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1.1 The Promises of Education

• Education can be defined as “the growth process of the

individuals and society”. “The promises of education” means
what education can do to individuals of all ages, from children
to adults to senior citizens, in a particular country. The growth
of individuals can be divided into four basic domains:
• cognitive domain (knowledge),
• psychomotor domain (skills),
• affective domain (attitudes), and
• social domain (social interactions).

• Other domains of growth include:

• productive domain (knowledge and skills for job, home,
citizen and member of society),
• physical domain (development & maintenance of strong &
healthy body),
• aesthetic domain (values and appreciation of the arts),
• moral domain (values & behaviours), and
• spiritual domain (recognition & belief in the divine & the
view of transcendence).

• Education helps young citizens so that they can function more

effectively in their current and future times. These functions are
determined by the aims of education. The aims of education are
the general statements of the functions to be transferred to the
learners through education, or simply the general purpose of

• Ralph Tyler summarized the aims of American education as:

• developing self-realization,
• making individuals literate,
• encouraging social mobility,
• providing the skills and understanding necessary for
productive employment
• furnishing tools requisite for making effective choices
regarding material and nonmaterial things and services,
• furnishing the tools necessary for continued/life-long

1.2 The Limits of Education

• “The limits of education” means the factors that become

hindrance/obstacle to education. As we are all aware, education
needs infrastructures such as buildings, classrooms,
laboratories, libraries; others than the human capital such as
administrators, teachers and supporting staff. The provisions of
these facilities require financial support, which may become
the limitation to education.

• School location can be another limitation to education, with

some schools are nicely located in towns and cities, while
others are located in the villages or far in the mountains. The
access to schools could be a problem to some children, other
than lack of teaching and learning materials available at such
schools. Hence, school location can be a limit of education.

• Mental and physical abilities of students differ in many

ways. Some of them are mentally retarded, or physically
handicapped, blind, or deaf and dumb. These students cannot
learn as much as the normal students. They need special
learning aids, for example, the Braille materials for blind
students, and sign language for deaf and dumb students. All
these become limits of education.

• There is a large amount of knowledge and skills that

students need to learn. With the limited time and resources
available to students and teachers; teachers face the problem
of selecting what subjects the students should take to equip
them for their future life. There are at least nine domains of
growth that are important to students. Can they learn all of
them? Hence, time can be another limit of education.

1.3 Towards Reflective Practitioners

• Reflective practitioners mean those who look back at what they

are doing, making evaluation as to the quality of the processes
and think of how to improve those processes. With the above
promises and limits of education, teachers as practitioners in
education, should be more reflective in their profession. That is,
for example, they should look back at how they teach, evaluate
the effectiveness of the teaching process, and think of how to
improve this process.

• As an example of teaching process, assume that you are a

teacher in a secondary school, and you are given a class with
mixed abilities students to teach, i.e. some of them are very
bright, some are moderate, and the rest are weak students.
What would you do to make sure each one of your students in
your class understand what is taught to them, though they
have different academic abilities, background, interest, and

• Would you have all of them in the same class, and give more
attention to the weak students? Or, would you divide them into
three groups according to their abilities and teach them
differently? Or, would you use the cooperative-learning strategy
such that the good students will teach the moderate students in
groups of five, while you teach the weak students? Can we
separate teaching objectives for these different group of

• Or, would you separate your students into three classes, i.e.
Class A for good students, Class B for moderate students, and
Class C for weak students, and teach them different syllabus
using different approach? Can you reflect back, as a student, by
recalling what your teacher did to you when you were a student
in school? Let us share these experiences and do some
reflection on them, and suggest the better teaching approach
for these students.

1.4 Tutorial Activity

• There are 5 steps for teachers to follow in reflective teaching

process (p 25):
• PERCEIVE (Identify issues, problems, dilemmas, and
• VALUE (Consider different relevant perspectives or take
into account the values underlying individuals’ actions);
• KNOW (Call up professional from academic preparation,
educational theory and research, and practical experience);
• ACT (Applying knowledge and skills to make decisions); and
• EVALUATE (Assess the consequences of decisions and
outcomes of actions).
• Reflect teaching and learning when you were a student
in school.
• Identify one issue, problem, dilemma, or opportunity in
the teaching and learning process.
• Explain what you would do in the remaining four steps
of the model in order to improve the teaching and
learning process.

