Realism (Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque)

There are many differences among philosophers classified as Realists, bur with the exclusion of the Scholastic Realists, they generally agree upon the following philosophical assumptions:


The world is made of real, substantial, material entities. In material nature there are natural laws which determine and regulate the existence of every entity in the world of nature.


At birth, the mind of man is blank. As soon as he is born, and throughout the rest of his life, a variety of sensations are impressed in his brain. It is thus that man learns. Knowledge, then, is derived through sense experience. However, man can capitalize on this knowledge by using reason to discover objects and relationships, which he does not or cannot perceive. That this is so is proved by common sense, for commonsense shows that it is reasonable to assume that objects exist independent of one’s mind, and that man can discover these things by using his senses. Whereas reality is material, the test of truth for Realists is whether or not a proposition within the mind is in accord with the material object or condition outside the mind. Thus, if through reasoning one deducts that A must be equal to B, the proposition is true only if A is equal to B in the material world.


It follows, then, that anything consistent with nature is valuable. Standards of value are found (determined) by means of the act of reason. However, a value judgment is never considered to be factual; it is a subjective judgment based on feeling. Acceptable individual values are values that conform to the values of the prevailing opinion of society. The prevailing opinion of society reflects the status quo of social reality; and because the social reality represents the truth that is out there, beyond the mind, it is useful as a standard for testing the validity of individual values.


Aims of Education

The basic purpose of education, in Realist educational theory, is to provide the learner with the essential knowledge required for survival in the natural world. Such knowledge will provide the skills necessary to achieve a secure and happy life.


Realists believe that the curriculum is best organized according to subject matter – that is, it should be subject-centered. These subjects should be organized according to the psychological principles of learning, which teach that the subjects should proceed from the simple to the more complex. Subjects must include (i) Science and Mathematics; (ii) Humanities and Social Sciences; and (iii) Values.

Science and Mathematics should be emphasized, because the Realist considers these to do the most important area of learning. Knowledge of our natural worlds enables mankind to adjust to and progress in his natural environment.

The Humanities are not as important as Science and Mathematics. However, they must never be ignored. Because it is important for each individual to adjust to the social environment, the curriculum should emphasize the effects of the social environment, on the individual’s life. By knowing the forces that determine our lives, we are in a position to control them.

Values of scientific objectivity and critical examination should be stressed. When teaching values, one should not use normative methods but critical analysis. To encourage desirable learning habits, rewards should be given when required.

Teaching-Learning Process

The Realist classroom is teacher-centered; subjects are taught by a teacher who is impersonal and objective, and who knows the subject fully. The teacher must utilize learner’s interest by relating the material to the learner’s experiences, and by making the subject matter as concrete as possible. He or she maintains discipline by rewarding efforts and achievements, controlling the attention of the individual, and keeping the learner active.

Methods of Teaching

The teaching methods recommended by the Realist are authoritative. The teacher must require that the learner be able to recall, explain, and compare facts; to interpret relationships, and to infer new meanings. Evaluation is an essential aspect of teaching, according to this view. The teacher must use objective methods by evaluating and giving the type of test that lends itself to accurate measurement of the learner’s understanding of the essential material. Frequent tests are highly desirable. For motivational purposes, Realists stress that it is important for the teacher always to reward the success of each learner. When the teacher reports the accomplishments of his learners, he/she reinforces what has been learned.

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