2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Diversifying the Intellectual Philosophical Tradition: An Althusserian and hooksian analysis into the role of essay questions in University Education.

Education became commodified through the introduction of university fees in UK higher education. This commodification means that Newcastle University is implicitly entangled with the economic values of society. Under investigation within this project was the question of diversity in UK higher education institutions. The case study used to ground this investigation was data collected from core modules on Newcastle University’s Undergraduate Philosophy degree. The questions were categorised into five categories, ‘Understanding’, ‘Comparative’, ‘Contemporary/Applied’, ‘Diverse’, and ‘Other’. After analysing and evaluating this quantified data, Althusser’s concepts of reproduction and interpellation were analysed. This Althusserian framework provides an understanding of the role of essay questions in the reproduction of the current intellectual philosophical tradition. The Foucauldian notion of normalisation and historical examples were utilised to substantiate the claim. Whilst a good framework, Althusser’s theory is overwhelmingly unoptimistic. By engaging with bell hooks, the investigation was able to draw out some possible solutions. A framework for alteration was established based on hook’s focus on communication and work by Elbow. In an inverted hierarchical sense, change can start in the university institutions themselves. By implementing more inclusive attitudes in the academy, prejudice, and bias are deconstructed, this would lead to a critique and deconstruction of privilege and diversification of the philosophical intellectual tradition.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

20th century models of emancipatory education: the case of Waldorf schools

How do Waldorf schools compare to other educational philosophies? – Hollie Donnithorne
This project is centred around multiple differing educational philosophies, and will analyse how they compare to that of Rudolf Steiner and his Waldorf schools in an attempt to see how these schools may affect wider society and the individual. By using Steiner’s texts such as Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, Steiners approach to education will be dissected in order to properly understand the background to Steiner’s educational philosophy. As part of this, the project will seek to properly understand ‘anthroposophy’, Steiner’s spiritual philosophy, and how these beliefs effect his approach to education and its influence on the individual.
Once Steiner’s approach is fully understood, the aim of the project becomes understanding it in comparison to other schools of thought within the philosophy of education. By using primary texts such as John Dewey’s Democracy and Education, the project seeks to understand other dominant education philosophies of the 20th century not only to give context to Steiner’s ideas, but also to understand how Waldorf schools differ from other thinkers and how this is thought to affect the individual child and the wider society. As well as looking at other 20th century thinkers, the project will compare Steiner’s thoughts to that of philosophers such as Plato by looking at The Republic and seeing how Plato sets out a drastically different educational philosophy from that of Steiner. By looking at this, the project is able to weigh up both schools of thought and dive into how they individually may have an impact on the child and wider society.
The project also makes use of thinkers such as Karl Marx and his thoughts about how education currently works in line with capitalism in order to uphold class structures as well as maintain a lack of class consciousness. By analysing and applying Marx’s thoughts to Waldorf schools the project is better able to understand them within the context of capitalism. The project is then able to analyse Waldorf education in many different contexts and therefore better understand how they function as part of a larger society.

2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the concept of moral development considered a key factor within the field of education or is its importance misunderstood?

Moral development is a highly important factor within childhood and adolescence and requires intense focus and interest in order to produce a well-rounded, virtuous adult in later life who knows how to properly differentiate between good and bad and right and wrong. However, the source of this focus and interest is key to the outcome. During childhood, a large proportion of time is spent in education meaning most of the interactions children have come from academic professionals and their peers, meaning this is where they will effectively develop their morals and virtues, but is there a risk mainstream education will prioritise academic education instead of the pastoral side?

2022 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Analysis on the Purpose of Higher Education- A Project Exploring the ‘Middle Ground’ Between the Demands of Employability on a Student and Their Ability to Flourish.

