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Discursive Essay on My Personal Philosophy of Education Based on the Principles of Progressivism

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This paper will discuss my personal philosophy of education which is based on the principles of progressivism. The pragmatist and progressivist approach to academic curricula support the individual values and differences of each student and believes that knowledge gained should be practical in the real world. This progressivist approach corresponds with my strong belief that the whole child must be considered, which includes social and emotional learning, career, and life skills. Education is crucial to developing capable, resilient, and inquisitive minds for the future. My philosophy of education revolves around developing students in areas of academic growth as well as personal/social, career skills, and other skills necessary to be successful in the adult world.

Keywords: philosophy, worldview, education, progressivism, social emotional learning

Educational Philosophy Paper

Education, in today’s world, is not only responsible for teaching students the academic subjects, it now includes ensuring that students learn social skills, develop their ability to cope in life, and prepare them for future careers. As such, education is more critically important than it ever has been in the past. In the past, most of the child’s personal development was expected to be handled in the home by families and parents. In today’s climate, these family responsibilities have been passed on to teachers and schools. As the responsibilities have changed over time, so to, the philosophies of education have changed. A philosophy of education is a belief system that an educator uses as a foundation for teaching. While there are a variety of philosophies regarding education that has developed over the last 20 years, progressivism seems to be at the forefront. In addition to academic development, the philosophy of progressivism also ensures that the social and emotional development of the child is equally important. My philosophy of education is for all students to have access to a safe and supportive learning environment that considers their individual differences, social/emotional skills, and encourages all students to become inquisitive explorers of the world.

Philosophy of Schools & Learning

The progressivist philosophy of education supports the idea that the student’s experiences and interests should drive the curriculum (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, & Vocke, 2017). This belief aligns the closest with my personal views. The curriculum should be socially relevant, developmentally appropriate, and must be relatable to what the students are likely to have experienced. Students who have a deep interest in the curriculum and can relate to the information being learned will internalize critical thinking skills and improve the efficacy of education (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, & Vocke, 2017). The educational environment and curriculum should also consider emotional and social growth among the students. The reason behind this belief is because students who are struggling with personal and social issues are unable to learn or retain information because of a lack of the ability to focus (Asoodeh, Asoodeh, & Zarepour, 2012). And further, students are distracted to the point where it creates a disinterest in learning. Hands-on learning is another crucial aspect of education. It has been shown that active, hands-on learning helps students stay focused, and builds social skills (Martin, 2018). When children are taught in the whole child format, the probability of producing thoughtful, considerate, openminded, and inquisitive individuals increases (Education Norhwest, 2018). Child-centered curricula have shown to increase student’s confidence, social skills, and builds a sense of “togetherness” (Asoodeh, Asoodeh, & Zarepour, 2012).

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Instructional Practice

How children learn and what is truth in the eyes of a child has significantly changed over time. In the previous century, learning involved memorizing facts and being able to regurgitate them on demand via a test. Truth was objective and could be defined and was considered knowledge. What we have learned through the current century through cognitive development in how children learn and theories of education like progressivism is that knowing the facts is not learning. As children develop cognitively, understanding the implementation of their skills and the ability to explain the process is learning. Students who learn through a whole child progressive process can synthesize complex causes and can articulate an argument which can be applied across a variety of genres (Gold, 2017). To create this type of learning, teachers in today’s classrooms must understand this philosophy. The effective practices and instructional strategies that are being utilized in classrooms that promote the progressivist philosophy includes teacher clarity, open classroom discussions, consistent and effective feedback, formative assessments, and most importantly, metacognitive strategies (Gold, 2017). Teacher clarity is the ability for the teacher to provide clear goals and purpose, so students understand their expectations. When students understand what is expected, they have direction and understand what the results should be. Open classroom discussion is essential because it gives students the ability to express their ideas in a safe environment where exploration is what is important rather than answers. Feedback is another key ingredient in directing students. Teacher feedback encourages students to move forward in their thought process. Students also need to provide feedback to each other. When students can express their thoughts clearly and concisely it fosters understanding and furthers their ability to articulate ideas (Sackstein, 2012). Lastly, teachers must teach metacognitive strategies so students can take ownership of their learning. Much of the current research shows that when students are in charge of their learning, there is an increase in their knowledge and their ability to implement that knowledge into practice (Kibler & Chapman, 2018) (Minero, 2019).

