Teaching Philosophies in Education


A teaching philosophy is a teacher’s set of beliefs about their role and the goals of education. It’s like a teacher’s personal rule book for how to do their job. It influences how they teach, make important choices, and work with everyone at the school. A teaching philosophy isn’t just a fancy thought—it helps teachers do their best in the classroom.

If we take a step back, think of the term teaching philosophy like this: Imagine you’re on a big journey. Before you start, you need to know why you’re going, what you want to discover, and how you’ll go about it. That’s what a teaching philosophy does for teachers. It’s like their compass and roadmap, explaining why they’re teaching, what they hope their students will learn, and how they’re going to teach it.

How to Guide: Teachers create their teaching philosophy by thinking about their own school days, what they want students to achieve, the responsibilities they have, and by looking at what other smart people have said about education. They might write all this down in a statement that acts like a reminder to keep their teaching on track with their beliefs and goals.


There are several different types of teaching philosophies that teachers might follow:

  • Progressivism: Teachers who follow this philosophy believe education should help grow every part of a student, not just their brain. They use hands-on activities and make lessons feel connected to the real world.
  • Essentialism: Here, the teacher is like the boss of the classroom and focuses on teaching students a must-know set of knowledge, often sticking to traditional subjects.
  • Perennialism: It’s a bit like essentialism, but it puts more weight on big ideas and thinking skills rather than just knowing facts. These teachers want students to think deeply about important, timeless questions.
  • Reconstructionism: Teachers with this philosophy use the classroom to help make the world better. They push students to think critically and question how society works, aiming to improve it.
  • Existentialism: This philosophy is all about the student. What they need, want, and are interested in comes first, instead of just following a fixed academic program.

Examples of Teaching Philosophies In Education

Now let’s look at some examples and why they fit their philosophy:

  • A progressivist teacher might have students design a garden that also helps the local wildlife. This shows progressivism because it’s hands-on and connects learning to real-life issues.
  • An essentialist teacher might spend several lessons on classic literature to make sure students understand these important texts. This is essentialism because they’re focusing on core knowledge.
  • A perennialist teacher might host debates on whether heroes from old stories acted rightly. This is perennialism because students have to use their thinking skills on timeless questions.
  • A reconstructivist teacher might help students set up a program to tackle bullying in their school. This shows reconstructionism because it’s about making a positive change in society.
  • An existentialist teacher might let students enjoy a “free reading” period where they can pick any book they like. This is existentialism since it honors students’ personal choices.

Why Is It Important?

A clear teaching philosophy is the backbone that supports many things a teacher does:

It makes sure teachers keep to their personal teaching style and create a place where learning is fun and effective. It guides choices around how to teach, check students’ understanding, and how to talk and listen to students. It lets teachers explain their teaching ways to parents, bosses, and other teachers.

Also, when a teacher knows their teaching philosophy well, it can guide them in growing as a teacher by pointing out which skills they want to get better at. Plus, it adds to their sense of who they are as a teacher and what makes their job rewarding.

Imagine if you’re trying to get better at a sport or a hobby. Knowing why you love it and what your goals are makes it easier to improve and keeps it enjoyable. That’s what a teaching philosophy does for teachers.


The idea of teaching philosophies has been shaped over time by some very thoughtful people and changes in how we teach. For example, John Locke thought education could shape a person, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau said we should focus on how kids naturally grow and learn. Their thinking is a big part of today’s teaching philosophies.

More modern people like John Dewey added new ideas too. Dewey said that learning should matter to students’ everyday lives and that schools should be about more than just book-learning.


There are disagreements when it comes to teaching philosophies. Some people argue over whether a traditional style of teaching is better or if we should try newer, more open ways. They can’t agree on how much power teachers should have, what knowledge is essential, and if a student’s interests should be part of learning.

Another debate is whether teachers should talk about societal issues in class. Some believe that schools should just focus on academics, while others think preparing students to tackle big world problems is also a teacher’s job.

Lastly, people don’t see eye-to-eye on the best way to check if teaching is effective and students are learning. There’s a lot of debate about standardized tests and whether they are a fair way to measure education.

Related Topics

Teaching philosophies connect to some other big ideas in education like:

  • Differentiated Instruction: This is about teachers changing how they teach so that each student can learn in the way that’s best for them. It’s related to teaching philosophies because how a teacher views learning will shape how they use differentiated instruction.
  • Classroom Management: This involves how teachers keep their classroom running smoothly. Their teaching philosophy can affect how strict they are or how they deal with challenges in class.
  • Educational Psychology: This is the study of how people learn. A teacher’s philosophy will be influenced by what they believe about learning and thinking, which is part of educational psychology.


To wrap it up, a teaching philosophy is a big deal in education. It’s about a teacher’s beliefs on why they teach, the best way to help students learn, and what they think is most important in their job. Knowing one’s teaching philosophy helps teach with purpose and benefits students in their learning journey.

While every teacher’s philosophy is a personal thing, learning about the different types can help new teachers start off well or experienced teachers try new things. As the world changes, so do teaching philosophies, and with that, the way we think about teaching and learning evolves too.