REALISM  IN  EDUCATON

BACKGROUND AND MEANING OF REALISM :

Just as Naturalism comes on the Educational scene as a protest against systems of education that have become artificial. Realism appears to be a reaction against curricula consisting of studies that have become bookish, sophisticated and a abstruse. As we have a slogan in Naturalism- ‘ Back to Nature ‘ – in Realism we have a slogan-‘ Things rather than words ‘.

Idealism deals with ‘mind and  Self ,’ Naturalism emphasizes ‘Matter and Physical world’, and pragmatism ‘Refuses to speculate and transcend beyond experience ‘. And according to Realism the external world of objects is not imaginary. It really exists, “Our experience is not independent but determines reaction to the external objects. Experiences are influenced by the external world which has real existence.” (Dr. Pandey Ram Shakal : An Introduction to Major philosophies of Education, pp. 149-50 ). It is a new outlook. and this new outlook is termed as Realism.

The realistic movement in education started from the 16th century. The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed great inventions and epochal discoveries which greatly increased the store of human knowledge. They extended the horizon of human knowledge. The rise of scientific inquiry opened new vistas before human mind. ( Bacon’s formulation and statement of the new scientific method. ) All these lead to a new spirit of inquiry into the realities of nature. Man started to believe more in himself. He thought that he would conquer the entire world with his supreme gift of rationality. The interest in language and literature began to wane and people became more and more interested in man and his environment.

Consequently, there arose a demand of/for a new type of education in which truth rather than beauty, realities of life of the day rather than the beauties of the old days were aims of education as there was a great premium on Man and human endeavour combined with science  and common sense. This new conception was marked by an awakened interest in the natural phenomena and social institutions. This new outlook came to be termed as  ‘Realism in Education ‘.  ” The realist enters his emphatic protest against a cleavage between the work of the school and the life of the world outside it. ” ( Rose, James S. : Ground work of Educational Theory, p. 214 ).

“Education is that which makes a man happy by getting acquaintance with real circumstances of life, create capacity for struggling with adverse situation in life. Realistic education is connected with the needs of life. ”  ( Dr. Chaube, S.P. and Akilesh : philosophical and Sociological; Foundation of Education , P. 171 ).

FUNDAMENTAL POSTULATES AND MAIN TENETS :

1)      External world is a solid Reality, whether known or unknown to man. Reality is already in existence and in the invention of man. It exists independently of being known to perceived by, or related to mind. Man can only comprehend it, through senses. One should dip below the surface to know the reality.

2)      Realism places great premium on Man and human endeavor, which it says, should be combined with science and common-sense. It, however, asserts that ‘Man is finite’ and learning is necessary for a finite man, Education is the process by which he lifts himself up to the external. ” The Realists wish man to be a man of affairs, practical and always seeker of deeper and deeper truth and reality,”

( Taneja, V.R. : Socio-philosophical Approach to Education, p. 241 ).

3)      The realist say that ‘Mind’ like any other material thing has mechanical functioning. They discount its creating ability. “Just as any object of universe can be ‘true’ or ‘false’ similarly mind is also ‘true’ or ‘false’. The development of  mind is the part of the process of development of  the world.” (Dr. Chaube, S.P. and Akilesh : Philosophical and Sociological foundation of Education, p.171 )

‘Mind is what it studies’. (Herbert). If this concept of the realists is accepted in     education then we are forced to believe that children’s mind are ‘mere cameras to register the reality of the universe. ‘Philosophers say that mind has lot of scope for enrichment elevation and creativity.

4)      Realism tries to build up a body of systematized knowledge, which is certain and objective and agrees with the standpoint of physical sciences. It says that every reality can be proved by observation, experience, experiment and scientific reasoning, For them, experience is the touchstone of what is real. Whenever  the simple and direct experience can’t determine the objective truth, the common sense puts its truth in scientific research. In the present world of falling idols and falling ideals, the realists emphasize the role of intelligence as great significant, as it formulates the concepts and develops general and abstract ideas.

5)      The realists of all brands aver that values are permanent and objective and say that although institutions and practices very a great deal, the fundamental values of society should not change. The children should be taught those values, which have proved enduring throughout history. They should be taught the nature of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and what is objectively good and beautiful.

In brief, Realism believes in the usefulness of the world and the material existence in its field of action . It believes that whatever is real is independent. Whatever is, is and exists. Its presence of existence does not depend upon the knower. (Compare with idealist’s standpoint. ) The individual doesn’t make reality, he only discovers it.

