Education as the Dynamic Side of Philosophy

Philosophy and education keep a close relationship with each other. It is rightly said that education is the dynamic side of philosophy.Philosophy is view of life while education is way of life. Let’s have a detailed analysis of the relationship between the two concepts.

Philosophy is the highly reflective vision on life. It defines the real meaning of life, aims and objectives of life, the nature of the real knowledge related to life and the value system to be followed in life. There are different schools of philosophy each of which keeps its own metaphysics ( Meaning of life, aims and objectives of life, the ultimate reality in life etc.), epistemology ( Concept of knowledge and its acquisition),  and axiology ( the value system). At the same time, education can be defined as the process of modifying the behaviour of a person to enable him to lead a meaningful life in the society which he or she belongs to. Look at the two definitions, and you will find that ‘life’ is there in both. Philosophy defines what meaningful life is, education is the way or means to realise the meaningful life defined and presented by philosophy.

Education can rightly be called the dynamic side of philosophy, because philosophy offers the theories on which education helps us lead a better practical life. It is always said that education becomes a blind effort without philosophy. Philosophy determines almost all the aspects of an educational system such as aims, curriculum, methods of teaching, role of teacher, and the nature of discipline to be implemented in an educational system.

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The aims of education deffer in educational systems of different countries and different eras. Aims of education in different places or eras will be highly depended upon the aims of life put forth by the philosophers of the particular country or era. There were four Purusharthas ( Objectives of human life) during the Vedic age in India such as ‘Dharma’ ( Righteousness), ‘Artha’ ( Worldly Wealth) , ‘Kama’ ( Worldly Desire) and ‘Moksha’ ( Salvation). Hence the most important aims of education during Vedic period were related to these four objectives of life declared by Vedic Philosophy of human life. The main aim of education of the era was to make an individual capable of reaching ‘Moksha’ at the end of the life. The major objectives education was to enable the individuals to earn the necessary ‘Artha’ ( Material wealthe), and to fulfil ‘Kama’ ( the worldly desires) by following ‘Dharma’ ( Righteousness) throughout life. As Idealistic school of philosophy sees life as something more spiritual, it sees self realisation or  spiritual enlightenment as the most important aim of education, while Naturalistic school of philosophy views self actualisation or the individual’s natural development as the core aim of education because it keeps a materialistic perspective on human life. Similarly the difference can be seen in the aims of education during different eras. Almost all the ancient schools of philosophies were approaching life in a spiritual perspective, one of the most important aim of education was knowledge attainment. But most of the modern schools of philosophy approaches life with a rather materialistic attitude, and the main aim of education has become securing a vocation which will help us lead a standard life.

Philosophy has the greatest role in the preparation of curriculum any educational system. It is to be noted that curriculum should be on the basis of the aims of education accepted by the organisers of an educational system. If you keep a philosophy of life which gives more importance to spiritual aspects of life, you must have to include religious scripts and books in your curriculum. That is what was done during the ancient periods such as vedic age. If you look at the life with a materialistic philosophic dimension, you will include modern science and related subjects in your curriculum. That is what is done by naturalists and pragmatists at present.

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The influence of philosophy can be seen in the selection of methodology of teaching-learning process, as well. As the ancient philosophies like idealism was giving more importance to knowledge attainment and social welfare, they always made use of lecture method as one of the predominant teaching methods. They also gave importance to methods such as imitation of the behaviour of the elder ones, especially that of the teachers and question answer methods. As they gave more importance to the content to be swallowed by the students so that to make them scholars in different departments of knowledge, they accepted teacher centred methods in their educational institutions. But naturalists and pragmatists introduced more learner centred methods such as learning by doing, project method, experimental method and direct experiencing, as they approached education as a means for making the people able to cope up with the changing situations.

The teachers role and the nature of discipline or the code of conduct in the educational system also are determined by philosophy. As Idealists view that education is for creating ideal citizens who are ready to sacrifice personal interests for the welfare of the society, they advocated that no freedom should be offered to the students. Teachers should be given highly respected status for this purpose. They should be role models before the students, and directly control the students by implementing the socially accepted rules and regulations in the educational institutions. As naturalists sees life as something to be enjoyed and entertained, they give more importance to individual satisfaction rather than to social welfare. Hence their vision is that students should be given complete freedom so that to facilitate natural and harmonious development of each individual. So modern schools of philosophy such as Naturalism and Pragmatism give less importance to the teachers.

Education, in any sense, is the dynamic side of philosophy. If philosophy is the script, education can be considered as the play staged by following the script. If education is a train, philosophy is the ticket which shows the destination to be reached. If education is a game, philosophy is the strategy offered by a coach to play the game in a systematic and useful manner. . If we have another level of thinking, we would see that education plays an important role in the creation of great philosophers. Keen observation and rational thinking are some inevitable qualities to be considered as a great philosopher. These qualities are often provided proper education.Philosophy and education can be regarded as the sides of the same coin. There is no exclusive existence for any one of these two concepts without the company of the other.

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About Hathib KK

I am an Assistant Professor of Education in a reputed BEd. College under the title Keyi Sahib Training College in India.

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