Thursday, October 30, 2008

Am I an Idealist, a Realist, or a Pragmatist?

Philosophy and Education Continuum Chart

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.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How Do I Develop My Educational Philosophy?

I don’t feel that I need to identify a single educational philosophy around which I build my teaching career. In fact, I don’t follow only one educational philosophy. I develop my own philosophy of education, a unique blending of two or more philosophies. I hold philosophical views from these schools of thought.

As an idealist, I believe that the concepts of truth, beauty, and honor are absolute. To apprehend the reality of ideas, human beings rely on the intellect and reasoning. Idealism holds that the teacher is the center of the educational process and the person closest to Absolute Reality.

I am also a realist because I hold the view that education should be concerned with the actual realities of life in all its aspect. Newmann and Whelage cited in Sergiovanni (1998) state that authentic student learning is the result of active engagement of the student with the material of the curriculum. Authenticity calls for student accomplishment to reflect the construction of knowledge, through disciplined inquiry, to produce discourse, products, and performances that have meaning beyond success in school. In other words, for education to be valid, it must be contextualized. It must relate to the actual realities of life in all its aspects. Problems and concepts presented in the classroom must be similar to those students have encountered, or are likely to encounter, in life beyond the classroom. There must be a connection between the classroom and reality.

I am also a pragmatist. I believe that knowledge is rooted in experience. I believe that students learn best when they interact with the material presented to them, especially in meaningful projects and simulations. As a pragmatist, I believe that education is a lifelong process. I believe that teachers must instill into students a love for lifelong learning. I also believe that education should be learner-centered and that the curriculum and my teaching methods and strategies should be adapted to the needs of students.

My teaching philosophy have also influenced by three psychological orientations such as humanism, behaviorism and constructivism. I see educational values of humanism in having open classrooms in our school, free schools and schools without failure. I share some principals of behaviorism. I believe education is a process of behavioral engineering. Behavior may be modified by manipulating environmental re-enforcers and the teacher’s role is to create an effective learning environment that will provide positive reinforcement.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Philosophical and Psychological Orientations That Have Influenced My Teaching Philosophy


Progressivism has given to education six basic principles on which it operates:

1. The process of education finds its genesis and purpose in the child.

2. Pupils are active rather than passive.

3. The teacher’s role is that of an advisor, a guide, a fellow traveler, rather than an authoritarian and classroom director.

4. The school is a microcosm of the larger society. Learning should be integrated.

5. Classroom activity should focus on solving problems, rather than on artificial methods of teaching subject.

6. The social atmosphere of the school must be cooperative and democratic.


Perrenialists have given to education six basic principles on which they operate:

1. Man is a rational animal so as individuals develop their minds, they can use reason to control appetites, passions, and actions.

2. Knowledge is universally consistent, therefore there are certain basic subject matters that should be taught to all people.

3. The subject matter, not the child, should stand at the center of the educational endeavor.

4. The great works of the past are a repository of knowledge and wisdom which has stood the test of time and are relevant in our day.

5. Human nature is consistent, so education should be the same for everyone.

6. The educational experience is a preparation for life, rather than a real-life situation.


Behaviorists contributed four basic principles to education:

1. Humans are highly-developed animals who learn in the same way that other animals learn. Scientists can refine the techniques of teaching through experimentation with animals.

2. Education is a process of behavioral engineering. People are programmed to act in certain ways by their environment. Behavior may be modified by manipulating environmental re-enforcers.

3. The teacher’s role is to create an effective learning environment that will provide positive reinforcement.

4. Efficiency, economy, precision and objectivity are central value considerations. Teachers are accountable and responsible for what children learn.


Essentialists have given three major principles to education:

1. The school’s task is to teach basic knowledge. Basic subject matters should be mastered at the elementary and secondary school levels to eliminate illiteracy at the college level.

2. Learning is hard work and requires discipline. Memorization, drill, and problem solving methods foster learning.

3. The teacher is the focus of the classroom activity. She decides what students ought to learn and is responsible for presenting the subject matter in a logical sequence and has the right to discipline students to create a conducive learning environment.


Existentialism focuses on helping the child into a fuller realization of self based on the following propositions:

1. I am a choosing agent–unable to avoid choosing my way through life.

2. I am a free agent–free to set the goals of my own life.

3. I am a responsible agent–personally accountable for my free choices as they are revealed in how I live my life.

Humanism has made three contributions to education, namely:
1. open classrooms,
2. free schools,
3. schools without failure.


Reconstructionism application to education is twofold:
1. the identification of major problem areas of controversy, conflict and inconsistency in subject areas such as economics, sociology, political science, psychology, and anthropology;
2. the use of methodologies, such as role plays, simulations and jurisprudential models to create awareness of problems and openness to solutions.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Philosophy of Education

Bernard Weiner’s (1995) attribution theory suggests that we inevitably attribute certain perceptions about why students act the way they do. In turn, students hold perceptions of those around them.

“Thoughtful teachers cannot escape the reality of knowing that their perceptions of the students they teach are as much the basis of the curriculum, perhaps more, that the subject matter itself”.

My philosophy of education consists of what I believe about education – the set of principles that guides my professional action; the set of beliefs about how human beings learn and grow and what one should learn in order to live the good life. My behavior as a teacher is strongly connected to my personal beliefs and my beliefs about teaching and learning, students, knowledge, and what is worth knowing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Pedagogical Creed

I believe that – education and learning are ways of living, not bounded by the time frame of a lesson or a school year.

I believe that – learning takes place at both the individual and the group level, and that learning happens as the learner goes beyond their level of actual competency, into the zone of proximal development.

I believe that – human learning presupposes a communal process and nature by which learners grow into the intellectual life around them. Learning takes place whether the teacher intends it to or not, and therefore the role of the teacher is to facilitate a certain kind of directed learning.

I believe that – “student” is an artificial category, and that my teaching is improved by the knowledge that “students” have complicated lives, navigate multiple identities, and are doing a great deal of learning in places other than my classroom.

I believe that – whatever I spend time on in the my classroom should be useful to learners in their everyday lives; I believe, therefore, that part of my skill, experience, and wisdom as a teacher should enable me to anticipate futures and possibilities that learners have yet to see.

I believe that – learning to learn by way of locating places for inquiry is a key to education.

I believe that – reflective thinking is a crucial method that helps learners to learn, and provides a means for me to assess whether learning has taken place in the way I had hoped. I also believe that reflective teachers are the best kind.

I believe that – as a teacher, I have responsibilities to the community and the individual learner. As a reflective teacher, I believe it is important to be aware of this, and to always balance those two duties in a way that is responsible.

I believe that – evaluation of learners’ performances is a necessary component of their educational experience. I also expect my own performances as a teacher to be evaluated.

I believe that – every learner should be a participatory member in the intellectual life of the classroom community, and I should facilitate those opportunities. The conversations, exchanges, and sharing that take place in the classroom, should be shaped by all the members, not just the teacher.