Posted by: Principal/Editor | August 6, 2013

My personal philosophy of education

What is your personal philosophy of education as an educator in Singapore? Are you (more of) an Idealist? Realist? Pragmatist? Existentialist? Postmodernist? Others?

How do you integrate your personal philosophy of education with your understanding of your profession, practical situations and dilemmas?


  1. This website that is quite useful for us to explore our personal educational philosophy. I find the questionnaire particularly useful:

  2. I am glad that I have chosen to study this module. It gives me a better perspective of the reason why many different curriculum models exist. There is no one particular model that is better than another… it all depends on your personal education philosophy as an educator or a parent. I realised that I am a believer of both realism and pragmatism! The Educational Philosophies Self-Assessment is also a helpful tool in our upcoming assignment!

  3. As an educator, I am a pragmatist. It has probably got to do with the age group of the students and the subject that I am teaching. My students are young adults between the age of 17 to early twenties and most of them would already have attended at least 12 years of education. Thus, they have the abilities to engage in learning how to find solutions to their problems with me playing the role of a facilitator. Also, they are able rationalize, evaluate and form answers on their own. I am teaching business management modules. In the process, I would ask the students to evalutate management theories like leadership theories and motivational theories in different organizational context. For such evaluation, there is no one correct answer and every student has their own opinions and each of them see issues from different perspectives. Thus, it is best to guide them by probing them with questions to provoke their thinking to come up with rational evaluation and explanation of their answers.

  4. Deep inside me I believe that I am idealist. Education should be for the pursuit of attaining a certain level of understanding on why we are here and what is our role in the grand scheme of things be it in the present and the future. I would always ask myself what is the cause and effect of our existence. And I would get my students to constantly ask themselves the same set of questions. Knowledge is about seeking the truth. However, I am much influenced by the Pragmatist ideas that there is no absolute truth. Everything is contextual and that includes the acquiring and the spread of knowledge. At the same time, living in Singapore does not allow us the luxury of taking the Idealist approach. Education is part of the paper chase in order to stay ahead of the competition. I may not fully subscribe to this believe system but I am pragmatic enough to know that the Realist approach is necessary to survive comfortably in Singapore. Ideas alone and the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of itself is not going to feed the family.

  5. I work in a trade school. We try to prepare some of our students to go to the polytechnics and most of our students for work. Most of my modules are about how would my students work in an office or retail setting. We would try to use problem based learning to get our students to think of the best solution. I believe there are traits of Intellectualism in the approach. However, on an individual basis i try to infuse eastern philosophy of “li” and “ren”. For instance, i would ask my students whether, if they are working in a bakery and at closing time there are excess food; would they throw the food away or give it to charity? I would tell them what I would do but would never tell them what they should do. That they have to decide on their own. My role here is to facilitate moral learning; I am there to facilitate the discussion of what could be a better thing to do and not make them decide. Just like with regards to my job as their teacher; my role is to help them learn how to get a job and not help them to get a job.

  6. I believe that children are innately curious and there should be a conscious attempt to tap on that to ignite their passion to learn about things around them. Interdisciplinary components within the core curriculum can provide a rich platform for firing the desire to learn. Such tasks allow children more space to engage in thinking that excites them to solve problems together, and these can include problems that simulate day-to-day issues people face. Children may realize then that they need to adapt and apply different skill sets to come up with effective solutions, seek relevant resources, in order to cope with changing contexts and situations, not unlike what happens in a real world. These go beyond subjects and grades. I guess I am much a pragmatist. I feel schools have a responsibility to induct the children and try to create experiences that somewhat represent how the society functions, so that they can gain some exposure to the kind of skills (which are not absolute and we can only predict and project) they need to be future-ready citizens.The children may grow through these rich experiences and see value in not just gaining knowledge and skills but also the attitudes that allow them to contribute positively as individuals in a society. In a way, education should help the children understand that they can actively contribute and serve the community to bring about betterment of life for people and not just self.

  7. When I am asked what my educational philosophy is, I do not have a ready answer.

    I did the Educational Philosophies Self-Assessment (by Oregon State University) and made an interesting discovery – the scores for the 8 philosophies were very close, there were 4 (out of 8) components I had the same score.

    This situation could imply that I appreciate the strengths of the different philosophies and acknowledge their limitations. Perhaps, no single school of thought is able to address the needs of the people in a given society. Most of us were educated in schools where,predominantly, the Realist philosophy was adopted.

    Based on the current situation in our local context, I feel that we can depend on the Realist philosophy but add on or modify it with part of the Pragmatist’s as the society grows and mature. Since the early years of nation building till the recent years, the Realist approach has help us make progress. As we are more informed and mature as a society, the changes to our policies and educational structure will change over time upon reflection and review.

    Ultimately, a small island country – the Little Red Dot, must have the survival skills and the people are the only resource we have to ensure we succeed.

  8. Friends and colleagues have often called me a pragmatist. This philosophy is most evident in the way I make decisions; by comparing the costs and benefits and adopting the decision that reaps the most gains with the least costs. Though this approach follows a clear logic, I have also come to understand that it may not always work well in the education. Though a self-professed pragmatist, I also guard that tinge of idealism under the lid of pragmatist. I believe that the work of an educator is not unlike running a marathon, and idealism is the essential fuel to ensure that each one of us stays in the race.

    On integrating these philosophies in my work, I believe that we have to be realistic sometimes, especially when the stake involves resources. However when it comes to classroom teaching, I believe that we have to celebrate the idealism and believe that each and every child can achieve.

  9. What is your personal philosophy of education as an educator in Singapore? Are you (more of) an Idealist? Realist? Pragmatist? Existentialist? Postmodernist? Others?
    How do you integrate your personal philosophy of education with your understanding of your profession, practical situations and dilemmas?
    I am more of an idealist. Like Socrates, I believe in realising my full potentialities that are inherent in me (Gutek, 1988, p25). Now that I am in National Institute of Singapore (NIE), it is part of my dream to realise this potenitality in me so as to arrive at a a “good” (Gutek, 1988, p25) or “perfect” (Gutek, 1988, p17) in knowledge (Gutek, 1988, p33) state via reasoning. I will also continuously nourish my souls in self-development as I use dialectic approach to probe intellectually (Gutek, 1988, p14) and also consistently dwelt in “rigorous self-examination” and “self-analysis” (Gutek, 1988, p17), until I arrive at the truth, and be happy (Gutek, 1988, p17). Truth is defined as that which is good and beautiful and, is the same throughout the world (Gutek, 1988, p15.) As I continue to learn and realize this truth in my life, I will apply it in my profession and practical situations to bless others, and, at the same time, able to resolve my dilemmas and achieve happiness. Seeing the lives of both Socrates and Confucius given to cultivate a lifelong pursue of knowledge and the practice of virtue, such as being socially obligated, by making the community or the state, perfect (Gutek, 1988, p18) in their assigned roles, as they lived in harmony with one another, and be socially responsible towards one another (Ang, 2012). Thus, I am truly persuaded to do likewise, to bring blessings to others, especially through my free tuition ministry given to more than thirty students in my church. I hope we will all do our part to bless our community in our own good ways and be happy.

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