16 May 2015

Relationship Between Philosophy Of Teaching And Teaching Styles


In our last article we learnt about Functions of Philosophy of Education, Now we'll learn about Relationship Between Philosophy Of Teaching And Teaching Styles.
Philosophy guides the process of education in different ways. A teacher approaching education philosophically needs to answer four basic questions that guide the teaching learning process. They are:
  • What is the nature of the learner? What is the nature of subject matter?
  • How should one use the subject matter to guide students towards meaningful learning activities?
  • What behavior trend should one exhibit in order to carry out one‘s philosophical position?
The answers to these questions only will help the teacher to identify a series of preferences, as opposed to a set of behavior that belong to mutually exclusive categories for the following questions. An attempt to answer these questions is nothing but philosophy of teaching.

Philosophy and various philosophical view points inform us that each of these questions have different philosophical perspectives that can be considered as extremes in a continuum.

Relationship Between Philosophy Of Teaching And Teaching Styles, B.ED, M.ED, NET Notes ( Study Material), PDF Notes Free Download.

Nature of the Learner

For the question about the nature of Learner, It will be defined in terms of extremes of the continuum by using the terms “Lockean” (passive) and “Platonic” (active)

“Lockean” is a position because it was John Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, who first wrote about mind, is a tabula rasa. He envisioned the operation of the mind as similar to a blank wax tablet on which data taken in through the senses would make “impressions”. Sensory data which a learner absorbed formed the true source of knowledge. Any complex mental operations involving association, interpretation, or evaluation of secondary data led to the formulation of increasingly complex knowledge.

“Platonic” Image is that of a teacher who has so much respect for what the learner can contribute to the learning environment that he or she definitely does not want them to “absorb” prescribed subject matter, as the teacher sees the subject matter. Under such circumstances learners are viewed as the most important ingredient of the classroom environment because they teach each other and their teacher about problems which are meaningful to them. It is almost that learners have the knowledge which is locked inside them which is released through interaction. Platonic concept believes in the doctrine of Reminiscence.

Nature of Subject Matter

The terms “Amorphous” or “Structured” are used to delineate extremes on the continuum of teacher‘s view on the nature of subject matter. The term ‘amorphous label has been reserved for rote learning, which emphasizes that each item to be learned is equal in importance to every other item to be learned ; hence youngsters are not encouraged to find relationships among items to be learned and no item is seen to be more important than the other.

The other extreme “structured” we may expect to find a position represented by those who have a quite realistic view of what the subject matter can never accomplish. The term “Structured” as used in this context, is from Bruner‘s understanding that any subject matter should be viewed as having a natural structure which can help to explain relationships among its components and which can be used to find new information.

How should Subject matter guide students learning activities?

The two end points of the continuum is “cognitive” and “affective”.

These concepts are not mutually exclusive categories, but rather matters of emphasis and preferences. In order to illuminate factors involved in any teacher‘s decision to emphasize cognitive or affective learning activities it is useful to consider the following addendum.

Cognitive Domain – fact, concept and generalization
Affective Domain- belief and value

Evidence abounds that students bring into the classroom attitudes which influence the way they perceive facts, concepts and generalizations. Sometimes teachers are fortunate to have students who bring with them positive attitudes towards the subject matter at hand. Most often we have students who bring with them not very positive attitudes. In such situations the teachers‘ role will be to help students think critically by transforming generalization, beliefs and values into hypotheses that can be tested. Then the teacher resorts to the affective domain.

Behavior trend in order to carry out one‘s Philosophical Position

The terms authoritarian and non-authoritarian are two extremes of the continuum, but should be understood as not merely being ‘strict‘ or ‘permissive‘. These words should go beyond the aspect of classroom management as it is more inclusive approach to classroom management. It is an over view of the student and the subject matter which this indicator has been designed to examine.

For instance, suppose some teachers encourage students to view subject matter only as experts in that field might view it; hence these teachers habitually accept for each major question under examination only one right answer which all students are excepted to adopt and understand. We can thus say that these teachers are said to encourage convergent thinking and hence in this context we can term them as ‘authoritarian‘ teachers.

The converse can be said of ‘non authoritarian teachers‘ 

Teacher need to be aware of the ‘Philosophical Positions‘ that they take and have taken while they enter into classrooms or plan to enter into classrooms Philosophical positions affect the way they interact with students and facilitate learning in learners individually or collectively.

Thus we see that the way we answer the questions of nature of learner, subject matter etc. definitely affects our teaching style. Whether a teacher is authoritative or non authoritarian, whether teaching methods are constructivist or lecture method are influenced based on the philosophical position that they hold. 
Background for approaching the educational problems effectively. Therefore, it is essential for the educators to have the deep insight into the philosophy of education.


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3] Gupta S. (2005). " Education in Emerging India. Teachers role in Society." New Delhi, Shipra Publication.

4] Seetharamu, A. S. (1989). Philosophy of Education. New Delhi, ' Ashish Publishing House.

5] Taneja, V. R. (2000). " Educational Thought and Practice." New DelhiSterling.