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All learning has an emotional base (Plato)” Personal philosophy of education defines a person’s perspective on education and every perspective as examined by Plato and Aristotle among other great renowned philosophers. As argued by Idealism, and Realism, education is a complex system of ideas that fluctuate from a personal perspective as well as personal experience. Much like the argument that every child is different under the umbrella of knowledge and education, philosophies of education have a set of different ideals that explore education and knowledge with an array of relevant arguments. All learning has a base that derives from a philosophical perspective. Whereas, pragmatism argues that knowledge derives from experience influenced by the physical world, Realists welcome change as a natural part of the educational process.


Educational Philosophy

The education field is oftentimes unpredictable and mostly nonlinear, I believe. Philosophy of education examines educational ideas from various perspectives. Each philosophical aspect generally differs from the next.

Ultimately knowledge is the definitive agreeable goal. With that, during the last several weeks of educational philosophy studied, I have developed my personal philosophical perspective, and ideals on education.


Thus, the various philosophical studies and research I find myself identified with several philosophies of education rather than one. I feel Realism, Progressivism, and to a certain extent Pragmatism clearly illustrate my ideas and perspectives on education.

I personally believe that the students’ perspective on learning may be influenced by experience and their surroundings. Therefore, much should be taken into consideration when developing the curriculum.

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Considering, “Progressivists believe that education should focus on the child rather than the subject matter. The students’ interests are important, … Learners should be active and learn to solve problems by experimenting and reflecting on their experience (Diehl, 2006, paragraph 3)“.

It is very likely that considering my background in the history field, I have been influenced by Progressivist ideals. However, now that I am a student of educational philosophy I have become aware, I believe I have been enlightened.

Similarly, I feel identified, as well, with Pragmatism and its belief that “There is no absolute and unchanging truth, but rather, truth is what works (LeoNora M. Cohen, 1999).” There is not a more effective way than employing what works, not what it is believed to work or expected. The NCLB act signed into law by the Bush administration exemplifies my perspective paralleled with Pragmatism and Realism.

For instance, the New York State Education Department has taken various measures to meet the mandated philosophy and requirements of The No Child Left behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 … The Act represents the President’s education reform plan and contains the most sweeping changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since it was enacted in 1965.

NCLB changes the federal government’s role in K-12 education by focusing on school success as measured by student achievement as well as the Pragmatic ideals of focusing on what has been proven to work, therefore, the act follows the guidelines below:

  • Stronger accountability for results,
  • Increased flexibility and local control,
  • Expanded options for parents, and
  • An emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work (Ed, 2001)

Additionally, the NYC DOE works together with parents, professions, and community leaders in order to both develop a sense of community and collaboration as well as to implement the NCLB act which requires parent and community participation. In relation to Pragmatist ideas, “John Dewey (1859-1952) applied pragmatist philosophy in his progressive approaches. He believed that learners must adapt to each other and to their environment. Schools should emphasize the subject matter of social experience (LeoNora M. Cohen, 1999)“.


Learning from experience

Therefore, the NYC Department of Education, its relevant to mention that the New York City DOE is the largest educational system in the United States, offers an array of programs for the school district and community to integrate the parents into the social experience of learning (NYCDOE, 2015).

Ultimately, it is very essential to, progressivist as myself, to put emphasis, in addition to literacy and math, on developing a curriculum that focuses on integrating social values that develops strong character and social participation and change. In addition to academics, educators and the school community should focus and take into consideration outside influences on the students’ behaviors.

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Hence, “behaviorists believe that behavior is the result of external forces that cause humans to behave in predictable ways, rather than from free will. Observable behavior rather than internal thought processes is the focus; learning is manifested by a change in behavior (Diehl, 2006, paragraph 3).” Therefore, students’ experiences, experimentalism, in their community impact the way they learn.

Although many children are able to succeed in poverty and high crime community, the surroundings impact the students’ ability to learn and their perception of what is right or wrong; henceforth, impairing, relatively, their free will. In contrast, it is clear that not all students in middle or higher-class communities always succeed, yet, considering “… reality exists independent of the human mind” (LeoNora M. Cohen, 1999), it can impact humans’ perception of the world, and priorities.

Idealism vs Realism

I personally, and honestly, believe that there is no such thing as knowledge based on a spiritual foundation. Nevertheless, I agree and believe that there is spiritual and physical knowledge, as argued by Idealists. However, body and mind are one, knowledge is not within the students but rather can be cultivated by educators, yet, and many factors influence the cultivation process.

Interestingly enough, and from a pragmatic perspective “Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that more than 40 percent of the variation in average reading scores and 46 percent … scores across states is associated with variation in child poverty rates (FISKE, 2011)”. Therefore, education should address many outside factors.

