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Viewing: PHIL 249 O: Philosophy of Education

Last approved: Mon, 25 Feb 2019 21:17:00 GMT

Last edit: Mon, 25 Feb 2019 15:37:42 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Karen Detlefsen detlefse PROFESSOR A School of Arts and Sciences Philosophy
Fall 2019 (Deactivations ONLY)
Spring 2019
Philosophy of Education
We sometimes see philosophy as an inaccessible subject and the philosopher a solitary academic musing about abstract concepts from her office chair. However, philosophical thinking lies at the heart of many aspects of human life. Anyone who has pondered over questions regarding goodness, value, personal identity, justice, how to live well, or how to determine the right course of action has thought philosophically. These issues are of great interest and importance not just to adults, but also to children and teenagers. Introducing younger students to philosophical thought consists, in part, of showing them the ways in which they are already thinking philosophically. In this course, we will study a variety of topics in philosophy with the aim of developing curricula and lesson plans for delivery in middle school (6th through 8th grades). Course participants will work with the instructor and with help from a curricular planner from Penn s Graduate School of Education to develop a series of one-hour lessons in philosophy, which participants will then teach to the middle school students in a local school. Part of the course will be held on Penn s campus, and part of the course will be held on-site with one of our partner schools. This course is an Academically Based Community Service course. Registration in this class requires a permit, following an interview with the instructor.
GSWS 249 - Philosophy of Education

Sector Requirements

Your department or program fields a variety of courses to meet distinct educational needs. Please explain how this course fits into your department's plan for participating in the general education curriculum of the College. The sector panel will want to know what is distinctive about this course along with the other courses your department lists in the sector that makes them suitable for the sector requirement.
Currently, eleven Philosophy courses fulfill sectors of the College’s General Education requirement. That’s approximately ten percent of our courses (based on the Summer 2018 inventory). Five of our eleven sectored courses are in Sector I (Society: Phil 002, 008, 072, 077, 211), two in Sector II (History and Tradition: 003 and 004), one each in Sector III (Arts and Letters: Phil 080) and Sector IV (Hum & Soc Science: 001), and two in Sector VII (Natural Sci & Mathematics: 025 and 226).

All of theses sectored courses are taught at a level that does not require students to have previous background in Philosophy, but they also introduce students to the methods and texts of the discipline. Thus they are able to do double duty both as courses that serve as introductory or low-level courses in the major and as courses that serve the College’s general requirement. Indeed, some of them are required courses in the major. As a result, the Philosophy department’s contribution to the College’s General Education Requirement does not compete with its discipline-specific goals of providing courses suitable to all levels of the PHIL major, as well as required courses for the PPE, VLST. LGIC and COGS majors.

At present Philosophy has only one course in sector IV (Humanities and Social Sciences), Phil 001, which meets the interdisciplinary aspirations of the sector. The present proposed course, Philosophy of Education, would meet the “theory and practice” aspirations of that sector. That would increase both the diversity of courses within sector IV, as well as the scope of Philosophy’s service to the General Requirement.
Course not offered every year
Humanities & Social Science Sector
Karen Detlefsen
Standing Faculty
Standing Faculty
This course is an academically-based community service course. It satisfies the philosophy department's value theory requirement. It draws on humanistic scholarship in philosophy as well as readings in the social sciences, especially politics and sociology of education. As an ABCS course, it also includes practice that brings together humanistic and social scientific thinking.
By teaching philosophy, Penn students come to understand the philosophy much better than by simply listening to a lecture, or even participating in seminar; thus one objective is to cultivate a deep understanding of the philosophical material. Other objectives include: cultivating a first-hand understanding of the nature of public education in Philadelphia; cultivating a commitment to community service; and cultivating a commitment to social/educational justice.

Methods of Assessment

Students write between 20-30 pages of material, including reflections on their expectations for the course and on how/whether their expectations were met. In addition, students produce a 15 page lesson plan, which is housed on our Philosophy for the Young website (a website with open access resources for people teaching philosophy to pre-college students). Finally, students work in teams to devise and teach lesson plans in philosophy for the pre-college students.
Weekly attendance in seminar on Penn's campus (2.5 hours), and 4-5 trips to the elementary/middle school classroom, teaching the pre-college students philosophy (1 hour per session).

Sector I - Society


Sector II - History and Tradition


Sector III - Arts & Letters


Sector IV - Humanities and Social Science

Seminars on Penn's campus focus on the philosophical material to be conveyed to school students (theory), and developing and teaching lesson plans to the school students puts this theory into practice.
Every seminar class includes about 30 minutes devoted to discussing the previous week's in-community lesson to give students an opportunity to share what went well (and why) and what did not go well (and why). As a collaborative exercise, these discussion sessions allow the Penn students to improve their community practice/teaching practice in future sessions.

In addition, students write two reflection pieces: (a) "Before" asks them to write about what they expect of their upcoming practical engagement with the pre-college students, and what they want to accomplish with the course (and what their worries, if any, are); and (b) "After" asks them to reflect on their "Before" pice, as well as on the semester as a whole, in light of the experience (especially the community experience).
As noted above in "place in the curriculum": This course draws on humanistic scholarship in philosophy as well as readings in the social sciences, especially the politics and sociology of education. As an ABCS course, it also includes practice that brings together humanistic and social scientific thinking.
The course, as it has been taught to date, does not include a significant creative element in writing, music or the fine arts. (That said, many of the lesson plans Penn students happen to create include poetry, stories, and short films as philosophical prompts.) However, future examples of this course might include artistic creation, for example, having Penn students guide pre-college learning in a variety of ways of producing philosophy, such as through the creation of short films or graphic novellas.

Sector V - Living World


Sector VI - Physical World


Sector VII - Natural Sciences and Mathematics


Administrative Field

College Humanities and Social Science Panel
Stephanie Jones (stephanr) (Mon, 25 Feb 2019 15:37:42 GMT): Dear Karen and Susan, we are hoping that you can renumber these between 0000-1999 to be able to keep this sectored. The committee also hopes that this can be a regular offering of the department, although we understand the challenges of positing ABCS and smaller courses in a department’s curriculum.
Key: 567