Written by Theorist
The topic on theory and education starts of defining theory and going in to the history of it’s beginnings as well as what Greek word theory is derived from. As a hypothetical group of guidelines and protocol that can control what is followed in practice, theories help predict what is likely to happen. Theory is also looked at as a frame of reference that can direct what is put into practice. Frame of reference can be formed by using experience or figuring out through a set of assumptions.
Other meanings of theory include a faith, thought, model, or notion about happenings or events that entail things, individuals, and circumstances that are observed. Looking at theories from this perspective occurs when people want to define and understand situations involving objects, individuals and events involved in situations.
People theorize to help them recognize and itemize like variables or elements in various situations. The situations or events are unique depending on the individuals and issues involved.
The topic on theory and education presents itself as a bridge that takes the reader from conceptual topics on philosophies to the four theories of education: Essentialism, Perennialism, Progressivism, and Critical Theory. The topic takes a look at theories as derived from philosophies and ideologies that expand into educational solutions to larger educational, social, and cultural issues.
This topic also takes a look into theory as a derivative of a philosophy or ideology. The point is made that Idealism, Realism, and Theistic Realism are based on a large metaphysical apparatus that gives a sort of design of the universe and gives individuals a place in the universe. These traditional philosophies are methodical in the way they explain or delve into what is actual, how we know, and what is accurate. The younger philosophies like Pragmatism, Existentialism, Philosophical Analysis, and Post Modernism, do not accept a metaphysical foundation of the older philosophies and pass them off as unproven speculation. These new philosophies look to epistemology, meaning, and other issues.
Educational theories are also derived from Nationalism, Liberalism, Conservatism, Marxism, and Liberation pedagogy. Many educational institutions throughout the world are set up into national systems of education. In these systems of education are powerful elements of Nationalism that are used to help mold national identity.
Theory also comes up as an answer or response to an economic, social, political, and educational issue, problem, or crisis that can be either local, national, or global, like environmental issues or poverty issues.
A lot of times theory can arise from practice. A situation occurs where a practitioner in a field obtains experience from dealing with numerous similar instances. When frequently encountering the similar occurrences, one can generalize, make the assumption or theory that help to direct methods to addressing the occurrences... The topic concludes with John Dewey’s writing on Experience in Relation to Theory and Practice.
1. Why do most educational institutions continue to be mostly theory focused when the world outside of education (even extra curricular activities) demands a practical understanding? Where is the balance of theory and practice? Is there balance between them?
2. How can one incorporate more practical and experience based learning into the current educational system?
3. What value or how much weight do teachers and educators as a group put on experience and practical approach to education as opposed to value put on theory?
The topic on Progressivism begins by defining progressivism by looking at the root word progress, which means to improve on something. Progressives see the act of progressing as non violent and going along with known and fair procedures with the objective of gradual, related, and cumulative change.
Progressivism is formed from Liberalism, and is dedicated to going by public protocol as opposed to behind the scenes. Equal practice comes from using processes that were agreed-upon to resolve issues and settle differences. The improvements proposed by Progressives start with what is going on now and arise due to existing conditions. If reforms are to happen they are to occur with existing issues as opposed to ideal proposals.
In an educational environment Progressives believe children should freely express themselves with creativity. Education progressives prefer to use informal, less structured, and open methods of instruction that they feel allow children to go with their interests and use creativity in the process. Sometimes child centered progressives are afraid that there is too much focus on social and political problems and feel that the educational process can become too political due to goals that are outside of the interests of the children.
Progressivism began around the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment period. During this time Enlightenment philosophers did not accept the belief that came from the Medieval and Reformation periods that though humans to be depraved spiritually and ethically. Enlightenment theorists thought progress to be as a guiding principle.
The representatives in Europe for Progressivism at this time were Jean-Jaques Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. In the United States, progressive education was more in alignment with the general Progressive movement which was occurring from around 1900 to 1920. Political Progressives like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Robert Lafollette, wanted to reform politics in America. The Progressive educators around this time followed a three pronged program which included, the removal of formalism, routine, and bureaucracy, implementation of innovative methods of instruction that centered around children’s’ needs and interests, and professional teaching and school administration.
John Dewey, a key figure in the topic and a Pragmatist philosopher, was one of the main figures in the United States in the development of progressive educational theory. Dewey had his own Laboratory School at the University of Chicago where he used many experimental methods.
The topic also covers Progressivisms philosophical relationships in regards to Pragmatism, Naturalism, Idealism, Realism, and Thomism. It discusses how Progressivism comes out of Pragmatism and rejects principles associated with Idealism, Realism, and Thomism.
Progressive principles in the topic generally are opposed to:
1. Instruction that favors routine over spontaneity.
2. Curriculum that emphasizes subject matter over children’s needs
3. Competition that pits children against each other
4. Instruction geared to test preparation
5. External incentives like rewards and punishments that are extrinsic to learning
Progressives usually favor:
1. Stimulating growth and development through activities that encourage initiative and self expression
2. A curriculum based on experience featuring activities, process learning, inquiry, and problem solving.
3. Collaborative learning with group cooperation.
4. Teachers who act as facilitators of learning rather than task masters
5. Multifunctional education geared towards the whole child, emotionally, physically, socially, and intellectually.
The topic concludes by expounding on Progressivism as and educational theory, discussing how progressives use inductive logic and take a view of education that goes fare beyond what is defined in academic terms. The topic ends with Marietta Johnson’s writing on Child Centered Progressive Education which focuses on a holistic approach in a permissive environment.
1. Can there be a place for the metaphysical in progressivism?
2. Can t here be such thing as Ideal progressivism, seeing as progressives reject idealism?
3. How does one determine what the child’s best interests are? What if the child them self has not figured out what their best interests are?