Free will is something that many people don’t realize they have, especially in today’s society. There are a lot of factors that influence our way of living like how we dress, how to talk, what to eat, what to drive and how to think. When was the last time that anybody did something because they felt like it or just wanted to try it out, good or bad decision? Existentialism is a philosophy that expresses people to know who they are as individuals and to decide for him/themselves what is right and wrong.
The definition of existentialism is philosophical doctrine emphasizing that individuals must create their own meaning and purpose in life. In education, an existentialist believes that each student must ultimately make meaning through individual learning, not group learning (550). In the early European times, there was a school called “Christian Existentialism,” which practice this philosophy like water being essential to human life. They taught the students that there is no God and that we came from evolution, in addition to teaching the concept that we are all an insignificant part of the galaxy; the meaning of life is determined by what individuals make it out to be (320).
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There are parts of this that I do not agree with like the fact that there is no God, which I feel is just ignorant to say. Also, the facts that we live in a meaningless world, if it wasn’t significant then why are we here in the first place? What is the purpose of going through life at this point if that statement is true? However, one thing I do agree with is the fact that we do make decisions that determine our meaning of life. God gave us a free will to live life how we see fit and that He will only interfere when He is called upon. The decisions we make today will have an effect on our future no matter how small it may seem.
The modern American version of existentialism is not as extreme as the early time European version. This philosophy does exist in the classrooms through discussion over certain topics that involve different points of view. Also, a teacher that practices existentialism encourages students to try and discover themselves, who they are as an individual? The teachers tell the students that they are free to make whatever decisions that are in their everyday life and that they must that the responsibilities and consequences for their actions (320-321).
For instance, getting the choice of doing a project or book reports for a class grade. An existentialist would consider the following: if I did the project, will I get something out of it, where would I start, who do I ask for help and etc. Now if I did the book report, would I get something out of it, what books should I use, how could I start this without it interfering with my other work and etc. Pondering these questions and many others over which assignment to do helps the existentialist make a decision. No matter the ending results, good/bad, the student knows that he made that decision without anyone else influencing him in any way.
One aspect that existentialist of American education discourages is group work. They believe that this will prevent all students to express what they feel or their ideas for the assignment at hand. They feel that individualized learning is the best way to go because this will assist in the student knowing who they are. I do feel part of this philosophy in that I like to be an individual in some of my own hobbies and activities like playing rock music instead of techno and driving an American car as opposed to foreign.
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