Teacher-Learner Relationships

One of the most important relationships in the world of education is the teacher-student relationship. Studies show that building relationships positively impacts students’ social and academic performance (Baker, 2006) (Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004). Teachers have a great deal of responsibility to ensure the relationship is positive and productive. The role of the teacher has become multifaceted; where once they were given a curriculum and method of teaching, today’s teachers have a much different role. In addition to direct instruction of information, it is necessary to adapt learning methods to the individual student and to challenge students to use their knowledge by integrating it across the curriculum. Teachers should foster independence in children through positive role modeling. Teachers should also use a variety of resources to check for understanding and incorporate data to drive instruction. Teachers’ roles in today’s classroom environment go beyond the instruction and now include ensuring the social and emotional growth of the student. This should be accomplished through social and emotional curricula that teach empathy, social skills, and kindness. Students’ role in the education process includes active participation, metacognitive engagement, and involvement in team building activities.


Diversity’s impact on education has come to the forefront of the nation. Where once children in schools were homogenous, this is not the case today. Across the nation schools have become extremely diverse. The diversity we see today includes race, gender identity, economic status, religious, family structure, and much more. Teachers in today’s world should be more cognizant of the different student populations within their school. Students’ background, culture, religion, language, and family life are all factors in how children learn. For teachers to be successful in ensuring the academic and social/emotional learning in their classroom understanding student’s backgrounds is critical (Thompson, 2013). As students come to school for the first time, they bring a wealth of experiences and a process of learning. Teachers who embrace this background and incorporate it into the learning process create much more successful students (Thompson, 2013). By acknowledging these diversity factors, teachers are providing a safe and encouraging environment for students to learn.


Education and schools today play a critical role in creating successful, well adapted individuals. Schools are required to ensure that students are learning 21st century concepts such as the cross-curricular application of knowledge. Additionally, schools have an even bigger role; that of ensuring that students develop into socially and emotionally well adapted adults. Implementing the progressivist philosophy as part of the education process is the best way to ensure that the educations system will be successful. If students are supported in every aspect of their life, they are more likely to become successful members of society. When students have a positive and engaging educational experience in their formative years, they are more likely to become lifelong learners.


  1. Asoodeh, M. H., Asoodeh, M. B., & Zarepour, M. (2012). The impact of student-centered learning on academic achievement and social skills. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 560-564.
  2. Baker, J. (2006). Contributions of teacher-child relationships to positive school adjustment during elementary school. Journal of School Psychology, 44(3), 211-229.
  3. Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Wilson, N. (2004). Effects of an elementary school intervention on students’ ‘connectedness’ to school and social adjustment during middle school. Journal of Primary Prevention, 24(3), 243.
  4. Education Norhwest. (2018). What the research says on supporting the social and emotional well-being of students. Retrieved from
  5. Gold, J. (2017). The key to post-truth teaching: epistemology and knowledge. Retrieved from Teaching Tolerance:
  6. Gutek, G. (2017). Philosophical Roots of Education. In Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., Gutek, G.L., & Vocke, D.E. (Eds.). In Foundations of Education (pp. 162-198). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  7. Kaltman, G. (2010). Hands-on learning. Childhood Education, 87(2).
  8. Kibler, K., & Chapman, L. (2018). Six tips for using culturally relevant texts in diverse classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 72(6), 741-744.
  9. Martin, L. (2018). The importance of hands-on learning in child education. Retrieved from Friends’ Central School:
  10. Minero, E. (2019). Six Elementary Reading Strategies That Really Work. Retrieved from Edutopia:
  11. Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., Gutek, G. L., & Vocke, D. E. (2017). Foundations of Education. Belmont: Wadsworth Inc.
  12. Sackstein, S. (2012). Peer feedback in the classroom: Empowering students to be the experts. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
  13. Thompson, K. (2013). Is separate always unequal? A philosophical examination of ideas of equality in key cases regarding racial and linguistic minorities in education. American Educational Research Journal, 50(6), 1249-1278.

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