Philosophy of education can refer to either the academic field of applied philosophy or to any of educational philosophies that promote a specific type or vision of education, and/or which examine the definition, goals and meaning of education. Education and philosophy are closely inter-related. If philosophy is love of knowledge then education is acquisition of knowledge. For a long time education was regarded as a disciplinary process and learning by attempt was important for student. After that child-centered education laid an emphasis on presenting education according to the child’s interest. Today these two contradictory forms come to a compromise. Interest has been admitted as the fundamental truth for attraction of the child, and once interest is created; even attempt would not be uninteresting to him. But neither is complete in itself; hence, co-ordination between two is necessary. The study of educational philosophy helps an educationalist to critically evaluate his own practices and make necessary changes in his practice. Philosophy has the potential for provoking revolutionary changes, revises and rejects some of our beliefs, develops analytical and logical skills and reasoning. Educational philosophy clarifies concept and analyses propositions, beliefs and theories of education. A philosophy vision is essential to understand the new trends in the educational systems especially the contemporary educational movements.
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MEANING OF ECLECTICISM
Eclecticism has been derived from the verb root “elect”. To elect means to choose and pick up. The good ideas, concept and principles from various schools of thought have been chosen, picked up and blended together to make a complete philosophy. Thus eclecticism is a philosophy of choice. Eclecticism is nothing but fusion of knowledge from all sources. It is a peculiar type of educational philosophy which combines all good ideas and principles from various philosophies. Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases. It can sometimes seem inelegant or lacking in simplicity, and eclectics are sometimes criticized for lack of consistency in their thinking. It is, however, common in many fields of study.
We live in such an era when dogmatic adherence to a particular philosophy is foolish and is quite harmful. The world is changing very fast. Values are changing rapidly. We require a dynamic outlook and mental flexibility to have an all-round adjustment and optimal development. No philosophy contributes to all aspects of education. Idealism based on spirituality. Naturalism based on materialism. Pragmatism is between the two. While idealism is famous for its high and lofty aims of education, pragmatism is famous for its brilliant principles and curriculum, naturalism for its method of education. No philosophy is full-fledged to provide all things. But we want an integral education for complete living. If we synthesis all good ideas and principles with the best materials of all these philosophies we have to adopt an eclectic approach by harmonizing the conflicting ideologies and blend them together. We have to find unity in diversities through eclectic approach.
DEVELOPMENT OF ECLECTIC TENDENCY IN EDUCATION
Due to eclectic tendency, we find in modern education the influence of all the philosophies and tendencies of education. According to his doctrine of naturalism, Rousseau emphasized child-centered education. In modern education also child is developed according to his nature. Pestalozzi has stated that education is the development of the inherent capacities of a child and as such education should develop to the fullest extent the physical, mental and moral capacities of a child. After Pestalozzi, Herbart declared moral character as an aim of education and emphasizing curriculum construction advocated five formal steps of teaching. The third protagonist of psychological tendency, Froebel, insisted that educational process should follow the laws of Nature and considering the child’s nature as good emphasized that education should allow complete development of the child through self activity. He argued for a free and unfettered environment for the development of the child and inculcation of sociability.
After the advent of psychological tendency, the stage was occupied by scientific tendency. Herbert Spencer insisted that for complete living scientific subjects should occupy a prominent place in the curriculum. He tried to correlate education with actual life and uphold the importance of individualism. But we see that sociological tendency in education developed out of scientific tendency. According to sociological tendency, education is required to create such socially citizens who do not prove parasite on others but lead a life of self-reliance. For this purpose emphasis for vocational, technical and universal education began to given.
Eclectic tendency has also exercised its influence in the solution of those problems which seemed, at one time, very complex and insoluble. This tendency has brought about a synthesis between the individual and social aims. Both the aims are not contradictory but complimentary and mutually contributory. Another problem to be tackled in the field of education has been of ‘interests’ and ‘efforts’. In ancient times, there ruled the disciplinary concept of education which upheld the use of ‘efforts’ in utter disregard of the child’s interests. Hence, subjects were given importance with a view to their difficulty and efforts of children to learn them. Due to eclectic tendency both the factors, interests and efforts, are brought together to form a harmonious synthesis of the two to emphasize that a child needs the use of both, the interests as well as efforts, for his fullest development.
The third problem is of ‘freedom’ and ‘discipline’. The burning question had been how much freedom and how much discipline, should be provided and enforced. Eclectic tendency has solved this problem quite satisfactorily. Today freedom and discipline, stand integrated as one concept, as two sides of the same coin. Today the hard, rigid and repressionistic concept of discipline stands discredited and through impressionistic and sublimation processes, self-reliance, obedience, self-confidence, self-planning and managing are inculcated in children. This leads to self-discipline. Today freedom means all conductive opportunities for self-development and allowing the same opportunities to other as well. This is possible when each individual adheres to self-discipline and allows others the same rights for self-development through self-efforts, self-experiences and self investigation of new truths. Modern progressive education contains all the essential merits of all the philosophies and tendencies of education. The credit of this synthesis and unified integration goes to eclectic tendency.
