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Existentialism: Taking Control


Greg Lang
Dr. Burris
EDU 221- M/W

He who destroys a good book kills reason itself (John Milton). This quote is straight to

the point, but it can also state that ignoring education leads to a waste of potential. Education is

perhaps the most important aspect of life because it opens multiple doors throughout the

terrifying journey of life. To open these doors, one must take control of the life they are given, or

having full responsibility of his/her actions. This is known as existentialism, and according to

Kochs textbook Teach, existentialism is defined by what it rejects- namely, the existence of any

source of objective truth other than the individual person, who must seek the meaning of his or

her own existence (2016, pg. 44). The main philosophers who introduced and heavily expanded
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the idea of existentialism are Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. The idea of taking

control of the life one is given derives from Nietzsches policy of Ubermensch, or Superman.

This means that one shall rise above a higher being, such as a God of some sort, and basing

morals and values on the persons own beliefs (Oxford University Press, 2017). This is the main

section of existentialism because everything is solely based on the individual. The individual

decides what to do and what is best for himself/herself.


This certainly questions religion because some people live a life based on their religious

beliefs. Not following a higher power is the first step to existentialism. In a learning

environment, existentialism comes into play for student-centered learning. The students decide

what is necessary and unnecessary for their learning, whether it is which notes are the best or if

the content is truly valid. This can also apply to student-centered teaching. The students are given

the basic instructions, but must take control of the situation and content to present to the class.

Existentialism can also apply to the students decisions for a career. They need to dig deep down

in themselves to realize what their main interests are. They may have some help along the way,

but no one has more influence in a persons life than himself/herself. Existentialism is a powerful

philosophy that can have a major impact on someones life, depending on how he/she controls it.
When I first realized that I want to teach, I knew I wanted to teach the older students.

High school juniors or high school seniors are the ideal students for me because I cannot handle

children. I never could and I never will. Also, the upper classmen are entering the beginning

stages of adulthood now in life. They have matured or are maturing to where they are, physically

and mentally. These students are now old and mature enough to make decisions on their own.

Their minds are more powerful than they think and more powerful than ever before. With this

being stated, I would incorporate existentialism in my teaching by having them take notes on

what they believe is worth their time. If they choose not to participate, that is all on them and
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their results. If they fail, they know that their morals and values caused them to fail. I would also

include quite a few group projects/ individual projects. I plan to teach American history, so this

opens multiple doors for group/individual projects. The students could be placed in groups to

create a PowerPoint on a specific battle from a war. The students could create a video on a

specific topic during any decade of American history. All the students need is basic instructions

and what to expect. The rest is up to them to complete the project. When choosing a career, they

need to decide what their strengths are that will place them in the world. They need to seek a

purpose that forces them to be involved in society.


In conclusion, existentialism is a confusing yet interesting philosophy that forces the

students to be involved. The students need to have a purpose in life, not to just live a cycle. By

receiving an education, these students will realize what they truly want in life, and they will seek

the answers on their own. They need to take control of the life they are given to serve a purpose.

Without education, these students will be lost in society and within themselves.

Works Cited
Koch, J. (2016) Teach. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Oxford Dictionary. (2017) Ubermensch. Retrieved from

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/%C3%9Cbermensch
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