Just as curriculum can be defined in a variety of ways, one can approach the evaluation and creation of curriculum through more than one foundational lens: philosophical, historical, psychological, and sociological. All four of these hold importance in influencing curriculum and instruction. However, it is the philosophical foundation which holds the greatest importance because it is through one’s philosophical perspectives that the historical, sociological, and psychological foundations are both perceived and applied. 

Philosophical Foundations


1. Idealism

  • adheres to the view that nothing exists except in the mind of man, the mind of God, or in a super or supra-natural realm.
  • idealists believe that ideas and knowledge are enduring and can change lives.

  •     to develop the individual spiritually, mentally, morally  (mind, soul and spirit)
  • to discover and develop each Indvidual's abilities and full moral excellence in order to better serve society
Methods: Critical discussions, lecture, Socratic method, introspection, imitating models, reflection/reflective thinking,
Content: Literature, History, Philosophy, and Religion

The Learner 
  •   imitates the teacher who. is an exemplar of an Ideal person
  • tries to do the very best he can and strive toward perfection
The Teacher
  • excellent example/ role model for the student - intellectually and morally
  • exercise great creative skill In providing opportunities for the learners' minds to discover, analyze, synthesize and create applications of knowledge to life and behavior
  • questioner- encourages students to think and ask more questions and develop logical thinking
The School 
  • train future leaders
  • develop morality and to distinguish right from wrong
  • maintain and transmit values
  • place emphasis on developing the mind, personal discipline, and character development
Proponent Plato

2. Realism

  • Stresses that the world is made up of real, substantial and material entities
  • Knowledge is derived from sense experience. 
Methods: lectures, demonstrations, and sensory experiences, Inductive logic 
Content: Science and Mathematics
The Learner 
  •  sense mechanism, a functioning organism which, through sensory experience, can perceive the natural order of the world.
  • can team only when he follows the laws of learning
The Teacher
  • a guide,' a demonstrator, who has full mastery of the knowledge of the realities of life 
  • requires the learner to recall, explain, and compare facts; to interpret relationships, and to infer new meanings
  • rewards the success of each learner and reinforces what has been learned
  • utilizes learner's interest by relating the lessons to the learner's experiences, and by making the subject matter as concrete as possible
The School 
  • transmits knowledge
  • classrooms are highly ordered and disciplined
Proponents: Aristotle,Harbart,Comenius .

3. Pragmatism/Experimentalism

Pragmatists believe that the curriculum should reflect the society, emphasizing the needs and interests of the children.
 Aim: To teach students how to think so that he can adjust to the demands of an ever changing world
Content: Practical and utilitarian subjects 
Methods: Project method, free and open discussion, individual problem-solving research

The Learner 
  •  learn from experiences through interaction to the. environment
The Teacher
  • capture the child's interest and build on the natural motivation
  • use varying teaching methods to accommodate each individual learning style
  • helper, guide, and arranger of experiences
Proponent John Dewey


1. Perennialism
  • Knowledge that has endured through time and space should constitute the foundation of education 
  • Perennjalists believe that when students are immersed in the study of profound and enduring ideas, they will appreciate learning for its own sake and become true intellectuals.
Proponent: Robert Hutchins 

2. Essentialism
  • Teaching the basic essential knowledge and skills
Proponent: William Bagley

3. Progressivism
  • Education is always in the process of development
  • Focused on the whole child and the cultivation of individuality
  • Centered on the experiences, interests, and abilities of students
  • Progressivists strive to make schooling both interesting and useful.
Proponents: John Dewey.Johann Pestalozzi

4. Existentialism
  • Man shapes his being as he lives.
  •  Knowledge Is subjective to the person's decision, and varies from one person to another
Proponent: Jean Paul Sartre 

5. Social Reconstructionism
  • Emphasizes the addressing of social questions and a quest to create a better society
  • Social reconstructionists believe that systems must be  changed to overcome oppression and improve human conditions. 
  • Curriculum focuses on students' experiences
Proponent: George Counts