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Learning Theories and Philosophies as Applied to Schooling

Representative
Philosophers or
Learning Theorists
(1)

Existentialism (2)

Critical Theory
(Marxian Analysis)

Subject Matter
Emphasized

Desired Edu
Outcomes

encourage discussion of
choice in a moral and
political context; promote a
thorough grounding in all
academic and interpersonal
areas

history, mathematics,
literature, drama,
art, crafts, social
sciences, sciences
(everything)

conscious de
choosing acti
promote free
community

analysis of real conditions from each according to her
of everyday life,
ability, to each according to
Karl Marx, Henry Giroux,
avoiding/overcoming
her need
Michael Apple, Paulo
alienation
Freire

history, mathematics,
literature, drama,
art, crafts, social
sciences, sciences
(everything)

create a worl
children are v
who work to
existing socia
conditions to
freedom and

Maxine Greene, JeanPaul Sartre, Simone de
Beauvoir, Soren
Kierkegaard

Student Actions

Teacher Actions

authenticity,
responsibility; conscious
engaged activity

respond to stimuli, learn
to be self-regulating

Behaviorism

B.F. Skinner

Cognitivism/
Developmentalism

pursue one's authentic
Maria Montessori, A. S.
interests in community
Neill, John Dewey,
with others
Waldorf Schools, Reggio
Emilia Schools

John Dewey, Lev
Vygotsky, Jerome
Social Constructivism Bruner, Montessori,
Reggio Emilia, and
Waldorf Schools

select information,
construct hypotheses,
collaborate with others

present stimuli, manipulate
learning environment,
create behavioral contracts,
offer reinforcement

subject areas that
orderly self-r
can be directly
observed, measured,
and evaluated
quantitatively

create learning
opportunities, use of
manipulatives, joint and
individual projects, field
trips

real life learning
opportunities
relevant to the child's
interests and needs

life-long selflearning, and
participation
life

Socratic dialogue, facilitate
extrapolation, enourage
students to discover basic
principles, create
meaningful contexts for the
application of knowledge

history, mathematics,
literature, drama,
art, crafts, social
sciences, sciences
(everything)

create an edu
community th
into wider de
participation

Pragmatism

John Dewey, C. S.
Peirce, Richard Rorty

history, mathematics,
literature, drama,
art, crafts, social
sciences, sciences
(everything)

Social Meliorism/
Social
Reconstructionism

John Dewey, Maria
Montesori, Pestazzoli,
Marx, Sartre, Freire,
Waldorf Schools

history, mathematics, work to overc
literature, drama,
social problem
art, crafts, social
better world
sciences, sciences
(everything)

Essentialism/
Idealism

Plato

Utopianism

(1) "representative philosphers or learning theorists": Someone else making this chart might well have categorized at least some of these philo
educational theorists differently. Such disagreement is appropriate, and is based on differing readings of the people in question.
(2) The philosophies and learning theories listed here represent an attempt to characterize complex thinking in broad terms for the purpose of
comprehension. Beware of "definitive" characterizations, which this chart does not attempt to produce.

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