Education has always played a vitally important role in the lives of people. Through education children and students learn all the necessary information and got the necessary skills for the future independent life. Thus methods, aims and other aspects of education have been under active discussions since ancient times. The theory, which covers all the major aspects, related to educational theory and practices, is called philosophy of education. The role of philosophy of education can not be underestimated, as it is of the highest importance not only for the system of passing theoretical knowledge to students, but also for making possible their coexistence in the community, communication process, their utter self-expression and manifestation of their inner abilities and talents.
Coming back to the notion of the philosophy of education we should mention, that it represents first of all profound study of the aims, processes, nature and ideals of education. It is thus not limited to simple educational techniques and practices, on the contrary relates to the processes of upbringing along with education, to the key norms and values, which should be cultivated in the minds of younger generations for making their existence in the society comfortable and valuable; at the same time education is treated as academic discipline, with regard of theory and practice of education.
Further we are going to discuss the most important problems and challenges of philosophy of education. The most basic problem is considered to be related to the aims of education. It is necessary to answer the question about the concrete and most suitable aims and ideals of education. A lot of philosophers and educators all over the world studied these aims, “many aims have been proposed by philosophers and other educational theorists; they include the cultivation of curiosity and the disposition to inquire; the fostering of creativity; the production of knowledge and of knowledgeable students; the enhancement of understanding; the promotion of moral thinking, feeling, and action; the enlargement of the imagination; the fostering of growth, development, and self-realization; the fulfillment of potential; the cultivation of “liberally educated”ť persons”ť and so on (Dewey, 2). This list can be continued and continued. All the above mentioned aims had to go through criticism and judgments. Ancient as well as contemporary philosophers provided a lot of concepts regarding aims of education and worked out arguments to support their theories and positions and to criticize the positions of the others. Some of them insisted, that education should never be treated separately from such sciences as sociology, psychology, physical science and so on. Not to stop at any particular approach, we could make the general conclusion to this problem, that the major aim of any education is to guarantee the development of autonomy, self ”“esteem and personality of the individual in the frames of the society he is living in, taking in consideration his intellectual, spiritual and physical growth and cultivation of the skills and morals for his independent existence and rational thinking. These aims could be reached under the condition of application of all sciences, related to education and upbringing.
Another very important problem of philosophy of education is related to the power of authorities. State takes part in the educational process directly and has a very strong influence upon the educational policies and development of the educational system as whole. On the other level a lot is defined by the schools’ authorities and teachers, namely the school education plan, the methods and techniques of education, school policy and activities as so on. At first glance everything seems to be under control, but in reality there are still a lot of problems to be solved and questions to be answered. For example if nowadays we set the aim of providing freedom to students, should they or their parents have the right to choose the list of subjects, or there should still be certain obligatory disciplines or do strict guidelines and demands from the side of the teacher make an obstacle to creativity and imagination development of his students? The problem of standardization still remains actual in the system of education. A lot of critics nowadays state, that standard tests should be seen as discrimination of certain racial, cultural or ethical groups ”“ “because the test questions rely, implicitly or explicitly, on various culturally specific cues or assumptions that members of some groups may not understand or accept”ť (Rizvi, 13). Initially an attempt to solve most of these problems was seen in creation of private schools along with public ones. In reality however, private schools have the same risks of exercising of the strict authorities. To find the best solutions to the above mentioned problems is again not possible without interconnecting of the educational theory with other sciences, like sociology, political philosophy, ethics and so on.
We have already discussed the problem of the aims of education, however one of the aims, which was so widely supported by educators for a long period of time remained aside ”“ namely critical thinking. “It is not obvious what critical thinking is, and philosophers of education accordingly have developed accounts of critical thinking that attempt to state what it is and why it is valuable””i.e., why educational systems should aim to cultivate it in students”ť (Rizvi, 38). The importance of this aim is usually supported by the two major characteristics, which critical thinkers are supposed to possess: first- ability of good reasoning, building and evaluating of the reasons; second ”“ they should be inclined or led by the reasons, which they evaluated, this means, that they know, how to act and to behave in accordance with the reasons, drawn from their evaluations. Reasoning in reality is rather versatile and many-sided and thus the above mentioned approach makes it rather generalized, as we can not state for sure what kind of reasoning is good or bad, right or wrong enough for critical thinking. One the other hand, there is a risk for these reasons and evaluation to become subjected, although considered to be absolute by the thinker. “In addition, the dispositions of the critical thinker noted above suggest that the ideal of critical thinking can be extended beyond the bounds of the epistemic to the area of moral character, leading to questions regarding the nature of such character and the best means of instilling it.”ť (Rizvi, 45). Thus the problem of critical thinking needs further investigation and many-sided formulation to be accepted as one of the most important aims of education.
The problems of correlations of indoctrination and education are also related to the studies of the philosophy of education. There are a lot of debates as for similarity and differences between the two. There are theories, stating that indoctrination breaks the principle of free will and thus is undesirable. Other scientists argued, that indoctrination should not be treated as intrinsically negative. Different theories define indoctrination in several ways: as form of teaching, Â making students accept the ideas, not depending on the evidential support they have or they don’t have; as a form of teaching ,which is based on the education techniques, which make it impossible for the students to evaluate the ideas independently, rather accepting them as such; finally as a form of teaching, which transmits some set of ideas to the students, not taking into consideration the evidential status of them (Hazel, 111). If we base on any of these definitions, we might conclude, that this form of education is contrasted to critical thinking, which it its turn is always supported by evidences and reasoning. This contrast however can not be treated unambiguously, as there still can be some ideas, which should be passed through the ways of indoctrination, not critical thinking, as for example some initial morality or scientific basis.
The last, but not least important problem, related to philosophy of education, we are going to discuss here, is the connection between individual and society. On the one hand the aim of the education is development of individual skills and abilities, support for the potential of every student. On the other hand any individual, even the youngest one is a part of the society he is living in, this means, that he should serve the needs of society as well. This problem is certainly more related to moral philosophy and ethics, but still should not be avoided in research of philosophy of education, as there is a strong need of finding the corresponding balance between social and individual needs, without breaking the individual freedom and at the same time upbringing of adequate members of the society.
Overall in this paper we have studied the issues, related to philosophy of education, which is rather dimensional and sophisticated science or theory. We proved, that it is in indissoluble connection to other sciences and should be studied correspondingly with application of the ideas and knowledge of other scientific fields as only under such conditions the successful functioning , communication and understanding can be developed for young people.