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Existentialism. And it’s role in the history of education. “I think, therefore I am”. What is Existentialism? . Existentialism – a philosophical orientation that emphasized the individual’s experiences and maintains that each individual must determine his or her own meaning of existence.

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And it’s role in the historyof education

what is existentialism
What is Existentialism?

Existentialism – a philosophical orientation that emphasized the individual’s experiences and maintains that each individual must determine his or her own meaning of existence

  • Man is conscious subject rather than a thing to be predicted or manipulated.
  • a generalized uneasiness. The dread of the nothingness of human existence
  • Each of us is simply here, having been thrown into this time and place
  • apart from the existentialists own conscious being, everything else is "otherness", from which he or she estranged

An individual can find one's own way without the aid of universal, objective standards

  • existentialists have argued that no objective, rational basis can be found for moral decisions
  • the highest good for the individual is to find his or her own unique vocation
major contributors s ren kierkegaard 1813 1855
Major ContributorsSøren Kierkegaard 1813-1855
  • “subjectivity is truth”
  • truth could be best revealed through dramatic confrontation of opposing habits of life
  • Opposed systematic philosophy
maxine greene 1918
Maxine Greene1918
  • “we have to know about or lives, clarify our situations if we are to understand the world from our shared standpoints”
  • Looks for meaning in the educative process
  • Curriculum and Consciousness (1997)

Calls for an inherent focus of the learner

  • Making sense of the world
  • “When we say that we are educating someone, we are introducing that person, young or old, to ways of being and acting in the world that are new to his or her experience”
jean paul sartre 1950 1980
Jean-Paul Sartre1950-1980
  • The theory of value

What knowledge and skills are worthwhile learning? What are the goals of education?

  • The theory of human nature

What is a human being? How does it differ from other species? What are the limits of human potential?

  • The theory of knowledge

What is knowledge? How is it different from belief? What is a mistake? What is a lie?


The theory of learning

What is learning? How are skills and knowledge acquired?

  • The theory of transmission

Who is to teach? By what methods? What will the curriculum be?

  • The theory of society

What is society? What institutions are involved in the educational process?


Theory of Opportunity

Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled?

  • Theory of Consensus

Why do people disagree? How is consensus achieved? Whose opinion takes precedence?

context in education
ContextIn Education
  • cultivate an authentic person who is aware of freedom and that every choice is an art of personal value creation
  • tudents freely choose all parts of the curriculum
  • Existentialist teachers should not influence students; they are only a resource that the students may choose to use for assistance

Since death is the only sure thing, students must take responsibility

  • teacher must not exert his/her wishes on the members of the class
  • existentialists argue that persons are not only mind, but also feeling
  • Growth requires conflict and frustration
  • Teacher is a resource
  • Inter-student relationships should be accepting

Content is important in order for students to develop their potentials to the fullest

  • Usually relates to the humanities

- History, sociology, anthropology, music, and art

context in history
ContextIn History
  • May 15, 1813 Søren Kierkegaard was born on the 15th of May 1813
  • On 29 October 1945, Sarte delivered a public lecture entitled 'Is Existentialism a Humanism?' that was soon to become the manifesto of the existentialist movement.
existentialist schools
Existentialist Schools
  • Summerhill School located in Suffolk, England
  • Albany Free School