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PHILOSOPHICAL BASES OF EDUCATION

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Philosophy is the mother of education and education gives birth to Philosophy.

By: Dr. Tasaduk Hussain Itoo,

INTRODUCTION

Since the inception of this world,  man has been constantly trying to know the truth. This “knowing” is philosophy. It is philosophy, which has interpreted man and his activity in general. Human life cannot properly be understood without philosophy. There is close relationship between philosophy and life. Conception of life originates from philosophy. Philosophy gives self-consciousness and develops a spirit of enquiry after truth. Life and education are inseparably connected. One cannot be separated from the other. Hence life has a philosophical base and so education also has a philosophical base.

MEANING AND NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY

Etymologically, the word Philosophy has been derived from two Greek words “Philo” (love) and “Sophia” (wisdom) means love of wisdom. Wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge. Knowledge can be acquired, but wisdom is realized truth. Philosophy is love for the truth and a life’s necessity. Education in the widest sense of the term is life itself and, in a narrow sense it is the preparation for complete living. Philosophy provides a consistent and comprehensive interpretation of life and defines its goals. It helps us to understand the significance of all human experience and activity. It explores the base and aims of life. It is a logical enquiry into the nature of reality. Philosophy tries to answer the deepest question of life. It clarifies life and its base values. Philosophy means points of view concerning purposes and values according to which man tries to live. With the help of philosophy man can understand himself and his relation to the rest of the universe, his origin and his destiny. Philosophy means attitude to life without which man cannot live. Philosophy indicates a certain way of life. Philosophy is an attempt to explain and appreciate life and the universe as a whole. According to Dewey, philosophy signifies “a wisdom that would influence the conduct of life”. According to Raymont, “philosophy is an unceasing effort to discern the general truth that lies behind the particular facts.” All these philosophers had their own philosophies, beliefs and values. Thus beliefs, values and ideals mould and direct human activity. Education is nothing but human effort and activity. Philosophy, therefore, is inseparable from education.

MEANING AND NATURE OF EDUCATION

Education is the process of development of the child or the individual. It is a life-long process. Education tries to develop the innate potentialities of the individual in a harmonious manner. Education is harmonious development of all the powers of the human being i.e. physical, social, intellectual, aesthetic and spiritual. Thus, education is intimately connected with the life and experience of an individual. Hence education, life and philosophy are closely interrelated. There are no antitheses between philosophy of life and philosophy of education. They practically sail in the same boat.

INTERRELATION BETWEEN EDUCATION AND PHILOSOPHY

Philosophy is the mother of education and education gives birth to Philosophy. This may seem contradictory but the relationship between philosophy and education is very close. Philosophy furnishes the goals of life and education gives the means to achieve those goals. Man is the common subject of both philosophy and education. Philosophy and education are interrelated, interdependent, identical and inseparable from each other. Every philosopher has an educational outlook and every educator has a philosophy of life. No system of education is completely divorced from philosophy. Philosophy provides the aim of life and thereby the aim of education, and education provides the vehicle for carrying out that philosophic aim in practical life. According to James Ross, “Philosophy and Education are two sides of a coin: the former is contemplative while the latter is the active side,” Philosophy is thus an exhaustive and comprehensive inquiry into the world of matter and mind viewed as one whole. John Dewey defines philosophy as a theory of education in its most general aspects. He holds that “education is the laboratory in which philosophic truth become concrete and are tested.” The interdependence of philosophy and education is evident from the fact that all great philosophers are great educators- Socrates in Greece, Confucius in China, Buddha, Tagore and Gandhi in India.

They reflected their philosophical views in their educational schemes. For example, Plato’s idealism gave birth to his cultural scheme of education, Rationalism in philosophy produced the theory of formal discipline in education, Rousseau’s anti-social philosophy was reflected in his “negative or natural education”. American pragmatism has resulted in the project method of education. Naturalism has introduced the play-way method. Hence there is no reason to believe that education is unaffected by philosophy. The truths and principle established by philosophy are applied in the conduct of education process.

Rousseau, Fichte and others, therefore contend that in the true sense of the term education is real philosophy. All educational programmes become consistent if their foundations are laid on sound philosophy. Philosophy formulates the aims of life and education offers suggestion how these aims are to be achieved. Education is a sustaining, progressive and purposive effort, whose strength comes only form the moral values of the community, the only source of which is philosophy.

Therefore, we can say that without philosophy, education would be nothing but a blind effort and without education philosophy would be no better than a cripple. Divorced from philosophy, education would become an aimless endeavor; a hopeless waste of time and energy. Thus, philosophy gives education its point, its target, its goal.

