The evolution of the ape: Analytic philosophy of education in retrospect

J.C. Walker
Vol 3, Number 1, p.1
Except perhaps in the heyday of John Dewey, philosophy of education has rarely occupied pride of place in institutions devoted to the study of education. If represented at all, it has tended to take a minor role relative to other areas of study, especially educational psychology. Yet, around twenty years ago, it appeared to many people as though philosophy of education had finally “arrived”; and a decade ago it had gained, in the form of analytic philosophy of education (‘APE’) considerable prestige and influence, especially in the U.K., but also to a lesser extent in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Today, however, the early confidence has gone; there is a widespread suspicion that the much trumpeted arrival of APE heralded a false dawn; and general interest in philosophy of education appears to have waned. What went wrong? Although there has been criticism of APE from various quarters, it is not my purpose here to review or add to philosophical critique as such; rather, I shall attempt a very broad, and I hope not too rambunctious or sweeping, historical survey of APE’s rise and fall, mentioning philosophical criticism only where it appears to help in historical explanation.