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The Importance of Philosophy to Curriculum Makers

This article shows that Philosophy plays an important source of reference for the policy makers to decide the type of education needed in the education system.

Philosophy is defined as a search for the wisdom of life besides an attempt to understand the universe as a whole and according to John Dewey (1916) “philosophy may even be defined as the general theory of education.” Ammar al-Talbi (1993)stated that philosophy dictated “what the human being ought to learn in order to be in tune with his own epoch, to live intelligently in society, and to be a citizen bringing benefit both to himself and to the community; hence the importance of education. It is the aim of education which takes precedence, only then come the means to realize these aims.” In other words, philosophy is the starting point for curriculum development as stated by Dewey. On the other hand, Tanner & Tanner (1980) pointed out that “the term philosophy is often used by teachers and administrators to convey their common-sense outlook on educational and curricular matters”.

Curriculum makers need some belief to refer to which gives meaning to the decision and actions that they made. By consulting a philosophy, the content and organization of curriculum are controlled via its ideas, attitudes and beliefs about nature of knowledge, society, individual and learning. As a result, the curriculum makers are able to answer questions pertaining to curriculum development such as what subjects are of value, how students learn and what methods and materials should be used. Without philosophy, “(we make) mindless vaults into saddle…” as pointed out by William Van Til. The importance of having philosophical views to establish the important components within the curriculum is stated by Horton & Hanes (1993), “These views are best expressed by taking an eclectic or integrated approach, drawing from Naturalism, Pragmatism, Existentialism and Phenomenology. Briefly, Naturalism advocates individual development, by not imposing social conformity, and encourages close contact with nature. From the Pragmatist school of thought comes the idea that knowledge can be created through reconstruction of experiences. The philosophy of Existentialism and Phenomenology is tempered so as not to become contradictory with the Naturalist view. The belief held here is that the world is alienating and the way to deal with existence is to take responsibility for one’s life. It then becomes necessary to understand and deal with events in an individual’s life from their historical perspective. The goal should be to help the individual realize choice is a key element in developing a life of personal growth. Lifelong learning is also a possibility when choices are realizes. To see alternatives, understanding must be gained in regard to self and others. The more information an individual possesses, the greater the number of choices possible.”

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