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Samples of Philosophy of Education (Examples for Teachers)

James Neill
Last updated: 18 Aug 2004

Why develop a personal philosophy of education? Samples of personal educational philosophies Resources & links Share your philosophy of education

Why develop a personal philosophy of education?

A teacher's personal philosophy of education is a critical element in his or her approach to guiding children along the path of enlightenment. - Barbara Wilt The philosophical watertightness and eloquence of novice-generated philosophies may lack somewhat in academic integrity, but I have found the raw passion of many people's personal philosophies to be significant in challenging and shaping my own philosophy. What's more, personal philosophies guide practice far more than ivory tower philosophies.

Samples of personal educational philosophies

Here are some links to samples of personal philosophies of education for you to explore. There are roughly in order of "fame" or well-knowness:

My credo - Albert Einstein My pedagogic creed - John Dewey, the most significant educational philosopher of the 20th century; he emphasized the subject nature of students' experience Paulo Freire - arguably the second most significant educational philosophyer, behind Dewey, emphasized social justice and education for the liberation of the oppressed

The philosophy of freedom - Rudolf Steiner, major alternative education philosopher Montessori philosophy & practice - by Michael Olaf Montessori, major alternative education philosophy Johann Pestalozzi - emphasized the educational potential of everyday life, social justice, and education for the poor and oppressed Kurt Hahn - innovative educator who championed adventure, peace & community The vision of Benton MacKaye - Creator of the Appalachian Trail & social engineer Ancient land - Current connections - by Graham Ellis-Smith, about how to learn from Aboriginal ways of life in order to connect to our own indigenous hearts A personal philosophy of education - Barbara Wilt, teacher Experiential & outdoor education for social & eco sustainability - James Neill, outdoor educator & psychologist Sample philosophy statements of education - LeoNora Cohen & Judy Gelbrich Philosophy of education - Erin Mosher, Plattsburgh State University Rosa Carson - Thinking thinking thinking....

Philosophy of education can refer to either the academic field of applied philosophy or to one of any educational philosophies that promote a specific type or vision of education. As an academic field, philosophy of education is "the philosophical study of education and its problems...its central subject matter is education, and its methods are those of philosophy".[1] "The philosophy of education may be either the philosophy of the process of education or the philosophy of the discipline of education. That is, it may be part of the discipline in the sense of being concerned with the aims, forms, methods, or results of the process of educating or being educated; or it may be metadisciplinary in the sense of being concerned with the concepts, aims, and methods of the discipline."[2] As such, it is both part of the field of education and a field of applied philosophy, drawing from fields of metaphysics, epistemology, axiology and the philosophical approaches (speculative, prescriptive, and/or analytic) to address questions in and about pedagogy, education policy, and curriculum, as well as the process of learning, to name a few.[3] For example, it might study what constitutes upbringing and education, the values and norms revealed through upbringing and educational practices, the limits and legitimization of education as an academic discipline, and the relation between educational theory and practice. Instead of being taught in philosophy departments, philosophy of education is usually housed in departments or colleges of education, similar to how philosophy of law is generally taught in law schools.[1] The multiple ways of conceiving education coupled with the multiple fields and

approaches of philosophy make philosophy of education not only a very diverse field but also one that is not easily defined. Although there is overlap, philosophy of education should not be conflated with educational theory, which is not defined specifically by the application of philosophy to questions in education. Philosophy of education also should not be confused with philosophy education, the practice of teaching and learning the subject of philosophy. An educational philosophy is a normative theory of education that unifies pedagogy, curriculum, learning theory, and the purpose of education and is grounded in specific metaphysical, epistemological, and axiological assumptions.

Educational essentialism is an educational philosophy whose adherents believe that children should learn the traditional basic subjects and that these should be learned thoroughly and rigorously. An essentialist program normally teaches children progressively, from less complex skills to more complex. Philosophy of education is a term that is used to define an approach to education that is based on the planning of courses and curriculum, policies regarding education, and programs that are used to support or encourage personal and academic development. In many cases, a philosophy of education will be used to inform the structure and mission of a school. The Montessori philosophy of education, for example, is based on the philosophy of education developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who lived between 1870 and 1952. Today there are many schools that use the Montessori philosophy education to guide their curriculum and approaches to teaching. Although Maria Montessori developed a philosophy of education that is used in a number of Western schools today, she was most certainly not the first philosophical thinker on the subject of education. More than a millennium before her birth, philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle were proposing philosophies about eduction. Plato, for example, believed that both men and women should be educated, which is a philosophy of education that is not shared universally. He also had some more radical ideas about education, including the idea that children should become wards of the state, which would be responsible for raising and educating them. Educational essentialism is an educational philosophy whose adherents believe that children should learn the traditional basic subjects thoroughly and rigorously. In this philosophical school of thought, the aim is to instill students with the "essentials" of academic knowledge, enacting a back-to-basics approach. Essentialism ensures that the accumulated wisdom of our civilization as taught in the traditional academic disciplines is passed on from teacher to student. Such disciplines might include Reading, Writing, Literature, Foreign Languages, History, Mathematics, Science, Art, and Music. Moreover, this traditional approach is meant to train the mind, promote reasoning, and ensure a common culture.


