Course Syllabus

ED 1560: Philosophy of Education
Educational Thought and Practice
Th. 4-6:20pm
Location: Wilson Hall 204

Prof. Jennifer Lindsay                                                                                                            
Office hours: Weds. 11-1, Barus 113A, or by appointment                                     
401.863.3487 (w), 707.498-.4729 (c)

Here you will find an updated copy of this syllabus as one document: EDUC 1560

Linked here is the updated course schedule, revised slightly to reflect my illness week 4: REVISED SCHEDULE

Details of assignment explanations, readings, and helpful resources can be found on the course website:

All students are encouraged to access the website at their earliest convenience and bring any difficulties to the attention of the instructor.                                                                                                                                                          


The main purposes of this course are three-fold:
1) The course is designed as a constructivist endeavor, which presumes that through social practices–our interactions with each other, our experiences and observations in school settings, and engaging with the course texts–we will build knowledge individually and collectively.  In other words, using a social constructivist framework presumes knowledge is located and built relationally. We will seek to tap, refine, and articulate knowledge primarily through an iterative, on-going, inquiry-based collaboration. It is also intended to be praxis-oriented, in that it requires us to challenge and affirm knowledge in the world.

2) It aims to acquaint students with different philosophies of education (classical, progressive, critical, radical, feminist, multicultural), yet does not try to "cover" the vast, complex and diverse field of inquiry that constitutes what is called philosophy of education (an impossible task).

3) Through our explorations and analysis of texts, field experiences as well as through various inquiries into current schooling models of interest, students will develop their own beliefs about their emerging philosophies of education and an understanding and awareness of the possibilities of education for students and society.

Central Questions

As a constructivist, praxis-oriented course, our investigations will not be guided by asserted truth statements, but by questions essential to the philosophy of education such as the following:  

What is a philosophy of education? Why bother to have one?

How can a particular philosophy claim legitimate authority? For or from whom?

What implications should one’s philosophy have for praxis — for action in the world?

What exactly is "education"? "teaching”? "learning”?

Who is to be taught? Why them? What are they to be taught? Why that?

How are they to be taught? Why in that manner?

How should educators confront, negotiate, and use human difference?

In what ways is education political?

Whose knowledge, experience, and authority matters? How? For what?

What is a school? A teacher? A student? A lesson? Content? A skill?

What is a good school? Teacher? Student? Education? What is a bad one? How can one tell?

Course Goals

Using a multifaceted, rigorous, approach toward reading, writing, on-line conversation, and classroom discussion, we will endeavor to:

  • learn about certain individuals’ philosophies of education
  • tap, refine, and articulate knowledge primarily through an iterative, on-going, inquiry-based collaboration, with attention to providing clear, informed and consistent reasoning in the presentation of arguments, ideas, and questions
  • develop praxis-oriented practices through concrete means such as:
    • analyses regarding how particular philosophies are enacted in our world
    • challenging and affirming knowledge in the world
    • making analytical connections between social theory/philosophy, policies and practices.
  • articulate our own philosophies of education (which we'll call philosophical frameworks);  

Required Text

Alridge, D.P. (2008). The Educational Thought of W.E.B. DuBois. New York : Teachers College Press.

Carini, Paula and Himley, Margaret, (2010). Jenny's story: taking the long view of the child, prospect's philosophy in action, Teachers College Press. 

Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An introduction to the philosophy of education,

Freire, Paulo. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York : Continuum.

Hansen, David(Ed). (2007). Ethical Visions of Education: Philosophies in Practice, Teachers College Press.

Kumashiro, Kevin K.  (2008) The Seduction of Common Sense: How the Right Has Framed the Debate on America’s Schools. NY: Teachers College Press.

Please note:

1)    Books will be on reserve in my office for borrowing and sharing and will also be available at the University library (ROCK, unless otherwise noted).

2)    Additional readings online for download through canvas website, see weekly requirements/calendar for readings.