This project explores the purpose of education with specific regard to the demands of employability on a student and their ability to flourish in higher education. The project discusses the importance of employability within the current education system, providing examples of the skills taught in universities that aid students vocationally. Drawing from philosopher Jean- François Lyotard, it is explained how he suggested that the meaning of knowledge had shifted in postmodernism. Due to economic and social change, higher education became increasingly commodified and there was an emphasis on skills and performativity in universities. The project subsequently explores the importance of personal flourishment in higher education, focusing on John Dewey and Aristotle. Understanding higher education in terms of flourishment creates an environment that supports students in becoming happy, successful and well-rounded individuals at university and beyond. First hand research was conducted, in the form of interviews, to help distinguish a middle ground. It is concluded that the demands of employability and personal flourishment in higher education are essential for individuals to become sustainably employable. This middle ground suggests that a need for both employability and flourishment is crucial in a student’s life to help them, and consequently society, reach their full potential in the 21st century.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Why the vast majority of schools today are outdated and ineffective

Social and emotional skills are situated at the heart of human lives. We are social beings that depend on collaborative behaviour to thrive in any given society, yet historically and traditionally speaking our society promotes competitive behaviours that have damaging effects on our emotional and social well-being. Over the recent years mental health awareness has been growing rapidly and more people are waking up to the fact that our emotional intelligence is just as important, if not more, than our intelligence quotient. This notion has stimulated an explosion of exploration into the educational process and this essay will explore why the vast majority of schools today still possess the old factory based model for education.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Are the philosophical ideas on education from John Dewey and Aristotle present in our education system? A discussion into our current education system at GCSE level.

My project aimed to investigate whether the theories of education in philosophy could still be found in our current education system. I chose to specifically look at the subject of Religious Studies at GCSE level as I believed it had the closest link philosophy. I also wanted to incorporate my beliefs that the current education system needs to become just as focused on making moral human beings as it is intellectual ones. I sourced my information from books, real lessons from real teachers and some articles.
Aristotle believes:
– Education should help to create good citizens.
– Education should be the bridge between family life into society.
– Virtue is the highest form of knowledge and relies on drama to be taught.
John Dewey believes:
– Education should enable us to continue to grow for the rest of our lives/there is no end to our education.
– Best way to learn is through doing/being in the lesson.
– Should adapt the way we teach to each individual child’s experiences.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Freedom and Formula: a Deweyan analysis of changing learning environments and educational datafication.

My project seeks to chart out an account of Dewey’s philosophy of education, relating to its practical application in the work of Lipman. I then present various current trends in the way that learning environments have changed both over the past few decades with reference to technological development, and in the last year with reference to the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, I argue that the main thing preventing a realization of Dewey’s democratic ideal is ‘datafication’, the phenomenon of reducing educational efficacy to quantifiable metrics and abstract information. Due to the insistence of Dewey and Lipman on education as a facilitation of meaningful experience, I hold, datafication makes the manifestation of any true practice of Deweyan pedagogy impossible.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Beyond Educational Institution: A Philosophical Investigation of The Concept of Genius

This project aims to explore the concept of genius, in relation to education, to make a distinction between an educated and an exception. It will look at education and determine its impact that it has on individuals. And it will, lastly, attempt to address the question of what it means to be a genius and the possibility of becoming one.

Object: The concept of genius

Territory: Education defined as institution

Nietzsche’s Noble and Slave Morality
Rousseau’s General Will and The Role of The Legislator
Kierkegaard’s Despair and The Self

Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals
Rousseau’s The Social Contract
Kierkegaard’s The Sickness unto Death

2020 Abstracts Stage 2

Investigating the Effects of Academic Pressure on Students Using the Philosophy of Judith Butler and Georges Bataille

