The Role of Education Redefined: 18th century British and French educational thought and the rise of the Baconian conception of the study of nature

Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (10):1020-1034 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The idea that science teaching in schools should prepare the ground for society's future technical and scientific progress has played an important role in shaping modern education. This idea, however, was not always present. In this article, I examine how this idea first emerged in educational thought. Early in the 17th century, Francis Bacon asserted that the study of nature should serve to improve living conditions for all members of society. Although influential, Bacon's idea was not easily assimilated by educational thinkers who remained committed to the traditional aims of teaching about nature. Yet in the second half of the 18th century a change has occurred; educational thinkers started to embrace Baconian ideas and therefore argued that science teaching should be oriented towards generating future scientific progress. Analysing the work of 18th century French and British educational thinkers, this article links the emergence of this new view to developments in the understanding of natural philosophy and to a rising interest in it. It is argued, however, that in themselves, these developments could not adequately explain why Baconian ideas started to influence educational theory in the time in which they did. It is maintained that the incorporation of Baconian ideas into educational thought resulted from a fundamental theoretical shift in the understanding of the role of education itself



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 80,057

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Education and the Logic of Economic Progress.Tal Gilead - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (1):113-131.
Educational Studies and Teacher Education.David Crook - 2002 - British Journal of Educational Studies 50 (1):57 - 75.
Two Educational Ideas for 2011 and Beyond.Charles Bingham - 2011 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 30 (5):513-519.
Post Mortem or Post Modern? Some Reflections on British Sociology of Education.Martyn Hammersley - 1996 - British Journal of Educational Studies 44 (4):395-408.
Technology enhanced learning as a tool for pedagogical innovation.Diana Laurillard - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (3-4):521-533.


Added to PP

31 (#392,500)

6 months
1 (#477,912)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?