Main tenets :

i)                    Realism believes in the world which we see of perceive to be real. According to them it is wrong to say  ²ÖÎÉ ÃÖŸµÖÓ •Ö?ÖŸÖ ×´Ö£Ö˵ÖÖ I

ii)                   Realists believe in the present life.

iii)                 They believe that the truth of life and aim of life are in the development from the present unsystematic life.

iv)                 Knowledge is real and can be assimilated by the human beings.

v)                  The realists distinguish between ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’.

vi)                 Realism believes that there is an objective reality apart from that which is presented to the consciousness.

The developing realism has adopted four points in education :

i)                    Humanistic Realism,

ii)                   Social Realism,

iii)                 Sense Realism, and

iv)                 Neo-Realism.

i) Humanistic Realism in education

Humanistic realism is the reaction against the emphasise on form and style of the old classical literature. It has great regard for the ancient literature but it emphasizes the study of content and ideas in the ancient classical literature to understand one’s present social life and environment. The aim is not to study the form and style of old literature to have mastery over it. The study of old literature is a means to understand the practical life. History, Geography, Kautilyas Arthashastra are the subjects and books should be studied for this purpose. Erasmus (1446-1537 ), Rabelais (1483-1553), John Milston (1608-1674) were the supporters of this faculty.

ii)                   Social Realism in education

Social Realism in education is the reaction against a type of education that produces scholars and professional men to the neglect of the man of affairs i.e. practice. Education should not produce men who are unfit in social life. The purpose of education, according to social realists, is to prepare the practical man of the world. Michael de Montaigue (1533-1592) was the main supporter of this faculty.

iii) The sense Realism in education

The sense realism in education emphasizes the training of the senses. Senses are the gateways of knowledge and learning takes place the operation of the senses. According to sense-realists nature is the treasure house of all knowledge and this knowledge can be obtained through the training of the senses.

The sense-realists emphasized the three things :

a)      Application of inductive method formulated by Bacon in order to organize and simplify the instructional process.

b)     To replace instruction in Latin by the instruction in Vernacular, and

c)      To substitute new scientific and social studies in place of the studies in language and literature. Richard Mulcaster (1531-1611), Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Ratke (1571 to 1635) and Comenius  (1592-1670) were the supporters of this faculty.

iv) Neo-Realism in education

Neo-Realism is really a philosophical thought. It appears the methods and results of modern development in physics. They do not consider the scientific principles everlasting while they express the changeability in them. They support the education of art with the science and analytical system of education with the humananistic feelings. They consider living and un living all objective to be organs and the development of organs is the main objective and all round development of the objects is the main characteristic of education. Bertrand Russel and whitehead were the supporters of this faculty.

REALISM AND AIMS OF EDUCATION :

“Realists do not believe in general and common aims of education. According to them aims are specific to each individual and his perspectives.” (Seetharamu, A.S. : philosophies of Education, p.74). And each one has different  perspectives. The aim of education should be to teach truth rather than beauty, to understand the present practical life.

The purpose of education, according to social realists, is to prepare the practical man of the world.

The science realists expressed that the education should be conducted on universal basis. Greater stress should be laid upon the observation of nature and the education of science.

Neo-realists aim at developing all round development of the objects with the development of their organs.

REALISM AND CURRICULA :

According to humanistic realism classical literature should be studied but not for studying its form and style but for its content and ideas it contained. Milton, one of the supporters of humanistic realism, has drafted a curricula of education as follows :

1st year – Latin, grammar, arithmetic and geometry. Reading of simple Latin and

Greek.

2nd year – Greek, agriculture, geography Natural philosophy, mathematics,

engineering and architecture.

In the next 5th year – chief writings of the ancients in prose and poetry on these             subjects.

Remaining years – Ethical instruction, Bible, Hebrew, Greek, Roman and Saxon Law, economics, politics, history, logic, rhetoric, poetry-all by reading select writhers.

Social realism was generally recommended for the people of the upper social class/strata. It combined literary elements with ideals of chivalric education. Naturally it included the study of literature, heraldry ( the science dealing with coats of arms and the persons who have right to wear them ), genealogy ( science of the development of plants and animals from earlier forms ),riding, fencing, gymnastics, study of modern languages and the customs and institutions of neighboring countries.

