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Idealism: Education and Character Development Essay

Paper type: Essay Pages: 4 (892 words)

Views: 396

Educational Aims

In an idealistic education system emphasis should be placed on developing the mind, personal discipline, and character development. A person should be literate and of good moral character.

Educational Methods

Idealist education involves depth of learning, a holistic approach that involves teaching the whole rather than its parts. The best method of learning for Plato was the dialectic, a process where ideas are put into battle against each other, with the most significant idea winning the battle. Knowledge was not important just for the material needs that it met.

Idealists would feel that much of the great literature of the past would be useful in the solving many of today’s problems. The idealist is not concerned with turning out students with technical skills so much as having students with a broad view and understanding of the world in which they live.

Idealism emphasizes the role of the teacher, a skillful questioner, who should be a model for the person we want children to become.

While the lecture method is still important in an idealist’s education system, it is considered more of a way to convey information and to help students comprehend ideas. Self realization and self education are very important in idealism. While teachers cannot always be present when learning occurs, they must attempt to stimulate students so that learning occurs even when they are not present. Project based learning is on example of a self directed learning activity where learning can occur without a teacher’s presence.


The important factor in education at any level for idealists is teaching children to think. Teachers should help students to explore texts for ideas about the purposes of life, family the nature of peer pressures, and the problems of growing up. Idealists believe that ideas can change lives and that classical literature can be used and explored to help solve problems in today’s world. Creativity will be encouraged when students immerse themselves in the creative thinking of others and when they are encouraged to reflect.

Role of the Teacher

Since idealists believe in character development, they also believe that the teacher should be a role model for students to emulate. Teaching is considered a moral calling. The teacher’s role is to be a skillful questioner who encourages students to think and ask more questions in an environment that is suitable for learning.

Critiques of Idealism

Idealism has been influential in education for a considerable amount of time. It is considered a conservative philosophy because of its emphasis in preserving cultural traditions. The strengths of idealism include encouraging thinking and cognition, promoting cultural learning, and providing for character development of students. Teachers are considered valuable parts of the educational process who should strive to provide a comprehensive, systematic, and holistic approach to learning that stresses self realization.

Science today has challenged idealism and brought about challenges to idealistic principles. Science is based on hypothesis and tentativeness, but idealism promotes a finished and absolute universe waiting to be discovered. Idealism has often been linked with traditional religion. The weakening of religion has led to the weakening of idealism as a philosophy. Through Plato’s ruler kings, and Augustine’s emphasis on the monastic life, it has been said that idealism leads to intellectual elitism.

In the past, education was considered important for the upper classes of society, marking education as a luxury. Vocational and technical studies were considered good enough for the general public. Idealistic education was considered bookish and lacking relevance. It is argued that the character development aspect of the philosophy involved conformity and subservience on the part of the learner. This type of character development was considered to stifle creativity and self direction, making students gullible and ready to accept ideas without serious examination.

Personal Observations

The emphasis on the importance of knowledge and ideas in the idealist philosophy originally led me to believe that much of my philosophy of education included idealistic tendencies. James Madison’s quote that knowledge is power, which sits front and center on my class webpage, seems to agree with this premise. Because I believe strongly in project based education as a way to have students discover and learn new information, I also began to view the idealism in my thinking.

However, as much as I value these things and continue to believe in the importance of continually gaining knowledge, the fact that I view science and technology as a valued part of all education, sets me apart from the philosophy. While the idealist considered science and technical studies good enough for the general public, I consider them an integral part of any education. However I do believe in the importance of teaching children to think, for not doing so results in children with book learning and no common sense.

Should teachers be role models? Yes, I think they should. If I were an adult with no children, I might think differently. However as a parent, I have always been greatly concerned with the people who were my children’s teachers. Teachers have the power to influence the thinking and ideas of children and society in general. Even given regimented curricula to teach, teachers ultimately make decisions everyday about what information to emphasize or deemphasize. I think society also believes that teachers should be role models. Consider the uproar over teachers who have inappropriate relations with the students they teach.

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Idealism: Education and Character Development. (2017, Jan 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/idealism-education-and-character-development-essay

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