Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Chapter 3 - Philosophies of Schooling


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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Chapter 3 - Philosophies of Schooling

Dr. William Allan Kritsonis is Founder (1982) and Editor-in-Chief of NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS. These national refereed journals represent a group of highly respected scholarly academic periodicals (See: www.nationalforum.com).
Dr. Kritsonis lectures and conducts seminars and workshops on a variety of topics. He is author of more than 500 articles in professional journals and several books. Some of his most popular books include: SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: The Art of Survival, Practical Applications of Educational Research and Basic Statistics, Ways of Knowing through the Realms of Meaning, and Philosophies of Education.
In 2012, Dr. Kritsonis was honored by the Texas National Association for Multicultural Education at Texas A&M University, College Station. In 2005, Dr. Kritsonis was invited to lecture at the Oxford Round Table in the University of Oxford. In 2004, Dr. Kritsonis was recognized as the Central Washington University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus in the College of Education and Professional Studies. He has served education as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, and college professor. Dr. Kritsonis has 43 years of service in the field of education.
Currently, Dr. Kritsonis is Professor of Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University – Member of the Texas A&M University System. He teaches in the PhD Program in Educational Leadership and the Master’s Program in Administration with emphasis in Principal certification. He is also a National Reviewer for the Journal of Research on Leadership, University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA).

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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Chapter 3 - Philosophies of Schooling

  1. 1. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 81This book is protected under the Copyright Act of 1976. Uncited Sources,Violators will be prosecuted. Courtesy, National FORUM JournalsCHAPTER 3PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGCopyright © 2005William KritsonisAll Rights Reserved / Forever
  2. 2. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 82
  3. 3. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 83WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY?Many individuals have a philosophy embedded in their subconscious minds.Although one does not realize altogether that certain beliefs follow a selectedphilosophic approach, individual actions parallel certain philosophies morethan others. The following medium offers information concerning personalphilosophic beliefs so that a basic understanding can be obtained and apersonal philosophy developed. Please answer the following statements on theanswer sheet at the end of this section utilizing the scale:StronglyDisagree Disagree Neutral AgreeStronglyAgree|--------1------------------2------------------3-----------------4------------------5-------|1. The subjects of a school are the most important feature of an education.2. Schools should promote a teacher-centered environment in order toencourage effective learning.3. Education is a prerequisite for a student to understand life’s intentions.4. What students are taught should be determined solely by student interestand input.5. The deductive approach is the most effective method of teaching anysubject to students.6. Universal truth is an individual perception.7. If it happens, it is real.8. Disregard the past and you are destined to repeat it.9. A school’s curriculum should be determined by the specific needs of eachcommunity, where content is designed for the betterment of each student.10. Education should focus strongly on the development of reasoning skills ofstudents.11. Curricular content should center primarily on the scientific method forresolving dilemmas.12. Students should be free to explore their interests in whatever fashion theydesire.13. The climate in which one lives solely defines one’s behavior.14. All children can learn the same thing, but not at the same rate.15. Students should be placed in classrooms according to their individualabilities.16. All reform movements in education are basically the same.17. The curriculum for students should contain a specific nucleus ofinformation that is indigenous for all literate people.18. Ethical behavior and morality should be incorporated into a student’slearning process.
  4. 4. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 8419. The curriculum of a school should not be decided by a small circle ofschool officials, but by all involved parties within the community.20. What is real is perceived differently by individuals, therefore no twothings can be the same.21. Learning by specified programs of material in sequence is paramount to achild’s education.22. Teachers need to give more individual assistance in the classroom.23. Students with a mental disability cannot learn the same subject matter asregular students and should not be placed in a regular classroomenvironment.24. Money is not the total answer to increased student achievement.25. Learning to read proficiently is the solution to the educational dilemma.26. Each individual in society must attain a specified body of knowledge tofunction properly.27. Student needs, experiences, and interests should be the determining factorwhen designing a school’s curriculum.28. A school’s curriculum should contain more electives for students tochoose.29. A complete curricular analysis for effective teaching should includescope, sequence, articulation, pacing, and, most importantly, reward orreinforcement.30. All teachers have an underlying concern for students and the learningprocess.31. Effective education begins at the home.32. Traditional education of the 1950s should be reinstated in the schoolcurriculum.33. Teachers should not teach in areas where their proficiency is belowaverage.34. More emphasis should be placed on “The Great Men” and “The GreatBooks” of past civilizations.35. The curriculum should be entirely a hands-on, practical approach.36. Student achievement cannot take place in a traditional, lecture-orientedformat.37. The environment is a tangible place where material is a solidrepresentation of what is.38. Students learn best in a one-on-one basis.39. Students, teachers, parents, and administrators should decide solely on thecurricular structure of a school.40. What works in one environment does not necessarily work in another.41. There should be a distinct division of subject matter, not the consolidatedcollection presently advocated.
  5. 5. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 8542. Art/music appreciation should stress past contributions rather thanpractical applications.43. The teacher’s sole function in the classroom should be to guide studentsthrough problem-solving situations.44. A school environment should nurture students to find their roles insociety.45. Fool me once, shame on you–fool me twice, shame on me.46. Children are born with universal knowledge and it is the teacher’s job tobring forth that knowledge.47. The universe is made from scientific laws and the scientific process isdesigned to explain our existence.48. If it works, it is true.49. Enculturation is the primary function of education.50. A school’s curriculum should concentrate on long-range goals, not onimmediate concerns.51. A student should feel free to be inventive and communicate innercuriosities without the threat of reprimand.52. Individuals are first an introvert and second an extrovert.53. The scientific approach is the best approach to effectively understandexplained and unexplained phenomenon.54. Reality is what one believes.55. Teachers should always adapt and should be flexible in the learningenvironment.56. We learn best from experience.57. A strict, proven curricular format is necessary to ensure proper learning.58. Even though students learn at different rates, every student should beexposed to the same learning material.59. School environments should be void of any autocracy by the teachersand/or administration.60. Every child evolves at a different rate, both physically and mentally, andshould be free, without interference, to do so.61. Students learn best when given an incentive or reward.62. Students know what they need to know and should follow their beliefs.63. Teachers are in the best position to determine appropriate learningactivities.64. Our past dictates our future.65. Students do not do enough outside assignments for effective exposure tothe subject matter.66. The Socratic method of questioning should be utilized more in theclassroom to cultivate critical thinking skills.67. Student-to-student interaction is the best learning method.
  6. 6. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 8668. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” because there is no standardizedscale for measuring beauty.69. Moral and ethical values are not inborn traits, but learned processes.70. Perceptions are everything in learning.71. Student success is a product of his/her environment regardless ofintellectual capability.72. Field trips should be utilized more often to enhance the learning process.73. All teachers of a given subject should teach the same content in order toestablish continuity of learning.74. Students learn by themselves under direct supervision of the teacher.75. Students learn better when grouped together than when separated forindividual investigation.76. Having a child feel good about himself/herself is more important thanwhat he/she learns.77. Standardized tests are the best measures of student achievement.78. There is no universal standard to describe beauty except in what oneperceives.79. A structured curriculum is best for students to learn.80. I hear and I forget–I see and I remember–I do and I understand.
  7. 7. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 87ANSWER SHEETPlace each numbered response for the corresponding questions in theappropriate space below.ScaleStronglyDisagree Disagree Neutral AgreeStronglyAgree|--------1------------------2------------------3-----------------4------------------5-------|A B C D E F G H1.____ 2.____ 3.____ 4.____ 5.____ 6.____ 7.____ 8.____9.____ 10.____ 11.____ 12.____ 13.____ 14.____ 15.____ 16.____17.____ 18.____ 19.____ 20.____ 21.____ 22.____ 23.____ 24.____25.____ 26.____ 27.____ 28.____ 29.____ 30.____ 31.____ 32.____33.____ 34.____ 35.____ 36.____ 37.____ 38.____ 39.____ 40.____41.____ 42.____ 43.____ 44.____ 45.____ 46.____ 47.____ 48.____49.____ 50.____ 51.____ 52.____ 53.____ 54.____ 55.____ 56.____57.____ 58.____ 59.____ 60.____ 61.____ 62.____ 63.____ 64.____65.____ 66.____ 67.____ 68.____ 69.____ 70.____ 71.____ 72.____73.____ 74.____ 75.____ 76.____ 77.____ 78.____ 79.____ 80.____
  8. 8. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 88SCORINGStep 1Total points for each column and place in the appropriate blank below.A____ B____ C____ D____ E____ F____ G____ H____Step 2Place the total of each column in the corresponding blanks below.Major Philosophic Off-Shoots Major PhilosophiesColumn A = ____ Essentialist Column E = ____ BehavioristColumn B = ____ Perennialist Column F = ____ IdealistColumn C = ____ Progressivist Column G = ____ RealistColumn D = ____ Existentialist Column H = ____ PragmatistScores indicate your agreement or disagreement with a particular philosophicalpoint of view. The highest score indicates a more prominent consensus and thelowest score indicates a more prominent conflict. The highest possible scorefor any philosophical category is 50 and the lowest possible score is 10.Comparing the scores on the left to the scores on the right will offer aninteresting perspective concerning original philosophic views to the philoso-phic off-shoots. The participant is directed to corresponding sections within thetext for a review of philosophic convictions.
