Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit





Unit rationale, description and aim

To understand the education systems in the 21st century requires knowledge of educational philosophies and theories.

This unit introduces pre-service teachers to foundational ideas in the study of the discipline of education and examines how philosophical schools of thought continue to have relevance for education today. Significant educational philosophies and theories over time, as well as conceptual tools for use in thinking about contemporary issues in educational approaches, will be explored to identify the relationship between philosophy, theory and educational practice. Analysis of key issues will include an understanding of the human person, the nature of educational aims and goals, the history of schooling and prior to school learning in Australia, contemporary approaches to education as well as current educational debates. The unit will also introduce the necessary values, attitudes and professional responsibilities of educators and explore the legal, social and ethical responsibilities associated with being a member of the teaching profession, including child protection requirements, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST), Catholic Social Teaching and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives. This unit poses to pre-service teachers the important question of what is at stake in our understandings, beliefs and values of education.  

The aim of this unit is to support pre-service teachers’ acquisition and development of knowledge of influential philosophical and theoretical thought that continues to inform and influence contemporary Education.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - List some of the central questions and figures in the philosophy of education (GA4, GA8)

LO2 - Evaluate the relationship between philosophy, theory and educational practice (GA1, GA2, GA4; APST 6.1, 7.1, 7.2; ACECQA C7, E2, E3, F3)

LO3 - Explain the legal, social and ethical responsibilities associated with being a member of the teaching profession (GA2, GA5, GA7; APST 6.1, 7.1, 7.2; ACECQA E3, F3)

LO4 - Analyse the historical, philosophical and sociocultural contexts of education (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.1, 1.2; ACECQA A3, E3)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

6.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers in identifying professional learning needs.

7.1 Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.

7.2  Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage

ACECQA Curriculum Specifications

On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following specific knowledge:

A Child development and Care

A3 social and emotional development

C Teaching pedagogies

C7 contemporary society and pedagogy

E History and philosophy of early childhood

E2 contemporary theories and practice

E3 ethics and professional practice

F Early childhood professional practice

F3 professional identity and development


Topics will include:

  • Anthropological understanding of the human person
  • Overview of the discipline of education
  • The philosophy of education
  • Studies in educational thought
  • The aims of education: From radicalism and conservatism
  • The history of schooling and prior to school learning in Australia
  • The moral, legal and ethical dimensions of teaching
  • Curriculum, knowledge and pedagogy
  • The social foundations of contemporary learning from birth and beyond
  • Conceptualising the child and family
  • Contemporary debates in education (e.g. globalisation, educational governance; equity, justice and fairness; inclusion; belonging)
  • Imaging education futures: your future in the profession
  • Contemporary Standards Frameworks: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, National Quality Framework

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit may be offered on-campus, online or in a blended mode. This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the teaching period comprising of directed tasks and self-study. This unit positions pre-service teachers as adult learners with responsibility for their own learning and who are capable of problem solving. The learning in this unit is inquiry-based, learner-focused and student centred.

A variety of teaching and learning approaches will be used to meet the learning outcomes. They consist of a combination of face-to-face and/or online learning. Lectures and/or online material will explore and demonstrate some of the core unit content. Pre-service teachers will be provided with descriptions, explanations and examples of content and structure leading to learning activities that will be explored in tutorials. Tutorials will provide a context for discussion, analysis and application of the content addressed in lectures/readings/online materials. Tutorials will also provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to analyse education-based case studies. Working collaboratively, pre-service teachers will gain an understanding of the diverse points of view of their peers.

Technology Enhanced Learning

This unit uses a Learning Management System for the provision of lecture and tutorial content, required and/or further readings, and other unit material. Recorded lectures will be made available to students through this system.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures are used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements. (

The assessment tasks for this unit employ a range of approaches which cater for different learning preferences of pre-service teachers. The tasks are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome and develop graduate attributes consistent with university assessment requirements.

The assessment tasks are designed in sequence so as to allow for feedback and progressive development across the unit. The first assessment task is a writing task that enables pre-service teachers to examine a philosophical topic and demonstrate their knowledge of content. It is an early low-weighted assessment task which provides feedback to pre-service teachers within the first six weeks of the standard semester. This task enables the teaching staff to identify pre-service teachers who are experiencing difficulties understanding the unit content and articulating their knowledge. These students will be advised to seek assistance from the Academic Skills unit or their tutor. The second assessment enables the pre-service teacher to build upon and apply their knowledge of education philosophies to analyse a contemporary educational controversy. The final task is a test which quantifies the breadth of learning and understanding of the educational philosophies and issues in education.

Minimum Achievement Standards+

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks, meet the learning outcomes of the unit and achieve a minimum overall passing grade of 50%.

Electronic Submission, Marking and Return

Electronic submission is used for submitting, marking, and returning of assessment tasks. Assessment tasks will be returned within three weeks of submission.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Short Written Task

Select a philosophical area under discussion and examine strengths, weakness, presumptions and conclusion of the position under consideration.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Current Controversies Case Study

An analysis of a contemporary educational controversy and its relationship to foundational concerns in education.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Assessment Task 3: Philosophy of Teaching Statement

Topics include:

  1. Educational philosophies
  2. Contemporary approaches and issues in education
  3. Australian Education
  4. Legal, social and ethical responsibilities of the teaching profession


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA4, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Recommended references

Biesta, G. (2016). The beautiful risk of education (Interventions: education, philosophy, and culture). London: Routledge.

Blair, N. (2015). Aboriginal Education: More than adding perspectives. In Noelene L. Weatherby- Fell (Ed). Learning to Teach in the Secondary School. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.189-208.

Campbell, C., & Proctor, H. (2014). A history of Australian schooling. Melbourne, Vic: Allen & Unwin.

Campbell, E. (2008). The ethical teacher. Berkshire and New York: Open University Press.

Congregation for Catholic Education. (2017). Educating to fraternal humanism: Building a civilisation of love. oc_20170416_educare-umanesimo-solidale_en.html

Ruitenberg, C. (2010). What do philosophers of education do? And how do they do it? West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Shim, S. (2008) A philosophical investigation of the role of teachers: A synthesis of Plato, Confucius, Buber, and Freire. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 515-535.

Smeyers, P. (2018). International Handbook of Philosophy of Education (1st ed.), Springer International Handbooks of Education. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Welch, A., & Connell, R. (2018). Education, change and society (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Wiggan, G. (2011). Power, privilege, and education pedagogy, curriculum, and student outcomes (Education in a competitive and globalizing world series). New York, NY: Nova Science.

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