Wed, Oct 28, 2009
Re: Slated Closure of History and Philosophy of Education Dear Dean Gaskell,
I am dismayed to learn of the possible closure of OISE’s internationally known and much respected History and Philosophy of Education doctoral program. I have benefited from many encounters with your faculty and graduate students at conferences of the Philosophy of Education Society over the years, as well as through their publications. I regularly include work by Megan Boler and Trevor Norris in my contemporary philosophies of education course, and I often draw on work in moral education by Dwight Boyd in my graduate ethics courses. The work done at OISE is remarkably “cutting edge,” linking philosophy of education with contemporary work in social and political theory in ways that sharpen our understanding of the educational environment within and beyond schools. To understand how schooling works, we have to attend to the context within which schooling happens. Boler and Norris alert us to the ways in which consumerism, media and new technologies have transformed how education happens and what education is seen to be “about” and for. Work like this gives OISE its distinctive character, and pushes others in the field of education to take contemporary social theory seriously. Far from detracting from our need to understand “what works” in schools, it helps us to grasp why some of our best laid plans – in policy making and curriculum development – fail to measure up to our expectations.
I hope that the powers that be will rethink its decision to close the doctoral program in history and philosophy of education, and that you will stand up for the value of humanities based inquiry into educational policies and practices in Canada and indeed, internationally.
Cultural Foundations of Education
Kent State University, Ohio.