David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (3):315-331 (2012)
Psychology has penetrated many domains of society and its vocabulary and discourse has become part of our everyday conversations. It not only carries with it the promise that it will deliver insights into human behaviour, but it is also believed that it can address many of the problems human beings are confronted with. As a discipline it thrives in the present climate of performativity, where more attention is given to means than to ends. The article observes first that for education and thus for educational research, though psychology's approach can be valuable, other theoretical stances are also necessary. It then analyses why psychology may be attractive nowadays in the educational field and identifies its prestige in academia, partly arising from its professionalization, but above all the use of a particular method and the focus on certain contents. This has historical antecedents, and so some illustrations are given of previous developments, paying attention as well to the controversies in which educational psychology has been involved in the past, as well as to the need of biographical research, which warns us to be careful with generalizations. It is argued that a more balanced approach (invoking the particularities of the situation as well as a broader concept of practical rationality) is required for the study of education and that educational researchers therefore should resist the tendency to see psychology as the default auxiliary science of education; instead they should reclaim their territory, do justice to the responsibility that is required and highlight the importance of understanding social practices to a large extent in terms of reasons and intentions
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