The project aims to illustrate the normalised academic expectations and pressure placed upon students in the South Korean contemporary society. It is evident that there are historical implications that alluded to the emphasis on academic achievements, as well as obeying parental decisions. To produce an analysis of the effects of academic pressure, the project mainly refers to the Korean Drama ‘Sky Castle.’ The philosophy of Judith Butler and Georges Bataille helps us to obtain a philosophical perspective of the consequences.
Sky Castle provides us with an understanding of the concept of ‘tiger parenting’, whereby a high percentage of South Korean parents are motivated to fulfil their ambition of sending their children to superior universities, making sure they have a successful future in high-ranking jobs, thus having extreme expectations in their education. There is a sense of competition amongst friends and family, further displaying the importance of education and ‘bragging rights.’ The aim of the project is to show the extent to which this academic pressure results in a myriad of negative consequences, involving mental illness and becoming distant from the family.
Furthermore, the project uses the ethical teachings of Confucianism and the tradition of respecting one’s elders as part of the virtues. It leads to the collectivist thinking of the community expecting disciplined youths, who obey their parents. As a result, children have no other option but to listen to their parents, even if it means obeying certain rules that have detrimental effects on their mental health. In this section, we can, further, see how people’s actions are affected by Butler’s notion of radical dependency on the other, which are the collective norms and traditions, as well as the community. Young students have lost their freedom to choose as they are affected by their parents, and the parents are affected by the community. This suggests how these individuals have lost their own subjecthood because of the other. Moving on, Bataille’s concepts intends to display how these collectivist norms, that place an emphasis on the students working to go on producing for the economy, further affecting their individual choice and desires. As the rules limit the behaviour, the students transgress and rebel.
The Hegelian concept of the ‘master and slave’ display this loss of individuality and control, making the children the slaves that the parents rely on, fulfil their own ambitions and be recognised as successful parents with successful children. One’s conformity to such pressure will lead to a life that is non-satisfactory, thus the young students will struggle to obtain happiness for the sake of academic achievement placed in their heads. It can, consequently, lead to the students trying to escape through rebellion or suicide if the priority of academia is more emphasised than the needs of the student.
The project shows the significance of others in our lives and how much they have an effect on our behaviour and mindset. In a sense, our individual subjecthood may be lost but we still try to regain it by making our own decisions, even if it is the result of other people. We try to regain our freedom and that is important, otherwise, there will be various mental health problems as the feelings of having no control have detrimental effects.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Should student happiness be made a part of university rankings? If so, which type of happiness should be used and how should it be measured?

Should student happiness be made a part of university rankings? If so, which type of happiness should be used and how should it be measured?
What indicators are normally used in university rankings?
Entry Standards Industry Income
Graduate Prospects Number of Students
Student Satisfaction Teaching Quality

As we can see happiness does not feature as an indicator however it is becoming a bigger part of society and because of this I, and many other students, believe that it should become an indicator for university rankings.

The best way to measure happiness would be through questionnaires given to students at the end of the year.

So what type of happiness should be used?


2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Back to class: An investigation into the English canon through a Marxian critique of tradition and value in the education system of England

Concept: Hegemony, dialogue, critical thinking

Object: The work of Antonio Gramsci and Paulo Freire

The aim of this investigation is to argue that there exists a hegemony within education, specifically English literature. This hegemony prevents the reading of texts such as An Inspector Calls in a critical, working class dialogue.

To argue this, this investigation will examine; what is hegemony? How does it function? Where is it in education? And how can we stop it?

This investigation will argue that for a critical education system, we must adopt the work of Paulo Freire and begin the process of genuine dialogue with students when undertaking a reading.

2015 Abstracts Stage 3

The Philosophy of Education: How can the educational philosophies of Plato, Rousseau and Dewy be used in improving the current state of the education system?

An analysis of the modern education system through the eyes of Dewey, Plato and Rousseau.

Can the principles of these three men found in Democracy and Education, Emile, and Republic respectively be used to make a profound difference in modern education?

2015 Abstracts Stage 3

Authentic vs Inauthentic: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”; A recovery of the authentic meaning of learning

A study of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of authenticity through the concept of care, in order to recover the idea of authenticity within education, and stamp out the institutionalised “they” understanding of education to produce non-conformist, original individuals.

John Dewey: providing an alternative philosophy of education, a pragmatic approach.

Ivan Illich, Noam Chomsky: contemporary philosophers of education, supporting the move away from institutionalised education.

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Is the Existence of Public Schools Justified?

I investigate the notion that the existence of public schools in the UK is not justified, as they are linked with social immobility – if they are a cause of social immobility, perhaps there are grounds to abolish the public school system.

Is it the right of an individual to own a disproportionate amount of private property? Should that be any different to purchasing a public school education?

I consider the opinions of Nozick, Rawls, Locke and Hegel, as I inspect whether a public school education is a piece of private property.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

To What Extent Should a Teacher Be a Figure of Authority?

What is the purpose of education?
How can we define the role of a teacher?
By what method can a teacher fulfil the requirements of education?

Philosophical theories have provided answers for these questions over time but to what extent can we implement them in the reality of our time, taking into account the needs of our society?

I wanted to assess the problems and possibilities of theories, specifically looking at Rousseau, Hobbes and Steiner. These are however mere ideologies which create problems when the reality of government policies and education are taken into account.

“What I hope we will see is our exams are once again trusted across the globe and our children are among the best in the world.” (Michael Gove, Education Secretary).

