EDUC 867: Values in Educational Practice and Policy

Queen's University

Professor: James Scott Johnston, PhD.
Office # A310 Duncan McArthur Hall
Telephone #: 78395
Office Hours: Monday 11-12; Thursday 1-2.

Course Description:

This course explores the central role(s) that the concept of value play(s) in educational theory and practice. The ethical frameworks within which educational practice and policy development proceed are examined critically and criteria for determining the educational appropriateness of specific educational activities are developed. The course may also examine the nature of professional judgment in education and the role that practical reasoning may play in coping productively with complex questions of value in education.
Three different perspectives are examined for their consistency, their rigour, and their ultimate benefit to practice and policy. These are Virtue-based or Eudemonist ethics; Rule-based or Deontological ethics; and Pragmatist ethics. Selected ethical and policy issues will be treated in conjunction with each of these approaches and the practical bearing of each will be stressed.

Course Materials:

Primary Sources
Aristotle: Nichomachean Ethics.
Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.
John Dewey: Theory of Valuation
How to Write a Philosophy Paper. (online)
online articles

Course Assignments:

There are 2 assignments for this course. The first is a mini-presentation of a selected aspect of ONE of the three primary thinkers. The presentation should last approximately 10-15 minutes and should include discussion of the problem selected, attempted resolution, and class feedback. The second is a 25 page, typed and double-spaced paper with references, bringing an aspect of ONE of the ethical models discussed to bear on a problem or issue in current Canadian or international educational policy/practice.
The classes are presented in seminar format: Attentive reading of the texts is stressed and the discussions will lend towards the practice and policies these may/do, require.


Grading is as per the guidelines of the Graduate School.
A= 80-100 percent
B = 70-79 percent
No grade under a ‘B’ will be accepted.

Schedule of Dates and Readings

Week One: Introduction; discussion of syllabus; overview of course; assignment of readings; How to write a philosophy paper (online).

Eudemonistic Ethics.
Readings: Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Books 1, 2.

Week Two: Eudemonistic Ethics.
Readings: Nichomachean Ethics, Books 5, 6, 7.
Begin mini-presentations.

Week Three: Eudemonistic Ethics.
Readings: Nichomachean Ethics, Books 8, 9, 10.

Week Four: Selected Issues in Ethics, Practice, and Policy (1)
David Carr. Three Approaches to Moral Education
Colin Wringe. Reasons, Rules, and Virtues in Education
David Carr. Moralized Psychology or Psychologized Morality?

Week Five: Deontological Ethics.
Readings: Barbara Herman. Education to Autonomy
Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Preface, chapter 1

Week Six: Deontological Ethics.
Readings: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Chapter 2.

Week Seven: Deontological Ethics.
Readings. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Chapter 3.

Week Eight: Selected Issues in Ethics, Practice, and Policy (2)
R.F. Dearden. Autonomy and Education
Barbara Herman: Training to Autonomy
James Scott Johnston. PSGB article (online)

Week Nine: Pragmatic Ethics.
Jim Garrison: Dewey’s Philosophy of Education
John Dewey, Theory of Valuation Chapter 1

Week Ten: Pragmatic Ethics
Readings: John Dewey, Theory of Valuation Chapters 2-4

Week Eleven: Pragmatic Ethics.
Readings: John Dewey, Theory of Valuation Chapters 5-6

Week Twelve: Selected Issues in Ethics, Practice, and Policy (3)
Christine McCarthy, Dewey’s Ethics: Philosophy or Science?
Steven Fesmire. Educating the Moral Artist: Dramatic Rehearsal in Moral Education
Jim Garrison, Prophetic, Epideictic Rhetoric: Poetic Education Beyond Good and Evil

Final paper due last day of Finals week



Faculty of Education

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000