The Curriculum of the Idealist
The idealist concentrates on the mental development of the learner. The curriculum emphasizes the study of the humanities. The proper study of mankind, history, and literature are the center of the idealist curriculum. Literary pieces considered the masterworks of humanity occupy an important place in the ideal curriculum. Pure mathematics is also included in the curriculum as it is based upon universal a priori principles and provide methods of dealing with abstractions. The library is the center of activity in the idealist school. Because the idealist holds that certain truths are universal and permanent, it means that there can be change or innovation in the curriculum. The subject matter for the school is that which is concerned with the ideal person and ideal society. The curriculum does not deal adequately with social policy.
The teacher occupies a crucial position in the idealist school. The teacher serves as a living example of what the student can become intellectually, socially, and ethically. The teacher’s role is to pass on the knowledge of reality as he or she stands closer to the Absolute than do the students.
The Teaching Method of the Idealist
Idealists rely on lectures and discussions. Students also learn by imitating the teacher or some other person who is closely attuned with the Absolute. Idealists also rely heavily on deductive logic. The idealist has little uses for field trips and sensory data.
The Curriculum of the Realist
The primary aims of education are to teach children the laws of nature and those values that will lead to the good life. Of course, the good life is that which conforms to the natural law. The realist views the curriculum as reducible to knowledge that can be measured. The curriculum includes science in all of its many branches. The study of science will teach students the underlying order of the universe. Other subjects included in the curriculum are mathematics and the social sciences. According to the realist, mathematics represents a precise, abstract, symbolic system for describing the laws of the universe. The social sciences are seen as dealing with the mechanical and natural forces which bear on human behavior.
In the idealist school, the teacher occupies a vantage point and her role is that of a guide. She is to introduce the students to the regularities and rhythm of nature so that they may comprehend the natural law. The knowledge transmitted by the teacher should be free of biases and of her personality. To remove teacher biases from factual presentations, the realist recommends the use of teaching machines. Teaching is best when it is most objective, abstract, and dehumanized.
The Method of the Realist
The method of the realist involves teaching for the mastery of facts in order to develop an understanding of the natural law. This is best accomplished by using drills and exercises. Learning is enhanced through direct or indirect sensory experiences such as field trips, the use of films, filmstrips, records, television, radio, etc.
The realist favors the use of inductive logic, but is opposed to individualized instruction, pleasurable hours on the playing field or the self-expression of art and music.
The Curriculum of the Pragmatist
According to the pragmatist, the curriculum should be learner-centered. It should change as the needs of the learner varies. Because reality is constantly changing, the curriculum should be built around natural units which grow out of the pressing questions and experiences of the learner. The school experience is a part of life rather than a preparation for life. Thus, the function of the school should be to teach students to manage change and adapt in a healthy manner. The process of learning is more important than the content. To the pragmatist, since the only human reality is experience, schools should carefully define the nature of experience and establish certain criteria for judging. Education is a continuous, fluid, dynamic, and open-ended, lifelong process that should contribute to the child’s continuing growth. Schools should be democratic communities in which students participate in the decision-making process in anticipation to their future participation in the decision-making process of the larger society.
The Method of the Pragmatist
The learner-centered curriculum necessitates team teaching and interdepartmental course offerings. Projects are preferred to lectures. Methodology centers around giving the student a great deal of freedom of choice in seeking out the experimental learning situations that will be most meaningful to them. The classroom becomes a scientific laboratory where ideas are tested to see if they are capable of verification. Problems selected for solving must be the real problems of the child. The problem-solving method is rooted in the psychological needs of the student rather than the logical order of the subject matter. This method helps students use intelligence and the scientific method in the solution of problems that are meaningful to them. Field trips have definite advantages over reading and audio-visual experiences, since the student has a better chance to participate in first-hand interaction with the environment.