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  1. 1. IdealismIdealism is a philosophical approach that has as its central tenet that ideas are the only truereality, the only thing worth knowing. In a search for truth, beauty, and justice that is enduringand everlasting, the focus is on conscious reasoning in the mind. Plato, father of Idealism,espoused this view about 400 years BC, in his famous book, The Republic. Plato believed thatthere are two worlds. The first is the spiritual or mental world, which is eternal, permanent,orderly, regular, and universal. There is also the world of appearance, the world experiencedthrough sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound, that is changing, imperfect, and disorderly. Thisdivision is often referred to as the duality of mind and body. Reacting against what he perceivedas too much of a focus on the immediacy of the physical and sensory world, Plato described autopian society in which "education to body and soul all the beauty and perfection of which theyare capable" as an ideal. In his allegory of the cave, the shadows of the sensory world must beovercome with the light of reason or universal truth. To understand truth, one must pursueknowledge and identify with the Absolute Mind. Plato also believed that the soul is fully formedprior to birth and is perfect and at one with the Universal Being. The birth process checks thisperfection, so education requires bringing latent ideas (fully formed concepts) to consciousness.In idealism, the aim of education is to discover and develop each individuals abilities and fullmoral excellence in order to better serve society. The curricular emphasis is subject matter ofmind: literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Teaching methods focus on handling ideasthrough lecture, discussion, and Socratic dialogue (a method of teaching that uses questioning tohelp students discover and clarify knowledge). Introspection, intuition, insight, and whole-partlogic are used to bring to consciousness the forms or concepts which are latent in the mind.Character is developed through imitating examples and heroes.INTRODUCTIONIdealism is the oldest system of philosophy known to man. Its origins go back to ancient India inthe East, and to Plato in the West. Its basic viewpoint stresses the human spirit as the mostimportant element in life. The universe is viewed as essentially nonmaterial in its ultimate nature.Although Idealist philosophers vary enormously on many specifics, they agree on the followingtwo points: 1. The human spirit is the most important element in life; and 2. The universe is essentially nonmaterial in its ultimate nature.Idealism should not be confused with the notion of high aspirations - that is not whatphilosophers mean when they speak of Idealism. In the philosophic sense, Idealism is a systemthat emphasizes the pre-eminent importance of mind, soul, or spirit. It is possible to separateIdealism into different schools, but for our purposes we shall be content to identify only the most
  2. 2. general assumptions of the Idealists in metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory, withoutregard to the idiosyncrasies of the various schools.BASIC METAPHYSICS OF IDEALISMIn Idealism, all of reality is reducible to one fundamental substance: spirit. (You may betterunderstand the nature of spirit in this context if you think of it as the total absence of materiality.)Matter is not real; it is rather a notion, an abstraction of the mind. It is only the mind that is real.Therefore, all material things that seem to be real are reducible to mind or spirit. The chair youare sitting on is not material; it only seems material. Its essential nature is spirit. On the universallevel, finite minds live in a purposeful world produced by an infinite mind. It is as though theentire universe is made up of an infinite mind or spirit; which is, in effect, everything, and we aresmall bits and pieces of that mind. Because man is a part of this purposeful universe, he is anintelligent and purposeful being.EPISTEMOLOGY OF IDEALISMIdealists believe that all knowledge is independent of sense experience. The act of knowing takesplace within the mind. The mind is active and contains innate capacities for organizing andsynthesizing the data derived through sensations. Man can know intuitively; that is to say, he canapprehend immediately some truth without utilizing any of his senses. Man can also know truththrough the acts of reason by which an individual examines the logical consistency of his ideas.Some Idealists believe that all knowledge is a matter of recall. Plato was one who held thisnotion. He based this conclusion upon the assumption that the spirit of man is eternal. Whateverhe knows is already contained within his spirit. Objective Idealists, such as Plato, think that ideasare essences, which have an independent existence. Subjective Idealists, such as GeorgeBerkeley, reason that man is able to know only what he