Theses Doctoral

Only Persons Grow Moral: Student Personhood, Moral Growth, and the Purpose of School

Casas Pardo, Juan Antonio

The purpose of this dissertation is to better understand the formative import of the relationships between adults and the young in their corresponding roles as teachers and students between the first year of kindergarten and the last grade of high school (K-12 education).

My approach to this issue is twofold: First, I argue that it is imperative that educators effectively recognize the personhood of students within K-12 schools. Second, I define schools as formative communities organized for the purpose of furthering the moral growth of students. These arguments will be supported by a theoretical framework articulated around the concepts of the personhood of students, the interpersonal stance in education, moral growth, and schools as formative communities. I propose a characterization of these four interrelated concepts based on an analysis of Stephen Darwall’s philosophical work on respect, dignity, and the second-person standpoint; Aristotelian virtue ethics and character education; and John Dewey’s philosophy of education, especially in his conceptions of growth, community, participation, and the moral nature and aims of education.

I conclude by theorizing schools as communities organized towards the fundamental purpose of fostering the moral growth of students, and argue that this purpose requires engaging students to fully participate of school life as persons. In studying some of the most basic questions about K-12 schooling from the perspective of philosophy of education, it is my intent to produce a framework that is conceptually well-grounded and clear enough to provide practical guidance for school teachers and leaders.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy and Education
Thesis Advisors
Laverty, Megan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 12, 2024