Educational Philosophies

Prepared for LEAD Thurston County by
Eileen Reilich,

Feb 13, 2007
Note: to accompany slide # 11

These are the main educational philosophies
and the generic descriptions that are taught in teacher preparation programs
and graduate schools. There are,
however, many more philosophies. See Wikipedia’s “list of philosophies” if you
would like to pursue this more.

Philosophy Name

Description of fundamental tenets


believe that one should teach the things that they believe are of everlasting
importance to all people everywhere. They believe that the most important
topics develop a person. Since details of fact change constantly, these
cannot be the most important. Therefore, one should teach principles,
not facts. Since people are human, one should teach first about humans,
not machines or techniques. Since people are people first, and workers
second if at all, one should teach liberal topics first, not vocational


is a theory that states that children should learn the traditional basic
subjects and that these should be learned thoroughly and rigorously.
An essentialist program normally teaches children progressively, from
less complex skills to more complex. An Essentialist will usually
teach some set subjects similar to Reading, Writing, Literature, Foreign
Languages, History, Math, Science, Art, and Music


is a cultural
that generally includes progressive art and architecture,
and literature
which emerged in the decades before 1914
postmodern” generally refers to the criticism of absolute truths or
identities.” Perhaps the best way to think about postmodernism is to
look at modernism,
because postmodernism is generally characterized as either emerging
from, or in reaction to it. Postmodernism is a worldview that
emphasizes the existence of different worldviews” and it accepts that
reality is fragmented and that personal identity is an unstable quantity
transmitted by a variety of cultural factors. Postmodernism advocates
an irreverent, playful treatment of one’s own identity, and a liberal


is a learning

which holds that knowledge is not transmitted unchanged from teacher
to student, but instead that learning is an active process of recreating
knowledge. Constructivists teach techniques that place emphasis on the
role of learning activities in a good curriculum


proposes that we should not accept any predetermined creed or philosophical
system and from that try to define who we are. It aims for the progressing
of humanity. Existentialists are in favor of independent thinking. Existentialism
is not a set of curricular materials. Rather, it is a point of view
that influences all that the teacher teaches and how he or she teaches.
It engages the student in central questions of defining life and who
we are. It attempts to help the student acknowledge his or her own freedom
and accept the responsibility for that freedom. It aims to help the
child realize that the answers imposed from the outside may not be real
answers. The only real answers are the ones that come from inside each
person, that are authentically his or her own.


(from the Latin utilis, useful) is a theory of ethics
that prescribes the quantitative
maximization of good consequences for a population. It is a single value
system and a form of consequentialism
and absolutism. This good is often happiness
or pleasure,
though some utilitarian theories might seek to maximize other consequences.
Bentham’s Act utilitarianism states that we must first consider the
consequences of our actions, and from that, make an appropriate choice
that would then generate the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest
amount of people involved.


is a philosophy
that insists on consequences, utility and practicality as vital components
of meaning and truth. Thus–theoretical claims should be tied to verification
practices–i.e., that one should be able to make predictions and test
them–and that ultimately the needs of humankind should guide the path
of human inquiry.