Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

EDUC 101

bulleye diagram

Why do schools look the way they do? This is the important question answered by Education 101.

This course surveys the historical, philosophical, ideological, social, cultural, political, and economic foundations of American education and uses this information as a lens to analyze educational practices. Current issues affecting schools, teachers, students, families and communities are examined and discussed throughout the course. Discussion of student, teacher, and community diversities and identities will be integrated into the course.  

Students participate in a structured service learning experience in which they experience, observe, and reflect on issues related to schooling.

The middle of the semester is when I see the “light-bulb” come on for Duke students. Through their relationships with the young learners and working in the school context, the students truly get that we are talking about real people who learn different ways and are affected by decisions we make as a society about education. Students see directly that individuals’ experiences of school vary widely. Gaining this perspective is invaluable, and it comes through the service-learning component of the course. 
 - Amy Anderson, Instructor

Goals for the course include students being able to: 

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the philosophical and historical foundations of American education and connect them to current practices affecting American schools and school children
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the social, cultural, political, and  economic foundations of American education and connect them to current practices affecting American schools and school children
  • Develop a personal philosophy of education
  • Examine the qualities effective schools and classroom practices
  • Investigate major issues impacting contemporary American education, as well as various reform initiatives that seek to affect public education
  • Understand schools as a part of the world, not apart from it
  • Examine educational issues within the context of local (Durham/NC) practices
  • Experience and practice service-learning as a pedagogy to deepen understanding of course content
  • Gain experience working with school-aged children in a tutoring relationship

Why is this a Service-Learning Class?

  • The service-learning component of the course is integral to its experience. In addition to being engaged in rigorous readings, class discussions, and lectures, students are challenged to apply their learning in a manner that provides tangible service to the community.
  • Students engage in a minimum of 20 hours of planned service activities during the semester. During the course of the semester, students will tutor in local school or after school settings as well as plan service-learning experiences with K-12 students. This provides the opportunity for experiencing and then reflecting on current teaching and learning practices as well as on educational issues facing society today.
  • Students will write reflections on how their tutoring experience relates to the course content and their learning experience. Ongoing reflection is an important value of this class and the education programs at Duke.

EDUC 101 Seminar Course:

Field Study trips are a standard component of the EDUC 101 Seminar course.  Field Studies include visits to local and/or historical businesses, organizations and/or schools that offer unique perspectives on education and/or systems that impact education.  These Field Studies are an important way to expose students to Durham history as well as introduce them to the foundations of education.

Team members with Durham bull
Students venture into Durham on the Bull City Connector for a scavenger hunt that included stops to the Pauli Murray Mural, Black Wall Street, the Civil Rights History mural at DAC, the vault at 21c Museum Hotel, and of course, Major, the bull!
students with garaffe
Field Study to Northern High School in Durham to learn more about the diverse experiences that Durham Public Schools offers to high schoolers in the county. Northern is the only school that offers the Culinary Arts and Environmental/Outdoor Education certificate (along with the traditional high school diploma). Students from all over the county come to Northern high school specifically to take courses in these areas.

Student Perspectives:

We weren't just lectured at - there were discussions in every class and group activities to really drive home the day's topic. The opportunity to tutor in a local school was really rewarding because it made the things we were learning about concrete, rather than just abstract ideas we would discuss. The class is great for anyone interested in teaching, policy making or just wanting to learn more about the American education system.
- Celina Rodriguez, student

This class showcased the skills necessary to become an an effective teacher, communicator, and leader. It significantly impacted my education, but it also gave me the opportunity to assist the Durham community through its service-learning components, serving as a first-hand example as to how my education is making a positive impact on not only myself but the community I live in.
- Jacob Voissiere, student

I really enjoyed the tutoring portion of Educ 101. It was really great to connect the curriculum with hands on experience. Getting to work with the kids was always the highlight of my week!
- Hillary Grubbs, student

Interdisciplinary examination of issues confronting American education, incorporating historical, political, economical, philosophical, and social perspectives. Exploration of ways cultural influences and differences have shaped public schools. Students participate in structured service learning experience in which they reflect on ethical issues related to schooling. Required participation in service-learning.



Curriculum Codes
  • CCI
  • EI
  • SS
Typically Offered
Fall and/or Spring