Pragmatism and Existentialism

Pragmatism And Existentialism.
The overview of the first three modules of this course will lead you into an exploration of
various educational philosophies. Traditional philosophies, modern and post-modern
philosophies, as well as educational theories of transformation and transmission will all be
studied along with their corresponding personalities. This assignment will give you the
opportunity to organize the essential components of each of these major educational philosophies
and to compare these components against one another. The result will be an invaluable tool in
your educational toolbox for years to come.
Using the Gutek textbook, the Jerry Falwell library, and any other research databases to complete
the empty white cells in the accompanying template. Your responses in each column should
reflect the beliefs about that category according to the specific philosophy for that section. This
will assist you in comparing the various philosophies. Ensure that the major principles of each
philosophy are clarified. Key words, phrases, and short sentences will suffice. Lengthy
paragraphs are unnecessary. The textbook aligns with the matrix chronologically, so you will
find the information as you read through the book. Much of this information is clear in the text.
For a few of the philosophies near the end of the matrix, however, you may need to make some
inferences based on the information you read. The following list is to help you consider what
should be written in each column.
 Metaphysics = What is reality/truth? What is purpose and meaning in life?
 Epistemology = Is it possible to know reality/truth? If so, how?
 Axiology = What values should be developed in education?
 Learner’s Nature = What is the role of the learner? What is the human condition?
Good? Bad? Neutral? What learner factors should be considered in education?
 Teacher’s Role = What is the most effective approach the teacher should take?
 Curricular Focus = What content is most important?
 Methodology = What pedagogical strategies are most effective?
 Criticisms = What do opponents of this philosophy/theory say about it?
The template will be completed according to the following schedule:
Module: Week Matrices
Module 2: Week 2 Matrices 4–5: Pragmatism and Existentialism

Pragmatism and Existentialism: Unveiling Educational Philosophies

Module 2: Week 2 Matrices 4–5

In the realm of educational philosophies, Pragmatism and Existentialism stand as prominent pillars, each offering a unique perspective on the purpose, nature, and methods of education. This article delves into the core tenets of these philosophies, shedding light on their metaphysical, epistemological, axiological, and pedagogical foundations. By juxtaposing the key components of Pragmatism and Existentialism, we aim to provide educators with a comprehensive tool for navigating the complexities of their teaching journey.

Metaphysics: Uncovering Truth and Reality

Pragmatism asserts that reality is not fixed but rather shaped by experiences. Truth is determined by practical consequences of beliefs and ideas. Existentialism, on the other hand, emphasizes individual subjective experience, where existence precedes essence. Reality is a construct molded by personal perspectives and encounters.

Epistemology: Paths to Knowledge

Pragmatists advocate for an empirical approach to knowledge acquisition. Learning emerges through experimentation and interaction with the environment. Existentialism acknowledges the limitations of objective knowledge. Knowledge is gleaned through personal exploration, emphasizing authenticity and personal meaning.

Axiology: Cultivating Values in Education

Pragmatism values practicality and problem-solving. It advocates for fostering values that contribute to societal progress and human welfare. Existentialism focuses on personal values and authentic living. Education should encourage individuals to question, explore, and discover their own values and meaning in life.

Learner’s Nature: Unveiling Human Condition

Pragmatism views learners as active participants in the learning process. Learning should be relevant to their lives and experiences. Existentialism perceives learners as unique individuals grappling with existential questions. Education should empower them to confront life’s uncertainties and develop their self-awareness.

Teacher’s Role: Guiding Lights

Pragmatist teachers act as facilitators, guiding students in applying knowledge to real-world situations. They encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Existentialist educators are mentors, guiding students in their personal journeys. They inspire self-reflection and provide a supportive environment for questioning and growth.

Curricular Focus: Navigating Content

Pragmatism advocates for a flexible curriculum that addresses current societal needs. The focus is on practical skills and real-world applicability. Existentialism suggests a curriculum that encourages exploration of diverse subjects, fostering curiosity and personal development.

Methodology: Forging Effective Pedagogies

Pragmatist pedagogy revolves around hands-on experiences and active learning. Students engage in projects and problem-solving to grasp concepts. Existentialist methodology emphasizes open dialogue and self-discovery. Discussions, reflections, and experiential activities help students explore their own existence.

Criticisms: Examining Skepticism

Pragmatism faces criticism for its potential to prioritize immediate outcomes over deeper understanding. Detractors argue it might neglect broader moral and ethical considerations. Existentialism is criticized for its potential to neglect systematic learning and objective knowledge. Critics suggest it might lead to individualism without a solid foundation.

In conclusion, Pragmatism and Existentialism offer distinct lenses through which to perceive education’s fundamental aspects. Pragmatism’s focus on practicality and consequences aligns with preparing students for the real world, while Existentialism’s emphasis on individuality and authenticity nurtures self-discovery and personal growth. Both philosophies inspire educators to engage learners in meaningful, reflective, and transformative experiences.


Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Free Press.
Heidegger, M. (1927). Being and Time. SCM Press.
Greene, M. (1973). Existential Encounters for Teachers. Harvard Educational Review, 43(2), 162-173.
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Herder and Herder.

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