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Philosophy - William Allan Kritsonis, PhD


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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis Inducted into the William H. Parker Leadership Academy Hall of Honor (HBCU)

Remarks by Angela Stevens McNeil
July 26th 2008

Good Morning. My name is Angela Stevens McNeil and I have the privilege of introducing the next Hall of Honor Inductee, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis. Dr. Kritsonis was chosen because of his dedication to the educational advancement of Prairie View A&M University students. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1969 from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. In 1971, he earned his Master’s in Education from Seattle Pacific University. In 1976, he earned his PhD from the University of Iowa.
Dr. Kritsonis has served and blessed the field of education as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, director of student teaching and field experiences, invited guest professor, author, consultant, editor-in-chief, and publisher. He has also earned tenure as a professor at the highest academic rank at two major universities.
In 2005, Dr. Kritsonis was an Invited Visiting Lecturer at the Oxford Round Table at Oriel College in the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. His lecture was entitled the Ways of Knowing through the Realms of Meaning.
In 2004, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis was recognized as the Central Washington University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus for the College of Education and Professional Studies.
Dr. William Kritsonis is a well respected author of more than 500 articles in professional journals and several books. In 1983, Dr. Kritsonis founded the NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS. These publications represent a group of highly respected scholarly academic periodicals. In 2004, he established the DOCTORAL FORUM – National Journal for Publishing and Mentoring Doctoral Student Research. The DOCTORAL FORUM is the only refereed journal in America committed to publishing doctoral students while they are enrolled in course work in their doctoral programs. Over 300 articles have been published by doctorate and master’s degree students and most are indexed in ERIC.
Currently, Dr. Kritsonis is a Professor in the PhD Program in Educational Leadership here at Prairie View A&M University.
Dr. William Kritsonis has dedicated himself to the advancement of educational leadership and to the education of students at all levels. It is my honor to bring him to the stage at this time as a William H. Parker Leadership Academy Hall of Honor Inductee.

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Philosophy - William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

  1. 1. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD (Lecture Notes, Feb. 2011) What is your philosophy of life?Philosophic Questions Branches of PhilosophyAre human beings basically good or What is the nature of reality?is the essential nature of the human (Metaphysics–ontology)being evil?What causes certain events in the What is the nature of reality?universe to happen? (Metaphysics–cosmology)What is your relationship to the What is the nature of reality?universe? (Metaphysics–cosmology)What is your relationship to a higher What is the nature of reality?being (God)? (Metaphysics–ontology)To what extent is your life basically What is the nature of reality?free? (Metaphysics–ontology)How is reality determined? What is the nature of reality? (Metaphysics–ontology)What is your basic purpose in life? What is the nature of reality? (Metaphysics–ontology)How is knowledge determined? What is the nature of knowledge? (Epistemology)What is truth? What is the nature of knowledge? (Epistemology)What are the limits of knowledge? What is the nature of knowledge? (Epistemology)What is the relationship between What is the nature of knowledge?cognition and knowledge? (Epistemology)Are certain moral or ethical values What is the nature of values?universal? (Axiology–ethics)How is beauty determined? What is the nature of values? (Axiology–aesthetics)What constitutes aesthetic value? What is the nature of values? (Axiology–aesthetics)Who determines what is right, just, or What is the nature of values?good? (Axiology–ethics)
