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FOUN 440: Understanding Teaching

Queen's University

Professor: James Scott Johnston
Office: 318 Duncan McArthur Hall
Phone: 78395
Email address:
Office hours: Monday 11-12; Thursday 1-2.

Course Description

This course is intended as an introduction to the philosophy of teaching children. Topics will include the nature and aims of education, the activities of teaching and learning, and the structure of the curriculum. The frames from which we approach these change from term to term. This term we shall frame these topics from the perspectives of Traditionalism, Pragmatism, and Feminism.

Course Objectives

1) Be familiar with a philosophic stance on teaching, learning, aims, and purposes, of education.
2) Rigorously assess and judge teaching and learning as to logical consistency, practicality, and overall merit.
3) Develop appropriate research and writing skills consummate with a qualified teaching professional.
4) Begin to reflect on one’s teaching aims, purposes, and style as it comports to the needs of the profession, society, children, and one’s moral/ethical frame.

Course Materials:

John Dewey. Democracy and Education. New York: The Free Press, 1999.
Plato. The Republic. (Online)
Nel Noddings: The Challenge to Care in Schools. New York: Teachers College Press, 1992.

Course Exercise:

Group reports on selected educational issues, providing an in-depth examination of these through library research and group presentation. Group Presentations occur the last three weeks of class. Each group is composed of 5 students, who provide an oral presentation of approximately one-half hour, and an outline/summary of their respective contribution to the group. The topic in question will be analyzed from the 3 perspectives (Traditionalism, Pragmatism, Feminism).

Schedule of Dates and Readings:

Part 1: Traditionalism (Week 1-2)

Plato: The Republic

Applying the frameworks: Groupwork

Part 2: Pragmatism (Week 2-3)

John Dewey: Democracy and Education

Applying the frameworks: Groupwork

Part 3: Feminism (Week 4)

Nel Noddings: The Challenge to Care in Schools

Applying the frameworks: Groupwork

Practicum (October)

Part 4: Review and Group Presentations