“My answer is: abolish authority. Let the child be himself. Don’t push him around. Don’t teach him. Don’t lecture him. Don’t elevate him. Don’t force him to do anything” (A. S. Neil)

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Knowledge is Power. How the desire for self-education among the pitmen of the North East evokes both Kantian autonomy and Marxist emancipation

This Project is an exploration of the philosophical, ethical, and political motives to be found in the desire for and execution of self-education among the pitmen of the Great Northern Coalfield, particularly in the twentieth century.

The two main philosophical strands used were Kant’s notion of autonomy in the context of the universal moral law, and Kant’s depiction and encouragement of human emancipation.

The case study chosen was the Ashington Group of pitmen and labourers who rose to fame with their art from the 1930s onwards, but chose not to leave their occupations for the art world.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Can Rawls’ and Nozick’s Theories of Justice Be a Basis for the Distribution of University Acceptances?

 According to The Sutton Trust, independent school pupils are more than twice as likely as pupils in comprehensive schools to be accepted into one of the 30 most highly selective universities.
 Universities take into account academic ability, personal attributes, and social background when considering place offers.
 Their societal belief that these statistics are caused by arbitrary factors rather than merit is very apparent.

 Rawls’ theory of justice aims to promote equality within society
 Liberty Principle: Everyone should be entitled to the same basic liberties, chosen from under a veil of ignorance in the Original Position
 Fair Equality of Opportunity Principle: Everyone should be open to the same opportunities should they have the same ability and motivation
 Difference Principle: Inequality is just only if it benefits those who are worst-off in society, rather than further enhancing the lives of the already fortunate

 Entitlement theory: We are entitled to our holdings if we have acquired them through the principle of just acquisition, or have exchanged it with someone through the principle of justice in transfer
 We are entitled to our talents and abilities, regardless of whether they have come about through circumstantial luck and social background.
Rawls is incorrect to suggest that we are not entitled to something if it merely came about through chance, because ultimately everything can be attributed to luck.
 Inequalities are just if they come about through voluntary exchange, there should not be a limitation on freedom to satisfy the desire for equality
 Thus, leniencies should not be made towards those who are disadvantaged to maintain equality, and university places should be awarded to those with the greatest academic ability.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Function and Utility of Disciplinary Power within the Primary Faith School

The aim of my project is to investigate the function and utility of disciplinary power within the primary faith school. In investigating this, the key differences between a faith and non faith school have been examined. The study of disciplinary power has been examined with reference to the work of Michel Foucault, who developed an in depth and striking analysis on how power functions within society. The reason I have chosen to use Michel Foucault, and in particular his piece of work, Discipline and Punish (1977), in my study is that his work on power is directly linked to the study of disciplinary power within educational institutions.

Key Points
 Is the main function of primary faith school education to educate, or is it primarily to pass on religious beliefs?
 Is a disciplinary society entirely functional?
 Do disciplinary institutions maximize utility?
 How do we maintain disciplinary power?
 Is Foucault’s theory applicable to primary faith schooling?
 Are we no longer a disciplinary society but a society of control?

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Education in England. Is Turning Back the Way Ahead?

Michael Gove’s reforms
A Foucauldian Analysis

“We’re on the side of teachers, we’re determined to restore order and we’re not going to be deflected from laying down lines which the badly behaved must not cross.” (Gove 2010)

“Enough is enough. This motion’s intention is to send the strongest message possible to this government that many of their education policies are failing our children, their parents and the very fabric of our school communities.”
(Tim Gallagher proposing vote of no confidence at National Association of Head Teachers Conference 2013)

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Excessive Expenditure. An investigation into ‘the student experience’. Is university an opportunity for rebellion or another cultural norm?

Using Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and Philosophy of Mind, I have established the theory of Sittlichkeit and the State. The Sittlichkeit is the moral fabric of a society, founded on the historical development of social norms. Within a state, it is the basis of personal and societal morality. If we look at the student experience, it could be seen as part of modern society’s Sittlichkeit, a social norm in itself based around mutual interests and community.

The student experience: excessive drinking, late nights, unhealthy food, promiscuity.

We have urges for sacrifice and ritual not supported by society. Bataille says we must release these need through non-productive expenditure, concerned only with destruction and sacrifice. Bataille’s general economy is this cycle of production and destruction: both equally necessary. Applied to the student lifestyle, excessive behaviours are nothing more than a release of these urges through action for its own sake: non-productive.