Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education




Dr. Fred Ellett


In an age of accountability and outcomes-based learning, educational theorists often fail to grapple with the foundational questions about human nature and its destiny. Using the model for analyzing a normative philosophy of education proposed by W.K. Frankena (1965a), I explicate Jacques Maritain’s (1943) Catholic philosophy of education. My examination of Maritain’s philosophy of education reveals a coherent foundation built on theoretical and practical reason in the passionate search for truth, the synthesis of faith and reason, and integral humanism. I contend that there are very good reasons for Maritain’s philosophy of education being reclaimed by publicly funded Catholic schools in Ontario today if we are to claim our distinct ethos1. Given the growing pluralism and multiculturalism in Ontario, the attraction towards diverse philosophies of education and the advent of full funding for Catholic schools in 1985, a unified Catholic philosophy of education may not be clearly reflected at the school level. The study that I am proposing may serve as an important piece of philosophical research, that not only echoes but also strengthens the call made by Elias (1999) and D’Souza (2003), who argue for a greater emphasis on a Catholic philosophy of education out of which curriculum renewal and reform may flow for Ontario’s Catholic schools. In reclaiming our distinct philosophical tradition, as represented by Maritain (1943), Catholic schools will be more equipped to address the growing distrust of truth among students, false conceptions of knowledge, widening the scope of the curriculum, premature specialization in the curriculum and the absence of theoretical and practical reason in the curriculum. The extensive tradition of philosophical excellence in the Catholic Church presents us with a rich variety of sources in the area of the philosophy of education from which to draw our inspiration for a unified coherent approach to education and curriculum.

1 My use of the term “ethos” is inspired by the title of Hilary Price’s (2002) unpublished master’s thesis. “Ethos” in this context refers to one’s philosophy, culture, attitudes, and beliefs.



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