The logic of educational studies : a philosophical investigation of the literature, 1952-1961
The little-appreciated literature of the 1950s offers, in its 'reflexive' parts, a polarized discussion of Education. Two groups of contributors hold implicit philosophical positions, clarified by the slogan-terms 'rigour' and 'relevance'. In the first half-decade, each of the conventional 'fields' of educational study - historical, psychological, philosophical, social and pedagogical - witnessed growing disagreement between specialists and generalists in teacher training. The former aimed at establishing their subjects as academically respectable branches of 'pure' descriptive disciplines taught in non-vocational university departments. The latter emphasized the prescriptive nature of educational theory, which relates many kinds of knowledge to various levels of eductional activity - particularly as curriculum theory and theory of teaching. The motives for specialization were partly non-intellectual or 'political', whereas the 'logic' of generalism was intellectually warranted in philosophy, traditionally conceived as not excluding normative and speculative elements in favour of analysis. In each 'field'-context this 'hidden' philosophical controversy presented a variation on the fundamental issue of thought-in-relation-to-action. During the second half-decade, the differentiated 'four disciplines' approach gathered the momentum which led to its institutional success in the 1960s - particularly through the activities of self-confident analytical philosophers and empirical sociologists of education. Nevertheless, generalists continued to defend 'integrated' theorizing. An awareness of the powerful American philosophical literature would have strengthened their 'intuitive' position against charges of amateurism by showing that 'rigour' takes many forms. In 'pure' psychology, behaviourism emphasized technology, humanism focussed on the 'person' and technical philosophers maintained their claim on 'mind'. A demand then emerged for an autonomous educational psychology, based on classroom learning rather than extrapolations from orthodox research. In history, there was much conventional substantive writing, but little reflexive comment. The logic concealed in the works of this significant decade is not inferior to that in the vast literature produced since 1961, much of which is derivative and so obscures the basic philosophical problem of relating knowing to doing in education.