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Philosophical ideas of Naturalism in Modern Educational Theory

Philosophical ideas of Naturalism in Modern Educational Theory

Naturalism in Education

The chief exponents of naturalism are Bacon, Lamarck, Spencer, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Rousseau, Bernard Shaw, Nunn, Locke, James and Tagore. Rousseau was the champion of school of thought. In the words of Adams, Rousseau was perhaps the most prominent naturalist whoever wrote on education. The core of naturalistic thought in education may be summed up as under-

  1. Child centered educational process- Naturalism, one of the oldest schools of western philosophy stresses the fact that education should be guided by the nature of the child and the child is naturally invested with all goodness. Therefore, the educator should pay full attention towards the study of child psychology and the educator himself also try to find out the different instincts of different children. Not only this, the educator should treat the child as a child and not as a man. While emphasizing the importance of the child centered educational process, Rousseau’s principle is “Education finds the purpose, its process and its means wholly within the child life and the child experience.”
  2. Nature is the base- The most significant slogan of naturalism in the field of education is “Fellow nature”. This is the essence of naturalistic philosophy of education. Natural development of the child takes place in the natural environment. Here, the term nature is used in two fold senses, that is, physical nature and nature of the child like instincts, impulses, tendencies and capacities with which the child is born because the nature of the child is not static but it grows and develops. So the educator with his insight should mould his guidance and teaching according to the changes in the nature of the child.
  3. Freedom of the child- All the naturalists advocate another importance to the child’s freedom in the field of education. The child can grow only through freedom in its natural ways. Educational programmes should be made according to the environment. The school should provide an atmosphere of complete freedom for the growth and development of the child. Availability of free choice of activities should be provided to the child and the teachers should not interfere in the natural development of their school children.
  4. Child’s happiness and good mood- The first need of a child before sending to school is to provide the happiness. When he gets this requirement, education should generate more happiness and good mood. Thus, the child can develop his potentialities from the school.
  5. Instincts as basis for education- Education can develop the instincts of the child. The instincts of the child are the important and effective instrument of education. Naturalists believe that only through education, a child’s animal behaviour can be transformed into human behaviour.
  6. Senses as gateways of knowledge- According to naturalists, the different five senses are considered as the gateways of knowledge. In order to make effective learning, sensory experiences should be provided and these gateways should also be equipped properly.

Naturalism and Curriculum

Naturalists believe that the following subjects should be included in the curriculum-

  1. Liberal education- Naturalists do not believe in specialized education. It stands for liberal education. They like free cultivation of all human powers in the interest of perfect individual development.
  2. Place for traditional subjects- Naturalists do not like to keep any place in the curriculum which is related with our traditions, conventional habits, knowledge and information.
  3. Place for religious education- Naturalists do not allot any place to religion. No religion should be taught. Hence, every child should be allowed to develop his or her own religion.
  4. Moral education- Naturalists regard moral education as a matter of experience rather than of instruction. Teachers should punish as nature punishes.
  5. No rigid curriculum- Like aims, there are different views on curriculum construction. Naturalists do not advocate any rigid or fixed type of curriculum. Child learns best in a natural setting and nature is a grand book. Naturalistic curriculum is based upon the psychology of child and gives maximum importance to the age and stage of his development.
  6. Science which deals with nature- Idealists lays emphasis on the study of humanities but naturalists believe to study the science subjects viz. physics, chemistry, zoology and botany. They consider that science help us in understanding nature. They also give due importance to mathematics and languages.
  7. History and Social Studies- Naturalists lays emphasis on the past experiences of the race. They believe that past experiences explain the origin of the present. So history and social studies should be included in the curriculum.
  8. Agriculture and Carpentry- For the development of sense perception and practical judgment, agriculture and carpentry should be introduced.
  9. Physical education and health training- Naturalists recommends physical education and health training. For making child health, the child must be exposed to cold, heat and risks as far as possible. Different types of physical training like running, jumping, climbing and swimming should be encouraged as the natural physical activities of the child.

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