What is Naturalism in Education?
Naturalism is a philosophy which did not accept the idea of God and spirit but emphasized on the nature as a source of ultimate knowledge. Naturalism emerged as a result of revolutionary changes and development in physical sciences in the 18th century.
Metaphysics and Naturalism:
Naturalists believe that human life is a part of scheme of nature. They do not accept existence of any creator. They believe that nature is self-managing. Naturalism suggests that education must be based on natural experiences of a learner. Jean Jacques Rousseau seeks to answer the fact that man who was born free falls into chains in this world. He suggested we need to give importance to the laws of nature to understand the supreme creation of nature i.e. man.
Epistemology and Naturalism:
Rousseau suggested the concept of negative education which is the real method of knowledge in his opinion. Rousseau sail it beautifully that nature wants a child to remain a child until he becomes an adult and therefore, it is our duty not to teach anything to the child good or bad unless his power of reasoning and logic is strong enough. By negative education, he meant that child should be given freedom to grow in his own way and do not force him to follow your ways.
Axiology and Naturalism:
Naturalists reject or refute the existence of any universal values. A child develops his own value judgements, his own criterion of right and wrong depending on the kind of environment he is born in and these values are long lasting unless a new experience transforms his value system, but no one else’s values can be forced on a child.
There are different forms of Naturalism.
- Physical Naturalism: It claims that matter is the only reality and human experiences must be explained in terms of material objects and natural laws.
- Mechanical Naturalism: It claims that world is mechanical without any spiritual power as such.
- Biological Naturalism: On the basis of Darwin’s theory, it suggests that survival of the fittest is the law of nature. It claims that man has evolved from lower’ animals through gradual development.
- Aims of Education: Naturalism claims that education must prepare a child for the life and nurture him for present and future happiness.
Naturalists have suggested following aims of education:
- Developing an ability of self-expression.
- Negative education is most desirable which is self-education through experience, reflection or sensory inputs.
- Developing capacity to struggle constantly for survival of fittest is the law of nature.
- Adaptation ability to modify oneself according to ever changing environment.
- Preservation of natural heritage. Emancipation, moulding and guiding of the basic impulses of the child.
- Allowing a natural development with his inborn tendencies, temptations and inclinations.
- Emphasis on mental, sensory, physical, social and moral development of a child.
Herbert Spencer claimed that education should aim for:
- Developing an ability to rear a family.
- Leisure time activities.
- Citizenship qualities.
- Moral development.