What is the best philosophy of education for educational equity?

Hello and welcome.

Philosophy of education is a vast field with an overwhelming number of controversies.

It is not practical to identify a single best philosophy of education for the purpose of achieving educational equity, however, it is possible to narrow the field.

I ask for your patience as I reframe this challenge from the perspective of Catalytic Pedagogy.

Catalytic Pedagogy is a perspective and data model that may help fulfill the aspirations of proper educational philosophies.

Given the way most people probably think of the phrase “philosophy of education,” Catalytic Pedagogy is not properly regarded as one  because it does not prescribe any particular institutional form to support instruction. 

The only requirement is conceding to the psychological realism upon which Catalytic Pedagogy is built. 

This means that the assumption that symbolic mastery is the developmental imperative of primary school-age children is rejected because for children six to twelve years old the correct developmental imperative is governance.

Downgrade Symbolic Mastery in Your Philosophy Of Education

My name is Don Berg. 

Symbolic mastery may be a useful tool for good governance, but what kids need to master is skillfully managing their own and other people's behavior.

It makes no difference within Catalytic Pedagogy what institutional arrangements nor which tools are used to support that imperative (and academics are merely a tool.)

The goal of Catalytic Pedagogy is to enable schools to achieve Holistic Equity, which is whenever the  population of people in the school have their primary and particular human needs systematically satisfied.

It is only through systematic satisfaction of needs that the learning can be as deep as possible.

The proposed mechanism for achieving Holistic Equity is to start with a Back-to-Basics 2.0 resolution, which I presented in my book More Joy More Genius.

The resolution has to be accompanied by funding and followed up with more binding policy actions that will legally protect innovative programs from undue interference as long as they produce appropriate results.

The appropriate results are measured by school-wide data on depth of engagement, patterns of motivation, and primary need satisfaction.

The only commitment required of a philosophy of education that aims to apply Catalytic Pedogogy is some form of realism that respects its scientific foundations in psychology.

I will presume you are a realistic educator committed to an equally realistic educational institution who are practicing a philosophy of education that is also realistic.

To my way of thinking this means that you should be able to use the Back-to-Basics 2.0 process to applying the data model of Catalytic Pedagogy as a means to achieve Holistic Equity for your entire school community.

So, to answer the question in the title, the best philosophy of education for achieving educational equity is a realistic one, regardless of what other rhetorical bells and whistles might be attached to it.

The challenge is to ensure that you and the school you are committed to both practice the realism that is preached in your philosophy of education.

Foundations Of My Philosophy of Education

The works that I take to be most essential to my understanding of realism are Philosophy in the Flesh  and The Case Against Reality.

Philosophy in the Flesh was written by cognitive linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson to explain their ideas about Embodied Realism.

 The Case Against Reality is a book by perceptual psychologist Donald Hoffman to explain his idea of Conscious Realism and his Interface Theory of Perception. 

Hoffman's prior book Visual Intelligence covers similar territory but in more technical terms.

The most important point made by these authors is that reality is hidden.

It is not at all obvious to our senses that the earth is spherical, that living things are all made of cells, or that the colors we perceive in the world are mostly generated by our minds. 

Realism, therefore, requires a system of self-correcting social proof in order to overcome both the inherent hiddenness of reality and the various bias and heuristics that tend to make individual thought processes potentially deceptive and group actions potentially self-defeating in the long run.

According to Hoffman, “Science is not a theory of reality, but a method of inquiry. 

“It orchestrates the better angels of our nature to promote reason, precision, productive dialog, and an appeal to [replicable] evidence.

“It curbs our proclivity for the vague, deceptive, dogmatic, and imperious. 

“Inquiry into any question that captures the human imagination ... deserves no less than the full benefit of this orchestration.”

The Role of Science

Science is the most robust means we have developed to propose, test, and accept or reject ideas about how things work.

