How does Philosophy Influence the Field of Education?

Philosophy of education influences almost all the aspects of a country’s educational system. Particularly, it influences the following aspects:

Philosophy | Anthony Tricarico

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1. Relationship between the state and education

Depending upon the philosophy a country believes in there are rigidly controlled and free schools. In the totalitarian states the schools have.


To teach what the state wants with strict discipline and rigid schedule enforced in them. In democratic countries there is ample freedom for the schools.

2. Philosophy of Education Influences the Aims of Education

The aims and ideals of education, too, are determined by the philosophy of education a country believes in. Different philosophies of education have different views on education.

A country that tends to believe in the philosophy of idealism will stress on creating a spiritual environment in the school as that pupils develop spiritual values and attain self-realization.


Naturalism will like to see that the child is made to learn from nature in a natural way and realizes his potentialities. Pragmatism does not accept any universal or eternal and preconceived aim of education. Like that
aims of education are necessarily influenced by the philosophy of education.

3. Philosophy of Education Influences the Curriculum

What should be taught in the schools is also influenced by the kind of philosophy of education a society supports. Various philosophies of education advocate differing views on curriculum Naturalism, for example, lays stress on subjects that help in self-expression and self- preservation.

It advocates teaching of basic sciences, physical and health education. Idealism emphasizes teaching of higher values through ethics, religion, art and subjects of humanities. Pragmatism focuses on child-centered curriculum consisting of activities and based on child’s experience.


4. Philosophy of education influences teaching methods.

Methods of teaching, too, are influenced by the philosophy of education a society adopts. A system of education based on naturalism stresses learning by doing, learning through experience and learning through observation.

Societies which tend towards idealism prefer to have a system of education which prescribes rigid methods of teaching such as lecturing and prefer learning through imitation, memorization and discussion. Pragmatism stresses problem solving and project methods of teaching.

5. Philosophy of education influences theory and practice of discipline also

The concept of discipline and its practice also are influenced by the philosophy of education. To naturalists discipline is to be learnt by natural consequences. The child enjoys maximum freedom. Self-discipline is preferred to external control.

The idealists on the other hand wish to enforce discipline through cultivation of higher values, moral and religious teachings and strict control over the child. In the scheme of the pragmatists, there is no place for punishment and discipline is learnt through moral training which is based child’s experience gained through various kinds of school activities and programmers.

In the same way several other aspects such as the place of the child in education, the importance of the teacher, preparation of textbooks, etc., are influenced by the philosophy of education adopted by a system of education.

Philosophy and Aims on Education

Every educational system must have some goals, aims or objectives. These act as guides for the educator in educating the child. In fact, we cannot think of any process of education without specific aims and objectives.

Bode says, “Unless we have some guiding philosophy in the determination of objectives, we get nowhere at all.” These aims of education, in different countries, are determined by the aims and ideals of life which the people of those countries have at that particular time.

The aims and ideals of life, in their turn, are determined by the philosophy of the time. It is, therefore, that aims and ideals of education vary with the different philosophers.

It is the philosophy of the time which determines whether the aim of education should be moral, vocational, intellectual, liberal or spiritual. In the words of Rusk, “Every system of education must have an aim and the aim of education is relative to the aim of life. Philosophy formulates what should be the end of life while education offers suggestions how this end is to be achieved.

“The philosopher struggles hard with the mysteries of life and arrives at their solution after mature reflection and thinking. He then suggests ways and means of dealing with them. Thus he lays down ultimate values and explains their significance to the community.

In this way, he tries to convert people to his own beliefs and philosophy. These ultimate values, as formulated by the philosopher, become the aims of education for that community. The training of the younger generation, according to those aims and values, then lies on the shoulders of the educator in the field.

He selects the material for instruction and determines the methods of procedure for the attainment of those aims. In this way, the entire educational programme proceeds with its foundations on sound philosophy.

Philosophy and Curriculum

Curriculum is the means through which we realize the aims of education. Naturally, therefore, our educational aims determine the curriculum of studies. But aims of education, in their own turn, are determined by philosophy, as we have noted above just now.

So we can say that philosophy also determines the curriculum. As is the philosophy so will be the aims of all education and courses of study. Thus they are closely inter­related.

It is philosophy and courses of study. Thus they are closely inter-related. It is philosophy which will decide why a particular subject should be included in the curriculum and what particular discipline that subject will promote.

Thus, as Briggs has put it, “It is here (in curriculum) that education seriously needs leaders-leaders who hold a sound comprehensive philosophy, of which they can convince others and who can direct its consistent application to the formulation of appropriate curricula.”

It should be clearly noted that curriculum is not fixed for all times. It changes in accordance with the aims of education determined by philosophy. It is, therefore, that curriculum differs with different schools of philosophy, according to their own beliefs.

The naturalists advocate the selection of subjects according to the present needs, interests and activities of the child. They insist that adult interference should be reduced to the minimum and that the child should grow up in a free atmosphere.

They are, therefore, of the opinion that curriculum should include subjects which are useful for the present life situations, experience and interests of the child. Those subjects must, in no case, be included in which the child is not interested at all.

The idealists, on the other hand, approach the problem of curriculum from the point of higher values in life rather than from that of the child or his present needs. Their emphasis is on the experience of human race as a whole. They, therefore, advocate that curriculum should be graded in such a way as may enable that child to march gradually towards self-realization.

The pragmatists emphasize the principle of utility in the choice of subjects. They are of the opinion that only such functional subjects should be included in the curriculum as are useful to the child in the present day world.

The curriculum should give knowledge and skills which the child requires for his present as well as future life as an adult. Only that bookish knowledge, which stuffs the mind with abstract ideas, is condemned as it does not equip children to face the real problems of life.

Instead, curriculum should consist of subjects who may improve the health, vocational efficiency and social fitness of the child. Realists also put greater premium upon the vocational education.

Thus, we conclude that philosophy not only influences the curriculum, it also determines the subjects of study that meet its requirements.

Philosophy and Text-books

Text-books are important instruments, through which the aims of education are realized. In the selection of text-books, therefore, there is as much need of ideals and principles as in the choice of subjects. Those who select text-books must have a standard of judgment, which should enable them to select the right type of books. This standard is supplied by philosophy.

Again, a good text-book must reflect the prevailing values of life, fixed by philosophy. If it does not, it is out-of-date and inappropriate. An appropriate text-book, therefore, must be according to the accepted ideals of the society as a whole. Then and only then it will be able to serve its desired purpose.

In the case of text-books also, there is difference of opinion among the different schools of philosophy. While the naturalists are in favor of illustrations, pictures and diagrams for capturing the interest of children, the pragmatists are satisfied only with the objective statement of generalization in a logical order.

The idealists, on the other hand with the text-books should reflect the individuality of the author. They are in favor of the subjective presentation of the subject-matter so that there may be interaction of the personalities of the author and the reader.

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