerated individual's hopes, needs and achievements. The schools of his own day, however, Lawrence saw as conniving in the decay and drift of civilisation and in the dehumanisation of man. They failed to challenge the ambient decay and inertia, and instead sought to indoctrinate, to intellectualise all experience and to promote unreal hopes of social mobility. They imprisoned and frustrated; they stifled human energy and destroyed human integrity. They were instruments of 'nullity'. However, this scathing view of schools is counter-balanced by their potential instrumentality in human regeneration. In this context, Lawrence emphasised responsible leadership, flexible institutions, fulfilment-centred methods and programmes, a closer relationship between school and life, the fostering of intrinsic values, the need for strong ethical and spiritual purpose and for educating the whole individual. Cumulatively, he hoped, these emphases would enable individuals, and thereby, society, to attain to 'fullness', to be fulfilled. It is my contention, though, that Lawrence, while having a perfectly coherent if incomplete educational blueprint for human renewal, mistook, to some extent, formal and substantive requirements; that he had serious temperamental and philosophical limitations which hamstrung his social and educational views; and that, even if his package was successful enough to improve appreciably the climate of schools and the capacity of individuals for self-realization in many ways, it was unlikely to lead society as a whole to change positively to the degree he envisioned. For one thing, his view of individual fulfilment left out women and the handicapped, and his attempt at liberating individuals politically must be seen as potentially enslaving; for another, while having a most generous and formally liberal view of education, he overestimated its power to bring about radical cultural change. While concentrating,like Freud, on the psychic and psychological bases of the reality of individual and social life, he ignored its other dimensions, especially the material and the economic, and underestimated the will and the power of entrenched social forces to resist change. It is fair to say that despite the marginal gains his efforts at securing the millenium may have ensured, the latter remains as elusive as ever.
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    Egan's stage theory : an exploratory study of its use in the analysis of science textbooks
    Valmadre, Christopher Charles ( 1985)
    Kieran Egan (1979) has challenged educationists to consider the need for a Theory of Development which is specifically Educational. Such a need is discussed and examined in the context of science teaching. Egan's Theory was applied to the selection of science text material for a group of eleven and twelve year old students. The students' responses to the materials were compared with Egan's descriptions of certain developmental stages, particularly of his Romantic Stage. The author concluded that Egan's theoretical proposition assisted in interpeting certain student behaviour and preferences. Possible classroom uses of Egan's theory are discussed, implications for text usage and design are outlined, and some areas of research are suggested.
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    John Holt : radical romantic : a study of his educational writings
    Thornton-Smith, Marie-Louise ( 1988)
    It is the purpose of this study to examine the contributions of John Holt to American theories of 'child-centred' education. In particular, this study explores the extent to which Holt's notions on education can be termed both radical and romantic. Asserting that children were 'naturally' motivated and capable of making a responsible use of freedom of choice, Holt aimed in his writings to present what he felt were the optimum conditions under which that choice could be exercised. His work is significant in that while retaining the familiar educational theories present in Rousseau, Froebel, A.S. Neill and other key figures in the progressive tradition, it still embodies the profound changes that have taken place in American thought on education over the last three decades. In all, Holt's writings on education can be seen to fall into three main phases: the reformist, the deschooling and the homeschooling phases, each of which is examined in the light of the social and political movements that helped to inspire it. In the sixties, Holt was largely concerned with investigating new ways of thinking about how children learn and the role of the teacher within the context of the classroom. In the seventies, he increasingly rejected what he saw as the authoritarian role of institutional schooling, and identified with the radical ideology of the deschoolers. By the eighties, Holt had become the leading American spokesman for the homeschooling movement, which remains the most radical and romantic of his alternatives for 'child-centred' education. Throughout these various phases, there is a prevailing sense of mission, a persistent belief that he had found the solution for the so called 'crisis' in the schools. His main concern was always with the welfare of the child, whose interests he saw as ultimately being best served in the homeschooling situation. In the mid-eighties, he considered that even conventional schools could benefit from co-operation with the homeschoolers. It is the argument of this thesis that John Holt's own brand of radical romanticism was ultimately to lead him away from the social and political realities that impinged upon his writings. By largely opting out of the very pressures that beset public schooling in the United States, Holt's homeschooling movement seems destined to remain on the fringe. However, for all the romantic limitations and idiosyncrasies of his thought, it is argued that Holt has offered a valuable contribution to Dewey's fundamental question of 'what education is'.
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    R.S. Peters, education and value
    Hughes, David John Malcolm ( 1984)
    R. S. Peters is recognized as the founder of the recent and more respectable approach to philosophizing about education known as "the philosophy of education". Following his appointment to the Chair of Philosophy of Education at the University of London Institute of Education in 1962, the influence of his work and his approach to the philosophical treatment of educational problems grew enormously. Since the mid 1960's he has been pro�eminent as the champion of the study, with no rival who has threatened seriously to eclipse his importance or displace his fundamental approach with a more effective one. Philosophizing about education is still done largely in conscious appreciation of the relation it bears to Peters' work, whether it be "pro", "anti" or connected by some other tangent to Peters. Even those who have decided more recently to "start afresh" without him and his approach, and conduct their philosophical business elsewhere, are arguably part of a post�Peters phenomenon. There may be some sound reasons at the moment for seeking new philosophical pastures, or asking very seriously "Where do we go from here ?", but those who choose to forsake rather than to refute continue to testify to the imposing dominance of Peters' work. There is a sense in which Peters' very pre�eminence tends to attract anyone who wishes to make their own mark in philosophizing about education: whether it is merely to make it clear where they stand in relation to him, or to add to or subtract from aspects of his position and work. That is one motive for engaging with what he has written. The present thesis was conceived from the viewpoint of having been initially very impressed with Peters' singular and distinctive contribution to educational philosophy, but of having come over a period of time � through teaching it and working through its implications � to believe that, while it encompasses much that is important and worthwhile, it lacks something fundamental in the area of values and value connections. As is often the case, convictions like these are formed before one is able to specify what, if anything, is wrong. So, the work on the thesis itself provided the means of testing the conviction, by investigating seriously and at some length the relation between 'education' and 'value' in Peters' work. The work of examining the adequacy of Peters' value claims in relation to education � which occupies the larger portion of the thesis� may seem initially to be more negative than positive in import, but is an indication of the depth to which it was necessary to go to unravel the complex and often elusive threads of his value assumptions. A large number of criticisms of Peters, including many made or implied initially by other writers, are noted and incorporated into a sustained treatment, which is independently structured and given as much coherence as it seemed possible to achieve with Peters' work in this area. On the positive side, a case is made during the course of the critical review in the first three chapters for a single non valuative necessary condition for "education". An original suggestion about how value is related to education is proposed towards the end of the fourth chapter, where an alternative way of understanding the higher valuation Peters calls "intrinsic" is recommended to overcome the various problems that beset his case. The fifth chapter is devoted to explaining this new notion � that value is intrinsic to educated individuals rather than to education itself � and there is an assessment of its significance in the conclusion. It provides a viable alternative to Peters' account of value, and is the major positive contribution of the thesis.