Despite scientists commonly assuming they are engaging directly with reality, that narrative is technically incorrect, despite being quite useful as a shorthand. 

What my favored philosophers point out in their books is that science itself revealed the fact that its most treasured ideas are not literal descriptions of reality. 

Science is built upon offering up imaginative descriptions of phenomena which are tested according to their ability to enable other folks to either A) point out logical, procedural, and other flaws with the description, or B) replicate the situation that was originally described.

The more likely it is that others can replicate the results, the more likely it is that the description is a valuable contribution to a shareable, collectively valuable understanding.

Lakoff and Johnson pointed out how cognitive science has discovered that most concepts we humans use are metaphorical, even though we mistakenly believe many of them to be literal. 

We all share some set of literal concepts due to how our bodies interact with the world.

The vast majority of our concepts, however, are imaginative remixes of the abstract cognitive structures that we borrow from our collection of literal concepts.

For example on my definition of education page I propose that the term education has a literal core meaning and that the metaphoric extensions we use to think about schooling should be constrained by that core.

Science consists of ever more elaborate means of generating metaphorical descriptions that are experimentally compared to judge how apt they are as descriptions of the phenomena in question. 

The goal is to approach ever better descriptions of the causal structure of that hidden reality.

Notice that the goal is not to arrive at a final and complete understanding. 

That is impossible.

The purpose is to enable more and more people to get better at effectively pursuing their own goals with the expectation that the accumulation of successes will eventually generate better, more robust models of the hidden structure of causality.

But ultimately, the overarching purpose is merely to attain ever more reliable means of pursuing meaningful human goals.

Any notions that the resulting descriptions are ever going to be “complete” or that they are accurate representations of reality are unrealistic.

Epistemic Horizons

We all live within epistemic horizon bubbles.

An epistemic horizon is like the event horizon of a black hole.

The event horizon of a black hole is the point beyond which light cannot escape.

An epistemic horizon is the point beyond which our knowledge does not reach. 

We each live within an epistemic horizon bubble upon which we project our understanding of our world. 

That projection gives us the illusion that we are interacting directly with reality. 

We are, in fact, interacting with an interface that helps us operate within a reality that is entirely hidden from us by that interface.

Its like how I typed the script for this video on my computer. 

I understand how to use the keyboard and mouse to interact with the user interface that makes images that visually represent these words. 

The computing is hidden.

No matter how much I examine the interface, I cannot get any glimpse of the zeroes and ones that the computer is actually using to compute which letters I typed.

That fact does not inherently preclude me from eventually coming to understand how the computer works, it just means that I would have to be clever and systematic in my studies if that were my goal.

Educational Causality

In regards to education, we need to realize that ever since schools were invented the causal reality of learning in schools is not what our society has collectively supposed it to be. 

We've been wrong all along.

As I said before, philosophy of education is a vast field with an overwhelming number of controversies.

However, some philosophies of education were conceived and school systems designed based on premises that are being invalidated by new findings in psychology. 

One core premise that has been invalidated is the claim that primary schools should be organized as if “symbolic mastery” were a developmental imperative.

This premise is why most schools treat academic instruction as the core activity that all other activities should revolve around. 

This is false. 

According to the psychological model embedded in Catalytic Pedagogy, academic instruction is a plausible activity that could be a productive use of children's time. 

However, it needs to be subservient to the activities of governance, which IS the developmental imperative for six to twelve year old children.

You can explore that idea further on the home page at HolisticEquity DOT Org which is where I introduce Catalytic Pedagogy.

You can narrow the field of educational philosophies by rejecting those that fail to be realistic about the roles that primary need satisfaction, motivation, and engagement play in learning. 

Specifically, in primary schools the developmental imperative of governance needs to be given a higher priority than academics.

If academics are treated as a higher priority than governance then that philosophy of education is contradicting our best scientific understanding of human nature.

I hope this was helpful and thanks for watching.

This article was printed from HolisticEquity.com

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