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  1. 1. Mary Raymond Kathy Jackson 1
  2. 2. What is Existentialism? When many people think of existentialism, they think of the dark and lonely individual. A person is a conscious subject; not a thing to be predicted or manipulated. Basic themes: nothingness, anxiety, absurdity, death and alienation. 2
  3. 3. INDIVIDUALISM! What we found in our research, however, is that it is a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual. “In the existentialist world, each person is born, lives, chooses his or her course, and creates the meaning of his or her own existence.” 3
  4. 4. Make Your Own Choice Christianity says, “Look to God, who watches over and takes charge of all.” Plato and Aristotle said, “Look to a rational system of logical necessity.” Naturalism says, “Follow nature; let nature be responsible.” The Experimentalists say, “Look to the scientific method; look to the community.” Wrong! Look to your own choice! 4
  5. 5. Philosophers of Existentialism Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Martin Buber (1878-1965) Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Maxine Greene (1917- ) 5
  6. 6. Friedrich Nietzsche Nietzsche influenced the idea of individualism: he thought traditional morality weakened people, smothering their individuality. His philosophy centers around the idea of “life-affirmation,”-question all of that which “drain life’s energies” no matter how popular those beliefs.• “God is dead”. 6
  7. 7. Soren Kierkegaard Devout Christian – one should take a “leap of faith” in their belief of God even though there is no proof. People should make their own choices and be held completely responsible. “Education should be subjective and religious, devoted to developing individuality and the individual’s relationship with God.” Opposed vocational and technical schools because they are too objective - even believed that the objectivity of science leads people away from their Christian beliefs, becoming more group-centered. 7
  8. 8. Martin Buber Promoted the “need for mutual respect and dignity among all humans.” I And Thou - best-known book.  “I - It” - objective relationship  “I - Thou” - subjective relationship  Teacher/Student relationship 8
  9. 9. Martin Heidegger “Being” and not the lonely, estranged individual.  “Being-in-the-world” - Dasein analysis Individual interprets a personal world of meaning. 1. Environment 2. Social 3. Individual - “Who Am I” 9
  10. 10. Jean-Paul Sartre Best-known leading philosopher of existentialism. Student of Heidegger in the 1930’s. Atheist Being & Nothingness  “being-for-itself”-consciousness of man  “being-in-itself”-objects of consciousness “Existence precedes essence.” “Man is condemned to be free.” 10
  11. 11. Sartre con’t. Sartre saw “nature”, “law”, and “science” as human creations. Rules and restrictions are absurd creations of humans. “People try to be God” - he does not believe God exists - further evidence of human absurdity. Who is responsible for existence today (war, starvation, poverty)? People are! If they can create war, they can create peace. 11
  12. 12. Maxine Greene Modern existentialism “Wide-awakeness” Open to possibilities, be wide awake and be reasonable. Reasonableness can be defined as understanding and comprehending your lived experience. Supports the arts and humanities 12
  13. 13. Are we “raising a nation of sheep?” 13
  14. 14. Existentialism and EducationHow do we create individualism in the classroom? Get to know your student. Greet your student at the door. Let your students get to know you.Diversity in education Curriculum Different ways of teaching Every teacher a student and every student a teacher. They encourage Arts and Humanities, i.e. Charter Schools 14
  15. 15. Schools Two schools that are built on the existentialist philosophy 1. Summerhill school in Suffolk, England  Founded in 1921 by AS Neil  Children should be themselves-if they want to lie around, let them, they do not have to go to class.  Referred to as a democratic society-children and adults have equal votes, children even help create the rules of behavior and the curriculum  Subjects are the whole spectrum from chemistry to art 2. Sudbury Valley School, Framingham, MA  “…freedom is essential to the development of personal responsibility” 15
  16. 16. Pros and Cons Pros of existentialism  Cons of existentialism Encourages individuality-  Hard to implement totally in acknowledges no two the 21st century public children are alike-teach as classroom individuals  It’s hard to choose your own Encourages responsibility existence when we are so Helps people answer the dependent on outside stimuli question “Who am I?” like money and survival. We Mutual respect between the are not totally ourselves when student and the teacher we go on a job interview. We have to be what we think the interviewer wants us to be. 16
  17. 17. Our Thoughts We found this to be an interesting philosophy but also a challenging one. It was a challenging thought process because on one hand you have look to your own choice, but philosophers such as Kirkegaard, who is a devout Christian, is also looking to a higher power than himself. But perhaps that is what individualism is, this is his own choice. The quote that we feel captures this philosophy is one we found in notes from Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness”: “Freedom is humanity’s curse as well as its blessing, and what we make of that freedom is our own.” 17
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  20. 20. References: September 7, 2009, from Slides 2 and 3: Retrieved Slide 4: Ivory, G. Noddings Chapter 4: Existentialism: Full. Retrieved September 9, 2009, from New Mexico State University, History and Philosophy of Education Web site: full.pdf Slides 7-13: Ozmon, Howard A, Craver, Samuel M. , (2008). Philosophical Foundations of Education Slide 12: Phillips, A. (2009 September). Maxine Greene, Master Educator, Philosopher and Humanist. VOA News. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from voa22.cfm Slide 15: Sudbury Valley School. Independence. Retrieved September 9, 2009 from Slide 15: Summerhill School. FAQ. Retrieved September 9, 2009 from 20