Idealism: Education and Character Development

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Educational Aims

In an idealistic education system emphasis should be placed on developing the mind, personal discipline, and character development. A person should be literate and of good moral character.

Educational Methods

Idealist education involves depth of learning, a holistic approach that involves teaching the whole rather than its parts. The best method of learning for Plato was the dialectic, a process where ideas are put into battle against each other, with the most significant idea winning the battle. Knowledge was not important just for the material needs that it met. Idealists would feel that much of the great literature of the past would be useful in the solving many of today’s problems. The idealist is not concerned with turning out students with technical skills so much as having students with a broad view and understanding of the world in which they live. Idealism emphasizes the role of the teacher, a skillful questioner, who should be a model for the person we want children to become. While the lecture method is still important in an idealist’s education system, it is considered more of a way to convey information and to help students comprehend ideas. Self realization and self education are very important in idealism. While teachers cannot always be present when learning occurs, they must attempt to stimulate students so that learning occurs even when they are not present. Project based learning is on example of a self directed learning activity where learning can occur without a teacher’s presence.


The important factor in education at any level for idealists is teaching children to think. Teachers should help students to explore texts for ideas about the purposes of life, family the nature of peer pressures, and the problems of growing up. Idealists believe that ideas can change lives and that classical literature can be used and explored to help solve problems in today’s world....