  9. 9. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 89PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGKEY POINTS1. Philosophy is not a science; it is an attempt to understand the world.2. Educational philosophy is the application of formal philosophy to the fieldof education.3. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with ultimate reality;epistemology focuses on knowledge, and axiology deals with the study ofvalues.4. Idealism, the philosophy of Plato, focuses on the search for truth.5. Realism, the philosophy of Aristotle, supports the notion that knowledgecan be gained through the senses and from deductive reasoning.6. Pragmatism is an American philosophy that is associated with humanexperience; John Dewey was a prominent pragmatist.7. Existentialism, an individualized philosophy, represents a radical departurefrom other schools of philosophy and focuses on the individual.8. Perennialism is an educational philosophy developed from realism, whilethe educational philosophy of essentialism is the basis for the back-to-the-basics movement in education.9. Progressivism is associated with problem-solving techniques, whilereconstructionism focuses on social reform.10. Basic philosophy and educational philosophy are directly related to whatoccurs in school classrooms.11. Philosophy directly impacts on curriculum and teaching practices.12. Some philosophies encourage a highly structured curriculum with closestudent monitoring, while others focus on limited structure and widefreedoms for students.
  10. 10. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 90CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGA. OVERVIEWThis chapter provides basic information regarding philosophy and educationalphilosophy. It begins by discussing the basic philosophies, such as idealism andrealism, and then moves into a discussion of specific educational philosophies.B. KEY TERMS–DEFINITIONSANALYTICAL - allows the use of language to analyze words; currently thedominating activity of American and British philosophers; given to studying aproblem by breaking it down into its various parts.ANALYTICAL PHILOSOPHY - philosophy based on analytical activity.AXIOLOGY - area of philosophy that focuses on values.BEHAVIORAL ENGINEERING - a philosophy of education that focuses oncontrolling the learner’s environment.BEHAVIORISM - educational philosophy and practice that emphasizedreinforcing appropriate behavior or learning: includes the concepts of stimulusand response.ECLECTIC - selecting what appears to be the best doctrines, methods, styles,or philosophies.EPISTEMOLOGY - deals with knowledge; therefore, directly related to theinstructional methods employed by teachers.ESSENTIALISM - area of philosophy that believes a common core ofknowledge and ideals should be the focus of the curriculum.EXISTENTIALISM - philosophy that emphasizes individuals and individualdecision-making.IDEALISM - a philosophy that emphasizes global ideas related to moralteachings.METAPHYSICS - the branch of philosophy that deals with ultimate reality.ONTOLOGY - the study of what is real; the primary focus of metaphysicsdealing with what is real about material objects, the universe, persons, being,mind, existence, and so forth. Hard core reality.PERENNIALISM - educational philosophy that believes in the existence ofunchanging universal truths.PRAGMATISM - philosophy that focuses on practical application of knowledge.
  11. 11. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 91PRESCRIPTIVE - attempts to establish standards for assessing values,judging conduct and appraising art: ordered with the force of authority.PROGRESSIVISM - educational philosophy emphasizing experience.RECONSTRUCTIONISM - educational philosophy calling for schools to getinvolved and support social reform.SPECULATIVE - considerate of possibilities and probabilities; philosophy isa search for orderliness applied to all knowledge; it applies systematic thinkingto everything that exists.SYNOPTIC - providing a general summary of data collected at many points topresent an overview.SYNTHESIS - assembling various parts into a whole; reasoning from self-evident propositions, laws or principles to arrive by a series of deductions atwhat one seeks to establish; enables educators to see the relationship of ideas topractice.C. SOME PRECEDING THOUGHTS1. What is Philosophy?Philosophy is the human being’s attempt to think most speculatively,reflectively, and systematically about the universe and the relationship tothat universe.Philosophy presents no proof; there are no theorems; there are noquestions that can be answered with yes or no.2. Why should educational philosophy be studied by prospective teachers?Studying educational philosophy can help teachers and other educatorsfocus on questions that are speculative, prescriptive, and analytical; it canhelp enlarge thoughts so better personal choices can be made; it helps inself-evaluation of beliefs and self-knowledge.3. What is the purpose of educational philosophy?The major role of philosophy in education is to help develop the educator’sthinking capacity.4. What are the three branches of philosophy?Metaphysics–deals with ultimate reality.Epistemology–deals with the nature of knowledge.Axiology–the study of values.
  12. 12. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 925. What are the major schools of philosophy?Idealism–certain universal absolute concepts.Realism–work is governed by various laws, known or unknown.Pragmatism–primarily an American philosophy; scientific analysis,learning through experience.Existentialism–believe students should control much of what goes on.6. What are the major schools of educational philosophy?Perennialism–a developed form of realism; the universal aim of educationis truth.Essentialism–the three R’s should be the core of the curriculum.Progressivism–do not believe there is a need to search for eternal truths:emphasizes innovative education.Reconstructionism–calls for schools to get involved with and supportsocial reform.Behaviorism–manipulating people through the use of punishment andreward.Behavioral Engineering–control the learner’s environment to conditionresponses.7. Which schools of general philosophy gave rise to schools ofeducational philosophy?Idealism–Reconstructionism.Realism–Perennialism.Pragmatism–Progressivism, Essentialism.Existentialism–Pseudo or Authentic.8. What is the role of teachers?Just about anyone can read a teacher’s guide and present information in asensible order. Understanding why it is presented in a particular way, if itshould be presented in a particular way, or if it should be presented at allrequires a different kind of knowledge.9. How does educational philosophy influence teachers’ actions?Philosophy impacts education through both teaching methods andcurriculum. While some teachers use a hodgepodge approach to teaching,most consistently adhere to a certain philosophical approach, even thoughthey may not realize it. Their methods and curriculum usually can beassociated with a specific school of philosophy.
  13. 13. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 9310. What is your philosophy of life?Philosophic Questions Branches of PhilosophyAre human beings basically good oris the essential nature of the humanbeing evil?What is the nature of reality?(Metaphysics–ontology)What causes certain events in theuniverse to happen?What is the nature of reality?(Metaphysics–cosmology)What is your relationship to theuniverse?What is the nature of reality?(Metaphysics–cosmology)What is your relationship to a higherbeing (God)?What is the nature of reality?(Metaphysics–ontology)To what extent is your life basicallyfree?What is the nature of reality?(Metaphysics–ontology)How is reality determined? What is the nature of reality?(Metaphysics–ontology)What is your basic purpose in life? What is the nature of reality?(Metaphysics–ontology)How is knowledge determined? What is the nature of knowledge?(Epistemology)What is truth? What is the nature of knowledge?(Epistemology)What are the limits of knowledge? What is the nature of knowledge?(Epistemology)What is the relationship betweencognition and knowledge?What is the nature of knowledge?(Epistemology)Are certain moral or ethical valuesuniversal?What is the nature of values?(Axiology–ethics)How is beauty determined? What is the nature of values?(Axiology–aesthetics)What constitutes aesthetic value? What is the nature of values?(Axiology–aesthetics)Who determines what is right, just, orgood?What is the nature of values?(Axiology–ethics)
  14. 14. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 9411. What are two essential needs individuals need to fulfill?1. To love and be loved.2. To feel worthwhile to self and others.12. What are the elements of Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues?1. Temperance – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.2. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoidtrifling conversation.3. Order – Let all your things have their place; let each part of yourbusiness have its time.4. Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform withoutfailing what you resolve.5. Frugality – Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e.,waste nothing.6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cutoff all unnecessary actions.7. Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if youspeak, speak accordingly.8. Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that areyour duty.9. Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much asyou think they deserve.10. Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.11. Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common orunavoidable.12. Chastity – Rarely use “very” but for health or offspring, never todullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace orreputation.13. Humility – Imitate Jesus and Socrates.Franklin attempted to take each of the above weekly and could repeatthe cycle four times yearly. By the end of thirteen weeks he wasimplementing all thirteen.
  15. 15. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 95D. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES1. What is your philosophy of education?2. Relate your philosophy of education to a formal, general philosophy, andan educational philosophy.3. How does your philosophy of education impact your behavior in theclassroom?
