"In modern times there are opposing views about the practice of education. There is no general agreement about what the young should learn either in relation to virtue or in relation to the best life; nor is it clear whether their education ought to be directed more towards the intellect than towards the character of the soul.... And it is not certain whether training should be directed at things useful in life, or at those conducive to virtue, or at non-essentials.... And there is no agreement as to what in fact does tend towards virtue. Men do not all prize most highly the same virtue, so naturally they differ also about the proper training for it." Aristotle
This statement is as accurate today as when Aristotle first wrote it more than 2,300 years ago. Today, essentialists call for a return to the to basics approach. Progressivists, whose roots are founded in the philosophy of John Dewey, feel that students learn best from what they consider to be most germane to their existence. Perennialists encourage the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. The existentialist method focuses on the self-paced, self-directed development of the individual. While behaviorists believe that, through experimentation, we should identify that environment which best utilizes an individuals potential. Each school of thought believes, according to the virtues they most highly prize, that their philosophy is superlative.
The educational philosophy to which I assent is a prudent blending of the above five schools of thought. Like the essentialists I consider instilling students with the fundamentals of academic knowledge and character development to be important. I also think, like the progressivists, that a student will learn better when they can see the relevance of what is being taught. Akin to the perennialist philosophy, I believe that education should focus more on the teaching of broad concepts rather than vast amounts of discrete factual information. Lastly, combining ideas from both the existentialist, as well as, the behaviorist philosophies, I feel that all students, but especially those students with special needs, would benefit from an individually paced learning environment that incorporates one to one studentteacher interaction..
San Diego State University
College of Education
Educational Philosophies Web Page