Sense-realism attached more importance to the study of natural sciences and contemporary social life. Study of languages is not so significant as the study of natural sciences and contemporary life.

Neo-realism gives stress on the subject physics and on humanistic feelings, physics and psychology, sociology, economics, Ethics, Politics, history, Geography, agriculture varied arts, languages and so on, are the main subjects to be studied according to the Neo-realists.

REALISM AND METHODS OF TEACHING :

  1. Education should proceed from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract.
  2. Things before rules and words.
  3. Students to be taught to analyze rather than  to construct.
  4. Vernacular to be the medium of instruction.
  5. The order of nature to be sought and followed.

( The child can rule over the nature if the natural laws are followed. )

  1. Repetition is necessary for retention.
  2. Individual’s experience and spirit of inquiry is more important than authority.
  3. No unintelligent cramming. More emphasis on questioning and understanding.
  4. Methods of scientific thinking formulated by sir Thomas Bacon.

( Inductive method of education ).

“(There are and can be only two ways for investigation and discovery of truth. One flies from senses and particulars, to the most general axioms and from these principles and infallible truth determines and discovers intermediate axioms….the other constructs axioms from the senses and particulars by ascending continually and gradually, so as to teach most general axioms last of all.)” – Bacon.

10.  Social realists follow the method of travel of journey method, which will give real experience of varied aspects of life  improve knowledge and mental faculties.

REALISM AND THE TEACHER :

1)      A teacher should be such that he himself be educated and well versed with the customs of belief and rights and duties of people, and the trends of all ages and places.

3)      He must have full mastery of the knowledge of present life.

4)      He must guide the student towards the hard realities of life. He is neither pessimist, nor optimist.

5)      He must be able to expose children to the problems of life and the world around.

( To master one’s own environing life natural, social through a knowledge of the broader life of the ancients.)

A teacher should always keep in mind-

  1. Re-capitulation is necessary to make the knowledge permanent.
  2. One subject  should be taught at one time.
  3. No pressure or coercion be brought upon the child.
  4. The practice of cramming should be given up.
  5. The uniformity should be the basic principle in all things.
  6. Things should be introduced first and then the words.
  7. The entire knowledge should be gained after experience.
  8. The knowledge should be imparted on the basis of organs.
  9. Straight forward method should be adopted for teaching.

10.  There should be a co-relation between utility in daily life and education.

11.  The child should be told the utility of whatever is taught.

12.  The simple rules should be defined.

13.  All the subjects should be taught in proper order.

14.  Various organs of education should be taught in chronological order.

15.  The topic should not be given up unless the boys understand it well.

16.  To find out the interest of the child and to teach accordingly.

REALISM AND THE CHILD :

1)      “Realism in education recognizes the importance of the child. The child is a real unit which has real existence. He has some feelings, some desires and some powers. All these cannot be overlooked. These powers of the child shall have to be given due regard at the time of planning education. ”  1

2)      ” Child can reach near reality through learning by reason.” 1

3)      ” Child has to be given as much freedom as possible.” 1

4)      “The child is to be enabled to proceed on the basis of facts,” 1

5)      The child can learn only when he follows the laws of learning.”1

(When only one response is repeated for one stimulus, it conditioned by that stimulus. Now wherever that situation comes, response will be the same; this is the fact.)

6)      ” The child is to be understood a creature of the real world there is no sense in making him a  God . He has to be trained to become a man only.”  1( Dr. Pandey Ram Shakal : An introduction to Major philosophies of Education, pp.160. 161 ).

REALISM AND SCHOOL ORGANIZATION :

1) School organization would be based on the real needs of society. It is not proper that a college should be established due to political pressure at a place when it is not needed.

2) The opening of science classes in every school is must. Only academic and literary subjects are not sufficient to fulfill the needs of the society.

3) Realism doesn’t oppose co-education. Sex-drive is a real feeling. It is a natural happening so it can not be rejected.

4) School is the mirror of the society. It is a miniature form of society and it presents the real picture of the society

REALISM AND DISCIPLINE :

Discipline is adjustment to objectivity. It is necessary in order to enable the child to adjust himself to his environment and concentrate on his work. Bringing out change in the real world is  impossible. The student himself is a part of this world. He has to admit this fact and adjust himself to the world.

A disciplined student is one who does not withdraw from the cruelties, tyrannies, hardships and shortcomings pervading the world. Realism has vehemently opposed withdrawal from life. One has to adjust oneself to this material world.

