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Naturalism: Meaning, Aims of Education & Methods of Teaching

Naturalism: Meaning | Aims of Education | Methods of Teaching

Meaning of Naturalism

Naturalism emphasizes matter and physical world. It is the type of philosophy according to which nature is the ultimate reality. It believes that nature alone contains the normal and only final answer to all the philosophical problems. It also believes that everything is governed by nature. Thus, naturalism means belief in nature and return to nature. Some of the definitions of naturalism put forward by scholars are as follows-

Ward James’s view- Naturalism is the doctrine that separates nature from God, subordinates spirit to matter and sets up unchangeable laws as supreme.

Hocking’s view- Naturalism is metaphysics which considers nature as the whole of reality. It excludes what is supernatural or other world.

Joyce’s view- Naturalism is a system whose salient characteristic is the exclusion of whatever is spiritual or indeed whatever is transcendental of experience from our philosophy of nature and man.

Rusk’s view- Naturalism is a philosophical position adopted by those who approach philosophy of nature and man.

Adam’s view- Naturalism is a term loosely applied in educational theory of systems of training that are not dependent on schools and books but on the manipulation of the actual life of the educant.

Naturalism and Aims of Education

Some aims of education prescribed by naturalists are specified below-

  1. Development of Individuality-

    The aims of education is development of individuality. He prefers to use education as a means of making the individual capable of developing his own individuality and of contributing to society.

  2. To achieve social progress-

    Education should accelerate the pace of evolution and thus achieve social progress much earlier than otherwise.

  3. Education as present and future happiness-

    The biological school of naturalism aims at achieving the present and future happiness of the child. According to them, for natural man, natural impulses are in themselves good because they yield pleasure. Hence, education is guided by pleasure principle. This pleasure is not necessarily immediate pleasure but pleasure that is lasting and permanent.

  4. Self-expression-

    Different schools of philosophy have given different aims of education. Idealists give importance to the self-realization whereas the main important aim of education for naturalism is self-expression and self-preservation. In the process of education, they do not educate the child but merely prepare him for education. So, nature of the child should be given to grow and develop in a free atmosphere. As a result, the child can express his self naturally.

  5. Redirection of human instincts-

    Mc Dougal regards the instincts of man as the guiding forces and the basis of his conduct. So, the aim of education should be the redirection and sublimation of these instincts. This will help in the achievement of natural and social goals.

  6. Perfection of human machine-

    Mechanical naturalism suggests that education should aim at the efficiency and perfection of the human machine.

  7. Struggle for existence-

    The evolutionists like Darwin considers education to equip the individual for struggle of his existence and thus to ensure his survival. Life must be perpetuated into the future by raising the children and enabling them to adjust themselves to the environment. Therefore, education is seen as the process of adjustment to environment and it is the preservation, the handing on and the enhancement of these racial gains, generation by generation.

  8. To secure adjustment-

    The aim of education is to enable the individual to adjust himself physically and mentally to his environment and to the changing circumstances. This power is quite natural in human life.

Naturalism and Methods of Teaching

Naturalists emphasized to dynamic and progressive methods of teaching in teaching different subjects. Some of the methods that deserve are mentioned below-

  1. Play way method-

    Naturalists considered play way is stable method of teaching. Froebel has recommended play as the supreme and valuable techniques of teaching. Through play, child acquires various skills. It is an indication of the natural bents of children and indeed a rehearsal for the serious life to come. Play is nature’s mode of education. Play way has been actually considered as an outstanding and the most natural technique of teaching. Different modern methods like Kindergarten and Montessori methods etc. are based upon the concept play way method of teaching. It helps the child to express himself fully, to be creative and to acquire confidence for manipulating objects and for learning skills.

  2. Methods of Direct Experiences-

    According to naturalism, direct experiences with nature, things and men is the key note of instructions. Some of the methods of direct experiences emphasized by naturalists are mentioned below-

  • Learning by doing and self-experience- Rousseau’s slogan is ‘learning by doing and learning by self-experience’. According to naturalism, all knowledge must emerge out of actual situation and experience. Experience and activity are the fundamental basis of education.
  • Education through senses- ‘Education through senses’ is another important slogan of Rousseau. A child’s learning can take place most effectively if the maximum number of senses is brought into action for purposes of giving direct experiences of the child.
  • Observation and Experimentation- Naturalists advocate that one of the most important methods of education for imparting scientific knowledge is through observation and experimentation.
  • Direct method- Direct method of teaching to ensure the vocabulary of a student is advocated by the naturalists in studying language.
  • Heuristic method- In teaching science and mathematics subjects, naturalist’s emphasis both inductive and deductive reasoning. Sometimes they also used the heuristic method in teaching of different subjects.
  • Excursion and Practical Exercises- The teaching of geography should be through excursion and schools journeys and teaching of geometry should be with practical exercise.

So, in teaching of science subjects, naturalists are in opposed of chalk and talk method. It is not much successful as the direct study of natural phenomena outside the school or in the laboratory.

  1. Freedom of Education-

    Naturalists want an ideal environment of freedom for the development of the growing child. They were not in favour of keeping the child under control. They disfavor unnatural classroom methods and any type of rigidity in the daily time table. They also like to provide education giving with full freedom. Freedom in education was another slogan of Rousseau.

  2. Co-Education-

    Naturalists advocate co-education system. It is unnatural to separate boys and girls in education and it develops unnatural attitudes of sexes towards each other. Therefore, co-education develops the right type of family and community life. So education should be planned according to the abilities, interests, aptitudes and needs of the child.

  3. Residential Schools-

    Naturalism favours residential type of schools. They believe that it can put a check on external influences if they are not desirable. Simple to complex, definite to indefinite, direct to indirect and empirical to rational etc. are the maxims emphasized by naturalists.

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