March 4, 2010
Philosophy, Ideology, and Theory
Educators have one of the most important jobs in the world; they shape the minds of the future. They are responsible for making sure students are developing into well-rounded individuals, providing them with the tools to succeed. Everyone has different reasons for choosing a career in education, but once the decision is made, each person develops ideas and beliefs to guide them along through the years. Individuals are able to create their own teaching philosophy, ideologies, and theories based on their educational views and experiences.
G.L Gutek (2009) defines philosophy as “the most general way of reflecting on the meaning of our lives in the world and reflecting deeply on what is true or false, good or evil, right or wrong, and beautiful or ugly” (p. 1). An educator’s philosophy is formed through their personal beliefs about teaching. Throughout their experiences teachers have learned different theories and experienced different situations, all which helped them come to the conclusion of how they will operate their classroom. These factors are influenced by the categories of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic. These subdivisions help educators create the blueprint for the way their classroom is organized, and what strategies they use to present information to students.
Metaphysics is defined as “the study of the nature of ultimate reality, involves speculation about the nature of existence” ( Gutek, G.L., 2009, p. 3). The best way to understand metaphysics is to ask two questions. What is there? What is it like? Metaphysics can help mold a philosophy. For example, the type of curriculum that is used can majorly influence the metaphysics in a classroom. Another category of philosophy is epistemology. Epistemology is “the theory of knowing and knowledge” (Gutek, G.L., 2009, p. 4). It also asks two questions. How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know? Epistemology mostly has to do with what a person believes and why they believe it. Once these questions are answered, a teacher can determine their point of views and theories about the various teaching and learning methods. Axiology is a category of philosophy that does not incorporate questions in the definition. It is broken up into two subdivisions, ethics and aesthetics. Ethics deal with moral values and conduct, while aesthetics has to do with values in the areas of beauty and art. As an educator it is important to instill morals and values in our students. These qualities help a student become a functional part of society. “Logic is the subdivision of philosophy that deals with correct thinking (Gutek, G.L., 2009, p. 5). Logic is involved in our daily decision making. Without logic, it would be impossible to organize curriculum, prepare lessons, and help students with day-to-day issues. By utilizing the four categories of philosophy, an educator can make their learning environment a very positive place for children. In order to develop their philosophy, a teacher must be influenced by various ideologies. Gutek (2009) states that ideologies are “potent forces for shaping and expressing social, political, economic, and educational ideas” (p. 161). A teacher’s ideology can shape their educational philosophy. Ideology is sometimes linked to the terms Conservatism or Liberalism. Both ideologies are an example of a belief system, mostly by a group of people, which helps them identify themselves. Personal beliefs influence the choices that an educator makes in their classroom. According to Gutek (2009), ideology directly impacts education in the following ways: 1. It works to shape educational policies, expectations, outcomes, and goals. 2. Through the school milieu or environment, it conveys and reinforces attitudes and values. 3. It emphasizes selected...