Essay on the Influence of Philosophy on Different Aspects of Education

1. Philosophy and Aims of Education:

Every educational system must have some goal, aims or objectives. These act as guide for the educator in educating the child. In fact, we cannot think of any-process of education without specific aims and objectives. Bode says, “Unless we have some guiding philosophy in the determination of objectives, we get nowhere at all.” These aims of education, in different countries, are determined by the philosophy of the time.

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It is, therefore, that aims and ideals of education vary with the different philosophers. It is the philosophy of the time which determines whether the aim of education should be moral, vocational intellectual, liberal or spiritual.

In the words or Rusk,

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“Every system of education must have an aim and the aim of education is relative to the aim of life. Philosophy form should be the end of life while education offers suggestions. Now this end is to be achieved.”

The philosopher struggles hard with the mysteries of life and arrives at their solution after mature reflection and thinking. He then suggests ways and means of dealing with them. Thus he lays down ultimate values and explains their significance to the community. In this way, he tries to convert people to his own beliefs and philosophy.

These ultimate values, as formulated by the philosopher, become the aims of education for that community. The training of the younger generation, according to those aims and values, then lies on the shoulders of the educator in the field. He selects the material for instruction and determines the methods of procedure for the attainment of those aims. In this way, the entire educational programme proceeds with its foundations on sound philosophy.

2. Philosophy and Curriculum:


Curriculum is the means through which we realize the aims of education. Naturally, therefore, our educational aims determine the curriculum of studies. But aims of education in their own turn are determined by philosophy, as we have noted above. So we can say that philosophy also determines the aims of education and course of study.

Thus, they are closely inter-related. It is philosophy which will decide why a particular subject should be included in the curriculum and what particular discipline that subject will promote.

Thus, as Brigs has put it,

“It here (in curriculum) that education seriously needs, leaders who hold a sound comprehensive philosophy, of which they can convince others and who can direct its consistent application to the formation to the function of appropriate curricula.”

It should be clearly noted that curriculum is not fixed for all times. It changes in accordance with aims of education, determined by philosophy. It is, therefore, that curriculum differs with different schools of philosophy, according to their own beliefs. The naturalists advocate the selection of subjects according to the present needs, interests and activities of the child. They insist that adult interference should be reduced to the minimum and that the child should grow up in a free atmosphere.


They are, therefore, of the opinion that curriculum should include subjects which are useful for the present life situations, experiences and interests of the child. Those subjects must, in no case, be included in which the child is not interested at all. The idealists, on the other hand, approach the problem of curriculum form the point of higher values in the life rather than from that of the child or his present needs.

Their emphasis is on the experience of human race as a whole. They, therefore, advocate that curriculum should be graded in such a way as may enable that child to march gradually towards self-realization. The pragmatists emphasise the principle of utility in the choice of subjects. They are of the opinion that only such functional subjects should be included in the curriculum as are useful to the child in the present day world.

The curriculum should give knowledge and skills which the child requires for his present as well as future life as an adult. Only the bookish knowledge which stuffs the mind with the abstract ideas is condemned as it does not equip children to face the real problems of life. Instead, curriculum should consist of subjects which may improve the health, vocational efficiency and social fitness of the child. Realists also put greater premium upon the vocational education.

Thus, we conclude that philosophy not only influences the curriculum, it also determines the subjects of study that meets its requirements.

3. Philosophy and Text-Books:

Text-books are important instruments, through which the aims of education are realized. In the selection of text-books, therefore, there is as much need of ideals and principles as in the choice of subjects. Those who select text-books must have standard of judgement which should enable them to select the right type of books. This standard is supplied by philosophy.

Again, a good text-book must reflect the prevailing value of life, fixed by philosophy. If it does not, it is out-of-date and inappropriate. An appropriate text-book, therefore, must be according to the accepted ideals of the society as a whole. Then and only then it will be able to serve its desired purpose.

In the case of text-books also, there is difference of opinion among the different schools of philosophy. While the naturalists are in favour of illustration pictures and diagrams for capturing the interest of children, the pragmatists are satisfied only with the objective statement of generalization in a logical order.

The idealists, on the other hand, say that text-books should reflect the individuality of the author. They are in favour of the subjective presentation of the subject-matter so that there may be interaction of the personalities of the author and the reader.

4. Philosophy and Methods:

Method is the procedure through which the aims of education are realized. As we have already noted, aims of education are subject to the philosophy of life. It is, therefore, true that there is close relationship between philosophy and methodology of teaching.

Every philosophy formulates his own methods (if teaching according to his own philosophy. It is, therefore, that different schools of philosophy have laid down their own methods of teaching. The naturalists emphasise the child-centred method of teaching. They recommend proper motivation and effective use of illustrative aids of capture and the child’s interest in the lesson. The idealists believe in an impact of the teacher’s personality on that of the pupil.

They recommend discussion method, note-learning and a cordial atmosphere. The pupil is expected to obey his teacher and have full faith in him. The pragmatists advocate that leaching is possible only in a social medium. So they recommend project and problem methods of teaching in which pupils are engaged in a useful activity of their own choice and interest. Thus, we can say that all the methods of education that have come in vogue, have been the result of one philosophy or the other.

