Defining Foundations of Education
Foundations of Education refers to a
broadly-conceived field of educational study that derives its character and
methods from a number of academic disciplines, combinations of disciplines, and
area studies, including: history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology,
religion, political science, economics, psychology, cultural studies, gender
studies, comparative and international education, educational studies, and
educational policy studies. As distinct from Psychological Foundations of
Education, which rely on the behavioral sciences, these Standards address the
Social Foundations of Education, which rely heavily on the disciplines and
methodologies of the humanities, particularly history and philosophy, and the
social scienes, such as sociology and political science. The purpose of
foundations study is to bring these disciplinary resources to bear in
developing interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives on education,
both inside and outside of schools.
The interpretive perspectives use concepts and theories
developed within the humanities and the social sciences to assist students in
examining, understanding, and explaining education within different contexts.
Foundational studies promote analysis of the intent, meaning, and effects of educational institutions,
including schools. Such studies attend particularly to the diverse contexts
within which educational phenomena occur, and how interpretation can vary with
different historical, philosophical, and cultural perspectives.
The normative perspectives assist students in examining
and explaining education in light of value orientations. Foundational studies
promote understanding of normative and ethical behavior in educational
development and recognition of the inevitable presence of normative influences
in educational thought and practice. Foundational studies probe the nature of
assumptions about education and schooling. They examine the relation of policy
analysis to values and the extent to which educational policymaking reflects
values. Finally, they encourage students to develop their own value positions
regarding education on the basis of critical study and their own reflections.
The critical perspectives employ normative
interpretations to assist students to develop inquiry skills, to question
educational assumptions and arrangements, and to identify contradictions and
inconsistencies among social and educational values, policies, and practices.
In particular, the critical perspectives engage students in employing
democratic values to assess educational beliefs, policies, and practices in light
of their origins, influences, and consequences.
Particular disciplinary studies in, e.g.,
the history, philosophy, or sociology of education shall be considered as study
in the Foundations of Education provided the above perspectives are addressed and
promoted. The objective of such study is to sharpen students’ abilities to
examine, understand, and explain educational proposals, arrangements, and
practices and to develop a disciplined sense of policy-oriented educational
responsibility. Such study develops an awareness of education and schooling in
light of their complex relations to the environing culture.
Study in Foundations of Education shall NOT
be equated with “Introduction to Education” coursework unless such study
clearly addresses the three perspectives indicated in this Standard and is
taught by individuals specifically trained in Foundations of Education.
Discussion of Standard I
Foundations of Education study employs a number of different
disciplinary perspectives to discern how schools equip young people to assume
adult positions in American society. The aim of such study is not simply to
describe accurately the connection between the internal organization of schools
and their socializing mission. Foundations also refers to a tradition of
academic inquiry that seeks to expose and make explicit the relationship
between educational methods and values. Foundational inquiry compares words to
deeds and intentions to consequences. In so doing it helps judge whether an
action is warranted, that is, whether it is supported by reason and evidence. A
foundational approach to the study of education assesses the logical
connections between the educational goals we select and the means we employ to
achieve them. Foundational study, therefore, contains a prescriptive as well as
a descriptive dimension: to consider in tandem what schools are doing
and what they ought to be doing. Such study focuses on the ways schools
carry out their mission of preparing individuals to occupy productive roles in
our society. A common theme is discernment of educational aims that are implied
in current school practices as well as in recommendations for modifying such
practices. Foundational study serves to gradually deepen the ability of
prospective and veteran teachers to answer the overarching question: Why do
American schools operate the way they do?
From its origin in the 1930s, Foundations of Education has
been subjected to a variety of interpretations and approaches. There are those
who have promoted the idea that Foundations of Education should be assembled
around educational issues, using the issues as curriculum-selecting and
curriculum-organizing principles. Some have insisted that interdisciplinary and
generalist concerns should supersede the commitments of Foundations of
Education scholars to specific disciplines. Others have held to the priority of
close disciplinary ties for Foundations of Education scholars. Some have
promoted the desirability of curriculum liaisons between Foundations of
Education scholars and teacher educators in other fields, for example,
administration, counseling and guidance, urban education, and curriculum and
instruction. Still others have argued for the establishment of working ties
between Foundations of Education scholars and community groups and for
involvement in areas of concern that go beyond the school enterprise. At the
present time there are distinguished advocates for all of these approaches.
The Council of Learned Societies in Education takes the
official position of supporting a diversity of Foundations of Education
arrangements in relation to academic, teacher-education, and community groups.
This position is based on the belief that an overarching and profoundly
important academic and professional purpose unifies persons who identify with
the various approaches to Foundations of Education, namely, the development of
interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives on education, including
non-schooling enterprises. There is, moreover, a shared contemporaneous
orientation among Foundations of Education scholars resulting in a deep concern
for the cultural and educational consequences of present circumstances, events,
and conditions. In responding to the social issues and crises of the times,
Foundations of Education scholars maintain a professional and intellectual
tradition which was initiated in the 1930s.
A common focus of attention on education differentiates
Foundations of Education scholars from academicians in the liberal arts and
sciences. Although the nature of Foundations of Education presupposes
collaboration with scholars in the liberal arts and sciences, sound programs
require faculty who are qualified as Foundations of Education scholars.