•  231
    ‘What it Makes Sense to Say’: Wittgenstein, rule‐following and the nature of education
    with Nicholas C. Burbules
    Educational Philosophy and Theory 37 (3). 2005.
    In his writings Jim Marshall has helpfully emphasized such Wittgensteinian themes as the multiplicity of language games, the deconstruction of ‘certainty,’ and the contexts of power that underlie discursive systems. Here we focus on another important legacy of Wittgenstein's thinking: his insistence that human activity is rule‐governed. This idea foregrounds looking carefully at the world of education and learning, as against the empirical search for new psychological or other facts. It reminds …Read more
  •  102
    Philosophy, methodology and educational research: Introduction
    with David Bridges
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 40 (2). 2006.
    This book evaluates the increasingly wide variety of intellectual resources for research methods and methodologies and investigates what constitutes good educational research. Written by a distinguished international group of philosophers of education Questions what sorts of research can usefully inform policy and practice, and what inferences can be drawn from different kinds of research Demonstrates the critical engagement of philosophers of education with the wider educational research commun…Read more
  •  79
    Proteus rising: Re-imagining educational research
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (s1): 183-198. 2008.
    The idea that educational research should be 'scientific', and ideally based on randomised control trials, is in danger of becoming hegemonic. In the face of this it seems important to ask what other kinds of educational research can be respectable in their own different terms. We might also note that the demand for research to be 'scientific' is characteristically modernist, and thus arguably local and temporary. It is then tempting to consider what non-modernist approaches might look like. The…Read more
  •  76
    The long slide to happiness
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (3-4): 559-573. 2008.
    The recent wave of interest in 'teaching happiness' is beset by problems. It consists of many different emphases and approaches, many of which are inconsistent with each other. If happiness is understood as essentially a matter of 'feeling good', then it is difficult to account for the fact that we want and value all sorts of things that do not make us particularly happy. In education and in life more broadly we value a wider diversity of goods. Such criticisms are standard in philosophical trea…Read more
  •  73
    On diffidence: The moral psychology of self-belief
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 40 (1). 2006.
    The language of self‐belief, including terms like shyness and diffidence, is complex and puzzling. The idea of self‐esteem in particular, which has been given fresh currency by recent interest in ‘personalised learning’, continues to create problems. I argue first that we need a ‘thicker’ and more subtle moral psychology of self‐belief; and, secondly, that there is a radical instability in the ideas and concepts in this area, an instability to which justice needs to be done. I suggest that aspec…Read more
  •  41
    The Virtues of Unknowing
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (2): 272-284. 2016.
    Traditional epistemology is often said to have reached an impasse, and recent interest in virtue epistemology supposedly marks a turn away from philosophers’ traditional focus on problems of knowledge and truth. Yet that focus re-emerges, especially among ‘reliabilist’ virtue epistemologists. I argue for a more ‘responsibilist’ approach and for the importance of some of the quieter and gentler epistemic virtues, by contrast with the tough-minded ones that are currently popular in education. In p…Read more
  •  40
    Educational research and the practical judgement of policy makers
    with David Bridges and Paul Smeyers
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (s1): 5-14. 2008.
    No Abstract
  •  37
    Self‐Esteem: The Kindly Apocalypse
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 36 (1). 2002.
  •  32
    Between the lines: Philosophy, text and conversation
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 (3): 437-449. 2009.
    In doing philosophy we need to be aware of the awkwardness of thinking in terms of having a method, still more any kind of 'methodology'. Instead we might consider the different ways in which philosophy has been conceived in terms of contrasts: for example between the written and the spoken word, between exposition and dialogue, and between—in Richard Rorty's terms—systematic and edifying philosophy. This article offers no easy answer to how to proceed, suggesting rather that those who attempt p…Read more
  •  31
    Abstraction and Finitude: Education, Chance and Democracy (review)
    Studies in Philosophy and Education 25 (1-2): 19-35. 2006.
    Education in the west has become a very knowing business in which students are encouraged to cultivate self-awareness and meta-cognitive skills in pursuit of a kind of perfection. The result is the evasion of contingency and of the consciousness of human finitude. The neo-liberalism that makes education a market good exacerbates this. These tendencies can be interpreted as a dimension of scepticism. This is to be dissolved partly by acknowledging that we are obscure to ourselves. Such an acknowl…Read more
  •  29
    As if by machinery: The levelling of educational research
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 40 (2). 2006.
  •  27
    Educational Research: The Importance of the Humanities
    Educational Theory 65 (6): 739-754. 2015.
    It is one sign of the lack of understanding of the value of the humanities, to educational research and inquiry as well as to our world more widely, that such justifications of them as are offered frequently take a crudely instrumental form. The humanities are welcomed insofar as they are beneficial to the economy, for example, or play a therapeutic role in people's physical or mental well-being. In higher education in the UK, they are marginalized for similar reasons, on the grounds that they n…Read more
  •  27
    Total parenting
    Educational Theory 60 (3): 357-369. 2010.
