How does idealism and realism fit into today’s education?

February 9, 2014

Where does idealism fit into education today? It provides every student with an education, even when they have different intellectual disabilities. According to our textbook “all should have the opportunity to cultivate their minds as far as possible” (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, Vocke, p. 184). We as teachers’ should have great expectations for our students intellectually and standardization should not overshadow an individual’s desire or willingness to learn (p. 184). Idealism fosters the idea that schools should be at the center of education with teachers as the leaders and directors of knowledge. Students should be allowed to experiment and discover things in the safety of the classroom, Plato felt that “truth must be experienced rather than told because language fails to convey belief” (Unknown).


Does realism also fit into education? It has to! In order for students to get the most out of education, “separate subjects provide the most accurate and efficient way for students to learn about reality” (p. 186). Which is happening in schools today. Realist also believe that “curriculum should be scientifically approached, standardized, and distinct-discipline based” (Cohen). Which we also use in the form of evidence based practices. Cohen also goes on the state that “character is developed through training in the rules of conduct”. Which is something that I have been reading about lately in education magazines, the thought is that teaching character is a key component in educational success today.


So how do we apply this to our classrooms? I think in a way we are using a more holistic approach to education today or at least I feel that I am. I don’t think that one approach works better than the other for all students, but rather some elements of each come together to help create a positive, creative, well-founded and well established practice for education. I think they all had wonderful ideas and I honestly cannot say that I like one better than the other, but I do like elements of all of them and think that they have provided us with a solid foundation to build our classroom and schools around.



Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., Gutek, G. L., & Vocke, D. E. (2014). Foundations of education (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


What is the Allegory of the Cave? (n.d.). WiseGEEK. Retrieved from

Categories: Foundations of American Education.

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