Saturday, February 21, 2015

The increasing role of philosophy in my day to day life

It seems that the past year has seen an increase in the role that philosophy plays in my day to day life. This has included introductions to relativism, realism, critical realism, egalitarianism, modernism and post modernism. Thanks to Grant Lichtman and The Falconer, there has even been some ‎Sun Tzu and the Art of War mixed in. Of course don't forget Plato, John Dewey, Kant, Popper and Foucault. If you asked me ten years ago whether philosophy might play such a critical role in my day to day life (yes, I did say day to day), I would never have guessed it. Perhaps you are wondering why I might be using philosophy on such a frequent basis...

The most obvious response is that in preparation to begin a research masters of education, one needs a bit of an introduction to these things. This is certainly the reason why I can now use big words like epistemology and ontology in a sentence and actually know what they mean. Although the serious introduction to philosophy came very much from university, I am increasingly finding uses for it outside of assignments and essays. 

Wikipedia explains philosophy as: 
"Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument." - source 
I work in one of the newest, most different secondary schools in the country. We do things significantly differently from most other schools I have ever taught in, and differently from the majority of schools in the area (with the exception of Albany Senior High School). Inevitably, this means a lot of time spent in the hypothetical. Although we firmly believe the model for schools in New Zealand needs to change, doing so, is more challenging and more uncomfortable than one might suppose from the outside. Even when you have an incredible team who all believe in the urgent need for change. However, what is it that has lead us to believe that this need for change is so important? Working in a school that is taking so many risks could potentially have a positive or a negative results on one's career. So why take the risk? I have increasingly found solace in understanding the philosophy that underpins our society, our education system, but also the philosophy that might underpin our work at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. 

#edchatNZ is also now more than two years old. As I seek to ensure that the #edchatNZ fortnightly chats remain warm and demanding, I am increasingly finding that I need to venture in unknown ground on behalf of others to ensure that we keep pushing at the boundaries of the teacher box. What better way is there to do this but through philosophy? Philosophy provides an examination of the fundamental ideas that underpin our society, the anachronisms but also the aspirations of our society. These all seem pretty relevant to education wouldn't you think?