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Arkansas State University

Philosophies of Education

Whether they are driven to improve their learning environments or to develop programs and curricula, most educators in leadership or development roles gained necessary expertise by earning advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Educational Theory and Practice. Advanced degrees introduce educators to theories and best practices that can elevate their teaching and improve student learning.
The fundamentals of successful teaching

Fundamental to any advanced knowledge is a core understanding of the principles of education. These fundamentals are the basis behind the range of skills teachers use to reach as many students as possible, despite the different learning needs that may exist in one classroom. Learning skills such as differentiation allows teachers to adapt their teaching methods as necessary to make sure that no one student falls behind the others in the classroom.

Tracking philosophies of education

Teachers who earn a Master of Science in Educational Theory and Practice acquire advanced understanding of the philosophies of education that generate today’s teaching approaches. Understanding how education arrived at its current state enables teachers to keep a critical eye on the field’s new direction, ensuring that it develops in a manner best suited to student learning.

Teachers first

Philosophies of education generally fit into two categories: teacher-centered learning and student-centered learning. Teacher-centered philosophies emphasize that the best way to ensure student learning is to ensure teaching uniformity. Perennialism is one example of a teacher-centered philosophy of education. It emphasizes understanding of great works of art, literature, history and other fields as timeless pieces of human development that everyone should understand in order to create stable, shared cultures. Essentialism is another teacher-centered philosophy of education. It is similar to perennialism; however, it emphasizes personal development rather than necessary knowledge.

The students are the point

Student-centered philosophies of education take a different stance. These philosophies believe that because global culture is constantly developing, no one-size-fits-all approach can effectively teach all varieties of students. Student-centered philosophies developed as a reaction to teacher-centered education when educators began to consider learning as a cooperative process instead of an authoritarian one. Social reconstructionism, which emphasizes that learning should accompany social responsibility, is an example of student-centered teaching. Another model is existentialism, which argues that students must be able to direct their learning if they are to develop as people of free will. Finally, progressivism is a student-centered philosophy of education that recognizes that relevance is important to learning. Classrooms and lessons should relate to students’ lives if educators hope to leave lasting effects.

Understanding the philosophies of education is essential for educators who want to monitor the further growth of the teaching field. These and other principles are important aspects of earning a Master of Science in Educational Theory and Practice. Teachers who wish to lead both in the classroom and in their districts will need a strong foundation in the principles behind contemporary education. Advanced degrees provide excellent opportunities to build these foundations.

Learn more about the Arkansas State online MS in Educational Theory and Practice program.


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