Theoretical Perspectives in Education

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Theories provide the foundation for educational practices, and many of them exist. While I consider my personal theory or philosophy of education to be one that is something of an ever-changing conglomerate of ideas, I realize that some of my guiding principals are directly attributed to well a well established theory.

Three main theories of education exist: behavioral, constructivist, and cognitive. I find myself ideologically aligned most closely with the constructivist approach, yet for reasons to be explored later in this document, find the theory one that can only offer guidance for my actions as a teacher a portion of the time I am working with students. Constructivism means students don’t just absorb information and understand it, rather, they build or construct understanding based on their own personal experiences and interactions with material, people, and the world. Students must be allowed the freedom to explore their interests in a very interactive way and should not be guided by a curriculum (Constructivism).

The constructivist theory of learning is attributed to several great thinkers. Jean Piaget studied from the 1920s to his death in 1980, how individuals increase their knowledge and understanding of the world. He concluded that individuals examine and give order to the world based on what they encounter. Piaget focused his research on studying how individual people learn, and not groups of people learning in community, but he did acknowledge that social groups influence the creation understanding and meaning. John Dewey and Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky agreed with Piaget’s work to an extent, but expanded it to focus on how social groups influence the construction of knowledge (Warrick). They believed that s...

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