Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Four Philosophies of Education

Idealism dates back to ancient Greece and Plato and is considered one of the oldest philosophies. It focuses on the mind, where it is thought that nothing exists or is real except ideas in the minds of people or the mind of God. To the idealist, the purpose of schooling is to promote spiritual and intellectual development. Some methods of instruction for the idealist educator are lecture, discussion, and reflection. Realism dates back to ancient Greece and Aristotle and is also considered one of the oldest philosophies of Western culture. The realist believes the universe is exists whether human mind perceives it or not, and reality is external and can be verified. Realists use a variety of instructional methods including the use of deductive logic, observation, classification, and categorization. According to the realist, a teacher should emphasize and model reasoning, observation, and experimentation. Pragmatism or experimentalism focuses on experience. Those who believe in this philosophy regard reality as an event or process. Some preferred instructional methods for pragmatists are learning by doing, problem solving, experimentation, hands-on activities, and collaborative learning. The teacher should model the most authentic type of knowledge, especially experimental knowledge, and stress the application of the scientific method. Existentialism focuses on personal and subjective existence, where the world of existence, choice, and responsibility is primary. According to existentialists, the purpose of the school is to prepare students to take responsibility for the results of their actions. Some instructional methods include nondirective humanistic values education, and the role of the teacher is to become an example of authenticity for students.



I believe the philosophies that represent me the most are pragmatism and existentialism. I want students to dig deeper and get involved rather than just know or memorize information. I also want to look at the students as individuals, where they are responsible for making decisions. My teaching will probably reflect each philosophy at some points, but I want to bring learning to higher level.

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