When to Teach for Belief: A Tempered Defense of the Epistemic Criterion

Educational Theory 67 (2):173-191 (2017)
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Michael Hand has defended the “epistemic criterion” for “directive and nondirective teaching” in his 2008 Educational Theory article, “What Should We Teach as Controversial? A Defense of the Epistemic Criterion,” as well as subsequent pieces. Here, John Tillson defends use of the epistemic criterion in the case of what he calls “momentous propositions,” but he rejects two of Hand's key arguments in support of the criterion. This rethinking comes in light of important contributions to the debate made by Bryan Warnick and D. Spencer Smith and by Maughn Rollins Gregory, also published in this journal. Tillson begins the article with an elucidation of the directive/nondirective distinction, and then discusses some limitations of defining the distinction in terms of intention. Next, he draws attention to the problems with the “soft-directive teaching” method that Warnick and Smith advocate. Finally, Tillson provides an additional argument in favor of the epistemic criterion, an argument also grounded in work by Hand, which places emphasis on imparting knowledge alongside cultivating rationality among our educational aims.



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John Tillson
Liverpool Hope University

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