Wed, Oct 28, 2009
Dear Drs. Gaskell, Corman, Hillan, Regehr, Laufer, and Sihra
My name is Sean Park, a 2007 Ed Admin MA graduate from the Theory and Policy Studies department. I am writing to implore you to do whatever means are necessary to maintain and nurture the Philosophy and History of Education Department at OISE. My coursework in philosophy of education and supervision from two stellar philosophers (Drs. Portelli and Richmon) was nothing short of outstanding as it made deep shifts in my life. During my studies I had severe doubts about the state of graduate studies at UofT and the future of education more broadly. The entire first year of my degree was spent seeking supervision from within and beyond OISE. The questions in my research were quite new and I was attempting to chart a path that I felt I would find support in when I started my program. I was continuously turned away by faculty who were either too busy or not interested. I almost dropped out and gave up grad school completely after my first year as my life and personal relationships were falling into ruin as I tried so desperately to find support to complete my degree.
I somehow was connected with Dr. John Portelli in the summer of 2006. His research interests weren’t exactly aligned with mine, but he took interest in me as a person and was inspired by my passion for educational issues. This passion, as he and my second reader, Dr. Malcolm Richmon, would show me, was for philosophy of education. I came to see that there was something so distinct about a philosophical approach to education that I could more clearly understand why I was unable to plug in to anywhere else at OISE. Inquiring into the meaning and purpose of education and what it means to be human are, of course, not the sole providence of philosophy, however I have come to see that without this dimension we lose a vital mooring upon which all educational discourse can remain balanced and grounded.
Although enrolled to complete my MA in Education Administration, I shifted my work towards philosophy and made quick effort at producing a substantial thesis in 2007. Peers in the philosophy program were welcoming and helped me make connections to the philosophy of education community in Canada. I am now enrolled in my first year of a PhD in Philosophy of Education and realize even more strongly now why philosophy matters.
Folding the Philosophy and History of Education program at OISE is a grave mistake, not only because the program remains strong, well supported by the students and faculty, and produces excellent scholarship, but because of what such a closure signifies to the education community here at home and abroad. It would communicate the extent to which we value the humanities in relation to other disciplines that are currently in favour for their capacity to attract corporate and research funding. Without the unique and critical voice offered by scholars in philosophy and history of education, OISE, UofT and many institutions throughout the world lose a critical voice that excels at enabling us to reflect upon the aims and purposes of education, clarify our values, and remind us of where we come from.
I hope that you all take this present time to reconsider your decision.
Sean Park MA (TPS OISE/UT) PhD student (Philosophy of Education: SFU)