Philosophy exercises tremendous influence on education in all its aspects-aims, curriculum, methods, teachers, textbooks, administration, discipline, evaluation etc. There is no aspect of education, which is not influenced and determined by philosophy. There is no escape from a philosophy of life and of education. It determines the aims and content of education; it influences discipline in the school; it exercises an effective influence on the methods of teaching and it defines the role of the teacher in the educational set-up.

PHILOSOPHY AND AIMS OF EDUCATION

Every scheme of education has some aims to be attained. Aims differ from time to time and place to place. But aims have a common element. Aims of education are determined by aim of life or philosophy of life. Philosophy formulates the ends of life, and education offers suggestions how these ends are to be achieved. Aims of education change with the changing philosophy of life. The aim of Spartan system of education was to prepare patriotic citizens and soldiers. The Athenian system of education aimed at the cultural development of each individual. The British Public Schools aimed at citizenship. The Nazi system of education was determined by Nazi philosophy of life. Thus, aims of education are relative to the aims and philosophy of life.

PHILOSOPHY AND CURRICULUM

Philosophy determines the aims of education and curriculum determines how these aims can be attained. The curriculum is the means to attain aims of education. Curriculum is to be determined by the educational objectives which are again determined by philosophy. Hence, the curriculum to be followed in schools has to conform to the prevailing philosophy. Thus, the problem of curriculum construction is tackled and solved by philosophical beliefs.

PHILOSOPHY AND TEXT BOOKS

The text books constitute the part of curriculum. The adoption of appropriate text books is, therefore, closely connected with philosophy. Briggs has rightly pointed out that the selection of text books depends on the ideals and values of a particular time and society. Philosophy is reflected in the content material of text-books.

PHILOSOPHY AND METHODS OF TEACHING

Method means the art of teaching or the knowledge to which the teacher follows in the communication of knowledge to the students. The effectiveness of this teaching-learning process depends to great extent on the nature or art of communication. This art of communication or the classroom techniques are satisfactorily tackled by philosophy. Naturalist philosophy has emphasized the child-centered methods of education. It requires the methodology to recognize the inborn capacities of children. Educators like Rousseau, Fichte and Montessori stand for non-intervention by the teacher. The idealist philosophy, on the other hand, pleads for intervention in the education of the child by the teacher. Idealism argues that as the child has to realize certain ultimate values , the method of teaching must be teacher-centered. Pragmatism lays stress on problematic and creative activities and it advocates project method for effective learning.

PHILOSOPHY AND DISCIPLINE

The nature or type of discipline is always determined by the philosophy. Naturalism emphasizes self-assertion of the individual, as against blind obedience to authority. The idealists, on the other hand, wish the individual to rise above self. Idealism relies much on the personality of the teacher for the maintenance of discipline. Pragmatists advocate complete freedom from external pressure. Thus, we see that the problem of discipline is closely related with philosophy, and the conception of discipline as held by a teacher or educator will always be influenced by his philosophical beliefs.

PHILOSOPHY AND TEACHER

A teacher is the soul of education process. A teacher not only has a thorough knowledge of his/her subject, but also the society at large. He must have a clear vision about everything he comes into contact. Plato has defined philosopher as “One who has a taste for every sort of knowledge, one who is curious to learn and is never satisfied.” A teacher needs to study philosophy as a person and as a teacher. It helps him to keep manifold relations with his pupil. A teacher must have a definite outlook on life, optimistic or pessimistic, positive or negative, materialistic or idealistic. Any one of these beliefs will affect the various problems of education – the aims, the discipline, the curricula, the methods, the technique of teaching and the organization. So a teacher must have an adequate and sound philosophy. He must have a thorough grounding in philosophy.

PHILOSOPHY AND EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION

Educational administration is also not untouched by philosophical doctrine. Mental tests and personality tests, which occupy a very prominent place in the field of educational administration, also require a definite philosophy.

PHILOSOPHY AND EVALUATION

Evaluation is the continuous process of measuring the educational achievements in the light of educational aims already determined. Educational aims are determined by philosophy of life. Hence the first step of evaluation is the clear knowledge of educational aims.

CONCLUSION

Thus, we find that philosophy affects both the theoretical and practical aspects of education. One cannot be separated from the other. For individual and social development first of all we must have clear and definite educational objectives. Philosophy helps to solve the problem. We are in urgent need of a comprehensive philosophy of education, without it a teacher cannot work creatively and efficiently.

The writer is Medico/Motivational Speaker/Activist/Educator at Unacademy and can be mailed at  drtasadukitoo@gmail.com

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