ECLECTIC TENDENCY AND EDUCATION
Philosophy of life has a powerful impact on education. Because eclectic tendency is gaining wider appreciation and acceptance in the life of an individual today, therefore the influence of this tendency on this education is natural. It reflects a harmonious synthesis of all those dynamic ideals and principles. Under the influence of eclectic tendency, all the previous ideologies and tendencies are influencing the following aspects of education.
AIMS OF EDUCATION
The question has always been arising whether the aim of education is to educate the child for society or for individual progress. The aim of modern education has become individual progress and development and social service. We have seen in the philosophy of Nunn that there is no difference between individual and universal progress. Here comes the role of eclectic tendency. If we look into Prof. Horne’s definition this tendency becomes quite evident. According to him, education is a high adjustment of a physically and intellectually developed conscious individual to his intellectual, emotional and volitional environment. In this definition perfect fusion of psychological, scientific and sociological tendencies.
Teaching material is no more an important matter, the earning of which should be compulsory for the students, as it is a truth or combination of truths. Modern teaching material is a brief form of civilization and a record of the standards of progress and values of civilization. The civilization of one period cannot be suitable to another period; therefore, it would have to be changed on the basis of needs and changes. Teaching material is helping student to familiarize themselves with life as teaching is the preparation for life. Therefore, the process of knowing life would also remain changing.
METHOD OF TEACHING
Method of teaching is used in order to experiment this material of civilization on the child and to bring desirable changes. This method should be used naturally by the teacher. The knowledge of children, knowledge of modern interests and problems, suppressing the rigid method of teaching and taking the broader meaning of teaching method-all these are symbolical of the teacher’s ability. Therefore, a teacher should have a knowledge of every method. The burden of the modern teacher has increased because he has to apply new methods with a view to the children’s knowledge for the changing age, and the progress of the society. Regarding the method of teaching the kernel of all philosophy is ‘method’ according to ‘circumstances’, taking in view the interest of the child. Their emphasis is on motivating instruction, which is the result of the curriculum growing out of the present experiences of children. They have assigned a place for drill and concede the supreme importance of freedom both as an end and as a means to achieve the end. Among method they have a special advocacy for problem solving, which they believe, is on consonance with life’s demands. Importance of direct experience is recognized by lending their support to ‘play-way’ and ‘learning by doing’. The above mentioned eclectic tendency is visible not only in the field of education but in every field of education. This tendency is carrying us to a good age where we would be able to establish new ideals, values and standards over narrow and corrupt feelings.
With regard to discipline none of the schools of the philosophies supports ‘pressionism’. Freedom or free-discipline is their keyword. All the philosophers wish the mature children to play their part in making decisions about the affairs of the schools. They should not be pushed around against their consent. Discipline through knowledge and knowledge through experience is the under-current of all educational philosophies. The teacher’s role as a friend, guide, and philosopher, the director of the class, arranger of the experiences to the child, etc. is prominent in modern educational scene.
EMPHASIS ON THE TRAININTG OF TEACHERS
Under the influence of eclectic tendency more and more teacher-training institutions are being opened to provide training to teachers for various grades and levels of education.
SECULAR FORM OF EDUCATION
In ancient and medieval times, provision of education was made by religious institutions. But, under the influence of eclectic tendency, modern education has broken off from religious bonds and has become material and worldly.
PLACE OF SCHOOL
Under the influence of sociological tendency, the function of school is to prepare dynamic citizens to participate in the social activities successfully. As such, school is now regarded as a miniature society to develop dynamic, enterprising and resourceful citizens.
Above discussion makes it crystal clear that modern education has drawn from all the tendencies namely-psychological, scientific and sociological to a very great extent and this process of synthesizing and gainfully imbibing is known as eclectic tendency.
ADVANTAGES OF ECLECTIC APPROACH
It is the nature of man that he likes change. He wants new and novel ways in every field of work. The same is the case with learning process. Learners always like something new and exciting. This approach is broad and may include every kind of learning activity and saves learner from monotony. It is more appropriate for Pre School learning but not less beneficial in the class rooms. It is helpful in all kinds of skills in stimulating a creative environment and gives confidence to the learners. In this approach children discovers and instill good ways of learning. Above all this approach gives a chance to our common sense to mould and shape our method according to the circumstances and available materials of teaching aids.
DRAWBACKS OF ECLICTIC APPROACH
There may be gaps in learning, if you are frequently switching curriculum. This approach can lack disciplined learning and allow for laziness. Without grabbing to one approach, curriculum choices and overall directions can be confusing and overwhelming.
CONCLUSIONThe conception of education today is very broad and that our educational thinking in its totality has been affected not by one single philosophical thought or tendency but by the cumulative experience of past generations in the field of education. Our educational ideals and practices may consequently be traced to various sources all of which have been harmoniously blended to determine the present-day educational principles and practices
READ ALSO :PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND OF MODERN EDUCATION