perceives. His only knowledge is of hismental states. Existence depends upon mind. Every stimulus received by the mind is derivedultimately from God. God is the Infinite Spirit.IDEALISTIC VALUE THEORYIdealists generally root all values either in a personal God or in a personal spiritual force ofnature. They all agree that values are eternal. Theistic Idealists assert that eternal values exist inGod. Good and evil, beauty and ugliness are known to the extent that the idea of good and theidea of beauty are consistent with the absolute good and the absolute beauty found in God.Pantheistic Idealists identify God with nature. Values are absolute and unchanging because theyare a part of the determined order of nature.EDUCATIONAL THEORY OF MODERN IDEALISMAims of Education.The purpose of education is to contribute to the development of the mind and self of the learner.The education-imparting institute should emphasize intellectual activities, moral judgments,
  3. 3. aesthetic judgments, self-realization, individual freedom, individual responsibility, and self-control in order to achieve this development.Curriculum.The curriculum is based upon the idea or assumption of the spiritual nature of man. This idea inturn leads to an idea of the nature of the larger units of family, community, state, earth; theuniverse, and infinity. In preserving the subject matter content, which is essential for thedevelopment of the individual mind, the curriculum must include those subjects essential for therealization of mental and moral development. These subjects provide one with culture, and theyshould be mandated for all pupils. Moreover, the subject matter should be kept constant for all.The Teaching-Learning Process.Idealists have high expectations of the teacher. The teacher must be excellent, in order to serve asan example for the student, both intellectually and morally. No other single element in the schoolsystem is more important than the teacher. The teacher must excel in knowledge and in humaninsight into the needs and capacities of the learners; and must demonstrate moral excellence inpersonal conduct and convictions. The teacher must also exercise great creative skill in providingopportunities for the learners minds to discover, analyze, unify, synthesize and createapplications of knowledge to life and behavior.Methods of Teaching.The classroom structure and atmosphere should provide the learners with opportunities to think,and to apply the criteria of moral evaluation to concrete within the context of the subjects. Theteaching methods must encourage the acquisition of facts, as well as skill in reflecting on thesefacts. It is not sufficient to teach pupils how to think. It is very important that what pupils thinkabout be factual; otherwise, they will simply compound their ignorance.Teaching methods should encourage learners to enlarge their horizons; stimulate reflectivethinking; encourage personal moral choices; provide skills in logical thinking; provideopportunities to apply knowledge to moral and social problems; stimulate interest in the subjectcontent; and encourage learners to accept the values of human civilization.Idealism in educationDr. V. K. MaheshwariPh. DFormer Principal K.L.D.A.V CollegeRoorkee, IndiaDr.SurakshaBansal,Ph. DSr. Lecturer D.I.M.SMeerut, India An idealist is one who on, on noticing that a rose smells better than acabbage, concludesthat it is also more nourishing.Mencken H. L.On Ideals and Idealism
  4. 4. The educational approach of this philosophy is of a holistic nature. In which self-realization andcharacter development is strongly supported. The idealist feelsthat with the growth of a finemoral character as well as personal reflection,wisdom is gained. The holistic approach issupported instead of a specializedconcentration on a specific targeted area. By combiningexperiences gainedthrough critical thinking and dealing with broader topics, the idealist createsanenvironment in which a learner can rationalize information across curriculum.Idealism as aphilosophy had its greatest impact during the nineteenth century.Its influence in today’s world isless important than it has been in the past.Idealism is the conclusion that the universeis expression of intelligence and will,that the enduring substance of the world is the nature of themind, that thematerial is explained by the mental. Idealism as a philosophy stands in contrastwithall those systems of thought that center in nature (naturalism) or in man(humanism)." According to idealism "to be" means to be experienced by aperson. Idealism holdsthat the order of the world is due to the manifestation inspace and time of an eternal and spiritualreality. As to knowledge, idealismholds that knowledge is man thinking the thoughts andpurposes of this eternaland spiritual reality as they are embodied in our world of fact. As toethics,idealism holds that the goodness of mans individual and social life is theconformity of thehuman will with the moral administration of the universe