Philosophical OF EDUCATION Idealism Idealism, one of

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Philosophical Roots of Education Summary

Serene Fayyad

Modern University of Business and Science

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Course: Foundation of Education

Submitted to Dr. Nidal Makarem

 December 4











Table of Contents
Idealism.. 4
Realism.. 5
Pragmatism.. 5
Existentialism.. 6
Essentialism.. 7
Perennialism.. 8
Progressivism.. 8
Critical Thinking. 9







            ”Behind every school and every
teacher is a set of related beliefs, a philosophy of education that influences
what and how students are taught”.

is a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour. It is a
comprehensive system of ideas about everything that surrounds us, known as
”the mother of all sciences.” For that education is greatly influenced by
philosophy. Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism and Existentialism are four major
philosophical thoughts of education that are currently used by teachers all
over the world. Essentialism, Perennialism, Progressivism and Critical Thinking
are other four theories that also helps in implementing a good class management
and better performance of the teacher. Intelligence and character are the main
ingredients for education, so a teacher’s good approach to any of these
philosophies will fulfil this recipe.

are the branches and key concepts that define each philosophy, and how are they
engaged  with the curriculum of schools
and teaching methods?







            Idealism, one of the oldest
philosophies, is the philosophy of Plato. According to Plato, one is able to
specify, name, understand, and comprehend things based on priori ideas and
thoughts present only in our minds.

the branch of philosophy that explores how we know things and have knowledge-
focuses in this philosophy on the conscious reasoning of the mind or the retrieval
of ideas stored deep in our minds. To understand truth, one must chase
knowledge and link it with the absolute mind.

a hierarchical curriculum of academic subjects is identified based on the
importance of the subject. Starting with the most general discipline:
philosophy, theology, mathematics and literature, to reach lower disciplines
like natural and physical sciences that are based on cause and effect
relationships. Language relates all the above and helps in communication.
Values and beliefs are unchangeable and applicable to all people because they
are universal and eternal. Since we are born with all the knowledge, Idealists
believe that logic, too is based on relating between the absolute and
individual’s mind. Their reflect on metaphysics denotes that reality is
spiritual and unchanging. We are born with all the knowledge and concepts
latent in our minds, the universal mind(Macrocosm) the creator, God, and the
personal mind, the spirit of an individual(Microcosm) part of the macrocosm.

to Socratic method, the teacher is a stimulator and an idol that triggers the
student’s memory by asking them leading questions and teach by modelling.




            The second philosophy to education
is Realism. Unlike the Idealists, Realists believe that reality is what actually
exists independently of human’s mind. They focus mainly on the body and senses
to experience reality in the real world.

the father of this philosophy believed that the world exists no matter if the human’s
mind sees it or not. According to this philosophy, the knowing(epistemology) is
divided between what is sensational and what is abstract. The knower depends
first on the senses(sensational) to record the characteristics of an object and
then the mind classifies it’s qualities. Some of these characteristics are
always present, and thus helps the mind to categorize them into one group what
is known as abstraction.

philosophy believes that the most influential education is the well organized
one, providing separate subjects. The curriculum focuses on science and
mathematics that emphasizes the subject matter of the physical world. The
teacher ask questions that will trigger the students critical thinking and
observational abilities, rather than just stating facts. Rational Animals,
Aristotelian view of man, stated that a person is most human when he/she act
based upon knowledge and observation. After they get this knowledge , they’ll
be ready to implement theories on what they’re observing. Finally Deductive and
Inductive argumentation was first noticed by Aristotle and logic was set


            For Pragmatism, knowledge is based
on experience. The idea should be tested by using scientific methods to be
validated and proved that it’s likely to happen. Man gains knowledge through
his life experience and his contact with the environment in which he lives in,
however, this knowledge is likely to change or be upgraded upon the change of
the environment. According to this experimenting epistemology, life is a
problem solving situation. Whatever is related to learning and thinking is a problem
to be solved by experimenting it, however, the answer may change with the
change of the environment due to the direct interaction between the people and their
environment. Such interactions forms a cycle since the individuals relation
with the environment assures his/her growth and development, in addition to
changing or updating of acquired information, and on the other hand, the man is
able to change his environment based on the new knowledge. In a constantly
changing universe nothing can be fixed and thus ideas, values, knowledge,
environment and curriculum are in constant change with respect to the time,
place and circumstances.

for pragmatism, teaching methods range between experimenting and problem
solving to doing projects and working in groups to help students gain their
knowledge from real life situations which will prepare them to citizenship and
cultural diversity.


            Existence comes before any
definition of what we are. One should not adopt a philosophy or philosophical
system, rather must have their own choices and purposes for existence. A person
is free to choose and create their own essence, hence, reality is subjective to
every individual and each person sees the truth and values from experiencing it
in their daily life. We don’t get the same result from all students, because of
their different perspectives and the freedom in analyzing ideas from their own
internal point of view. Existentialist teachers work on structuring their
students character through engaging them in their own life choices, and
encouraging them to decide how they want to live their lives and express
themselves. Existentialists however, do not rely on a standardized method of
education to measure the academic success, since it reduces creative uniqueness
of the students. 


