All human societies, past and present, have had a vested interest in education; and some wits have claimed that teaching (at its best an educational activity) is the second oldest profession. And interestingly, there now is slightly more interest in Dewey on the part of philosophers of education in the UK than there was in earlier years, and there is growing interest by philosophers from the Continent (see, for example, Biesta and Burbules 2003).
The Department of Education, Practice and Society at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) is the well-established home of an interdisciplinary grouping bringing together high-quality teaching and research in the history, sociology and philosophy of education and international development.
The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s saw quite a few general philosophers make important contributions to philosophy of education, including, among others, such notables as Kurt Baier, Max Black, Brand Blanshard, Richard Brandt, Abraham Edel, Joel Feinberg, William Frankena, Alan Gewirth, D. W. Hamlyn, R. M. Hare, Alasdaire MacIntyre, A. I. Melden, Frederick Olafson, Ralph Barton Perry, R. S. Peters, Edmund Pincoffs, Kingsley Price, Gilbert Ryle, Israel Scheffler, and Morton White.
And they coexist as impulses within broad philosophical movements, and even within the thought of individual philosophers themselves, sometimes conflicting in a way that might help explain the tendency toward reflexive self-examination and uncertainty that so exercises philosophy of education as a field.
It emerges that in pluralistic societies such as the Western democracies there are some groups that do not wholeheartedly support the development of autonomous individuals, for such folk can weaken a group from within by thinking for themselves and challenging communal norms and beliefs; from the point of view of groups whose survival is thus threatened, formal, state-provided education is not necessarily a good thing.