  16. 16. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 96E. REVIEW ITEMSTrue-False1. Educational philosophy is rooted in general philosophy.2. The three main branches of philosophy are Metaphysics, Epistemology,and Axiology.3. Plato is considered the father of Idealism.4. The bases of Pragmatism lie in the progressive movement in the UnitedStates.5. Progressivism is based on the search for eternal truths.Multiple Choice1. The form of philosophy that establishes standards for assessing values,judging content, and appraising art is _______.a. analytic b. speculative c. prescriptive d. synthetic2. The branch of philosophy that focuses on knowledge is _______.a. Metaphysics b. Epistemology c. Axiologyd. Pragmatism3. The most American philosophy is _______.a. Idealism b. Realism c. Pragmatism d. Existentialism4. Perennialism, like _______, holds that subject matter should be the centerof education.a. Existentialism b. Realism c. Essentialismd. all of the above5. The emphasis in synoptic philosophy is in _______.a. seeing relationships b. discerning a gestaltc. removing inconsistencies d. all of the aboveF. PHILOSOPHIES OF EDUCATION – A Penetrating AnalysisSource: Kritsonis, W.A., & DeMoulin, D. (1996). Philosophies of education. Ashland, OH: BookMasters,Inc. Adapted with special permission.1. Foreword on Philosophies of Education.Education operates under the scrutiny of every leader and every citizen.All societies support education in some way, although not with the sameintensity. Schools are the reflections of a nation. Education affects each
  17. 17. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 97nation’s society and determines the status of the masses, as well as thestatus of the individuals.In early times, education was a means for survival; children were taughtthe necessary skills for living. Philosophers were sources of knowledgeand wisdom. Although they did not provide specific answers, philosophersoffered avenues for serious inquiry into ideas and traditions inrationalizing human actions. They suggested that solving problems couldbe achieved through critical and reflective thought, and the pursuit ofwisdom.Educational philosophy is a way of examining ideas, proposals, andrecommendations for learning and how best to use them in the educationalsetting. Philosophy of education, therefore, is the application of ideas oridea systems to educational problems. The study of philosophy helpseducators understand the best avenues for success, realizing that no clear-cut answers to philosophical problems are provided. It does not guaranteebetter thinkers or educators; however, it does provide assistance inthinking more clearly. The roles of philosophy include:a. to examine critically the intellectual tools of any given era;b. to suggest alternative methods of thinking;c. to develop sensitivity to the logic and language we use in constructingsolutions to problems in education and society.The purpose of this section is to serve the reader as a basic guide for betterunderstanding philosophy.2. Philosophical Thoughts of Encouragement.When you get into a tight place and it seems you can’t go on . . . hold onfor that’s just the place and the time when the tide will turn.Harriet Beecher StoweThe lowest ebb is the turn of the tide. UnknownIf there is no wind, row. UnknownHe only never fails who never attempts. UnknownOur greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall.Confucius3. Introduction to Philosophies of Education.People express opinions and maintain certain beliefs concerning what isright and what is good. These opinions have remained in a state of debateand occasionally in a state of confusion concerning interpretation.Individual philosophers have left supportive, yet contradictory marksthroughout the slow and tedious climb of philosophical expression. Many
  18. 18. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 98of these past thoughts and practices are operating in present-dayeducational settings. We, as humans, are still searching for the ideal,workable system that will satisfy the present and will be flexible for thefuture.The popular view of philosophy is perplexing. One side views philosophyin pure veneration and awe, while other sides view it with enjoyment oreven suspicion. Also, the popular view has been obscured in many of thethings philosophers themselves have expressed about philosophy.The word “philosophy” comes from two Greek words meaning “love ofwisdom.” Philosophy is a theoretical or logical analysis of the principlesunderlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe.Philosophy is the belief system that a person develops concerningexistence, reality in the world, truth, knowledge, honesty, logic, ethics,thought processes, and aesthetics. In other words, a philosophy of life oreducation guides a person’s fundamental belief system that serves to helpone answer life’s most perplexing questions.What, then, is a good definition of philosophy? The answer to this questionhas been a heated debate for many centuries. Philosophy, like art, religion,or law, is difficult to define. Therefore, it is probably best to offer samplequestions that philosophy tries to answer.What constitutes the making of a good life? What constitutes universallaw? Where do justice, morals, or beauty come into the picture? Wheredoes truth fit into the scheme of things? And is there a reason for ourexistence in the universe of knowledge?These questions are by no means a finite list, but they do propose some ofthe perpetual inquiries pertaining to philosophy. One does not need toexplore philosophy in order to question certain viewpoints concerningnature, existence, or truth. These are questions that occur anytime,anyplace and often without advanced warning. This can lead manyindividuals to discover similar viewpoints about basic ideas and/ orstandards. Our primary pass-time, then, is to question the rights andprivileges of others. This is what gives philosophy its fancy and interest,and it is also the basic reason why philosophy often provides the avenuefor frequent upheaval in everyday happenings.It is the nature of man, therefore, to pass the blame of life’s happenings tosome outside force controlled by an unknown entity. However, somephilosophers believe that happenings on this earth are products of previousconditions. Individuals like to think of things in a concrete manner, but aswe know from science, matter is composed of concealed fields of force
  19. 19. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 99that do not exhibit familiar traits or function in ways that are accepted ascommon occurrences. Does this phenomenon make our everydayexperience less meaningful?Philosophy can be thought of as an ordered attempt to explain and arrangecertain beliefs and to incorporate them into everyday functions. Everyfacet of knowledge has some sort of philosophical beginning, and askingphilosophical questions is not limited to philosophers. Why should theyhave all the fun and excitement of trying to explain the functions of life?There is no boundary for philosophical examinations, but philosophy isgenerally divided into the main groups of Ethics, Aesthetics, Logic,Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology.
  20. 20. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 100a. Ethics – the study of what is morally good and right and the reasoningto explain our moral conduct. It is usually associated with the socialand political aspects of life. Ethics and education are integrated innumerous ways. For example, ethical inquiries need to be examined todetermine the intention of education; principals should behave ethicallytoward teachers and students; teachers and students should behaveethically toward one another and to the principal; the educationalenvironment should be designed ethically to promote morally good andright behaviors, and so forth.b. Aesthetics – deals with the question, “What is beauty?” It also pertainsto the foundation on which judgment is based. Some individuals areable to articulate the encounters they are having as worthwhile becausethey provide moments of imaginatively enriched perceptions. Othersare either unwilling or are incapable of interpreting the reasons for theirenjoyment or displeasure; many times they are unsure of their feelings.They may find some immediate fulfillment but are incapable ofarticulating what they have experienced or of expressing those feelingsinto words.c. Logic – relates to the development of a distinct set of practices andboundaries that allow the practitioners to express curiosities with asense of exactness (thinking effectively). From these expressions,inferences can be created from given assumptions. Ambiguity is moreor less illuminated from thought to allow a more powerfulrepresentative language to come through. The fire of logic is seen as apurifier of thought, fading into the depths of knowledge, and trying touncover the meaning of certain claims about the universe and ourexistence (What do we believe? What should we do? What should wesay? and so on).d. Epistemology – concerns itself with what constitutes knowledge andhow we arrive at it. It promotes the concept of each assisting others inattaining knowledge. Because each individual manifests certainknowledge capabilities, it is within our nature to uncover the bestavenue to share that knowledge. This fundamental concept has animportant bearing on how we think and act. Although such a simplisticview of knowledge is virtually impossible today, we have madesignificant attempts to investigate and understand knowledge. Thebroad definition of knowledge allows each individual the basis forjudgment and critical reflection.
  21. 21. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 101e. Metaphysics – the study of the most generic qualities of events. It is anattempt to provide theory or groups of rational principles that accountfor everything that exists. It is the study of the Being as a whole. Thequarrel against the metaphysical belief is that it is sometimesconsidered the most inclusive of all studies–describing the supremecharacter of things.f. Axiology – the study of what is of value. It is an attempt to examine therules of proper conduct. Societies reward or punish behavior as itdeviates from or conforms to perceptions of what is of most value.Whatever one may think of philosophy, it has maintained durability, ifonly in interest. Whether in an attack or a defense mode, it is likely toreveal basic views about the character of the universe and the basicresponsibilities regarding proper conduct for the essence of life.In trying to make sense of the many different philosophical positions,one could spend an extreme amount of time in reflection. It does seemimperative, however, to become familiar with some of thephilosophical ideas that have impacted our past and that have set inmotion the path of the future.4. Activities for Philosophies of Education.a. Activity 1Write a basic definition of philosophy. In small groups, comparedefinitions and try to reach a compromise on one basic definition.b. Activity 2Write a brief definition for the following areas.AestheticsLogicEpistemologyMetaphysicsAxiologyShare these definitions with others to see how they compare.5. Philosophical Thoughts of Encouragement.Out of your weakness shall come your strength. The BibleThe force of the waves is in their persistence. Gila GuriMany strokes, though with a little axe, hews down and fells the hardesttimbered oak. Shakespeare
  22. 22. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 102Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. Henry FordThe greater the obstacle, the more the glory in overcoming it. ConfuciusHome is not a place, it is a moment in time. Draw your strength from thatmoment in time. Annette Marchand6. The Philosophies of Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, and Existentialism.The world has been saturated with philosophical doctrines created mostlyby individuals seeking to explain man’s role or existence. However, of themany philosophical approaches, only a select few cannot be traced. Hence,the majority of the Western philosophical views can be associated withfour primary philosophies: Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, andExistentialism. These four views constitute the basis for explanation anddiscussion of other less prominent branches within this text.a. The Influence of SocratesNo study of philosophy would be complete without mentioningSocrates. It was he who provided inspiration and guidance to othersfrom his teachings.Socrates was a Greek philosopher and teacher, and a controversialfigure in present-day interpretation of Greek thought. He was born inAthens about 469 BC, the son of a stone-mason and, for a time,practiced the trade himself.Material goods were unimportant for Socrates and he had little respectfor social status. He left no writings of his own and probably nevermade any. All that is known about Socrates is taken from his fineststudents, Plato and Aristotle.After Socrates became interested in philosophy, he began discussing itwith anyone who would listen. He did not teach in an ordinary sensebecause he did not collect fees, give any formal instruction, hold anyclasses, or give any lectures. He simply asked questions and woulddominate an argument at any time. His method of inquiry (Socraticquestioning) allows the individual to seek answers otherwise notconsidered. His influence is still a major factor in thought and inteaching.People often asked his advice on matters of practical conduct andeducational problems. Socrates believed that he himself was an inquirerwho knew nothing and had nothing to teach, but regarded everyquestion as an open question and all ideas open to challenge. Althoughhe was ready to converse with anyone, above all he welcomed thecompany of the inquisitive youth. Socrates discussed only human
  23. 23. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 103concerns, which included what makes humans good as individuals oras citizens. His discussions were much like cross-examinations.Socrates asked questions to make people think about things they hadtaken for granted. He was the first to raise the problem of definitionand always sought essence and demonstrative proofs. Socrates had astrong belief that virtue was knowledge. To Socrates, perfection was inthe knowledge of good and evil. Pleasure was mistaken for good whenit was not really good, according to Socrates and his friends. In thisfield of conduct, education was not teaching, it was opening the souland clearing its vision from the distorting mists of prejudice and fromthe conceit of knowledge that is really no more than second-handopinion. He was merely undermining the morality of obedience toauthority and of conformity to custom. Socrates felt that ignorance leftman no better than a slave.Socrates concentrated on physical descriptions of the universe andmoved forward to ethical and logical inquiries. He believed that aperson should make the best of himself and then move on. Learningwas not perceived as remembering answers but as searching for them.Self-control was very important to Socrates, as well as the study oflanguage and rhetoric. Rhetoric and language were the keys to privateand political success.Socrates had many young friends. Because of his controversialmethods, Socrates was accused by his government of corrupting theminds of adolescents and also of introducing new gods to Athens.Socrates was condemned to die by drinking Hemlock; however, hecould have avoided death if he chose to go into exile. He refused to doso and was said to have died in 399 BC. Socrates died believing thattrue self was not the body but the soul. In any case, his independencewill always be admired.b. The Basic Philosophy of IdealismIdealism was the dominant philosophy of the thinkers of westerncivilizations during the latter half of the 19thcentury. Idealists believethat external reality must be understood through the medium of thehuman mind. When humans come into relationship with whateverexists, the human mind functions to grasp the nature of reality. Thethree key words of idealism are growth, imitation, and maturity. Byimitating a model of behavior, we mature and grow toward an idealthat contains the perfection of virtues.
