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Educational Philosophies

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You may wonder why this teacher seems easier or why that professor is so rigid. You may hear students query that one teacher emphasizes reading and another only seems to want opinions. You may feel bullied in one school and wholeheartedly accepted in another school. One school may offer a more traditional philosophy of teaching while another is open to new ideas and ways of learning. When choosing a school for your preschooler or helping to choose a college for your young adult you may be unsure of what to look for in an educational setting.

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In essence, each educator and each individual has their own philosophy of education. Five of the many educational philosophies will be highlighted here: Perennialism, Idealism, Realism, Experimentalism and Existentialism. What is your educational philosophy?

Perennialist educators are traditionalist. They can be found in the classical schools. They are conservative and inflexible and believe that education is constant because the world is constant. They believe that education should be a preparation for life and that study should be structured. The curriculum reflects a world of reason, the teacher interprets and tells and the student is a passive recipient.

Idealist educators see reality as a world within the mind of the individual. Idealists look for and strive to attain goodness. Their objective is to teach subjects of the mind, sharpen intellectual processes and are models of exemplary behavior. Students are expected to be passive and memorize the teaching. Most public school systems are of the idealist philosophy.

Realist educators prefer a here and now curriculum including math, science, technology and facts. They prefer highly ordered and disciplined classrooms and would rely on observation. The students would be passive participants of the laws of nature and the order of the physical world.

Experimentalist educators put emphasis on social subjects and experiences through discovery, problem solving, inquiry and experiencing the world in which they live. The teacher would assist or consult with the learner who is actively involved in their own learning. They believe in value development, teams and group rewards and consequences.

Existentialists see education as subjective and personal. Teachers would assist students in knowing themselves and their place in society through their personal learning journeys. They would support homeschooling, individualized learning and nontraditional schools.


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