1 Principles of Essentialism o 1.1 Essentialism as a Teacher-Centered Philosophy 2 History of Essentialism o 2.1 Renowned Essentialists 3 Schools Enacting an Essentialist Curriculum 4 Criticism of Essentialism 5 References

[edit] Principles of Essentialism

Essentialism is a relatively conservative stance to education that strives to teach students the knowledge of our society and civilization through a core curriculum. This core curriculum involves such areas that include the study of the surrounding environment, basic natural laws, and the disciplines that promote a happier, more educated living.[1] Other non-traditional areas are also integrated as well in moderation to balance the education. Essentialists' goals are to instill students with the "essentials" of academic knowledge, patriotism, and character development through traditional (or back-to-basic) approaches. This is to promote reasoning, train the mind, and ensure a common culture for all Americans.[2] Essentialism is the most typically enacted philosophy in American classrooms today. Traces of this can be found in the organized learning centered around teacher and textbooks, in addition to the regular assignments and evaluations typical in essentialist education.
[edit] Essentialism as a Teacher-Centered Philosophy

The role of the teacher as the leader of the classroom is a very important tenet of Educational essentialism. The teacher is the center of the classroom, so they should be rigid and disciplinary. Establishing order in the classroom is crucial for student learning; effective teaching cannot take place in a loud and disorganized environment. It is the teacher's responsibility to keep order in the classroom.[3] The teacher must interpret essentials of the learning process, take the leadership position and set the tone of the classroom. These needs require an educator that is academically well-qualified with an appreciation for learning and development. The teacher must control the students with distributions of rewards and penalties.[4]

[edit] History of Essentialism

The Essentialist movement first began in the United States in the year 1938. In Atlantic City, New Jersey, a group met for the first time called "The Essentialist's Committee for the

Advancement of Education".[5] Their emphasis was to reform the educational system to a rational-based system. The term essentialist first appeared in the book An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education which was written by Michael John Demiashkevich.[6] In his book, Demiashkevich labels some specific educators (including William C. Bagley) as essentialists." Demiashkevich compared the essentialists to the different viewpoints of the Progressive Education Association. He described how the Progressives preached a hedonistic doctrine of change where as the essentialists stressed the moral responsibility of man for his actions and looked toward permanent principles of behavior (Demiashkevich likened the arguments to those between the Socratics and the Sophists in Greek philosophy).[7] In 1938 Bagley and other educators met together where Bagley gave a speech a speech detailing the main points of the essentialism movement and attacking the public education in the United States. One point that Bagley noted was that students in the U.S. were not getting an education on the same levels as students in Europe who were the same age.[8] A recent branch has emerged within the essentialist school of thought called "neoessentialism." Emerging in the eighties as a response to the essentialist ideals of the thirties as well as to the criticism of the fifties and the advocates for education in the seventies, neoessentialism was created to try to appease the problems facing the United States at the time.[9] The most notable change within this school of thought is that it called for the creation of a new discipline, computer science.
[edit] Renowned Essentialists

William Bagley (18741946) was an important historical essentialist. William C. Bagley completed his undergraduate degree at Michigan Agricultural College in 1895. It wasnt until after finishing his undergrad studies that he truly wanted to be a teacher.[10] Bagley did his Graduate studies at the University of Chicago and at Cornell University. He acquired his Ph.D. in 1900 after which he took his first school job a Principal in a St. Louis, Missouri Elementary School.[11] Bagleys devotion increased during his work at Montana State Normal School in Dillon, Montana. It was here where he decided to dedicate his time to the education of teachers and where he published The Educative Process, launching his name across the nation. Throughout his career Bagley argued against the conservative position that teachers were not in need of special training for their work.[12] He believed that liberal arts material was important in teacher education. Bagley also believed the dominant theories of education of the time were weak and lacking.[13] In April 1938, he published the Essentialist's Platform, in which he outlined three major points of essentialism. He described the right of students to a well-educated and culturally knowledgeable teacher. Secondly, he discussed the importance of teaching the ideals of community to each group of students. Lastly, Bagley wrote of the importance of accuracy, thoroughness and effort on part of the student in the classroom.[14] Another important essentialist is E.D. Hirsch (1928-). Hirsch was Founder and Chairman of the Core of Knowledge Foundation and author to several books concerning fact-based approaches to

education. Now retired, he spent many years teaching at the University of Virginia while also being an advocate for the "back to basics" movement. In his most popular book, Cultural Literacy What Every American Needs To Know, he offers lists, quotations, and information regarding what he believes is essential knowledge.[15] See also Arthur Bestor.

[edit] Schools Enacting an Essentialist Curriculum

Although it is difficult to maintain a pure and strict essentialist-only curriculum, the Coalition of Essential Schools does contain hard traces of the philosophy. This coalition of two hundred schools was initially headed by Ted Sizer and emphasizes the academic rigor of the disciplines that is at the core of essentialism. The schools do enact a "less is more" approach as it focuses on few disciplines in depth, but focuses on the complete mastery of those skills. Moreover, it views the student as a "worker" and the teacher as the "coach," a common theme in teacher-centered classrooms.[16] Please see the entire site for more details.[17]

[edit] Criticism of Essentialism

One of the positive critiques of essentialism is the stability of the education. Because essentialism is relatively conservative and focuses on disciplines which are relatively stable, it is a rather consistent form of education. The same disciplines are taught consistently and in a progressive manner. It is not persuaded by the fads of the time, but instead focuses on the basics that students need to know to be productive members of society. However, because Essentialism is largely teacher-centered, the role of the student is often called into question. Presumably, in an essentialist classroom, the teacher is the one designing the curriculum for the students based upon the core disciplines. Moreover, he or she is enacting the curriculum and setting the standards to which the students must meet. As a result, the students begin to take on more of a passive role in their education as they are forced to meet and learn such standards and information.[18] Furthermore, there is also speculation that an essentialist education helps in promoting the cultural lag.[19] This philosophy of education is very traditional in the mindset of passing on the knowledge of the culture via the academic disciplines. Thus, students are forced to think in the mindset of the larger culture, and individual creativity is often squelched.

[edit] References