Existentialism philosophy of education

Part 1

Sudbury Valley School (Links to an external site.)If you are having any trouble viewing videos in this course, please make sure your browser is not blocking “unsecured” sources (this is often signified by a shield in your URL bar)

Then, briefly post your reactions to the video. What are the positive and negative aspects of the Existentialism philosophy of education as shown by the Sudbury Valley School?

Part 2

For this activity, you will:

– Complete the Inventory of Philosophies of Education on pages 170-172 of your textbook.

– Be sure to include the results of your inventory AT THE TOP of your paper

List the score for each of the 5 philosophies (example: Essentialism 20, Progressivism 22, etc.)

– Write a paper (300 word minimum – please include a word count unless it is substantially over the minimum) on YOUR educational philosophy. This is what YOU believe. It is likely that it will include aspects from the different major educational philosophies in the inventory. Relate your answer to the educational philosophies from the inventory.

– Submit your paper in the file upload below.

Questions to consider when developing your philosophy:

1. What is the purpose of education?

2. What content and skills should schools teach?

3. How should schools teach this content?

4. What are the proper roles for teachers and students?


Requirements: 1 page

Inventory of Philosophies of Education

As you read through the following statements about schools and teaching, decide how strongly you agree or disagree. We will help you interpret your results. Write your response to the left of each statement, using the following scale:

5 Agree strongly

4 Agree

3 Neither agree nor disagree

2 Disagree

1 Disagree strongly

______ 1.

A school curriculum should include a common body of information that all students should know.

______ 2.

The school curriculum should focus on the great ideas that have survived through time.

______ 3.

The gap between the real world and schools should be bridged through field trips, internships, and adult mentors.

______ 4.

Schools should prepare students for analyzing and solving the social problems they will face beyond the classroom.

______ 5.

Each student should determine his or her individual curriculum, and teachers should guide and help them.

______ 6.

Students should not be promoted from one grade to the next until they have read and mastered certain key material.

______ 7.

Schools, above all, should develop students’ abilities to think deeply, analytically, and creatively, rather than focus on transient concerns like social skills and current trends.

______ 8.

Whether inside or outside the classroom, teachers must stress the relevance of what students are learning to real and current events.

______ 9.

Education should enable students to recognize injustices in society, and schools should promote projects to redress social inequities.

______ 10.

Students who do not want to study much should not be required to do so.

______ 11.

Teachers and schools should emphasize academic rigor, discipline, hard work, and respect for authority.

______ 12.

Education is not primarily about workers and the world economic competition; learning should be appreciated for its own sake, and students should enjoy reading, learning, and discussing intriguing ideas.

______ 13.

The school curriculum should be designed by teachers to respond to the experiences and needs of the students.

______ 14.

Schools should promote positive group relationships by teaching about different ethnic and racial groups.

______ 15.

The purpose of school is to help students understand themselves, appreciate their distinctive talents and insights, and find their own unique place in the world.

______ 16.

For the United States to be competitive economically in the world marketplace, schools must bolster their academic requirements to train more competent workers.

Page 171

______ 17.

Teachers ought to teach from the classics, because important insights related to many of today’s challenges and concerns are found in these Great Books.

______ 18.

Students learn effectively through social interaction, so schools should plan for substantial social interaction in their curricula.

______ 19.

Students should be taught how to be politically literate, and learn how to improve the quality of life for all people.

______ 20.

The central role of the school is to provide students with options and choices. The student must decide what and how to learn.

______ 21.

Schools must provide students with a firm grasp of basic facts regarding the books, people, and events that have shaped the nation’s heritage.

______ 22.

The teacher’s main goal is to help students unlock the insights learned over time, so they can gain wisdom from the great thinkers of the past.

______ 23.

Students should be active participants in the learning process, involved in democratic class decision making and reflective thinking.

______ 24.

Teaching should mean more than simply transmitting the Great Books, which are replete with biases and prejudices. Rather, schools need to identify a new list of Great Books more appropriate for today’s world, and prepare students to create a better society than their ancestors did.

______ 25.

Effective teachers help students to discover and develop their personal values, even when those values conflict with traditional ones.