  24. 24. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 104Idealism applies to any theory that views the world as being made upof mind, spirit, or reason. True knowledge to the idealist is a coherent,systematic interpretation of events. Values come as a result of anindividual’s perception of attainment and enjoyment in his/herexperiences. The idealist feels that to learn is to distinguish amongvalues because some values are a matter of personal preference whileothers are absolute regardless of time, place, and circumstance.The main goal of idealism is for the “finite person” to develop into an“infinite person.” One accomplishes this feat through the process ofeducation. The philosophy of an idealist education, therefore, is tocultivate the personality. Education is seen as perfecting humanity inthe image of an ideal. The aim is infinite, the process is endless andeducation is a means to an end.There are many common grounds on which most idealists agree.Idealists feel ultimate reality is of the same substance as ideals. Behindthe astonishing world is an infinite Spirit or ideal that is bothsubstructure and creator of the cosmos. Hence, Idealists believe thatthey are spirits, but that they are also finite.Concerning knowledge, idealists believe that man can achieve truth byexamining personal ideas and testing personal consistency. Value andmeaning are obtained by relating parts as wholes.Idealism is a mental approach to philosophy. One does not directlyknow circumstances around him/her. These formalities are conceivedin relation to personal experience.c. Major Contributors to Idealism1. Formal IdealismPlato. Plato is considered to be the first and foremost Idealist.Platonic Idealism rests on the distinction between appearance andreality. Out of his analysis of this distinction grew his theory ofideas.Plato has been often called the Prince of Philosophy due to certainfundamental questions that he explored. These questions are stillbeing examined today. He lived from 427 BC to 346 BC, but manyof the biographically important events in his life remain hidden ormust be inferred from his writings. His lifetime corresponded withthe Golden Age of Athenian democracy; a time of plagues, winlessconfrontations, and revolutions.
  25. 25. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 105Plato came from a family of high distinction. However, the politicalenvironment exuded a counterrevolutionary tone where democracywas synonymous with corruption and the class system. It was at thistime that Plato concluded that mankind would find no cessationfrom evil until either the real philosophers gain political control orelse the politicians become, by some miracle, real philosophers.One of the great influences on the life of Plato was the life andteachings of Socrates. However, Plato altered the Socratic faith asmuch as it altered him, modifying this Socratic ideal of philosophyinto a new Platonic system.Plato believed that these formal structures, grasped by the mindalone, were more knowable and more real than the changeablematerial objects that are grasped through the senses. He emphasizedthat men should concern themselves with the search for truthbecause truth is, in essence, perfect and eternal. He consideredmathematics as an eternal truth because it represents one area thatpeople can agree. It also represents a balance that approaches theideal in the world of chaos.Plato believed that critical discussion (dialectic) helps one movetoward the Good (considered to be the source of all true knowledge)by advancing from mere opinion to true knowledge. Dialecticprovides the impetus to examine both sides of an issue. Throughdialogue, Plato felt that individuals would come closer toagreement, therefore closer to the truth.The Platonic aim of developing the power of reason is evident inour educational system. Plato believed that proper educationsupersedes law. There would be no need to dictate laws to humansof good breeding, for they will find out for themselves whatregulations would be needed. Good breeding develops through asound educational system that produces reasonable humans. Oncesuch a system is established, each repetition can lead to betterhumans until the ideal representation is reached for whom no lawsare needed.Plato believed that intelligence was determined genetically and thateach person was born with a soul. This soul, either of gold, silver,or bronze determined his or her capacity to rise through theeducation system. He advocated strong censorship by thegovernment to protect this ideal educational system from corruptiveinnovations. Education ideas in his Republic were never adoptedand, at one point, some were labeled reactionary.
  26. 26. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 106The rulers in Plato’s Republic were to be the steadiest, bravest,most handsome and most gifted for the task of governing. This elite“Philosopher King” group would be sifted from the masses atdifferent levels of the educational program. This systemincorporated a ruling group of gold, an administrative group ofsilver and the free laboring class of bronze–following his concept ofpredetermined intelligence. Since one’s composition would bedetermined by birth rites, only the elite would be educated to thetask of ruling. Their education would continue throughout theirlifetimes to fit them best for their specialty. Others would not begiven the opportunity for such an advanced education.This scenario is extremely out of line with modern principles ofdemocracy. Most Americans believe that all individuals should beeducated for the task of governing, since America is of a “rule bythe people” conviction. Plato would think it impossible for allindividuals to be capable of ruling and making choices. He mighthave speculated that instead of one class of elite rulers, Americanshave been led to believe that the majority of people help establishthe continuity of the country when, in reality, only a hand full ofindividuals actually control the power. Plato advocated that whenthe people falsely believe that they can think for themselves, theybecome even more susceptible to propaganda and advertising.Plato would argue that, since we believe that special talent andspecial training are required for mastery of the arts and crafts, weshould also see the need for such mastery in our leaders. This lineof reasoning seems convincing, and it is one area that is impossibleto disprove. Nevertheless, one can point to the greatness andlongevity of American democracy as a practical example of thebenefit of education of the masses.The writings of Plato are historically divided into three periods. Thedialogues occupy the first period. These writings exemplify theSocratic method in that the definitions of general notions are given.A dialogue may take the question, “What is beauty” and exploremany facets of it, answering in tones of philosophical grandeur.The middle-period writings are filled with lively dramatizations andargumentation. During this phase, Plato began to espouse a positive,philosophical doctrine. The Republic, perhaps Plato’s most well-known work, is found here.
  27. 27. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 107The third period concerns itself with sophisticated issues. Thewritings consider grammatical and semantic matters. Questions oftruth and falsehood abound.As history unfolds itself, it is clear the middle period of Plato’s lifecontained the most dramatic philosophies. He developed the viewof an ideal society or state and devoted substantial space to the endsand means of education. Some historians think that the Republic is ablueprint for a totalitarian state, but educators have hailed it as thefoundation for advanced education.Plato managed to separate the world of things, as they are, from theworld of ideas where things are perfect. He believed the ultimateend of all education is insight into the harmonious order of thewhole world. In other words, the main role of education is todevelop the ability to bring to consciousness the knowledge hiddenwithin the soul. True knowledge, therefore, is not perceived by thesenses, but is discovered by reason. Plato sees the sensory world ascontinually changing and not as eternal.Consequently, Plato established within his curriculum subjects thathe thought would accomplish his desired aim. He held thatgeometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music, and solid geometry werethe subjects that held the power of turning the soul’s eye from thematerial world to objects of pure thought. These areas were the onlytrue sciences to him. The natural sciences were not justified becausethe sensory world could not hold exact and eternal truths.2. Religious IdealismSaint Augustine. Saint Augustine, a Roman Catholic, believed thatwe should release ourselves from the world of Man and enter intothe world of God. He proposed the use of meditation and faith asthe means to the end. This classification can be tied to Easternphilosophy since the Judeo-Christian faith is characterized byultimate reality in God with the soul as the bridge to this ultimatereality.The Roman Catholic church was influenced by the philosophy ofIdealism. The concern of the church was that mankind inherited thesin of Adam and was continuously engaged in a struggle to regainpurity. Augustine emphasized that the world of God is the Good towhich Plato referred. He believed that the world of Man is thematerial world of darkness, sin, ignorance and suffering and manshould try to enter the world of God through meditation and faith.
