Aims of Education: How to Resist the Temptation of Technocratic Models

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14 Citations (Scopus)


A technocratic model of curriculum design that has been highly influential since the middle of last century assumes that the aims of education can be, and should be: 1. Causally brought about by administering educational experiences; 2. Specified as objectives that can be attained, reached or completed; 3. Changes in students that are described in advance. Richard S. Peters argued against the first of these three tenets by making a distinction between aims that are causally brought about by the means and aims that are constituted by the means. I argue that further distinctions between ways in which ends and means can be related throw doubt on the remaining two tenets. My argument against the second one rests on a distinction between open aims that cannot be completed and closed aims that can be reached. I use a third distinction, between aims as principles of design and aims as principles of reform, to show that the third tenet of the technocratic model is also suspect. I conclude that a realistic view of educational aims must take into account that they are more multifarious than envisaged by the technocratic model of curriculum design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

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© 2016 The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.


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