5. Philosophy and Discipline:

Like curriculum, text-books and methods, discipline, too, reflects the philosophy of life, accepted at a particular time. It is mainly governed by the aim of education. In ancient India when salvation was the chief aim of education, stress was laid on a strict type of discipline. The student was required to lead a life of austerity and self-denial.

In Medieval ages when despotic system of government was established, a very harsh and strict discipline was advocated and practised. “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, was the maxim for the guidance of teachers. In the present age of democracy, however, the concept of discipline is totally different. Whereas in the Past, perfect order and silence prevailed in the educational institutions, now we insist on self-government of students and free discipline.

Different schools of philosophy also differ in their concept of discipline. While the idealists are in favour of punishment for maintaining order in the class, the naturalists advocate perfect freedom to the child. They believe in discipline by natural consequences. The pragmatists, on the other hand, emphasise social discipline, which is maintained by the proper direction of the pupil’s natural impulses through cooperative activities…

6. Philosophy and Teacher:

Teacher is the back-bone of the entire process of education. It is, therefore, essential that the teacher’s philosophy of life should be in perfect consonance with the philosophy on which the educational system is based. To be a successful teacher, he must know his subject, his pupil, the society and the philosophy of education. A teacher in Basic school, who has no faith in and no regard for the Gandhian way of life, will never prove to be successful teacher.

The naturalists insist that the teacher should never interfere with the free activities of children. He is simply to set the educational environment and that is all he is expected to do. Then his role is a negative one. The idealists advocate that the teacher’s role should be that of the head of a family. Pupils should be inspired by his personality and develop full faith in him. According to the pragmatists, the teacher is not to impose anything on the pupil. He is simply to provide opportunity to aid pupils of activity and learning.

7. Philosophy and Evaluation:

Evaluation is the pivot of education system. Goals or aims are only cherished desires which decorate the reports of education commissions. Curriculum also remains confined to booklets or syllabus. It is evaluation alone which gives an exact idea of what has actually been achieved at the end of a particular period or stage, a result of the teaching- learning experiences, provided in the classroom.

Evaluation is also the process of determining the extent to which the aims and objectives are being attained. Again, the maintenance of good educational programmes and the improvement of techniques and procedures of education also require good evaluation. It is, therefore, there is a close relationship between objectives, learning experiences and evaluation. Objectives are central to both learning experiences and evaluation.

It is, therefore, legitimate to ascertain how far our evaluation, programme is in conformity with the philosophy that has determined the aims and objectives of education. It was this judgement that led the educationists in many progressive countries to search for the philosophical analysis which proved very helpful in thrashing out the issue and in overhauling the entire system of examination.

The term ‘examination’ which was mainly based on essay and which measured only the factual knowledge, retained by the pupils, was replaced by the new term ‘evaluation’ which takes into account the growth of the child as a whole individual and in his total environment. It is also this philosophical analysis which is responsible for the movement of objectivity in the field of relationship between philosophy and environment.

8. General Impact of Modern Philosophies on Education:

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have witnessed a radical change in the educational practices as a result of some common elements in all the modern philosophies.


Education has been psychologised. Instructions have become paedocentric or child- centered rather than book-centered. Individual differences have been recognised.


The principle of activity has gained ground. Learning by doing has been the common watch-word.


The social discipline has been recongnised, as a patent factor of educational development. The child is to be trained for community life.


Democracy has been recognised in most of the developed or developing countries as the guiding factor of educational practices.


There has been a metamorphosis in the social structure of each country. There is shift of emphasis from rural to urban, joint family to individualism, capitalism to socialism and spiritualism to materialism. New concepts of citizenship, social life and political life have emerged. Westernization has taken place rapidly, and there is a scientific outlook on all matters of life.

There are new business and professional practices. Hence there is need for a new type of education which can meet the existing demands of life. Man is a socialised being, and so the current social philosophies have their bearing on education. To cite one example, the restless adolescents of today cannot be treated in the same manner as they were treated during the last century. The concept of discipline in education has undergone a radical change.


We can now conclude by saying that philosophy, life and education are intimately linked with one another. For the successful harnessing of education, for the good of life, for the good of individual and for the good of society, it stands in need of direction. This direction is provided exclusively by philosophy, which is the mother of all sciences and to which education is very intimately related. In fact, philosophy and education are two sides of the same coin.

While philosophy is the contemplative side, education represents the dynamic side.

In the words of Rusk,

“From every angle comes a demand for a philosophical basis of education. There is no escape from a philosophy of life and philosophy of education.”

Education therefore is the dynamic side of philosophy. It is an active aspect of philosophical beliefs and a practical means of realizing the ideals of life. Without wisdom and philosophy, education is irrelevant.

In the words of Whitehead,

“Wisdom is the fruit of balanced development. It is this balanced growth of individual which should be the aim of education to secure when you understand all about the sun and all about the atmosphere and all about the rotation of the earth, you may still miss the radiance of the sunset.”


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