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Evelyn Payne

ELED 632
Personal Education Philosophy
According to the personal philosophy of education inventory, I scored highest for

Existentialism. This philosophy stresses the importance of the individual and emotional

commitment to living authentically and it emphasizes individual choice over theories.

Existentialists believe that people are born and define themselves through their choices in life.

Well known existentialists include Jean Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger,

Gabriel Marcel, Albert Camus, Carl Rogers, A.S. Neill, and Maxine Greene. A few years ago in

Education 300, I completed a similar project in which I determined my education philosophy and

wrote a paper on it. Back then, I had a Progressivism view on education. My viewpoints have

shifted a bit now that I have taken more education classes, but my Existentialism and

Progressivism scores were only one point away from each other. I also scored high for


After doing some research on Existentialism, I have pulled out five main points of this

philosophy in the classroom. The first point is that this philosophy believes in individual choice

and standards. I do agree that students should have a huge responsibility in planning out their

own curriculum and taking control of their own learning. Another point I found was that learners

should confront different viewpoints. Students should realize that other people may have

different views than them, and thats okay. It is an important life skill for them to learn how to

express their views in a constructive manner but also how to listen to the views of others in a

nonjudgmental way. A third point I learned during research is that lessons should be

differentiated towards students interest and readiness. I learned a lot about differentiation this
past semester and its importance in the classroom. I think this ties into individual choice which

was mentioned above. Teachers should differentiate their lessons based on student interest and

readiness for the curriculum. A fourth belief of existentialism in the classroom is that students

are allowed to examine life through genuine learning experiences. To me, this means going out

into the community and making sense of the world around them in hands on ways. As a future

teacher, it is a huge goal of mine to create plenty of hands on lessons that engage students and

lets them learn about their community. The fifth and final point is that students have many

opportunities for self-direction. This point seemed vaguer than the others, but I interpreted it to

again mean that students can pick their curriculum. Allowing students to make these decisions

now, will help them to become better decision makers in the future. After conducting this

research, I can see that I really do have an Existentialism philosophy view on education.

As a future teacher I believe that children learn best when each of their individual needs

is met, so equity over equality. This means that the teacher is aware of students needs and

progress. I also believe that children learn best when they are given hands on activities and

experiences to explore concepts covered in class on their own. They should have open

discussions with peers about what they observed and experienced. Finally, I believe that children

learn best when their personal interests are tied into the curriculum. So that they feel more

invested and interested in school. The ideas of hands on activities and equity over equality

directly tie into the Existentialism views of genuine learning experiences and differentiation of

lessons based on interest and readiness. The idea of student choice is also directly related to how

I believe children learn best, which is when they incorporate their outside interests into the

I think that children should learn a balance of content and basic skills with how to be a

decent human. Because of SOLs and the need for students to eventually enter the working field,

it is important that we cover basic skills with them and make sure they understand content for

standardized tests. However, I do not believe that that should be the only focus in the classroom.

Students should also be learning how to be an active member of society, how to talk to other

people, how to share ideas, and how to question the world around them so that they dont believe

everything they see or hear. Again, my ideas on what children should learn ties into

Existentialism philosophy in education. Students sharing ideas is linked to listening and

confronting other viewpoints. As much as I want my students to be able to totally determine their

curriculum and direct their own learning, there are standardized tests and they do need to be

prepared for them. I want to be the type of teacher that gives students as many opportunities to

make their own choices as possible.

I think that children learn best when they are in an environment that reflects their

personal interests and views. They also need to feel safe in order to learn. Children should walk

into a classroom/school and feel welcomed. They should feel like they can approach their

teachers or other administration members and open up to them about their thoughts or worries. I

think that this ties in the Existentialism philosophy in education with tying in student interest into

the classroom and letting them have individual choice. Students who have more say in the

classroom and see their lives reflected there will feel more comfortable and safe in the classroom


The ideal teacher to me is relatable. He/she is approachable to all students and students

feel comfortable coming to them for feedback and advice. The ideal teacher is also creative.

They can create hands on engaging lessons that get students excited to learn. The ideal teacher is
an ally for their students. They stand up for their students rights and give them a voice when

they need to be heard. Finally, the ideal teacher is passionate about their job. They feel

compelled and excited to do their job, and because of that they love what they do. All of these

qualities together make up the ideal teacher to me, and also relate to the Existentialism

philosophy in education. Teacher need to be creative in order to help students have genuine

learning experiences. Teacher should also model the correct way for students to confront

differing viewpoints so that they themselves understand how to do that, and also feel more

welcome to share their ideas in the classroom.

It did surprise me to see that I scored highest for Existentialism, since just a few years

ago I considered myself more along the lines of Progressivism. Now that I have done some

research on what Existentialism philosophy in education means and what it looks like, I see that

it does align with my ideas on what students should be learning in the classroom, what a good

classroom environment looks like, and what an ideal teacher is to me.