• Form groups of five students. A representative from

each group should present the answers during tutorial
session next week.


2.1 Introduction
This topic will discuss the understanding of education through foundations of
education perspective. The topics covered in the foundations of educations course
(see Study Guide) are the purpose of schooling, philosophy of education, sociology of
education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum and pedagogy,
transmission of knowledge, schools as organization, teacher professionalism, equality
of opportunity, educational outcomes, educational inequalities, educational reforms,
school improvements, current issues and trends in education, and the future of
education. Which of these topics do you think are multidisciplinary, and which of them
are interdisciplinary?
2.2 The Multidisciplinary Approach
“Multidisciplinary approach in understanding of education” means “understanding of
education through many separate disciplines of knowledge”. For example, the
sociological foundations of education, and teacher professionalism. These two
disciplines of knowledge are different, with little or no overlapping contents. The
theories and/or principles that made up the two disciplines come from two different
disciplines of knowledge (sociological foundations of education & teacher
(a) The Social Foundations of Education
• “Sociology” is defined as “the branch of knowledge that deals with the origin,
development, organization and functioning of human society”. Education develops
within, not a part from, social contexts. Schools influence the cultures of the people
that the schools serve. Likewise, the surrounding cultures shape the schools and
their curricula.
• Other than the dynamic nature of our local cultures, we have the technology (such
as internet and other electronic technologies) that exposes global cultures to our
community. Can we provide relevant education to cater for these dynamic cultures?
This is actually part of the social foundations of education. We have to study the

present and perhaps future cultures to determine the direction of our present
• In trying to understand education, we need to understand the sociology of a
particular country. We than try to relate the life and cultures of this country to its
education system, particularly to the philosophy, aims, goals and objectives of
education. Since we can study sociology of a country as a separate discipline, we
can study social foundations of education through a multidisciplinary approach.
(b) Teacher Professionalism

• “Professionalism” is defined as “professional character, spirit, or methods of

professionals, as distinguished from an amateur”. Hence, “teacher professionalism”
means “professional character, spirit, or methods of a teacher, as distinguished from
non-teachers”. Good teachers are not just born with the professional character,
spirit, or methods; but they acquire them through trainings and experiences. They
gain their knowledge from successful and unsuccessful experiences.
• Teachers differ from others at least in five aspects of teaching and learning: (1) they
have the content knowledge of the subject-matter they teach; (2) they have the
knowledge and skills of how best to deliver/teach a particular content; (3) they can
understand learners’ needs in teaching and learning; (4) they know how to handle
students with discipline problems; and (5) they know various methods/techniques to
evaluate students’ academic achievement, skill performance, attitudes and social

• In trying to understand education of a particular country, we need to understand, partly, the

teaching and learning process and teacher professionalism that are being practiced in the
country. We can also look at the character, spirit, or methods of other professionals; and
compare them with those for the teachers. Since we can study teacher professionalism as a
separate discipline, therefore it can be studied through a multidisciplinary approach.
2.3 The Interdisciplinary Approach
“Interdisciplinary approach in understanding of education through foundations perspective”
means “understanding of education through related disciplines of knowledge”. For example,
the philosophical foundations of education and the historical foundations of education are
interdisciplinary knowledge. We use the theories and principles from other disciplines
(philosophy & history) and create theories and principles for the “Philosophical Foundations of
Education” and the “Historical Foundations of Education”.
(a) The Philosophical Foundations of Education
• “Philosophy” is a combination of two Greek words, the “phil’s” which means “love”, and
“sophia” which means “wisdom”. Hence, the word “philosophy” means “love of wisdom”,
i.e. we need to “search for wisdom”. It involves searching for defensible values, clarifying
our perceptions, beliefs and attitudes; formulating principles for making decisions; and
finally implementing these decisions.
• Philosophy of education focuses on the values, beliefs and attitudes related to education,
i.e. the process of growth of individuals and society. These values, beliefs and attitudes
determine the direction of our education, particularly the aims, goals, objectives, contents,
delivery and assessment of education. We look at our life and problems in full perspective in
deciding on our philosophy of education.
• For example, the philosophy of “perennialism”, the oldest and most conservative
philosophy, is based on “realism”. Realist views the world in terms of objects and matter.
People come to know about the world through senses and reason. Everything is derived