______ 26.

Teachers should help students constantly reexamine their beliefs. In history, for example, students should learn about those who have been historically omitted: the poor, the non-European, women, and people of color.

______ 27.

Frequent objective testing is the best way to determine what students know. Rewarding students when they learn, even when they learn small things, is the key to successful teaching.

______ 28.

Education should be a responsibility of the family and the community, rather than delegated to formal and impersonal institutions, such as schools.

Interpreting Your Responses

Write your responses to statements 1 through 25 in the columns provided on p. 172; then tally up your score in each column. (We will return to items 26 to 28 in a bit.) Each column is labeled with a philosophy and the name of the teacher who represented that view in this chapter’s opening scenario (the charter school discussion). The highest possible score in any one column is 25, and the lowest possible score is 5. Scores in the 20s indicate strong agreement, and scores below 10 indicate disagreement with the tenets of a particular philosophy.

Your scores in columns A through E, respectively, represent how much you agree or disagree with the beliefs of five major educational philosophies: essentialism, perennialism, progressivism, social reconstructionism, and existentialism. Check back to see if your scores reflect your initial reactions to these teachers’ points of view. For example, if you agreed with Ghosh’s proposal to create an “Academy,” then you probably agreed with a number of the statements associated with essentialist education, and your score in this column may be fairly high.

Page 172


Essentialism (Ghosh) Perennialism (Sarah) Progressivism (Marcus) Social Reconstructionism (Ted) Existentialism (Eloisa)

1. _____ 2. _____ 3. _____ 4. _____ 5. _____

6. _____ 7. _____ 8. _____ 9. _____ 10. _____

11. _____ 12. _____ 13. _____ 14. _____ 15. _____

16. _____ 17. _____ 18. _____ 19. _____ 20. _____

21. _____ 22. _____ 23. _____ 24. _____ 25. _____

Scores _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Compare your five scores. What is your highest? What is your lowest? Which three statements best reflect your views on education? Are they congruent and mut-ually supporting? As you look at the statements that you least support, what do those statements tell you about your values? You may notice that your philosophical leanings, as identified by your responses to statements in the inventory, reflect your general outlook on life. For example, your responses may indicate whether you generally trust people to do the right thing, or if you believe that individuals need supervision. How have your culture, religion, upbringing, and political beliefs shaped your responses to the items in this inventory? How have your own education and life experiences influenced your philosophical beliefs? This may be the beginning of a lifelong process for you. But it is a conscious and thoughtful way of positioning yourself, of determining your beliefs and approaches as an educator. This process will bring to the surface your answer to the question, what do I believe in? What kind of teacher do I want to be? What will I expect from my students? What do I expect from myself?

Be patient and thoughtful in answering these questions. It is likely that it will take a while for you to sort all this out. It is worth the time and the effort. It is believed that Socrates once said the unexamined life is not worth living. Perhaps the same can be said about teaching.

Now that you have begun to examine varying beliefs about education, you may even want to lay claim to a philosophical label. But what do these philosophical labels mean? In the following pages we will introduce you to all five of these educational philosophies and look at their impact in the classroom.

Five Philosophies of Education

Essentialism, perennialism, progressivism, social reconstructionism, and existentialism. Taken together, these five schools of thought do not exhaust the list of possible educational philosophies you may consider, but they present strong frameworks for you to refine your own educational philosophy. We can place these five philosophies on a continuum, from teacher-centered (some would say “authoritarian”) to student-centered (some would characterize as “permissive”).

Let’s begin our discussion with the teacher-centered philosophies.

Answer preview

Here, the school should not have a particularly specific way of teaching the learners. The teaching methods should be flexible to meet the learners’ unique abilities and interests. Students should be allowed to venture into the areas of their own interests and abilities to enable them to understand themselves and unlock their potential (Koirala, 2011). Some activities like gaming, music, art, sports, and others should be incorporated. The teacher should be only available to answer the learners’ questions and guide them only.

The actual role of a teacher in existentialism education is to facilitate only. The goal of the teacher is to help the learners to help themselves to understand who they are as individuals. On the other hand, the role of learners is to choose what they want to learn.


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Existentialism philosophy of education