Realism and idealism are two different schools of thought in terms of their impacts on the purpose of school and education systems. The two schools also advocate for the necessity of embracing different issues in learning processes. Idealism is rooted in the work of Plato, although Socrates (his student) later developed it (Ozmon & Craver, 2013). Realism is rooted in the works of Aristotle. However, this school of thought has been developed to take different, though similar theoretical paradigms (Ozmon & Craver, 2013, p.40). Idealism is anchored on four main principles. The first principle is that the’ ideal is real’. This means, “What is real is the idea of the object, which is at the conscious levels of our mind and not the object that we see, which is a mere shadow of that idea” (Shahid, 2001, p.56). The second principle is that man is the supreme creation, which is capable to take control of the world through his spirit and mind. In the third principle, God acts as the chief source of knowledge, which man uses to make sense out of the physical things in the environment. Thus, God is the ultimate source of reality.
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From an idealism school of thought, values are very absolute. These values are attractiveness, reality, and goodness. Genuineness is an intellectual value (Ozmon & Craver, 2013) with attractiveness being an aesthetic value while goodness is a moral value. To idealists, schools must serve the functions of attaining these values during learning processes. Plato believed that these three principles are indistinguishable. The above idealistic arguments influence education in different ways. Hence, they can affect me as a professional educator. Idealism has forced learning processes in schools to emphasize the significance of preparing students not only intelligence wise but also to adopt certain prescribed moral values.
Hence, wisdom must be refined. Education must then ensure that the mind, as the intellectual property of students, is sharpened. Teaching students about the wisdom that is possessed by past heroes accomplish this goal. Philosophers who are inclined to the realist school of thought believe in the world in the manner it exists meaning, “reality is what people physically observe” (Shahid, 2001, p.61). Truthiness is in what people sense and/or observes while goodness is founded on platforms of an order together with the law of nature. Concerning learning, realism overrules the argument that facts can be taught to students. Realists believe that facts take the form of images within the human mind (Shahid, 2001). This implies that educators have the principal role of preparing students so that they can be able to develop such images by themselves. This argument implies that learning is meant to surface the order that guides the universe as students are essentially taught to be factual.
Idealism paints the function of education as symbolic while realism paints it as materialistic. An educator from the idealistic approach is autocratic meaning that he or she possesses more knowledge together with pedagogical capacity compared to the students or the pupil (Ozmon & Craver, 2013). The teacher thus selects contents, which he or she believes would suit the learning requirements of students. The implication to my professionalism is that a realist teacher advocates for formal teaching methods such as lecturing compared to the emphasis on experimentation together with observation approaches. The learner is principally passive from the realist philosophical school of thought while he or she is active from the idealist school of thought.
Ozmon, H., & Craver, S. (2013). Philosophical Foundations of Education. Virginia Commonwealth University: Pearson.
Shahid, M. (2001). Prospective of Education. Lahore: Majeed Book Depot.