What You Need to Know as an Educator: Knowing the 3 Main Philosophies of Education
Philosophy can be applied to any area of an individual’s life and all industries for business purposes, mission and vision focus, and overall operational methods. Therefore as an educator knowing the main philosophies of education will benefit your role as a teacher and influencer in the classroom.
Philosophies of education refer to the sets of beliefs commonly held by educators on how and what should be taught. Educational philosophies are based on branches of philosophy that developed over the course of human history. These branches of philosophy were adapted and specialized into theories, which were then adapted into theories that deal specifically with education. There are seven major educational philosophies of the process of education. These philosophies can be broken down further into three primary groups: teacher-centered, student-centered, and society-centered philosophies.
Teacher-centered philosophies are those that transfer knowledge from one generation of teachers to the next. In teacher-centered philosophies, the teacher’s role is to impart a respect for authority, determination, a strong work ethic, compassion for others, and sensibility. Teachers and schools succeed when students prove, typically through taking tests, that they have mastered the objectives they learned. The two teacher-centered philosophies are essentialism and perennialism.
Student-centered philosophies focus more on training individual students. These philosophies place more emphasis on the individuality of students and helping them to realize their potential. A student-centered classroom may be less rigid or structured, less concerned about past teaching practices and drilling academics, and more focused on training students for success in an ever-changing world. Students and teachers typically decide together what should be learned, as well as how this can best be achieved.
Finally, society-centered philosophies go beyond focusing on the student and focus instead on a group or a population. Society-centered philosophies focus on educating a group of people—whether a minority group or the world as a whole—rather than a curriculum or a student. The objective is to improve society as a whole.
Each philosophy is essential for being productive in your profession as an educator. Although this is a summary of the three primary philosophies in education, take the time to read corresponding articles that breakdown each of these philosophies in detail. Understanding these philosophies will aid in your success as a teacher.