Idealism vs Realism
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Idealism vs Realism

According to my Realist perspective, I would say that the purpose of education and schools in the civilized world be to show the students the way, including what is right and wrong, and allow them to be enlightened. Yet, this process, I believe, differs by several factors including experiences, and the world matter and form (Gutek p.64).

Realism, as explained by Aristotle, argues that education should “…aid human beings in attaining happiness by cultivating their potentiality for excellence to its fullest (Gutek p.65)”.  With that said, I believe that the purpose of education is to offer people fulfillment henceforth happiness.

Therefore, as opposed to material things, wealth, position, and fame, knowledge itself opens a student’s eyes and offers fulfillment. With that, I recall during my youth I used to travel to the Dominican Republic with my parents. I remembered how some of my friends there had very little familiarity with world history.

My friends used to tell me that in the schools mostly national history addressed, WWI and WWII were unfamiliar topics for them. My parents used to have expressed their concern and say “your friends are blind”. As a result, now I make the connection between the way they saw, the way they experienced reality and acquire knowledge, as well as how knowledge empowers people and offers a sense of fulfillment.

For example, I personally, even though this could have been an isolated incident that did not define the entire Dominican population in general, felt a sense of fulfillment and superiority based on knowledge and not material things, fame, or wealth.

Aristotle, a former student of Plato the father of Idealism, argues that knowledge derives from what is real, from facts, and what students’ knowledge derives from such the real world and. Realism, argues that “Truth is objective-what can be observed (Oregon.edu)”. In agreement with Pragmatism, students from physical experiences.

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Aristotle argues, “In this metaphysical view, the aim is to understand objective reality through ‘the diligent and unsparing scrutiny of all observable data’ (LeoNora M. Cohen, 1999)“. Thus, the physical world and all the objects, according to Aristotle, influence the way students develop knowledge.

Realism & Pragmatism

Realism and Pragmatism set the stage for the educational aspect of philosophy and the role of the schools in society on the national and international stage.

The ideals that drive Realist, Progressivism, and Pragmatist, dictate that schools are more than just an institution to educate students. Schools are like a house of change, a house of discipline and strong traditional values that evolve with time.

At the same time maintaining strong and unchanged ideals that promote learning, enlightenment, as well as change. Students’ participation, the development of their communities, as well as the exploration of new ideas, and the role of the environment in the development of such process are part of the same views and ideas.

The role of education supersedes the local, nation stage, but rather has expanded dramatically due to globalization. Globalization “…is the connection of different parts of the world. Globalization results in the expansion of international cultural, economic, and political activities. As people, ideas, … the experiences of people around the world become more similar (Nation Geographic, 2015)”.

The purpose of education and the subsequent role of schools in society is up for argument. Globalization has made the role of education relatively complex, in relation to pragmatism and realism as well as progressivism. For instance, according to my progressivist ideals, education should be a democratic process.

The NCLB act as well as the standards movement directly interferes with the democratic process of education. Additionally, modern Critical Race Theory and other political and radical views turned schools into education hubs, to indoctrination centers.

The NCLB act argues that teachers’ success and failure lays in the outcome of the assessments of the students. I personally believe that considering pragmatism and progressivism, the school community as well as many other factors play role in the education process.

Teacher, and School Philosophy of Education

In the State of New York, the city of the Bronx suffers tremendously from homelessness impacting greatly the education experience of such families. Yet, these families are under the umbrella, with little consideration, of the NCLB. Additionally, even the educators of such students are greatly affected by such dire circumstances.

Homeless chart in New York
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Homeless chart in New York

My philosophical perspectives, which derive from Realism, Progressivism, and Pragmatism, support and empower education change, evolution, and progress. I believe that as society changes and evolves so should education. Although many rejected the benefit of integrating technology in the curriculum and received it with skepticism, it is clear that the end result proved otherwise.

The NYC Department of Education employs a dedicated staff of counselors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and Speech/Language Therapy to offer an array of services to accommodate special needs students, as well as to promote learning (NYCDOE, 2015).

With that, the NYC Department of Education has the office of the Center for Assistive Technology (CAT), which offers professionals an array of technologies to integrate into classroom teaching and learning activities (NYCDOE, 2015).

All this was possible due to the efficient assimilation of technology into the curriculum, change dramatically benefits the lives of many students, most specifically special needs students.

Philosophy of Education Over Time

Perhaps the most important, and somewhat personal, an example of my pragmatic, realist, and progressive perspective on education dealing with change would be the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 15th century AD, known to historians as the Byzantine Empire.