    In this essay, Richard Smith observes that being a parent, like so much else in our late‐modern world, is required to become ever more efficient and effective, and is increasingly monitored by the agencies of the state, often with good reason given the many recorded instances of child abuse and cruelty. However, Smith goes on to argue, this begins to cast being a parent as a matter of “parenting,” a technological deployment of skills and techniques, with the loss of older, more spontaneous and i…Read more
  •  19
    Metamorphosis and the Management of Change
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (1): 8-19. 2016.
    Talk of educational reform and of the importance of ‘the management of change’ in education and elsewhere is still in vogue. However it often seems concerned to persuade us that if we engage fully with change rather than resisting it we will find our lives more meaningful, thus omitting the important matter of the goal of the change in question. Change here is in any case invariably a euphemism for the impoverishment of education and the annihilation of its ideals, together with the deprofession…Read more
  •  18
    The Ethics of Research Excellence
    with James C. Conroy
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 51 (4): 693-708. 2017.
    We here analyse the ethical dimensions of the UK's ‘Research Excellence Framework’, the latest version of an exercise which assesses the quality of university research in the UK every seven or so years. We find many of the common objections to this exercise unfounded, such as that it is excessively expensive by comparison with alternatives such as various metrics, or that it turns on the subjective judgement of the assessors. However there are grounds for concern about the crude language in whic…Read more
  •  17
    A Strange Condition of Things: Alterity and knowingness in Dickens' David Copperfield
    Educational Philosophy and Theory 45 (4): 371-382. 2013.
    It is sometimes said that we are strangers to ourselves, bearers of internal alterity, as well as to each other. The profounder this strangeness then the greater the difficulty of giving any systematic account of it without paradox: of supposing that our obscurity to ourselves can readily be illuminated. To attempt such an account, in defiance of the paradox, is to risk knowingness: a condition which, appearing to challenge our alterity but in fact often confirming it, holds an ambiguous place i…Read more
  •  17
    Philosophy in context: Reply to tröhler
    Educational Philosophy and Theory 39 (1). 2007.
    This paper responds to Tröhler's charge that my paper ‘As if by Machinery: The levelling of educational research’ takes Francis Bacon's vision of scientific research out of context. I distinguish four senses of ‘decontextualisation’: as ignorance, as belief in ‘timeless truths’, as comparison of contexts, and as genealogy. I argue that Tröhler has a case against the first sense and aspects of the second, but that his argument against the last two makes philosophy and philosophical conversation i…Read more
  •  13
    To School with the Poets: Philosophy, Method and Clarity
    Paedagogica Historica 44 635-645. 2008.
    There is a longstanding difficulty in distinguishing philosophy (and philosophy of education) from other kinds of writing. Even the notions of clarity and rigour, sometimes claimed as central and defining characteristics of philosophy at its best, turn out to have ineliminably figurative elements, and accounts of philosophical method often display the very rhetoricity that they describe philosophy as concerned to avoid. It is tempting to wonder how far notions of philosophy as austere and analyt…Read more
  •  10
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (4). 2012.
  •  10
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 41 (1). 2007.
  •  9
    Education Policy: Philosophical Critique (edited book)
    Wiley-Blackwell. 2013.
    _Education Policy_ sees 12 philosophers of education critique current and recent UK educational policies relating to higher education and faith-based education, assessment, the teaching of reading, vocational and civic education, teacher education, the influence of Europe and the idea of the ‘Big Society’. Twelve philosophers of education subject elements of current and recent UK educational policy to critique Forthright and critical, the contributors are unafraid to challenge current orthodoxie…Read more
  •  9
    The Ancient Quarrel and the Dream of Writing
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 52 (4): 592-608. 2018.
  •  8
  •  8
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 44 (2-3). 2010.
  •  7
    University Futures
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (4): 649-662. 2012.
    Recent radical changes to university education in England have been discussed largely in terms of the arrangements for transferring funding from the state to the student as consumer, with little discussion of what universities are for. It is important, while challenging the economic rationale for the new system, to resist talking about higher education only in the language of economics. There is a strong principled case for rejecting the extension of neoliberalism to education and university edu…Read more
  •  6
    Envy, Theory and Research (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2008.
  •  6
    Philosophy in Context: Reply to Tröhler
    Educational Philosophy and Theory 39 (1): 20-27. 2007.
    This paper responds to Tröhler's charge that my paper ‘As if by Machinery: The levelling of educational research’ takes Francis Bacon's vision of scientific research out of context. I distinguish four senses of ‘decontextualisation’: as ignorance, as belief in ‘timeless truths’, as comparison of contexts, and as genealogy. I argue that Tröhler has a case against the first sense and aspects of the second, but that his argument against the last two makes philosophy and philosophical conversation i…Read more