  1.  Participation & Communication
  2. Canvas Discussion List
  3. Writing Assignment #1: 7 short Think pieces
  4. School Site Observation,  Document Analysis & Presentation
  5.  Course glossary 
  6. Writing Assignment #2: Midterm ESSAY
  7. Writing Assignment #3: Final Praxis Project & Presentation

    Course Assumptions and Expectations

My approach to this course is grounded in two main assumptions. First, I understand dialogue (though talk, but also through range of written formats) as essential to meaning making.  As such my instructional style emphasizes critical thinking through dialogue--between us, in connection to the readings, field observations and lived experience.  This course is not designed in a lecture format, but primarily through small group and some larger group facilitated discussion, aimed to foster critical reading, writing, and communicative practices.  Through these processes, we will be building a small, fragile community, I expect everyone to treat everyone else in it with respect and appreciation for both similarities and differences.

Second, our growth is possible to the extent we create an environment where we feel accountable to one another and can express ourselves authentically, with generosity, honestly, respectfully, humility, love and respect.  Our deliberate attempts to share our thinking and listen to others along these same lines (our fellow course members and text authors) will contribute to such an environment. The diversity we bring to this classroom—interest and identity oriented, cultural, experiential, and disciplinary -- will often result in divergent perspectives, ideas, and concerns, and is, in fact, as vital to this course.   We will regularly discuss sensitive and important issues concerning experience, identity, academic performance, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, and class in a direct and open manner. 

  • Be generous with yourself and with others.  Revisit your participation goals, the guidelines for group discussion I’ve outlined, and participation information I’ve provided if you are struggling in this area.
  • Come to each seminar session and arrive on time. If you must miss a seminar session due to an emergency (illness or family emergency), notify me before class. It is also your responsibility to contact another class member to obtain notes, assignments, announcements, etc. if you are late to class.
  • Be fully present in class, ready to participate thoughtfully with readings, thorough notes on readings, and other related assignments in fresh your mind (and in your hands!). Bringing your full, rested, authentic and inquisitive self to class is critical to developing trust and meaningful dialogue.  It’s my belief that all will thrive in this class to the extent each of us engages with one another with generosity, curiosity, openness and sincerity.  Rather than relying on what Brazilian educator Paolo Friere calls “the banking model of education,” where ideas are deposited into student heads, I ask that you join in constructing a learning environment that is interactive, energetic, supportive, challenging, and always respectful.  The questions and issues raised in this course will have many “right” answers and solutions. All will involve thinking and struggling inside and often outside of this class.
  • Reading: Because we will construct knowledge together based on our shared experience of the texts, reading well is critical to this course. In this course, we will not practice the habits of slash-and-burn reading, in which students are rewarded for dismissing an author's argument for its inevitable flaws; that sort of reading is rarely constructive, and it almost always reflects a lack of care. Rather, you will be asked to read constructively, to identify aspects of the reading that you find compelling, curious, or useful. You should come prepared for class by having carefully read the texts for the day, taken notes on your impressions and questions, written any assignments, and considered topics for discussion.
  • Please see me-- make use of office hours and e-mail if you are having concerns about your ability to function well in this class. If you have a problem with an assignment, a classmate, course content, classroom structure or schedule, do not wait until the last minute or until the end of the course to bring the issue forward. If you are consistently struggling... to complete work or if you would simply like assistance with your writing beyond having a peer proofread your work, please visit the Writing Center, seek help from classmates and friends, and/or visit the me during office hours.
  • Raise Questions!! I am sure you will have questions. Please raise them with me and other students. I am always willing to listen to your ideas. The questions and issues raised in this course will have many “right” answers and solutions. All will involve thinking and struggling inside and often outside of this class.
  • Stay in communication with me--Please take responsibility to bring issues forward as they arise for you.  If you are a student with a disability and you need disability-related classroom accommodations, please support yourself by checking with me as soon as possible (see accommodations outlined below).
  • Writing: The writing for the course emphasizes regular short assignments (think pieces, in class and on-line reflections, participation reflection and feedback, the creation of a course glossary, a midterm essay exam, and a final collaborative written project.
  • Mundane assignment requirements:
    • Assignments should be named with your name (can be first with last initial + the name of the assignment (e.g., Jennifer_L- Think Piece #1) and uploaded onto canvas prior to class starting each week or by specific due date. 
    • Bring a hard copy of writing to class for discussion when noted on the specific assignment rubric.
    • Handwritten and late papers will receive an NC.  Completing assignments on time allows you to think about, build upon insights, questions, new ideas through seminar and on-line discussion.
    • All assignment criteria will be communicated through a rubric.  It may be helpful for you to have someone else read/listen to your paper prior to turning it in.  The writing center is an excellent resource for this purpose. 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due