from nature and is subjected to its laws. American education, up to the late nineteenth
century, was dominated by perennialist thinking.
• Hence, in order for us to understand the philosophy of education, we need to know the
general philosophies first, and then relate them to the aims of education of a country. That
is, we have to combine the knowledge about “philosophy” and the knowledge about the
“education” to form the knowledge about the “Philosophical Foundations of Education” of a
particular country, which can be regarded as an interdisciplinary approach.
(b) The Historical Foundations of Education
• “History” is defined as “the branch of knowledge that deals with past events”. History
involves searching for what had occurred within a particular time frame and context. All
human activities, including those in the field of education, occur within time and context.
The events that took place during a particular period of time in a country had influenced the
education of that country. In Malaysia, can you recall an event that had changed our
• In the USA, the historical foundations of education started with the colonial Massachusetts,
which settled by Puritans (members of a sect of Protestant from England) who hold strictly
to religious discipline. The earlier schools were closely related to Puritan church. The major
purpose of school was to teach children to read the Scriptures (passages from Bible) and
notices of civil affairs. The purpose of schooling at that time was to make sure children can
read and understand the principles of religion and the laws of the Commonwealth.
• Hence, in order for us to understand the history of education of a country, we need to know
the events that had taken place at a particular time, and relate them to what had happened
in education of a country. That is, we have to combine the knowledge about “history” and
the knowledge about the “education” to form the knowledge about the “Historical
Foundations of Education” of a particular country, which can be regarded as an
interdisciplinary approach.

2.4 Tutorial Activity

Read the subtopic of: “How Can Schools Reduce Risks That Threaten Children’s
Health and Safety?” on pages 43-53 of the textbook. Relate the social phenomena in
the USA (the social foundations of education) to the roles of schools (what schools
can do to educate young children to reduce the risks that threaten their health and

Course Leader: Prof. Dr. Abdul Razak Habib
Lecture Notes
3.1 Introduction
Why did we go to school? Why do children go to school? The answer to these
questions will probably help us to understand the purpose of schooling. What would
have happen to us if we did not go to school? What was the purpose of schooling
300 years ago? What is the purpose of schooling now? This lecture will relate the
philosophy, aims, goals and objectives of education to the purpose of schooling.
3.2 The Philosophy, Aims, Goals and Objectives of Education

• To understand the process of education, we need to understand curriculum

development, content development, content delivery, and assessment of content
learning. The curriculum (syllabus) development includes determining the
philosophy, the aims, the goals and the objectives of education, as shown the
figure below. The content development, delivery, and assessment will not be
discussed here.

