How Your Educational Philosophy Influences Curriculum Choices
Pragmatism, sometimes called experimentalism, is commonly associated with educators such as Charles S. Pierce and William James, but is most often associated with John Dewey (Knight, 2006, p. 66). According to Knight, one of the most pivotal points to pragmatism is the theory of students learn best by experiencing the world around them, which allows them to reflect on the experiences and personalize it (Knight, p. 67).
Knight (2006) explains that experimentalism became influential after World War I when the culture suffered from depression (Knight, p. 76). Educators recognized that students could not only learn by being told how things work, they had to learn first-hand why things are certain ways. This writer speculates that this had a lot to do with propaganda during the Great Wars.
Barton (2004) suggests that the effectiveness of education should not be measured by the technological advances, but rather that it should be measured by the “amount of content a student has learned and how well that student has been taught to think and reason”. Barton’s sentiment is pivotal to the concept of learning theories as presented by Fleming’s (2012) VARK theory, which is an acronym for the visual, aural, reading/writing and kinesthetic. Like other learning theories, Fleming suggests that students are not incapable of learning through other methods but rather that they learn best when they learn things using their preferred learning method.
While Knight (2006) warns Christian educators to not implement an eclectic approach to teaching, this writer recognizes the important of teachers using the best methods possible to reach their students. The Christian educational philosophy recognizes the importance of the individual and the need to foster the talents of each student. As Stronks and Blomberg (1993) as cited in Knight (2006) note, the “major task of Christian schools is to ‘help students unwrap their God-given gifts’” (p. 217).
While pragmatism holds to the thought that the individual is “the center of the epistemological authority” (Knight, 2006, p 78), the Christian recognizes that the Bible and God’s truth is the epicenter of the curriculum. This writer recognizes that history and one’s philosophy definitely has an impact on both what and how one teaches. For example, Christian teachers recognize that the Bible should be central in the curriculum, because God’s truth is the only legitimate truth. Christian teachers will use the Bible and Biblical truths in their classroom. Christian teachers will not only use the Bible but they will teach in accordance to Biblical concepts, meaning that they will hold students accountable for what is taught, and will help students succeed at learning.
Barton, D. (2004). Four Centuries of American Education. United States: Wall Builders.
Knight, George R. (2006). Philosophy & education: An introduction in christian perspective. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.
VARK: A guide to learning styles. (2012). The VARK Helpsheets. Retrieved on January 24 from http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=helpsheets
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