  28. 28. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 108This, he concluded, is because knowledge was created by God andcan only be found trying to find God.3. Subjective IdealismGeorge Berkeley. George Berkeley (1685-1753) is thought to haveintroduced subjective Idealism to the world. Berkeley, an Episcopalminister, related that matter did not exist except through the mind.All knowledge that a human has of an object is his/her sensations ofit. He argued that ideas exist only in human consciousness.Berkeley believed that all existence was dependent on some mind tocomprehend it and that nothing would exist unless it was perceivedby God; there was no existence without this perception. The ideasand spirit had been profaned by science that created atheists. Hispurpose was to prove that God is the true cause of all things.4. Absolute IdealismGeorge Wilhelm Friedreich Hegel. George Wilhelm FriedreichHegel (1770-1831) promoted this branch of philosophy. Hegel wasa German-born philosopher and one of the most influential thinkersof recent times. Hegel considered evil necessary to stimulate changein order to bring about God. Thus, the human mind grows and theworld improves. In a contended state, there is insufficientcontradiction to stimulate improvement.Hegel believed that humankind was made for achievement, not forhappiness to achieve. For this belief, humans should be willing torisk revolution. Convinced that “the times make the man,” Hegelwas confident that a leader would arise to synthesize the forces andto bring harmony out of chaos.Hegel affirmed that logic, nature, and spirit were necessary to hisbelief and that thought was a continuum and not a series of unions.He suggested that nature is the difference between value and factand he did not view logic and nature as separate. He believed thatspirit was the final absolute and the final end toward which anyonecan move (search for the Absolute Spirit).5. Modern IdealismJosiah Royce. Modern Idealism can be traced to Josiah Royce(1855-1916) and Herman Harrell Horne (1874-1946). Royce was aspokesman for Hegelian Idealism and maintained that the externalmeaning of a thing depends entirely on its internal meaning–anembodiment of purpose. This internal essence is all mental. Royce
  29. 29. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 109believed that ideas were purposes or plans of action that have beenput into action and that one of the most important things for humansto develop is a sense of loyalty to moral principles and causes. Heregarded a human’s purpose as teacher of how individuals canbecome active ingredients in the purposes of life.Herman Harrell Horne. Herman Horne demonstrated a wideinterest in questions of religion and education, and this interest wasreflected in the more than 20 publications bearing his name. Hebelieved that not only knowledge but also reality was idealisticrather than actual. Further, reality, if found only in reason, permitshumans to reconcile contradictions into a more harmoniousrelationship throughout the universe.Modern Idealism can be described as systematization andsubjectivism. The belief is that matter cannot exist except as a formof mind.6. Other ContributorsRené Descartes. René Descartes (1596-1650) challenged theCatholic Doctrines. He searched for undoubtable ideas because ofhis methodical doubt of all things, including his existence.Descartes brought forth the idiom, “I think, therefore I am.” Heemphasized that any idea depended on other ideas because theyreferred to another idea; the only idea that did not refer was thePerfect Being (God), the source of all things. Descartes believed intwo principles: Cogito, or the undoubtability of human thought; andDeity, or the foundation of all objects of thought.Immanuel Kant. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) believed therationalist thinks analytically while the empiricist thinkssynthetically. He considered the mind is conscious of theexperience of the thing-in-itself and that each experience of a thingis one additional piece of knowledge about the total thing. All weknow, he contended, is the content of experience.Kant found it impossible to make universal and necessaryjudgments about human experience purely on rational and scientificgrounds. He believed that man’s most difficult problem iseducation. He affirmed that each person should treat others as anend and never as a means. He viewed education as importantbecause humans were the only beings that needed it. The disciplewas a primary ingredient and the education of children wasnecessary to improve the future. Kant firmly established the need to
  30. 30. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 110teach a child to think according to principles and the importance forchildren to perform their duties toward oneself and others.7. Implications for EducationThe educational philosophy of Idealism focuses on three concerns:(a) who should be responsible for education, (b) who should betaught, and (c) what should be the curriculum. The aim of educationto the idealist is to assist in the development of the mind and self ofthe pupil, and to assist in attaining the good life of the Spirit. Theschools are to emphasize intellectual activities, moral judgment,aesthetic judgment, self-realization, individual freedom, individualresponsibility and self- control.The curriculum must be based on the idea of the spiritual nature ofhumans and must draw on both sources of truth and right opinionfor its subject matter. Truth is preserved in a literary intellectualinheritance. This inheritance is characterized by performance andstability. The prime purpose is to teach students to think—to teachskills that develop conceptual ability.Education must preserve the subject matter content that is essentialfor the development of the individual mind. The chiefcharacteristics are constant subjects, required subjects, individualdifferences, normative, cultural enrichment, and logicalorganization. Greater emphasis is placed on aesthetics. The actualcontent of the subject is less important than the teacher or purposefor which it is taught. Every human experience cannot be includedin a school’s curriculum. This leaves educators to employ a processof selection and the school’s curriculum should contain the mostrewarding, the most formative experiences. When students leave theschool, they should be cultivated human beings ready to transcendthe realm of nature to engage in the world of thought, ready toassume their obligations as good citizens and ready to see thebeauty and hold in awe the mysteries of the universe. More thananything else, they will be persons ruled by thought.To a great extent, the teacher is central in the idealist pattern ofeducation. The teacher is more the key to the educative process thanany other element comprising it. The teacher is in the singularposition of determining what the student’s opportunities forlearning and growing shall be.Teachers must lead their students toward a fuller understanding oftheir own capacities, help them see more clearly what they may
  31. 31. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 111become as persons, and give them the confidence for realizing thevisions they have of themselves.In schooling’s first years, idealists maintain, teachers come close tocreating an educational environment for their students, but aslearning proceeds and as students become better equipped to meetlearning on their own terms, teachers should prudently withdraw.They should know when students need them and when they arebetter left alone.The idealist teacher must possess:a. a personification for the child;b. knowledge of pupils;c. excellent technical skills;d. dexterity that commands the respect of the pupil;e. friendship of the individual student;f. the ability to awaken a desire to learn in each pupil;g. a spiritual relationship with God in perfecting mankind;h. the ability to communicate with his/her pupils;i. the appreciation of the subjects he or she teaches.Idealist teachers are tolerant not only of the mistakes their studentswill inevitably make, but of opinions differing from their own.Teachers should guide and stimulate the students to search forpersonal solutions to the problems life poses. And at the same time,these teachers should be alert to the requirements of logic and thedemands of truth and should never be ready to sell either at adiscount.The student is the foremost concern. Idealists say that educationactually takes place within the self of the pupil, that is to say thatwhat students do in reaction to what is done to them constitutes thecore of education. Consequently, for the idealist, all education isself-education. The development of mind is from within out, notfrom without in. The teacher may lead the pupil to the fonts oflearning, but the teacher cannot make the pupil drink its juices.Teaching is not so much the cause of learning as it is the occasionor condition of learning. The cause of learning is the pupil and thepupil’s effort. The ultimate responsibility for winning in educationrests with the will of the pupil. The educational process is,therefore, not so much the stimulus shaping the individual as the
  32. 32. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 112individual responding to the stimulus. Growth can come onlythrough self-activity and self-direction.Self-activity leading to self-development, according to idealists, isnot an abstract process having little relation to bodily or temporalfactors. To develop the self certainly includes development of thebody and fully embraces physical education. But, development ofthe body is limited to developing and strengthening what is giventhe individual at birth. Education cannot add to the nerve cells ofthe brain, but it can fully develop capacities for which potential isgiven to the individual.Educational philosophers must have some understanding of thehuman capacity before they can say anything about the purpose ofeducation or the kind of learning most suitable for the formation ofhuman beings. Plato, although uncertain of the good to be reaped,spoke of the sensibleness in educating both boys and girls.Depending on their talent, persons of either sex could go all the wayto the top of the intellectual ladder by capitalizing on the chancesthey had for forming their minds.The basic principle of idealism is to recognize the superiority ofmind over matter, so it must be in a person’s mind that education iscommissioned to cultivate. When idealists speak of education beinga cultivating agent, there is no intention to restrict this cultivatingfunction solely to schools. The whole society is a teacher and thissocial teaching may be far superior to any other teaching thatindividuals will ever have and self-realization is the central aim.Social inheritance contains a kind of information incomparable toall subjects taught in school. Education is a social enterprise and itsprinciple purpose is to immerse all persons in society into themainstream of the cultural and intellectual inheritance. A great dealof teaching from the idealist view is informal and no school canever take its place.Idealism promotes a system of learning that stresses questioningand discussion, lecture, and individual and group projects. Thepupil is a spiritual being that possesses a uniqueness. Thisuniqueness involves the belief that the pupil is in the process ofbecoming. Therefore, a child is neither good nor evil at birth andthe potential for good or evil depends upon the environment.Idealists cannot guarantee that human beings will always act fortheir own good or for the good of their society despite an internal
