Philosophy of Education
No society has ever survived without some system of education. Education is, perhaps, the most important of all social systems because it enables all the others by training individuals for their social roles. Still, it is a system which is far too complicated to perfect or even define. What is the “best” way to teach? What knowledge is it necessary for an “educated” person to attain? Should an education for one be the same as for another? In such an individual-centered field, the answers to these questions are as varied as the individual teachers, students, and others themselves. There is no correct answer; each teacher’s philosophy of education is surely founded on their own experience, societal views, and psychology. Nevertheless, forming such an individual philosophy is necessary to shape our own instruction and, in our own way, shape our society the most effective way we can.
The continuum of education philosophies varies completely from rigid, content-centered ideals to the looser, individual-centered methods. To completely align oneself with either, or to view education as such a dichotomy, is in my opinion, myopic. Instead, I have formed a hybrid; a conglomeration of traditional thought and a student-centered approach to learning and teaching.
Tradition in education is important. As the essentialist view argues, there is a body of common knowledge that all people should be taught. A central element of being human is to learn and extend the knowledge of the past. Without mastery of essential information and skills, how can we expect society to progress? The canons of literature, the principles of science, the exploration of history, and many more all build a foundation of what it is to be human and part of a human society. Lacking such an essential base, more liberal philosophies collapse.
These essentials, however, do not complete the picture. Knowledge and education cannot exist in a vacuum; just because a certain volume of human knowledge does exist does not necessarily mean it will be acquired or even prove...