During the height of the Roman Empire, Rome ruled most of the known world and was able to assimilate most cultures from “Barbarians” in the West to Egyptians in the East. Additionally, the Romans were the pinnacle of military might, invention, innovation, and change.

Considering the Byzantine Empire lasted more than a millennium, the empire was unable to adapt to the modern world and its technological, educational, and ideological advances that the new age brought.

For example, the downfall of the Byzantine Empire proved to be its fear of change that moved away from the old ways of doing things (History, 2015). From my Pragmatist perspective, fear of change is a clear error in education as well as human development.

Thus, “Individuals need to be open to change rather than fear it; human experience is pluralistic in that lives are lived in cultural contexts…(Gutek p.77)”.  The Byzantines, much like Idealists, felt the old Roman values were the way to go and failed to adapt the ideas of the new early modern, the monarchy which controlled the social order failed to evolve into the early modern period.

During the development of Gunpowder and its use on the battlefield, every capable state was taking advantage of the new technology. The Byzantine Empire failed to take advantage of the new technology, it ignores the natural human rationality and survival instinct necessary to succeed.

From a philosophy of education perspective, “As a primarily academic institution, the school’s [or the empire in this case] mission is to cultivate rationality (Gutek p.66)”.

The schools and states’ role would be to promote rationality, change, independence, not to indoctrinate, or to implement the old ways in the form of educational standards or expectations.

I believe that the role of the school through the teacher would be to welcome and encourage change based on the circumstances, and experiences of the world.

Considering change and the role of school society, it is important to consider the curriculum development, what is being taught?

Progress can be derived from cultural, economic, and personal well-being. The curriculum should emphasize the importance of knowledge, the importance of research to foster such knowledge, the use of technology to ease the way search is conducted.

During the early years of education, “it is equally important that early and primary schooling foster predispositions, attitudes, and habits that value learning as a positive goal. Children should also gain experiences with research methods, such as using the library and the computer, which ad in the later learning (Gutek p.67).”

Therefore, the primary education curriculum should forum on literacy and the use of computers to promote learning. Thus, the students are able to play their part in the educational process.

I believe from my educational philosophy perspective that the role of educators should be to show the students the path while the students choose which direction to go.

Pragmatist, Idealism, Realism
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According to personal experiences and perspective, the students’ role varies as species adapt to their environment as illustrated by Charges Drawing’s origin of species (Gutek p.84). Hence, aside from which path individual students pay to decide to choose, students are expected to be willing to learn and work hard to succeed.

Considering, Realists considered knowledge as part of the beauty of the world, students are expected to put effort into learning and appreciate the self-satisfaction that knowledge brings.

Students are expected to be ready to learn willing to expend the effort required…. They are expected to focus their attention on what is being taught” above their personal preferences and considerations (Gutek p.68).  As a result, skilled educators will be able to transmit the knowledge to the students.


Ultimately, I believe that educational philosophies Realism, Pragmatism, and somewhat progressivism as seen since their development in the early 1900s, influenced greatly the way I see education and knowledge.

My personal views, in general, have been influenced by the readings and reviews of the philosophy of education, specifically Pragmatism and Realism.

My perspective on the role of education, curriculum development, and the role of the education system in society go parallel with Realism and Pragmatism.

I personally feel, personal experience greatly influenced the way people learn. Therefore, national standards, curriculum, teachers, and students should research and find their philosophy of education to teach and learn.


CITY DATA. (2015). Poverty Rates in the Bronx. Retrieved 05 24, 2015, from NYC DATA: http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Bronx-New-York.html
FISKE, H. F. (2011, 12 11). Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It? Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/opinion/the-unaddressed-link-between-poverty-and-education.html?_r=0
History. (2015). Byzantine Empire. Retrieved 05 22, 2015, from History: http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/byzantine-empire
LeoNora M. Cohen. (1999). LeoNora M. Cohen, Retrieved 05 23, 2015, from http://oregonstate.edu/: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP2.html
Nation Geographic. (2015). Globalization. Retrieved 05 23, 2015, from national geographic: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/globalization/?ar_a=1
NYCDOE. (2015). About Us. Retrieved 05 22, 2015, from NYC Department of Education: http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/default.htm
Christensen, J. A. (2008). Among the Periodicals: Globalization and Education. Childhood Education, 85:1, 64-66. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00094056.2008.10523064
Freire, P. (1996). PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED. Penguin Education.
Nicholls, D. (2010). Henry Giroux: neoliberalism’s nemesis. Retrieved from the encyclopedia of informal education: http://infed.org/mobi/henry-a-giroux/
Gutek, G. (2014). Philosophical, ideological and theoretical perspectives on education (2nd Ed.). Chicago: Pearson Education.

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