  2. 2. 1. What are the three branches of philosophy? Metaphysics–deals with ultimate reality. Epistemology–deals with the nature of knowledge. Axiology–the study of values.2. What are the major schools of philosophy? Idealism–certain universal absolute concepts. Realism–work is governed by various laws, known or unknown. Pragmatism–primarily an American philosophy; scientific analysis, learning through experience. Existentialism–believe students should control much of what goes on.3. What is the role of teachers? Just about anyone can read a teacher’s guide and present information in a sensible order. Understanding why (philosophical view) it is presented in a particular way, if it should be presented in a particular way, or if it should be presented at all requires a different kind of knowledge.4. How does educational philosophy influence educational leadership? Philosophy impacts education through administrative leadership, teaching methods and curriculum Some Major Contributors to Idealism a. Formal Idealism Plato. Plato is considered to be the first and foremost Idealist. Platonic Idealism rests on the distinction between appearance and reality. Out of his analysis of this distinction grew his theory of ideas. b. Religious Idealism Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine, a Roman Catholic, believed that we should release ourselves from the world of Man and enter into the world of God.. He believed that the world of Man is the material world of darkness, sin, ignorance and suffering and man should try to enter the world of God through meditation and faith. This, he concluded, is because knowledge was created by God and can only be found trying to find God. 3. Subjective Idealism George Berkeley. George Berkeley (1685-1753) He related that matter did not exist except through the mind. All knowledge that a human has
  3. 3. of an object is his/her sensations of it. He argued that ideas exist only in human consciousness. Berkeley believed that all existence was dependent on some mind to comprehend it.5. Absolute Idealism George Wilhelm Friedreich Hegel. George Wilhelm Friedreich Hegel (1770-1831) promoted this branch of philosophy. Hegel considered evil necessary to stimulate change in order to bring about God. Thus, the human mind grows and the world improves. In a contended state, there is insufficient contradiction to stimulate improvement. Hegel believed that humankind was made for achievement, not for happiness to achieve. For this belief, humans should be willing to risk revolution. Convinced that “the times make the man,” Hegel was confident that a leader would arise to synthesize the forces and to bring harmony out of chaos.6. Modern Idealism Josiah Royce. spokesman for Hegelian Idealism and maintained that the external meaning of a thing depends entirely on its internal meaning–an embodiment of purpose. a form of mind.7. Other Contributors René Descartes. René Descartes (1596-1650) Ehallenged the Catholic He doubted of all things, including his existence. Descartes brought forth the idiom, “I think, therefore I am.” He emphasized that any idea depended on other ideas because they referred to another idea; the only idea that did not refer was the Perfect Being (God), the source of all things. Descartes believed in two principles: Cogito, or the undoubtability of human thought; and Deity, or the foundation of all objects of thought. Immanuel Kant. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) believed the rationalist thinks analytically while the empiricist thinks synthetically. He considered the mind is conscious of the experience of the thing-in- itself. All we know, he contended, is the content of experience. He viewed education as important because humans were the only being that needed it.
  4. 4. 8. Some Major Contributors to Realism.a. Classical Tradition Aristotle. Aristotle believed that a proper study of matter could lead to better and more distinct ideas (forms). Forms, such as the idea of God or of a tree, can exist without matter, but there can be no matter without form. Each piece of matter has both a universal and a particular property. Particular properties of one acorn differentiate it from other acorns; that is, size, shape, color, weight, and so forth. These forms are the non-material aspects of each particular object that relate to all other particular objects of that class. Aristotle proclaimed four causes: Material, the matter from which something is made; Formal, the design that shapes the material object; Efficient Cause, the agent that produces the object; and Final Cause, the direction toward which the object is tending. Aristotle asserted the chief good was happiness that depended upon a virtuous and well-ordered soul. This can happen only as one develops virtuous habits shaped through education. Education, he believed, developed individual reasoning capacity so one can make correct choices. This means the path of moderation, of acceptance, and of following such a principle became the core of educational proposals.b. Religious Realism Saint Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) He realized that teaching truth to minds made for truth was of such intrinsic excellence that, as far as he could see, no human could teach, but only God himself. He argued that God was pure reason and that God created matter out of nothing and He gave purpose to the universe. Aquinas felt that all truths were eternally in God and that truth was passed to humans by divine revelation.c. Modern Realism Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Bacon, also referred to as the “father of the scientific method,” recommended the method of scientific inquiry be adapted to determine truth. He believed that knowledge was power and acquiring this knowledge could allow one to deal effectively with problems.. Bacon urged that individuals examine all previously accepted knowledge and rid the mind of various idols or presumed falsities.
