Most cultures would agree that education is an important aspect of society. It helps us move forward, advance in several field, and feel connected to our past.
With that said, now more than ever we have started realizing that all students are not the same. Students are not monolithic creatures with one style of learning, they have diverse wants and needs to accommodate in order to ensure they are properly receiving incoming information.
Unsurprisingly, there are several philosophical trains of thoughts that can be analyzed to understand how students think and consequently help educators better train future engaged citizens.
Idealism can be defined as a philosophical approach that has as its central tenet that ideas are the only true reality worth knowing.
Originally crafted by Plato, he believed that there is a spiritual or mental world. The spiritual world is eternal, permanent and orderly.
On the other hand, the mental world is regular and universal. When viewed through the perspective of idealism, the goal of education can be to develop each students ability to achieve full moral excellence to better serve society.
This education style is best when trying to develop individuals holistically. It focuses less on confining students to a box of learning material for no actual reason.
Instead, it ties moral and realistic goals in order for students to feel a sense of drive when attempting to understand material.
Reflection and introspection are key components of idealism and it is a great method for teaching students who want to strive for moral excellence to better serve society.
Teachers instructing literature, history, and libertarian philosophy benefit from this line of philosophical thought.
On the other hand, those that follow realism believe that reality exists independent from the human mind.
Essentially, the ultimate reality is the world of physical objects. For example, through this style of thought a butterfly only exist because it is physically present in the natural world. Just as a rose can exist in the mind but can only be imagined because they exist as flowers around the world.
This type of thinking is interesting because it sorts of puts limits on the imagination by stating that objects can only exist in the context and perimeters of the human world.
If you are a teacher that follows this philosophical train of thought you might be limited in the fact that it might be a struggle for you to engage with students with more creative mindsets.
For example, teaching art classes might not be for you because the idealistic views of your students might be beyond your scope of toleration.
Instead, hard sciences and history classes based on facts and would help you better communicate with students. For students that follow a realism approach to learning, incorporating notable journals and being able to link even your creative subjects to events happening to the real world will help you connect.
Pragmatism and existentialism are two other philosophical lenses to view education through. Pragmatism or experientialism teaches that the only real things are those that are observed.
This line of thinking suits subjects involving field experience such as experimental biology or hands on research experience. Students and teachers alike who follow this approach need to have hands on experience to fully reach their potential.
Conversely, existentialism focuses on subjective perspectives and depends on the individuals their standards to dictate the world.
Teaching students with this method requires understanding each student’s perspective on whatever subject you are teaching in order to be effective.
Education is a multifaceted field that requires constant reevaluation. Understanding students and teachers through different philosophical perspectives is what it takes to properly educate and communicate the mass amount of information we have access to.
Reflecting on styles of thinking from the past, can help centralize different techniques to meet each individual’s educational needs.