  33. 33. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 113motivation to do so. But the idealist’s philosophy permeates thefoundation on which genuinely human life must always stand.7. Basic Philosophy of Realism.Whether something is “real,” whether it exists and in what sense it existsscarcely constitutes a problem for people most of the time. Whensomething is either unclear or in dispute, the reality of a given thing orevent is the central issue.Realism has been pictured as a critical philosophy in which truth isdetermined scientifically. It respects both the scientific product and thescientific method. Like idealism, it is based on absolute truths; and likepragmatism, it is an experience-based philosophy that requiresexperimentation. However, behind all disputes about what should orshould not be done are certain assumptions of “what is.” Realismproclaims that objects of perception are objects and contain real existenceoutside the mind. This idea was developed in opposition to all forms ofidealism.The idea of inter-penetration between the world and the consciousness,body, and mind is one whose full implications are still being explored. Theequation between the two spheres of body and mind, if infinitely subtle,may be inexpressible and seems not to exist. Perhaps there is a degree ofperception that what is real and what is imagined are one in the same.Most persons divide the world into two kinds of reality. One is taken to bea world of objective fact in which the world is asserted to existindependent of any knower. A fact simply is, and is, in no way, affected bybeing known.Quite apart from the world of fact existing independently of humans isanother world in which reality is internal. This world usually encompassesartistic values, performance in music, taste, and other phenomena that arepersonal or subjective in nature. This world is seen as having norelationship with the world of facts and belonging exclusively to one’sprivate judgment. In this world, what is good is good for me.The position that Realism has historically opposed is the belief that realityis internal. The core of the realistic position is that reality is something thatexists external to mind, thought, observation, or belief. Realists usuallymaintain that ultimate reality is a thing whose structure or function isindependent of any knower. Realists assert that a thing exists first and thatknowledge of reality is simply a mental picture of the object.The central core of realism is referred to as the Theory of Independence.This theory is a simple and unqualified assertion that ultimate reality is
  34. 34. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 114independent of any knower. Frederick Breed, a 20th-century realist,promoted a concept for the realist that becoming known is an event thathappens to things assumed to exist prior to and independently of the act ofknowing.Present-day realism is a complex, highly refined position that is usuallygrounded in some theoretical description of a method of physical andnatural sciences. Realists prefer to adhere closely to what might be called ahard-line stance with scientific theory. It is based on the assumption thathowever difficult it is to pierce through inaccurate observations,preconceived ideas, and variable perceptions, reality can be known in itsown terms. What is said about reality and what reality is may or may notbe the same thing. When reality corresponds precisely to a “what is”concept, we are speaking of truth.Truth is a perfect copy of what exists. This theory of truth is referred to asThe Correspondence Theory and is the test for true, reliable, andaccurate knowledge. Therefore, reality is not invented; it is discoveredthrough observation by logical means following logical scientificprocedures. In some cases, observations need not be careful or lengthy, forit does not take much observation to determine that a bucket of water islarger than a drop of water. However, in other cases, reality is discoveredby careful, systematic, and controlled observation. This process involvesperforming certain operations in a precise manner.8. Major Contributors to Realism.a. Classical TraditionAristotle. Aristotle was born in 384 BC and died in 322 BC, the son ofa physician. He was sent to study at Plato’s academy about 367 BC andremained there until Plato’s death. Aristotle followed Plato’s traditions,but as his life experiences dictated, he developed his own style andphilosophy.Aristotle’s writings, as Plato’s, are divided into three periods. In manyof his writings, he followed Plato’s model, but his own style wasindeed at work. Popular writings are contained in the first division.The second division contains memoranda and collections of materialwith just enough research to introduce the third category wherescientific and philosophical treatises emerge. Aristotle applied naturalhistory to animals and metaphysics and came to the conclusion that thebody is an instrument of the soul. For this, he is often referred to as thefirst biologist. Scientists and philosophers have long referred to hisworks for information and inspiration.
  35. 35. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 115Even though Aristotle was a student of Plato, it is evident from thestudy of these two philosophers that many of their ideas and theoriesare different. Plato viewed philosophy from the perspective of the artistwhile Aristotle’s view was from that of a scientist. Plato’s philosophyis embedded in an art form itself—that of dialogue, while Aristotletreated philosophic problems in a cold, analytical prose style. Plato wasintent on the ideal; whereas, Aristotle was grounded in the reality.Aristotle contributed a great deal to the development of philosophy inancient Greece. As a student of Plato, he spent some 20 years studyingand teaching. Aristotle established a school called the Lyceum.Aristotle believed that a proper study of matter could lead to better andmore distinct ideas (forms). Forms, such as the idea of God or of a tree,can exist without matter, but there can be no matter without form. Eachpiece of matter has both a universal and a particular property. Particularproperties of one acorn differentiate it from other acorns; that is, size,shape, color, weight, and so forth. These forms are the non-materialaspects of each particular object that relate to all other particularobjects of that class.Aristotle believed that one could understand form by studyingparticular material things. He argued that the form of things, theuniversal properties of objects, remain constant and never change;whereas, particular components do change. He contended that formwas within particular matter and was even the motivating force of thatmatter.Aristotle also believed that each object has a tiny soul that directed it inthe right way. The deeper one goes into the matter, the more one is ledto philosophy. His two extremes (too much and too little) constitutedhis belief that one should strive for the Golden Mean (the properperspective or a path between the extremes). When the Golden Mean isreached, balance, the central component to his view, is assured andthis, in his mind, produces good citizens.Aristotle believed that organic development was the tool ofunderstanding and that reality existed in individual things that were inthe process of change. He regarded the natural world and the pursuit ofhuman interests in this world as the only subjects worthy of humanconcern. He wrote nothing directly on education, but references toeducation appear throughout his works. He felt that education wasdesigned to preserve the stability of the state, to create goodcitizenship, and to prevent revolutions. Children, like young animals,needed training in good habits, with experiences selected for them to
  36. 36. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 116help them find happiness in a secure state. Aristotle did not considerhimself a reformer, but a scientist.Aristotle proclaimed four causes: Material, the matter from whichsomething is made; Formal, the design that shapes the material object;Efficient Cause, the agent that produces the object; and Final Cause,the direction toward which the object is tending. He believed thatultimate reality was the power or source to which matter points beyonditself. God, the Creator, he believed, was a logical explanation for theorder of the universe.His logical method of inquiry was deductive reasoning because truthwas derived from generations of research. He believed, however, thatone major problem with deductive reasoning was that if the majorpremise was false, the conclusion would also be false.Aristotle asserted the chief good was happiness that depended upon avirtuous and well-ordered soul. This can happen only as one developsvirtuous habits shaped through education. Education, he believed,developed individual reasoning capacity so one can make correctchoices. This means the path of moderation, of acceptance, and offollowing such a principle became the core of educational proposals.b. Religious RealismSaint Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) became aleading authority on Aristotle. He realized that teaching truth to mindsmade for truth was of such intrinsic excellence that, as far as he couldsee, no human could teach, but only God himself. He argued that Godwas pure reason and that God created matter out of nothing and Hegave purpose to the universe. Aquinas felt that all truths were eternallyin God and that truth was passed to humans by divine revelation.He believed that all creatures were under God’s governance of theworld but that some creatures have a share in this divine governancebecause they can understand the end and use specific means to attainthe understood end. Aquinas also believed the soul is a creation; it isimmortal and from God.Aquinas integrated Aristotle’s philosophy with the teachings of thechurch and worked out a relationship between reason and faith. For thishe was referred to as the Angelic Doctor. He questioned whether onehuman can teach another or whether this role belongs to God alone. Heviewed that only God should be called “Teacher” because one humanmind could not directly communicate with another mind unless throughusage of symbols. Regarding teaching, he thought that only God could
  37. 37. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 117touch the inside–the soul. Others could only point the learner toknowledge.Aquinas believed that each of us is born with an immortal soul with theseeking of perfection of human beings and the reunion of the soul tothe soul of God as major educational goals. He thought the soulpossessed an inner knowledge; therefore, a proper educationrecognized both the spiritual and material natures of an individual.Since he felt the spiritual side was higher and more important, hefavored education of the soul. Aquinas also felt the family and thechurch were the primary agencies of education. The mother is thechild’s first teacher and she should set the moral tone. The churchshould be the source for understanding God’s law. The state shouldformulate and enforce laws concerning education.Philip H. Phenix. Philip H. Phenix (1915- ) Professor Emeritus ofPhilosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University,elaborated a philosophical theory of curriculum for general education.During 1981, Professor William Kritsonis served as a Visiting Scholarat Teachers College and studied under Dr. Phenix. Phenix, a classicalrealist, emphasized that knowledge in the disciplines has logicalpatterns, structures, and forms. Understanding these typical patterns isessential for guidance of teaching and learning. Professor Phenixidentified six fundamental patterns of meaning: symbolics, empirics,esthetics, synnoetics, ethics, and synoptics. Phenix believes thatlearning these patterns is the clue to effective teaching and learning. Healso stressed the importance of understanding representative ideas,methods of inquiry, and the importance of appealing to theimagination.c. Modern RealismFrancis Bacon. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) brought about the study ofrealism stemming from a revolt against the spiritualistic idealism ofHegel. Bacon, also referred to as the “father of the scientific method,”recommended the method of scientific inquiry be adapted to determinetruth. He believed that knowledge was power and acquiring this know-ledge could allow one to deal effectively with problems. He thoughtthat science could not be burdened with preconceived notions fromdeductive generalizations. From this, he formulated the inductivemethod for problem solving. The premise for inductive reasoning wasto begin with observable instances and then reason to generalstatements. He surmised that one who begins with absolute truths isless likely to change them.