            After talking about these general
philosophies, we can link them with theories that explain the phenomena and
processes more specifically. In this part we will come across the traditional
theories of essentialism and perennialism that originate from idealism and
realism, progressivism which is the third theory and rooted in pragmatism, and
finally the fourth theory is critical thinking and is rooted in existentialism
and postmodernism.


            For essentialism the aim is to teach
the individual the main skills like reading, writing and computations, as well
as history, mathematics and sciences. This theory denotes that the teacher is
the centre of attention, therefore she should be skilled, knowledgeable and
expert in the subject given, moreover it’s very important to have experienced
the educational methods which assure delivering the subject efficiently and
effectively to the students.

the curriculum, a standardized one should be followed that focuses on teaching
essential skills and educating the students without any waste of time or
engaging them with extracurricular activities. The curriculum is sequential and
divided into levels because it takes into consideration the age, skills, and
education level. Moreover, it is said to be cumulative because what is newly
taught in advanced stages is related to previous information but more complex.
These educational implications help build a competent and skilled individual
who is ready to face the competitive world he’s living in.



            Perennialism, the second the second
theory stems from realism and idealism. The aim of education is to teach ideas
and concepts that are ever green and won’t change. Students are taught what
their parents and grandparents already know. The role of the school hence is to
inform them about human kind’s greatest achievements and great books of history
and literature. Again in this theory the teacher is the centre of attention and
the students should be trained on the information that they should know in order
to develop their sense of culture and knowledge. Perennialist’s hierarchal
subject matter curriculum descends from history, literature, mathematics and
religion to humanities and sciences.

conclusion, they believe that all students are born equally and have equal
rights to get high intellectual education. The information gained is constant
and is not affected by place or time, and finally the teachers must encounter
liberal arts and sciences and base their information on great books to be a
good role model.


word progressivism comes from progress which means to improve and be better.
It’s a wide change in the development of the social order. They refused the
idea of training students on how to memorize what they see in books and that the
teachers are supporters and guiders not bosses. This theory states the
importance of childhood phase for better technological society, children always
think outside the box and independently without the help of friends or
teachers. As for pragmatism, this theory also denotes that the reality of ideas
and conceptions are valid only if experimented or experienced by the individual
and said to be so. This theory strictly refuse forcing students to learn if
they do not want to. Knowledge is not just what we gain from books, life is the
biggest school everything about it is a way of knowing. Every detail that we
experience in our daily lives is a tool to gain a lot of knowledge and
information, it’s not about school books and curriculums.

Critical Thinking

we are thinking critically  the data will
be created according to, ”observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or
communicating” as an instructor or guidance to base on. This theory stresses
on the fact that all groups of the society should be part of the teaching
practice and improvement of curriculum, no one should be ignored or
marginalized for any reason. Karl Marks, a philosopher that influenced critical
thinking, refused any inequality or implementing  education to those of better economic status.
Critical theorists puts the curriculum in two faces the hidden and formal
curriculum. The formal curriculum is based on official academic subjects that
is taught at school, which has guidelines from authorized parties. Hidden
curriculum however, is the teacher’s or school’s spices that are added on
formal norms. Moreover critical theorists wants the students to build their own
knowledge and value within their surrounding, and forming a collaborative
system with it by sharing their own life experiences, and teachers on the other
hand must also empower themselves.












            In this chapter, we came across
different philosophies and theories that are defined according to the following
branches: epistemology, metaphysics, axiology and educational curriculum. Such
philosophies are set to help the teacher construct an effective teaching method
basing her strategy on what she learned and found best fits her character.

I believe that there isn’t a perfect philosophy or method, rather there is a
personal adopted philosophy or theory that acts as a support for the teacher to
engage her students in the lesson with the best classroom management possible.

live in a society that is shaped by beliefs and values that we learn from our
youth, and in some cases accept their presence because our parents forced us to
do so. In other times we might rebel and refuse to be blind followers. however,
as a teacher who practices education in Lebanon, I think that we use all
philosophies mentioned above. That’s why 
I’m to an extent an Idealist, realist, existentialist but mostly an

Idealism taught me that I should help students think and fetch for
information instead of just giving them answers hence, I make sure that they
understood the missing idea and will create an atmosphere of active learning
when they are engaged in the thinking. A realist because my role as a teacher
after all is to provide the learner with information that they lack and I’m
forced in the end to test their abilities by a blind test format. Students are
of different backgrounds and abilities so of course they won’t all achieve the
same results or have the same perspective on a given idea, that’s why I should
be after all an existentialist. Finally, as i mentioned I’m mostly a

This philosophy emphasizes the importance of testing and
experiencing the ideas and methods to determine their validity. Students like
it when they are related to the lesson ginven in class. The more they
understand and accept what they are learning, the more they feel responsible
for it and will want to achieve better results. When students are engaged to
the lesson they will be fully attentive which will reduce misbehaviour in class
and hence, help develop a good management in class. The lesson according to
this philosophy should be applied with a lot of activities and group working,
this will help them socialize more and get acquainted to different cultures.

Bits and pieces from every philosophy will help me create a well
designed teaching strategy that will assure a good classroom management.


Categories: Management


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