7 Significant Education Implications of Existentialism

Significant Education Implications of Existentialism are given below:

1. The most important aim in education is the becoming of a human person as one who lives and makes decisions about what he will do and be. “Knowing” is the sense of knowing oneself social relationship, and biological development, are all part of this becoming. Human existence and the value related to it is the primary factor in education.

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2. The school should provide an atmosphere where the individuals develop in a healthy way. Children learn better when relieved from intense competition, harsh discipline, and fear from failure. Thus, each child can grow to understand his own needs and values and take charge of the experiences for changing them.

In this way self-evaluation is the beginning and end of the learning process: as learning proceeds, children are freely growing, fearless, understanding individuals. In classrooms characterized by such an atmosphere young people becomes active, trustworthy, and responsible. Encouragement and acceptance by teachers, foster trustworthiness and sense of security.

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3. Any subject in school (even extra activities like athletics, music, etc.) can present existential situations for teaching, and the development of human beings. However, some subjects reflect the meditative awareness of the essential conditions than others. The two most prominent of these are literature and the arts. This type of thinking, however, needs maturity on the part of the students.

4. The teacher is in a position to foster individual growth. He can facilitate development of originality and creativity by providing a climate as well as basic skills and tools which make exploration possible. School grades or rewards and punishments do not foster growth.


The aims of school tasks should be to nurture self-discipline and cultivate self- evaluation. Mass teaching and mass testing are not advocated. Primary emphasis must always be on the person as learner and not on the learning programme. The schedule must be flexible and open, and the teacher must build positive relationship between himself and his students.

Humanness prescribes the relation­ship between teacher and student. It indicates the teacher’s role and his activities, the subject-matter to be studied, and the way this subject-matter is to be approached by the students and the reason for this approach. Humanness is opposed to programmes that depend on mechanical teaching. The human self, relative to a dynamic world, thus forms the key to educations.

5. The teacher is in the foreground and is the centre of attention. Whereas in pragmatism, the teacher remains in the background, mostly as an observer or guide, here he initiates the act of education though his person and influences the lives of his students through his own life. His relationship with his students is not permissive, but disciplined and often opposing. Student resistance is often manifested during the process of instruction, but as resistance is natural and necessary in order that the student may retain his own being. The teacher welcomes challenges to his ideas from the students.

6. Democratic ideals should provide the school. Democracy must be the soil in which the individual grows. It should be the democracy of unique individuals who values differences and respect one another. Children and young people come to value difference and change, and also to share in the mutual respect for the value of work and the creativity of man. Self government, pupil participation in planning, and the encouragement of a free atmosphere characterize the school.


Moral judgments are made, not according to traditional standards, but according to fitness of individuals. Teachers should avoid applying labels to children (such as “lazy”, “slow learner” etc.) for individuals may indeed come to think of themselves this way. Children need positive evaluation, not labels. Good concepts issue in worthwhile behaviour.

7. Mechanization and impersonality should be counteracted in school. The tendency in contemporary society, particularly in the west, is towards the anonymity of collectivism. Information about individuals is recorded by data processing, on computerized cards.

Students may be represented by cards, numbers, and symbols. Students’ time tables and work programmes are computerized. Thus, the relationship between the individual students and the school programme becomes an impersonal one. Besides this the use of programmed instruction, teaching machines and other equipment tend to decrease the personal contact between teachers and pupils.

In the existentialist philosophy, this impersonality is a hazard to the individual development and growth of the child’s personality. Concern and respect for the individual student should be a feature of the school. Education in the contemporary, industrial and technological society may well be cleansed and strengthened by emphasis on man for himself.


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