  38. 38. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 118Bacon urged that individuals examine all previously acceptedknowledge and rid the mind of various idols or presumed falsities.Induction would allow each individual to arrive at generalizations onthe basis of systematic observations of particulars.d. Other ContributorsJohn Locke. John Locke (1632-1704), another contributor to modernrealism, held the view that the desire for happiness and the desire toknow (curiosity) were widespread throughout mankind. Lockestipulated the human mind could encompass as much as was necessaryfor happiness; it is capable of knowing a very great deal. He traced theorigin of ideas to thought where all knowledge is acquired fromsources independent of the mind. He believed that all ideas aredeveloped from experience by sensation and reflection. He concludedthat what is known is what is experienced.Herbert Spencer. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was one of the firstindividuals to propose a scheme for selecting the subject matter bestsuited to the needs of the pupils. He promoted that knowledge,contributing to self-preservation, was of the utmost usefulness andshould appear first among the things taught to children.e. Implications for EducationGiven the character of American education, it is important for teachersto understand what kind of assumptions lie behind education andeducational goals. Therefore, the aim of realistic educational practicesis to present material to students so they may become acquainted withthe subject matter as a pre-established block of material. Successfullearning consists of understanding that material. The teacher with aphilosophy of realism is science-oriented and is likely to be impersonaland objective rather than rigid and mechanical. Problems are set for thelearner to work on individually rather than cooperatively. The learner isnot expected to develop a conscience that differentiates right fromwrong; instead, the student is guided by the unyielding laws of naturethat will apply to social as well as to physical situations.Teaching techniques consist of any approach that most effectivelyacquaints students with what they are to know. However, lectures andtextbooks should consist of systematic and well-organized descriptionsof subject matter. Field trips are acceptable modes of instruction if theydeal with concrete demonstrations and are considered superior toabstract study.
  39. 39. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 119Discipline is a reasonable balance between control and freedom.Because the laws of nature are considered inflexible, a lack ofdiscipline would be expected to result in disorientation in adult life.Evaluation should be as objective as possible and should represent anaccurate measure of achievement. Achievement is therefore determinedby comparing evidences of what has been learned with what shouldhave been learned. Students who have learned the most material withthe fewest errors receive the highest grades.Realism is a critical philosophy limited to precise scholars. Inimplementation, it exists principally in research studies in highereducation but it has had an indirect influence on the public schoolsystem. Permanent elements of human experience are valued but thereis a continuous reexamination of evidence using the scientific method.There is insistence on examinations that are pertinent, authentic, andcomprehensive. Realism is used for the view that objects existexternally to us and independently of our senses. Realism is primarilyan attitude toward knowledge. Against skepticism, realism affirms theexistence of knowledge and holds the object of knowledge has a realityindependent of the knowing mind.In general, the claim that perceiving is thus genuine and amounts toknowledge is said to be the best hypothesis to explain the order andnature of our sense experiences. The claim of the realist is simply thatonce ordinary errors and illusions are ruled out by comparing theevidence of different senses or of different persons, the simplestexplanation of the situation is there are external objects causing thesense data or contents. The process then is to correspond to them inprimary quantities.In one common-sense theory of realism, one kicks a stone to prove thatmatter exists. One can come to know the world by observation andcomparison.9. The Basic Philosophy of Pragmatism.Pragmatism comes from the Greek word for action, also the root for thewords practical and practice. Many ancient philosophers used part of thepragmatist’s philosophy but its modern and full origin and developmentcan be traced to Charles Peirce. Peirce believed that pragmatic beliefs arereally rules for action and that to develop a thought’s meaning need only todetermine the conduct to be produced.Pragmatism, therefore, represents the empirical attitude in philosophy.Everywhere pragmatism is said to unstiffen all our theories, limber them
  40. 40. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 120up and set them at work. Pragmatists believe that ideas (which themselvesare but parts of our experience) become true in order to get intosatisfactory relations with other parts of our experience.In practice, pragmatism was introduced into philosophy as a method ofascertaining the purpose of hard words and abstract conceptions andinterpretation of intellectual concepts that hinge on reasoning. Pragmatismmay also be explained as a returning to things past. The history of thisphilosophy is primarily a gathering of truths discarded at some point in thepast.a. Free Will and DeterminismMost people who believe in free will do so after the rationalisticfashion. It is a principle by which dignity is enigmatically augmented.For this reason, pragmatists believe that individual men originatenothing but merely transmit to the future the whole push of the pastcosmos of which they are so small an expression.Pragmatists have long disagreed over the free will/determinismcontroversy. William James, a famous pragmatist, promoted theconcept of free will and a reality of that freedom. He maintained that ahuman’s role was not merely to measure so completely but to createand recreate based on experiences from the past. James believed theuniverse is not an absolute; it is open, and it is full of novelty; itcontains chaos, disorder, and evil. Life as it comes has an air of being.Humans do not merely reflect on a finished product; they register thetruth they help to create.Later in life, James’ view of free will mellowed and, with this changingview, the complexion of pragmatists also changed. Free will is nowheld by contemporary pragmatists as a staid belief. However,pragmatists are nevertheless capable of the kind of interaction with theworld that changes the direction of events and determines futuredirection without effecting any essential change in their beliefs.b. Major Contributors to PragmatismWilliam James. Most scholars have given Charles S. Peirce thedistinction of illuminating pragmatic ideals although he was heavilyinfluenced by the writings of William James. Peirce had a backgroundin math, chemistry, and theoretical sciences, and wrote as a logician.For Peirce, the pragmatism was primarily a method for analysis andexplanation of the meaning of intellectual concepts. He oncecharacterized pragmatism’s maxim as the “definition of definitions.” Itwas intended as a procedure for promoting linguistic and conceptual
  41. 41. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 121clarity and successful communication when one was seeking theresolution of intellectual problems. Peirce’s pragmatism then may bethought of as a theory of meaning rather than a theory of truth. It is tobe understood as a regulative idea, one that functions solely to order,integrate, and promote inquiry.William James, a psychologist, was probably the man most responsiblefor influencing the writings of Peirce. Though James never took publiccredit for the establishment of pragmatism, he did write thatpragmatism was the only philosophy with no humbug in it.From his summer home in New Hampshire, William James wrote thathe was unfit to be a philosopher because at the bottom he hatedphilosophy. This seemed ironic coming from a man classified asmaking a great impact in philosophy.William James was born in 1842, the son of Henry and Mary WalshJames. William was faced with much sickness throughout his youthand early adulthood. He developed a nervous instability (neurasthenia)that was a deep-rooted depression. This condition delayed his choice ofcareers until his mid-20s. Another reason for his career being delayedwas that he had a great interest in painting; however, his father did notwant a painting career for his son. Therefore, in 1864, James enteredHarvard Medical School.In 1875, James taught his first class in psychology and this began animportant transition in his life. Once this began, it was not long beforeJames quit the medical profession and his teaching in the medical area.He became totally devoted to his writing and lecturing on psychologyand philosophy.Much in the 20thcentury history of psychology in America has beencolored and shaped by the wisdom of William James. Few are thefailures and frustrations of this same psychology that he did notanticipate.The Principles of Psychology, one of James’ early works, waspublished in two volumes in 1890, a dozen years after James hadundertaken the work. One of the interesting features of the book is thatit deals with many fundamental philosophical problems. Its chapterscover issues concerning the nature of consciousness and reason, thedebate between freedom and determinism, the relation of the mind andthe body and “necessary truths.” In this book, James pushespsychology toward the goal of making it a natural science, but however
  42. 42. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 122fails to recognize that psychology and philosophy stand close togetherwith respect to the problem they treat.James and his Principles did not found American psychology in thesense of inventing a new method or uncovering a basic law. Rather, hisworks and ways saved academic psychology from sinking to the merebusy-work of the laboratory or rising so high toward metaphysics as toabandon its proper subject.Throughout his life, James was an empiricist, a believer in experienceas the basic source of knowledge. James’ version of empiricism, that hesometimes called radical empiricism, urged us to start with experiencesthat humans feel and live through rather than immediately fitting theseexperiences into theories and frameworks that we have developed inadvance.Although James thought of himself as an empiricist, he also wanted tocombine empiricism and spiritualism. By uniting empiricism andspiritualism, James developed a pragmatic philosophy that he believedwas just a new way of stating old ideas.James believed that a pragmatist was willing to follow logic or thesenses, and to learn from the most personal and humblest experiences.James stressed that pragmatism was a broad philosophical view thatstressed pluralism, freedom, and change. This is not any radical shift ofJames’ interest in thinking; it is a natural and a logical extension of hisearlier philosophical/psychological views.James’ philosophy can be related to his reverence for, and his faith in,the individual. The pragmatism lectures, given first as the LowellLectures in Boston and then again at Columbia, surprised James bytheir reception. He became nearly a cult figure to his eager youngaudience at Columbia, as he had for some time been a father figure toleaders of thought on both sides of the Atlantic.During the years 1900 to 1914, much criticism and change was broughtabout. It was a time where a widespread and remarkably good-naturedeffort of the greater part of society was undertaken to achieve somevague and unclear self-reformation. During this era of self-reformation,James printed his lectures of Pragmatism. This philosophy expandedthe so-called progressive movement. It assured humans of options andgave mankind a formula to evaluate effectiveness of actions. For Jamesand for Americans of generations before and after him, the relativismsuggested by pragmatism meant that humans could get better.
