Educational purposes, ethics and beliefs

The educational purposes, ethics and beliefs research group draws on history, history of ideas and philosophy of education to engage with questions about the meaning and purpose of the educational endeavour and the place of values in education.

The pressing educational debates of the moment tend not to be about the most effective way to achieve a particular outcome (although they are often portrayed this way), so much as debates between competing understandings of what we are trying to achieve through the educational endeavour. Questions about whether we should set by ability, how we should manage behaviour, and what should go on the curriculum, are motivated only secondarily by disagreement about what the research is showing us, and primarily by deep-seated divisions about what education is for, which ultimately come down to differing perspectives about what constitutes worthwhile human activity, or about what kinds of things are desirable or ‘good’ for human existence. These are questions that have troubled thinkers for a long time, and have – throughout all of their development in the western world, at least since Plato – been considered not only in the abstract but also in close connection with their educational implications.

Particular areas of research specialism include issues surrounding the education of gifted and talented pupils, the history and pedagogy of religious and citizenship education, phenomenology in education and the philosophy of education research, although the group has published theoretical and literature-based research on a range of topics from memory and remembrance in education to systematic synthetic phonics. Doctoral students supervised in the group are studying moral education, citizenship and political education in global contexts and are engaged with the question of how social sciences research can be complemented by philosophical enquiry.

Academic staff with related research interests