Which authors and works might be most important for introducing the philosophy of education?

In other words, which (works, authors) expound the development of the most significant or critical notions and principles? What introductory literature might be considered authoritative or canonical?

  • 2
    There's an enormous amount of material available (in terms of critical theory about education); now it sounds like you're looking for introductory books, but I would encourage you to clarify your context and motivations here a bit further. Note there's actually three more or less distinct questions here; maybe we could focus on one of these concerns? Don't forget you can always ask more questions :)
    – Joseph Weissman
    Apr 18, 2012 at 14:55
  • In passing, as far as critical pedagogy goes, I have really enjoyed both Ranciere's The Ignorant Schoolmaster and Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed
    – Joseph Weissman
    Apr 18, 2012 at 14:57
  • Well, I'd just like to get an overview over the field of ethics in education. So I think it is important to know the most important principles and to read some books which are kind of a must-read in this field.
    – Bob
    Apr 20, 2012 at 18:45
  • Thanks; maybe you can tell us a little more about your context and motivations -- what you might be reading or studying already that might have made this concern an urgent or important one to you; what you might have found out already; etc. In passing, your comment still encompasses two distinct queries: one about significant questions/problems/principles and another about important/key texts -- it might be clearer to split these up into separate questions
    – Joseph Weissman
    Apr 20, 2012 at 18:47
  • I have tried to cleanup and focus the question somewhat, in hopes of raising its profile and enhancing the chances of it getting a really great answer. That said, I would encourage you to develop it further and discuss your context and motivations a little bit with us so that the community has some sense of how best to frame our responses.
    – Joseph Weissman
    Apr 23, 2012 at 23:38

4 Answers 4


While it's a big area, John Dewey has to be near the top of this list. Experience and Education probably serves as a good crash course.

Since you specifically mentioned ethics, his book Moral Principles in Education may be of interest. The basic summary is that education should teach not just things like algebra but also "how to live a good life", which would include education about ethical reasoning.


Jan Amos Komensky should be on the start of the list in terms of timeline. Lot of his thoughts is (till today) source of universal knowledge, still valid and unequaled by others.


I am somewhat surprised that no one has suggested the likes of Ibn Rushd, Maimonides, or the Rule of St. Benedict. All three had interesting views on Education.


I found the NEA Code of Ethics. It offers some basic principles for ethics in education. I think it is quite helpful as an introduction to the field, and the Code also seems to be quoted regularly by academic works in this field.

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