Major Philosophies and Approaches in Education Sector

Major Philosophies and Approaches in Education Sector

Philosophy is a vast subject. All aspects of education, such as aims, objectives, curriculum, teaching methods, teacher, text books and discipline, are influenced by philosophy. Keeping in view that an examiner now tends to ask multidimensional aspects in a single question, philosophy becomes important.

The educational process is decided on the basis of three questions – ‘Why’, ‘How’, and ‘What’. (i) The question of ‘Why’ is most important. This is answered by philosophy. (ii) The ‘How’ is decided by the psychology. (iii) ‘What’ is decided by the social needs. Hence, education is based on the basis of philosophical, psychological, and sociological basis.

  1. Idealism: The word ‘idealism’ has been derived from ‘ideal’. It is basically about ‘Mind and Self’, which is actually spiritualism. The universal mind or God is central in understanding the world. God is the source of all creation, and knowledge, spirit and mind constitute reality.
    Values are absolute, eternal and unchanging.
    Real knowledge is perceived in mind that is more important than knowledge gained through the senses.
    Man has a superior nature that is expressed in the form of intellectual culture, morality and religion.
    Frobel, Kant, Plato, Swami Dayanand, Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo are proponents of idealism.
  2. Naturalism: Contrary to idealism, naturalism is a philosophy that believes nature alone represents the entire reality. Human life is a part of nature; it is a self sufficient entity with its own natural matter, natural force and natural laws emphasis is on matter and the physical world and does not believe in spirituality and supernaturalism.
    Our senses are the gateway to knowledge, and nature is the source of all knowledge. The mind is subordinate to nature. The educative process must be pleasurable and set in natural surroundings.
    The main protagonists of naturalism are Tagore, Rousseau, and Herbert Spencer.
  3. Pragmatism: Pragmatism is basically a Greek word that means practice or action. Here, the key word is ‘utility’ – whatever is useful is good, and whatever is good is useful. A pragmatist lives in a world of facts.
    Pragmatism focuses on activity or doing. There are no absolute values of life. Truth is created during the course of experience. Humans are active beings and have the ability to solve their problems through the logic of experiments and scientific methods.
    The thinkers John Dewey, Kilpatrick, Mead are some of the main exponents of this philosophy.
  4. Constructivism: The learner actively constructs knowledge. Jean Piaget and J. S. Bruner believed that learning involves an active processing of information and that each individual activity organizes and constructs knowledge for itself. Educational psychology believes that there are developmental stages for knowledge organization.
    According to Jean Piaget, ‘accommodation’ and ‘assimilation’ are basic to learning. A learner develops a new ‘schema’ through accommodation. New experiences are assimilated into already existing schemas, or they may be accommodated by creating new schemas.
  5. Humanism: It is a reasonable balance in life and regards humans as the centre and measure of all activities. Humanism believes in the interests and welfare of all human beings. Thus, the life of a human being should be transformed so that the welfare of all becomes the goal. This form of learning is dependent on self-actualization.
    It advocates cooperation, mutual tolerance and social understanding. Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow are main advocates of humanism.
  6. Rationalism: Rationalists claim that there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience.
  7. Empiricists claim that sensory experiences are the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge.
  8. Existentialism: It is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. This emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or in different universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.
  9. Behaviorism: It assumes that the learner is a passive organism who may be conditioned to learn new behavior.
    Therefore, learning could be explained by a change in observable behavior. E. L. Thorndike postulated the law of exercise and the law of effect.
    (a) Law of Exercise: Repeating a conditioned response would strengthen the bond between the stimulus and the response. In other words, practice makes a man perfect.
    (b) Law of Effect: The law of effect is the principle of reinforcement and punishment. Pleasures and pains resulting from previous behavior decides our future behavior.
  10. Gestalt Psychology: It believes that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
    For example, in the human body, there are cells, tissues, organs, systems, etc., and the sum of all these components (human body) is greater than the sum of its parts. This is because the parts are interrelated to each other.
    Further, Gestalt psychology demonstrated the significance of perception. It also showed that complex learning need not occur gradually through lengthy practice but may develop through insight.
  11. Eclectic Philosophy: Eclecticism is nothing but the fusion of knowledge from all sources. It is a peculiar type of educational philosophy that combines all good ideas and principles from various philosophies.
    There are many more philosophies of education, and each of the philosophies have its contributions and limitations. Not a single philosophy is complete in itself. Also, a single philosophy cannot be applied successfully in all situations because the world and its values are continuously changing. The educational system also changes from time to time.

There are many philosophies of education, and some of the important philosophies of education have been mentioned below:

Basic education (Wardha Education System)Mahatma Gandhi
Learning must take place in nature and from natureRabindranath Tagore
Integral educationSri Aurobindo
Focus on the spiritual aspects of Indian philosophyDr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Education to transform human mindJ. Krishnamurti
Experiential learningJohn Dewey
Self-education through development of individualityMaria Montessori
Kindergarten focus on self-activity, creativeness, and social cooperationFrobel
No formal learning; nature is the only teacherRousseau

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