  5. 5. d. Other Contributors John Locke. John Locke (1632-1704) He believed that all ideas are developed from experience by sensation and reflection. He concluded that what is known is what is experienced. Herbert Spencer. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was one of the first individuals to propose a scheme for selecting the subject matter best suited to the needs of the pupils. He promoted that knowledge, contributing to self-preservation, was of the utmost usefulness and should appear first among the things taught to children.9. The Basic Philosophy of Pragmatism. Pragmatism comes from the Greek word for action, also the root for the words practical and practice. Pragmatism, therefore, represents the empirical attitude in philosophy. a. Free Will and Determinism Pragmatists believe that individual men originate nothing but merely transmit to the future of which they are so small an expression. William James, a famous pragmatist, promoted the concept of free will and a reality of that freedom. He maintained that a human’s role was not merely to measure so completely but to create and recreate based on experiences from the past. James believed the universe is not an absolute; it is open, and it is full of novelty; it contains chaos, disorder, and evil. Major Contributors to Pragmatism William James. James stressed that pragmatism was a broad philosophical view that stressed pluralism, freedom, and change. Oliver Wendell Holmes. Holmes’ philosophy is considered pragmatic because he regarded the history and the theory of the law as instrumental. Holmes recognized the use of force and power involved in pragmatism. John Dewey. Dewey’s philosophy of education, often labeled as experimentalism or instrumentalism, emphasized many things including experiences, experimentation, and freedom. Dewey believed the learner must interact with that which is learned if a productive educational experience was to be achieved. Though Dewey believed that all genuine education came through experience, he also pointed out that experience may be miseducation. He therefore suggested that teachers should carefully define educational objectives and desired outcomes using experience as a constructive learning instrument.
  6. 6. Dewey proposed that education should prepare students for the continuation of learning in adult life by suggesting that the most important attitude that can be formed is the desire to go on learning. Dewey also proposed the recognition of students as individuals. The teacher must be aware of the needs, capabilities, and past and existing experiences of students. The teacher must also be aware of what goes on in their minds in order to formulate plans for stimulating new ways of learning and thus expand the experiences already present. This process could be self- perpetuating as new experiences result in possible insights whose explorations would result in other new experiences. Dewey was responsible for many philosophical offshoots: Instrumentalism, Progressivism, Experimentalism. Other Contributors Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Jean-Jacques Rousseau noted the importance of environment in shaping human experience and thought. He maintained that civilization was harmful because it had led us away from nature. Rousseau thought that individuals were basically good, but were corrupted by civilization. He emphasized naturalism in education and believed education should be guided by the child’s interest.10. The Basic Philosophy of Existentialism. Existentialism is largely a revolt against other traditional philosophies. Key features in existentialism are individuality, subjectivity, introspection, and feeling.. Existentialists believe that existence precedes essence, and ideas about Heaven, Hell, and God are all human inventions.The existentialist is concerned with the particulars of today, not in absolutes or permanent ideals. a. Selected Contributors to Existentialism Sǿren Kierkegaard. One of the earlier existentialists was Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard believed that a human’s essential self is developed in three stages. First is the aesthetic stage in which a person behaves according to impulses and emotions. Senses govern people, and life at this stage cannot result in true existence. Second is the ethical stage in which a person recognizes and accepts rules of conduct based on moral law and becomes conscious of his/her guilt. Third is the religious stage in which a commitment of faith will bring about a subjective and unique relationship between God and the individual. Kierkegaard challenged the individual to seek out individual truth.
