Realism School of Thoughts: Impacts on Nigerian Education

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Few days ago, I talked on Socrates as a major contributor of education. In the article, we saw the roles Socrates played in giving a solid foundation to education and the relevance of his philosophies and ideologies in today's educational systems. This article will focus on the Nigerian system of education and how it is being affected by some major schools of philosophical thought.


School of educational thought is a group of thinkers who have similar ideas about the purpose, process and practice of education. Man is unique in every manner both in thinking and reasoning. As a result, there are many educationists and philosophers with different educational perspectives. It is worthy of note that philosophers do not put themselves in schools of thought rather when other people have read about their ideas, they put people with similar ideas and ideologies into a group and call the group a school of educational thought.


Owing to this, it is possible that philosophers of education who lived many decades ago and who are from different parts of the world could be in the same school. There are many schools of thought but this article will focus on Realism and Idealism.

The Realism School of Thought
Although the beginning of realism can be traced back to the time of Aristotle (384 - 322), the ideas of modern realism gained ground and spread during the twentieth century. The central belief of the realist philosopher about this world is that matter is real. Also, the believe that knowledg is gained through the use of senses of touch, hearing, seeing and feeling. Thisf philosophers known as realists are in various classifications such as;


The major philosophical ideas of realism are on the nature of human existence and existence of the world, knowledge and values. In discussing what they consider to be real in this world, philosophers in this group opine that matter is real. What does this imply?

This means that the material things which we see in this world such as trees, houses, animals and people are real. They are not something formed in the mind and they exist on their own. They differ in this from the ideas of the idealists who say that the things of this world are not real becaus they keep changing.

In terms of values, all realists agree that values or moral laws such as goodness, honesty, love, or truth, are permanent and valid anywhere. This implies that what is good today so will continue to be good becaus goodness cannot change. For instance, if something is true in Nigeria, it cannot turn out to be false in United Kingdom. This is so because truth remains truth anywhere.

More so, in realism, it is believed that the ability to comprehend these moral values or laws come from reasoning which is a gift from God. On the other hand, scientific Realists opine that understanding or moral values should be based on what science has proved to be of benefit to man.

In the aspect of knowledge, realist philosophers believe that true knowledge is the knowledge that explains the world as it is. This can be gained through the use of the senses of touch, hearing, seeing and feeling among others. Unlike idealism where the philosophers believe that real knowledge is only attained by reasoning.


Realist Aims of Education
Realist philosophers and thinkers have developed different aims of education. The scientific realists say that, the aim of education is to provide man with all the knowledge, ideas and facts that can make him to survive in this world. They believe that the greatest aim of education is to make sure that all the things necessary for human beings to continue to live and make progress in life are provided. This is why these realists recommend technical and scientific studies in order to produce technicians and scientists.

The religious realists on the other hand believe that the aim if education is to bring man to the knowledge of God and obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. They also recommend teaching of moral and spiritual things through education.

While the classical realists say that the aim of education for man is to produce well-rounded and balanced individuals. This implies that education should make people moderate in behaviour, balanced in their judgements, reasonable in their actions and be sociable people. All these aims helped them to prescribe their type of curriculum for education.

Furthermore, Realists believe that education should be practical and help man to survive in this world. So, they recommend technical and scientific studies. They recommend subjects like physics, astronomy, geography, arithmetic, history, law, reading, writing etc. They also recommend leisure time learning like dancing, carpentry, riding, gardening etc.

Realists Method of Education
In discussing the methods of education approved by the realist philosophers, it is necessary to note some of the things realist educators like to stress. They stress that education should be practical and useful for survival. They stress orderliness in doing things because God's creation is in perfect order. They also stress the us of critical reasoning, aided by observation in education. Having established this, let's look at some of the methods of education realists approve and recommend.

John Locke, a scientific and modern realist opines that learning be mad like a play and recreation. He thinks that play is a major aid in learning so that children will not be bored. This gave birth to the playway method of teaching practiced in Nigeria.

Herbert Spencer on the other hand, recommends that learning should be full of activities for children as this would keep them occupied and engaged. This is what is known as the activity-method of teaching and it is very much practiced in Nigeria.

The realists also recommend the lecture method. This method of teaching is mostly applicable in Nigerian Universities, colleges and polytechnics. This method has to do with exposing learners to concrete facts or knowledge about the world. Knowledge of these facts will then help them to reason critically and be able to attain the goal of self-realization.

Realist philosophers have influenced Nigerian education in more ways than one. Looking at the National Policy of Education, one will discover that majority of the policies are related to the realist aims of education. Also, the establishment of several polytechnics, colleges and universities of science and technology in country agrees with what they realists believe. The major subjects recommended by the realists are being taught in Nigerian schools and many other scenarios.

I hope you find this piece insightful and informative.