Thus, the realism has brought great effect in various fields of education. The aims, the curriculum, the methods of teaching the outlook towards the child, the teachers, the discipline and the system of education all were given new blood. Realism in education dragged the education from the old traditions, idealism and the high and low tides to the real surface.

DARK SIDE OF REALISM :

1)      ” Realism recognizes the real existence of the material world. This recognition remains un objected to unless he says that only material world really exists. The question arises- Is there no power behind this material world ? Does it have its own existence ? What is the limit of the universe ? The realist does give reply to these questions but these replies are not found to be satisfactory. The real existence of material world may be admitted but how can the existence come to an end in the world itself ?  ” 1

2)      ” The realist claims to be objective. Objectivity in knowledge is nothing but the partnership of personal knowledge. Knowledge is always subjective.” 1

3)      ” The realist recognizes the origin of knowledge from the datum achieved by senses and asserts that only objects are main and it is through their contact that knowledge is acquired. Then how does our illusion arise ? How does knowledge become fallacious ? Where does the external object go in dream ? The realist is unable to answer these questions satisfactorily. ” 1

4)      ” The realist does not accept the existence of transcendental ( not based on experience or reason ) being. How could be know the non-existence of that which does not exist ? Has non-existence got  no existence ?  void ness and non-existence also are the parts of existence. Here the realist is dumb completely. ” 1

5)      ” Realism admits real feelings and needs of life on the one hand, gives no place to imagination and sentiment, on the other. What a contradiction ? Are imaginations, emotions and sentiments not real needs of human life ? Is emotionless life not almost dead life ?  Can life be lead on the basis of facts only ? ” 1

6)      ” No inspiration to remove the defects of modern education can be achieved unless the impressiveness of pure and high thought is admitted and attitude is not confined to present facts only;  because the realist is satisfied simply by the fulfillment of the needs of daily life and be does not care to make life sublime.” 1

7)      ” Today the effect of realism has given rise  to the wave of science. It is right, but there should be no indifference towards art and literature. The realist supports this negligence. ” 1

8. ” Realism enthuses disappointment in students and teachers. No progress can be made by having faith in the facts of daily life and shattering faith in ideals. Life is but full of miseries and struggles. Sorrow  is more predominant than joy in the world. A person becomes disappointed by this feeling. That is why realists often appear to be skeptics ( person who doubts the truth of a particular claim, theory etc. ).Pessimists and objectionists, “1      ( Dr. Pande, Ram Shakal : An Introduction to Major philosophies of Education, pp. 170-171.)

CONCLUSION :

Some of the points raised against realism may be true but some are raised under ignorance of the study of realism in the true sense. Its contributions to modern education should not be ignored. Today attention is being paid towards technical and vocational education in all corners of the world. There are many Engineering Colleges in India, too. Everywhere there is an arrangement of higher education of Medicine and Law.  Increasing interest towards empirical education is the application of the realistic attitude.

There are two main contributions of the education based upon the realism. Firstly, it tried to remove the gulf-between the life and education.  Secondly, it propounded the principle of experimentation and observation in education. It was realism that first introduced the thought that the organs are the door way to knowledge and the knowledge can be gained through the inductive method. The wordy education and bookish knowledge are not sufficient. Real education is that which brings about union between nature and society based upon one’s own experience.

REFERENCES

1.Dr. Pande, Ram Shakal : An Introduction to Major philosophies of Education, 1982 : Agra, Vinod Pustak Mandir, Section Six- Chapters 25 to 30, pp. 149 to 173.

2.Rose, James S. : Grouondwoek of Educational Theory, 1969 : London, George G. Harrap and Co. Ltd. , 182, High Holborn, London, W.C.I. , Chapter-X, pp. 211 to 236.

3.Dr. Chaube, S. P. Akhilesh : Philosophical and Sociological Foundation of Education, 1981 : Agra Vinod Pustak Mandir , Agra – 2. Chapter 12, pp.171 to 174.

4.: Socio-Philosophical Approach to Education, 1987 : New Delhi , Atlantic publishers and Distributors, B-2 , Vishal Enclave, Najafgarh Road, New Delhi – 110 027. Chapter – Twenty, pp. 239 to 251.

5.Seetharamu, A. S. : Philosophies of Education, 1989 : New Delhi, S. B. Nangia, for Ashish Publishing House, 8/81 , Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi – 110026 . Chapter – 6 , pp. 72 to 77.