  7. 7. Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre was an atheistic existentialist who believed that God did not exist, but there was one who did exist before essences and that one was man. Sartre advocated that humans did not come into the world ready-made but made of themselves what they are; humans are always in the making. He accepted Descartes’ statement, “I think; therefore, I am.” Sartre accepted humans as free, but attached to that freedom was heavy responsibility. From this responsibility, individuals experience anguish.. Martin Buber. Buber suggested that a mutual respect and dignity must be attained among all individuals. He was a proponent of an “I-Thou” relationship where individuals are capable of relating and identifying with the outside world. He opposed the “I-It” relationship where teachers related to students as objects Friedreich Nietzsche. Nietzsche authored the “God is Dead” philosophy because he believed that more inhuman acts are committed in the name of morality and religion than in the name of aggression.11. Selected Philosophies Impacting Education and Western Civilization. b. The Basics of Analytic Philosophy For the most part, Analytic Philosophy seeks to clarify the languages, concepts, and methods we use in the more precise activities of life. Hence, clarification is its one central theme. Ludwig Wittengenstein is the major contributor to the trend of linguistic analysis. He felt there should be no systematic doctrine, no rules of. He emphasized that philosophers should not concern themselves with the truth of the data but should deal with the language and statements made about the data. Wittengenstein thought the only significant use of language was to picture the facts; other than this, he considered it nonsensical. He believed that words have no true meaning given to them by some independent power. They have the meanings people give them. An ideal language, he thought, should remove the trouble of thinking. c. The Basic Philosophy of Reconstructionism Reconstructionism is a philosophy that advocates an attitude toward change and encourages individuals to try to make life better. Plato proposed radical departures from the customs of his Greek contemporaries..
  8. 8. d. The Basic Philosophy of Scholasticism Scholasticism may generally be characterized as a means for employing reason in the search for truth. Focus on academics, exclusively.e. The Basic Philosophy of Instrumentalism The legacy of instrumentalism is derived from Dewey’s pragmatism. The instrumentalism position is that thought and action are primary instruments used by human beings to solve practical problems. To find out what the idea means, one puts it into practice and discovers the consequences it has in practical reality.f. The Basic Philosophy of Essentialism The knowledge, skills, customs, manners, attitudes, and appreciations built up through centuries of civilizations are our most precious heritage and the best aids in meeting the real problems that were confronting humanity at that time and that will confront humanity in the future.g. The Basic Philosophy of Perennialism In the perennialist philosophy, truth is the same everywhere and education, therefore, should also be conducted in the same fashion everywhere. The true purpose of education is to improve mankind, with the only concern of educators being what is good for the student to know, regardless of what the student may profess an interest in.h. The Basic Philosophy of Constructivism Constructivism is based on four basic principles of child development and related teaching practices. 1. Children have an intrinsic desire to make sense of the world. What they genuinely need to know and are genuinely interested in knowing help them learn. In this instance, learning activities are created that are meaningful and interesting to young children; conditions are created in which children need to construct, develop, and apply additional knowledge or skills; activities are provided that offer children choices and opportunities to function as planners, decision makers, and creators; sufficient time is allowed for children to pursue their ideas. 2. Children actively construct knowledge and values by acting upon the physical and social world. Because their thoughts are still closely tied to actions, they require a physically and mentally active learning environment. Opportunities are provided for exploration, interaction, and experimentation with peers, adults, and objects; children are helped to reflect on and evaluate their thoughts and actions; activities are created that allow children to make use of their knowledge in new
  9. 9. situations; opportunities are provided for children to cooperate and consider different points of view; children are permitted to use concrete actions to inform their decision making. 3. In their universal struggle to understand the world, young children’s thinking will contain predictable errors. Children’s imaginative but often incorrect and illogical answers and ideas are valued; peer interaction to discuss, question, and challenge each other’s ideas is encouraged; all children are allowed to experience the consequences of their ideas and actions within reasonable constraints; children are encouraged to find answers to their own questions; analysis is made of how and why children learn in certain ways. 4. Developmental domains are interactive and interrelated, each influencing the other. It is within the socio-moral environment that cognition and language are furthered. Emphasis is placed on an integrated approach to teaching; integrated academic instruction within contexts that are meaningful to the child is practiced; curriculum goals which promote various aspects of development are encouraged; learning is viewed as dynamic and organic rather than static and linear. Constructivist theory was developed to fulfill a need for a curriculum and assessment framework that supports young children’s characteristic ways of learning while at the same time providing teachers, parents, and administrators with the information they need to make appropriate decisions regarding the education of young children. This philosophy enables teachers to function as professional decision makers whose knowledge and observations of young children enrich teaching practice.Notes: William Allan Kritsonis (From Philosophies of Education (1996) by WilliamKritsonis and Donald F. DeMoulin