chapter  5
11 Pages

The Trouble with Rational Autonomy

Though many educational philosophers find both 'happiness' and the child-centred aims discussed in the previous section unsatisfactory as expressions of educational aims, they may nevertheless attach great importance to the aim of developing what they term the pupil's 'autonomy'. Indeed, it may often seem to be taken as the raison d'etre of the entire educational enterprise (Crittenden, 1978, p. 105). Peters (1973c) bases an important part of his justification of education on the fact that the sciences and humanities provide information that will enable the individual to answer for himself the question 'What ought I to do?' 'How', that is, 'ought I to live my life?' White (1973, pp. 23-5) selects for his compulsory curriculum activities which, though not in his view in any objective sense intrinsically worthwhile, provide the range of experience necessary if the pupil is to be in a position to choose his own future way oflife. Degenhardt ( 1982, pp. 81-93) gives a similar reason for valuing knowledge and Jonathan (1983, p. 6), criticizing developments in the direction of a more vocationally oriented curriculum, claims that 'the purpose of education is to give the young an understanding of the world and the ability to make considered choices about how to live in it'.