Educational Philosophies, Existentialism reactions – Journal #7

This week our reading was about educational philosophies and theories. I cannot begin to explain how beneficial this reading was for me. One of the main reasons I decided to embark on this journey of pursuing this graduate program was that I was hungry for the knowledge and theories behind practice. This reading is what I’ve been looking for. It was very educational, explained educational philosophies and theories simply and with easy-to-grasp language. Needless to say, it taught me a lot. In class our professor gave us a brief lecture, which added to my knowledge of these philosophies and theories because he wasn’t simply restating what we had read during the week, he added new insights from Faucault and his own research and reflections, which made it all the more useful.

The funny part of the class came next. When we were discussing the existentialist philosophy our professor showed us this video


This is clearly, for lack of a better word, radical and very uncommon, especially in today’s education. All of us reacted differently to this video. Rana says that this is actually a very possible and even plausible philosophy to have but it would be very hard to implement because we have been accustomed to education as we know it today for so long that breaking the habit entirely like this would be really challenging.

Mona, on the other hand, was overtly agitated by this idea. She argued that it is chaotic if we let children just do whatever they feel like they want to at any point in time. Don’t get her wrong, she is a strong advocate of experiential learning and student-centered education; she even teaches her own kids in an advanced manner. But she brought up the question of safety; how could this be safe, let’s say a student wanted to bring drugs to school, would they be allowed to or not? And how would that affect the safety and wellbeing of other students? The professor then shed light on the fact that as much as there is freedom to whatever you want at that school, as much as the rules are set collectively as students in a group and no one is allowed to break those rules as long as they were constructed collectively. Summer Hill school was founded by A.S Niel in 1921 and still exists in Lesiton, England today, here’s their website

This video stirred a controversial conversation, and I haven’t made up my mind about what I think of it yet. But generally I think it’s not such a bad idea. This notion of free learning and being in control of your own learning is one that I came to appreciate after I finished my undergrad career and began pursuing my own professional development independently, and to be honest I have to say that this was probably the main factor behind my engagement and involvement in these courses. So I am not at all against the idea of giving students autonomy over their learning; I still don’t know if that makes me existentialist or just an advocate of student-centered learning, maybe a little bit of both. I don’t know. And I’m okay with not knowing for now. I know that I am on my way towards building a foundation for my own educational philosophy, but before you know who you are, you need to explore, and that is what I am doing.

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