Philosophy Aims Goals Objectives

• Philosophy of education, as we know, focuses on the values, beliefs and

attitudes in relation to the growth process of individuals and society. These values,
beliefs and attitudes determine the direction of our education, particularly the
aims, goals, objectives, contents, delivery and assessment of education. Some of
the educational philosophies will be discussed in Topic 4. As an example, we will
discuss pragmatism as a philosophy of education.
• Pragmatism defines the truth and meaning of ideas (knowledge) according to their
physical consequences and practical values (p. 154). It views the world as not fixed, but
constantly changing; and views knowledge as process. It suggests education should focus
on experiencing the process, for example, learning occurs as pupil engages in problem
solving. Knowing is considered an interaction between the learner and environment, of
which both are undergoing constant changes.
• Aim of education (What education expects students will achieve) can be defined
as “general statement of the functions to be transferred to learners through
education, or simply the purpose of education”. The earlier aims of American
education were to “ascertain the continuation and enforcement of democratic
ideals, and to save the souls” (p. 94). These aims had been associated with the
philosophy of pragmatism, which many people claimed to be the unofficial
American philosophy (p. 154).
• Goal of education (What students can do after completing education) can be
defined as “statement of specific purpose with some outcomes in mind”. The aim
gives the purpose of education, such as “Making individual literate”; while the
goal gives more specific outcomes of education, such as “All Year-1 pupils
should be able to read and write simple sentences in English”. Hence, the
goal of education is the statement about what pupils should be able to do to
achieve the aim/purpose of education.
• Objective of education can be defined as “statement of specific learning
outcomes at various levels of learning”; e.g. at program level, course level, topic
level, or lesson level. An example of course level educational objective is: “At the
end of this course, students should be able to write short stories in
English”. The objectives are usually written in behavioural terms, such as “write,
read, explain, compare, compute, or draw” and so on. The curriculum is then
developed based on the various objectives of a particular school subject.

3.2 The Purpose of Schooling

There are many classifications of the purposes/aims of schooling, for example those
given by The Educational Policies Commission (USA) and those given by the Cardinal
Principles of Secondary School Education. The Educational Policies Commission
listed four purposes of American schooling: (1) self-realization, (2) human
relationships, (3) economic efficiency, and (4) civic responsibility.

• The purpose of self-realization is to encourage inquiry, mental capabilities, speech,
reading, writing, numbers, sight and hearing, health knowledge, health habits,
public health, recreation, intellectual interests, and character formation.
• The purpose of human relationships includes humanity, friendship, cooperation
with others, courtesy, appreciation of the home, conservation of the home,
homemaking, and democracy in the home.
• The purpose of economic efficiency includes work, occupational appreciation,
personal economic, consumer judgment, efficiency in buying, and consumer
• The purpose of civic responsibility includes social justice, social activity, social
understanding, critical judgement, tolerance, observance, conserving of resources,
social application of science, world citizenship, economic literacy, political
citizenship, and devotion to democracy.
• The Cardinal Principles of Secondary School Education listed seven major areas of
purposes of secondary schooling: (1) health, (2) command of fundamental
processes (living skills), (3) worthy home membership, (4) vocational education,
(5) civic education, (6) worthy used of leisure, and (7) ethical character.
3.3 Tutorial Activity
• Read Chapter 10 of the textbook about the Backward Design of Curriculum (p.
284). Explain “backward curriculum design”. Give one example of the design
based on an educational objective. Ralph Tyler (1949) described the design as

“Educational objectives become the criteria by which materials are selected, content is
outlined, instructional procedures are developed, and test and examination are prepared…
The purpose of a statement of objectives is to indicate the kinds of changes in the student
to be brought about so that the instructional activities can be planned and developed in a
way likely to attain these objectives”.
Sample Answer
• Backward curriculum design starts with the learning objectives (backward) to
derive/develop a curriculum (i.e. prepare lesson content, select materials, develop
teaching procedures, prepare exercises, and prepare test/examination). A simple
example is given below:
• Learning objective: At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to find the area
of a right-angle triangle.
• Lesson content: Find the area of a rectangle and the area of the right-angle
triangle by dividing the rectangle into two right-angle triangles. Derive the formula for
the area of a right-angle triangle.
• Materials: Use a manila card to make rectangles and use a ruler to measure
the sides.
• Teaching procedures:
(a) Review on how to find the area of a rectangle.
(b) Ask students to cut the manila card to make rectangles of various sizes.
(c) Ask students to measure the sides of the rectangles and compute the areas.
(d) Ask students to cut the rectangles into right-angle triangles and then compute the
areas of each rectangle
(e) Deduce the formula for the area of rectangle and triangle.

• Exercises: Students are asked to draw right-angle triangles of various sizes and are
asked to compute the areas.

• Assessment: Students are given a few figures of right-angle triangles and are asked to
compute the areas.