Behaviorism, Existentialism and Education

In chapter 6, Ozmon and Craver (2013) discuss the evolution of the behaviorist philosophical school of thought and its influence on education. According to the author, behaviorists’ central tenets are that people need to concern themselves with animal and people’s behaviors, which are observable as opposed to unobservable events, which occur within their minds (Ozmon & Craver, 2013, p.197). In the context of learning, behaviorism pays attention to a specific goal of learning. This encompasses “a change in the external behavior that is achieved through the discouragement of bad habits” (Taneja, 1987, p.258).

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The impact of the behaviorist school of thought on education is that the principal focus is directed to praising the correct outcomes together with the immediate effort to correct mistakes. Behaviorism implies that students need to be encouraged to proactively participate in the learning process through participation in a positive reinforcement of engagement skills, questioning, and making an individual contribution to some given aspects that are desired to be learned. This means that an educationist has noble roles of ensuring that reinforcement is deployed as a tool for reducing incidences of negative contributions and inadequate engagement in the learning processes. This influences the professionalism of an educationist in the sense that he or she must understand that, in a classroom setting, he or she is the principal agent of control and evaluation of whether the desired outcomes are achieved. Educationists are also the determinants of whether what students do is right or wrong.

Opposed to the behaviorists’ approaches to education, existentialism insists that education enables people to achieve the best possible throughout their lives. According to Taneja (2013), “in doing so, education must help the individual to realize the ‘facticity’ (contingency) of his existence to face the categories of this facticity- dread, anguish, anxiety, and fear” (p.256). From this school of thought, the problem-method approach of teaching is only acceptable in case a problem emanates from an individual self. In case a problem to be solved emanates from the need to satisfy certain needs of the society, it is unacceptable. Hence, the mass teaching of pupils in schools is not a valid approach to learning. From existentialism, the main goal of education is to ensure that children are nurtured at an individual level to cultivate the culture of self-evaluation to develop knowledge. Ozmon and Craver (2013) support this position and roles of educations by claiming that existentialism argues, “First come an individual and then the ideas that the individual creates” (p.234). The implication of existentialism to educators is that teachers should enable students to develop free autonomy of mind to become self-moving.

Reference List

Ozmon, H., & Craver, S. (2013). Philosophical Foundations of Education. Virginia Commonwealth University: Pearson.

Taneja, V. (1987). Socio-Philosophical Approach to Education. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributor.

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