  43. 43. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 123Through all of his writings, one must realize the importance of WilliamJames to American psychology and philosophy. It may be said that hedid not invent or discover some great principle, but permitted the worldto achieve a goal more quickly or effectively. However, he providedthe boundaries of thought and supplied the terms that an entiregeneration would discuss and understand as a way of life.James argued that the knower was an actor, and in certain ways, playeda role in creating truth. James was not merely advancing emptytheories; he was arguing from the depths of his own personalexperiences and suffering. He made it clear that pragmatism was atheory of truth, as well as a theory of meaning.Oliver Wendell Holmes. Oliver Wendell Holmes was considered oneof the most important practitioners of pragmatism in law. Holmesdefined not only legal concepts, but also law itself stemming from theneed under pressure of which both prediction theory of law andpragmatism took form. Holmes’ philosophy is considered pragmaticbecause he regarded the history and the theory of the law asinstrumental in understanding and revising it as an evolving institution.Of all the individuals who may be termed pragmatists, Holmes alonehas recognized the use of force and power involved in pragmatism asonly he accepted an institutional position of power.John Dewey. John Dewey also promoted the pragmatic point of view.His version differed somewhat from Peirce’s, and was similar in manyrespects to James’. Dewey often spoke of using intelligence as aninstrument (instrumentalism) to overcome certain physical and socialsituations that called for a series of new responses.John Dewey was one of the most influential of all Americanphilosophers and educators. He was actively interested in the reform ofeducation, both theoretically and practically. In his book, Experiencesand Education (1939), Dewey addressed educational issues that arestill of vital relevance and importance to educators today.Dewey’s philosophy of education, often labeled as experimentalism orinstrumentalism, emphasized many things including experiences,experimentation, and freedom. Dewey believed the learner mustinteract with that which is learned if a productive educationalexperience was to be achieved. Though Dewey believed that allgenuine education came through experience, he also pointed out thatexperience may be miseducation. He therefore suggested that teachersshould carefully define educational objectives and desired outcomesusing experience as a constructive learning instrument.
  44. 44. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 124The idea that every experience is seen as a moving force that willultimately impact upon future experiences is the key factor in Dewey’seducational philosophy. Even an individual’s knowledge of theconsequences is based on previous experience. Dewey believed that noexperience lives or dies to itself. Regardless of desire or intent, Deweybelieved that every experience lived on in further experiences. Theteacher, as an agent through which knowledge is communicated,should draw upon these experiences in a framework or foundation forlearning. Used in this manner, Dewey believed that experience arousescuriosity, strengthens initiative, and sets up desires and purposes thatstrengthen the educational process.Dewey believed that education was a continuous process. True learningsituations have longitudinal dimensions. Dewey expressed there was nosuch thing as educational value in the abstract. Outside and apart fromthe individual are circumstances and situations that give rise toexperience; thus “experience does not occur in a vacuum.”Dewey proposed that education should prepare students for thecontinuation of learning in adult life by suggesting that the mostimportant attitude that can be formed is the desire to go on learning.Dewey also proposed the recognition of students as individuals. Theteacher must be aware of the needs, capabilities, and past and existingexperiences of students. The teacher must also be aware of what goeson in their minds in order to formulate plans for stimulating new waysof learning and thus expand the experiences already present. Thisprocess could be self-perpetuating as new experiences result in possibleinsights whose explorations would result in other new experiences.Dewey was responsible for many philosophical offshoots:Instrumentalism, Progressivism, Experimentalism, and so forth, thatwill be discussed in later sections. However, the essence of hisphilosophical beliefs set patterns for classroom operations that are stillbeing used and debated. Although it is widely accepted that Dewey’spromotion of educational values was based on pragmatic convictions,he was basically an adventurer in originating a certain flavorsurrounding his belief and his followers.Dewey believed that knowledge was a means of controlling theenvironment, hopefully to improve the quality of human life. Hefurther stressed the importance of attaining cooperation betweenscience and the demands of moral life.Dewey often sought the causes that made communities change fromgeneration to generation. He believed the difference was due to the
  45. 45. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 125accumulated influences of individuals, of their examples, theirinitiatives, and their decisions.Dewey is credited with elevating pragmatism to the status ofphilosophic respectability and providing the most tangible links in theeducational institutions of higher learning between pragmatism and theAmerican social structure and between philosophy and society. Deweyadvocated laboratory instruction, formulating such terms as inquiry,reflective thought, and scientific method.One of Dewey’s most outstanding works, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry(1938), is such a commanding achievement that pragmatism is oftenidentified with the position he expounded there as a naturalist logic forevaluating and reconstructing human experience.c. Other ContributorsJean-Jacques Rousseau. Jean-Jacques Rousseau noted the importanceof environment in shaping human experience and thought. Hemaintained that civilization was harmful because it had led us awayfrom nature. Rousseau thought that individuals were basically good,but were corrupted by civilization. He emphasized naturalism ineducation and believed education should be guided by the child’sinterest.Auguste Comte. Auguste Comte intensified efforts to apply science tosociety. He believed the possibilities of using science could beharnessed to help solve social problems. His dream was to reformsociety by the application of science.Charles Darwin. Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, believed thatnature operated by means of a process development. He argued that aspecies evolves naturally through what he called a universal strugglefor existence. Reality is open-ended in process. He stipulated that aperson’s education was directly tied to biological and socialdevelopment.d. Implications for EducationPhilosophies often vary in their total applications to education. Onecomponent of the pragmatic view is the treatment recommended for thepupil. This treatment can usually be seen to fit into the totalphilosophical system of different philosophies. This part of philosophyis always recognized as very important. Not only are the pupils theleaders for the future, they also possess a great amount of energy andcapability for the present.
  46. 46. SCHOOLING (2002)PAGE 126Pragmatism has been given a primary place among social institutions,essentially because it may be that pragmatism, more than any otherphilosophy, requires an association of education with a social function.Students are distinct and concrete centers for experience. They must beguided so they will experience the ever embracing flow of knowledge.The students are not isolated from the public flow of events. Theconcreteness and distinctness do not separate them from the lifeprocess. Individual selves and individual pupils, therefore, are uniquein nature, always reaching out to engage in the flow of experience.Pragmatists feel that elements of learning are not brought forth byeither the teacher or the pupil. They perceive that learning revolvesaround students’ interests and experiences. Learning is the direction offinding possible solutions to problems that are presently experienced.Learning is following a planned path from a teacher. Pragmatists buildand execute units of study patterned after and matching cycles ofexperience. Creative and constructive projects are heavily employed inthe pragmatic educative process.Pragmatists view reality as a constantly changing force. Reality can beknown only through experience. Therefore, there is no absolute orpermanent knowledge level because only what can be observed and/orexperienced is real.Those who judge the merits of pragmatism should be clear as to whichof its varieties they are criticizing, who held the complex ideas beingjudged, and in what context. The pragmatic legacy inherited by 20thcentury American thought does not provide a neat, finished system,legislating for intellectual or moral questions, but it does provide aphilosophical stance in the defense of freedom or inquiry andexperimental ways of thinking.Because education occurs from generation to generation, it should notbe looked upon as the mere acquisition of academic subject matter, butas a part of life itself. Pragmatists believe that training is not the sameas education. The child’s own instincts and powers provide the materialand starting point of all education and the educator’s knowledge ofsocial conditions is necessary to interpret the child’s powers.10. The Basic Philosophy of Existentialism.Existentialism is largely a revolt against other traditional philosophies.Where other philosophies attempt to grasp the ultimate nature of the worldin abstract systems of thought, existentialists consider what it is like to bean individual human being living in the world. These philosophers are
  47. 47. CHAPTER 3–PHILOSOPHIES OF SCHOOLINGPAGE 127primarily interested in existence or being, concerning themselves with thepersonal and relevant. They seek to learn from the full range of humanexperiences.Key features in existentialism are individuality, subjectivity, introspection,and feeling. It is an approach to a philosophy of human situations, not aphilosophy of things. Existentialism is a rejection of all purely abstractthinking and a way of life capable of being lived. Existentialists believethat existence precedes essence, and ideas about Heaven, Hell, and Godare all human inventions.Individuality and the priority of existence before essence indicateemphasis on present situations and personal meanings for individuals. Theexistentialist is concerned with the particulars of today, not in absolutes orpermanent ideals. In consideration of the mind/body question, theexistentialist tries to visualize in concrete terms the ways the mind andbody are personally experienced. Time and space tend to void abstractnessand relate only to present conditions. Little attention is given to logic orscience.A principle upheld by the existentialist is that individuals are what theymake of themselves and nothing less. This principle is also known assubjectivity. Individuals first exist and then become what they haveplanned to become by their own wills. Individuals make decisions abouttheir futures and, because of this decision-making; they are responsible fortheir decisions not only individually, but also to all mankind. Whenindividuals make personal choices, those choices affect others. Frompersonal choices and acts, self-image is made, along with personal valuesand ideals. Thus, an existentialist involves self in making decisions thataffect all mankind. So deep are existentialists convicted by theirresponsibility that they may be in a state of anguish or despair althoughthey may not display visible signs of this anguish. Existentialists makedecisions because they feel they are free to do so. They are alsoresponsible for their behaviors as a result of the decisions, no matter howdifficult it may become. Existentialists believe in action and, if the actionbrings punishment, the punishment must be accepted.Existentialists are basically concerned with three points in respect to theirvalues. First, there is an uncompromising acceptance of anguish andsuffering as a necessary condition of their experiences. If a person claimsto have made a decision without anguish, the existentialist would believethat it was a petty choice and not really a choice at all, for suffering is anintegral part of life.