Education and Philosophy

Every teacher has a philosophy of education.  It goes along with being thinking and living beings.  Some might call our educational philosophy as a sum of our biases, and others might refer to them as preferences.  I think that in the world of education the sum of our biases and preferences make up our best guess to deliver an effective education.  I strongly believe that all teachers have the best intentions and truly value students, learning, teaching and character.  That being said, schedules and demands make it difficult at times to keep our head up to plan, evaluate and implement long term passions that align with our personal educational philosophy.  Some educational philosophies might include creating an environment that welcomes creativity, evaluating the effectiveness of the social environment of the class, establishing an expectation of dialogue and exploration.

Connecting to our philosophy and building time in the classroom to fulfill our understanding of the purpose of education is critical to our success as individuals in education.  Here is a framework to help you think through philosophy and how it relates to education:

There are three primary categories of philosophy.

  1. Metaphysics.
  2. Epistemology
  3. Axiology

Metaphysics – Reality

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates reality.  This sphere of philosophy is attempting to understand more about the composition and materials that exist.

Questions about:

  • The reality of cosmology and the universe.
  •  the reality of theology
  • the reality of anthropology
  • the reality of ontology

Epistemology – Truth

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that investigates understanding and truth.  Philosophers that ponder this topic are asking questions regarding the nature, source and validity of knowledge.

Questions about:

  • What can be known? What do we have the ability to understand?
  • Is Truth relative or absolute?
  • Is knowledge subjective or objective?
  • Is there truth beyond the human experience (priori) and what value do humans bring to truth (posteriori)?

Axiology – Value

Axiology is the branch of philosophy that investigates value.

Questions about:

  • What should we value?
  • How much value should we place in each?
  • What is considered aesthetics?
  • What order should these values be in?
  • How should we address differences in value?

Education Connection

Educators should consider the reality, truth, and value in an educational context to determine an individual educational philosophy.  After establishing an educational philosophy, educators can adjust their assumptions and prejudice.  One way to approach an adaptation to an educational philosophy is to first broaden awareness, make informed decisions, and characterize the philosophy.

Understanding ones own philosophy in education is the road to changing perspective and developing a unified approach to a broad subject.  One way to approach the development of an educational philosophy is to wrestle through the ideas of reality, truth, and value in an educational setting.

Dr. Nathan Herzog



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