Temple University, Spring 2003
ED X060: Education & Schooling in America




Philosophy and Education Continuum Chart

(source: LeoNora M. Cohen & Judy Gelbrich, School of Education, Oregon State University http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416)




T   H   R   E   E         C   O   N   T   I   N   U   A







Traditional & Conservative



Contemporary & Liberal


Authoritarian (convergent)



Non-Authoritarian (divergent)

General or World Philosophies

Ideas are the only true reality, the only thing worth knowing.
Focus: Mind

Reality exists independent of human mind. World of physical objects ultimate reality.
Focus: Body

Universe is dynamic, evolving. Purpose of thought is action. Truth is relative.
Focus: Experience

Reality is subjective, within the individual. Individual rather than external standards.
Focus: Freedom


Plato, Socrates


Pierce, Dewey

Sartre, Kierkegaard

Curricular Emphasis

Subject matter of mind: literature, history, philosophy, religion

Subject matter of physical world: science, math

Subject matter of social experience. Creation of new social order

Subject matter of personal choice

Teaching Method

Teach for handling ideas: lecture, discussion

Teach for mastery of facts and basic skills: demonstration, recitation

Problem solving:

Project method

Individual as entity within social context

Character Development

Imitating examples, heroes

Training in rules of conduct

Making group decisions in light of consequences

Individual responsibility for decisions and preferences

Related Educational Philosophies

Focus: Teach ideas that are everlasting. Seek enduring truths which are constant, not changing, through great literature, art, philosophy, religion.


(view PPT lecture)
Focus: Teach the common core, "the basics" of information and skills (cultural heritage) needed for citizenship. (Curriculum can change slowly)

Focus: Ideas should be tested by active experimentation. Learning rooted in questions of learners in interaction with others. Experience and student centered.

Critical Theory:

Focus: Critical pedagogy: Analysis of world events, controversial issues and diversity to provide vision for better world and social change.

Key Proponents

Robert Hutchins,
Jacque Maritain,
Mortimer Adler,
Allan Bloom

William Bagley;
Arthur Bestor,
E. D. Hirsch,
Chester Finn,
Diane Ravitch,
Theodore Sizer

John Dewey,
William Kilpatrick

George Counts,
J. Habermas,
Ivan Illich,
Henry Giroux,
Paulo Freire

Related Theories of Learning (Psychological Orientations)

Information Processing:
The mind makes meaning through symbol-processing structures of a fixed body of knowledge. Describes how information is received, processed, stored, and retrieved from the mind.

Behavior shaped by design and determined by forces in environment. Learning occurs as result of reinforcing responses to stimuli.

Social Learning:
Learning by observing and imitating others.


Learner actively constructs own understandings of reality through interaction with environment and reflection on actions. Student-centered learning around conflicts to present knowing structures.

Personal freedom, choice, responsibility. Achievement motivation towards highest levels. Control of own destiny. Child centered. Interaction with others.

Key proponents

R. M. Gagne,
E. Gagne,
Robert Sternberg,
J.R. Anderson

Ivan Pavlov,
John Watson,
B.F. Skinner,
E.L. Thorndike,
Albert Bandura

Jean Piaget,
U. Bronfenbrenner,
Jerome Bruner,
Lev Vygotsky

J.J. Rousseau,
A. Maslow,
C. Rogers,
A. Combs,
R. May