Normative Theories of Teaching

Educational philosophies

“Normative philosophies or theories of education may make use of the results of philosophical thought and of factual inquiries about human beings and the psychology of teaching, but in any case, they propound views about what education should be, what dispositions it should cultivate, why it ought to cultivate them, how and in whom it should do so, and what forms it should take. In a full-fledged philosophical normative theory of education, besides analysis of the sorts described, there will normally be propositions of the following kinds: 1. Basic normative premises about what is good or right; 2. Basic factual premises about humanity and the world; 3. Conclusions, based on these two kinds of premises, about the dispositions education, should foster; 4. Further factual premises about such things as the psychology of teaching and methods of teaching; and 5. Further conclusions about such things as the methods that education should use.”

Examples of the motive of schools include: developing reasoning about perennial questions, mastering the methods of scientific inquiry, cultivating the intellect, creating change agents, developing spirituality, and modeling a democratic society

Common educational philosophies comprise educational perennialism, educational progressivism, educational essentialism, critical pedagogy, Montessori education, Waldorf education, and democratic education.

Curriculum theory

Normative theories of curriculum aim to “describe, or set norms, for conditions surrounding many of the concepts and constructs” that define curriculum. These normative propositions are different from the ones above in that normative curriculum theory is not certainly untestable. A central question asked by normative curriculum theory is: given a particular educational philosophy, what is worth knowing and why? Some examples are: a deep understanding of the Great Books, direct experiences driven by student interest, a superficial understanding of a wide range of knowledge (e.g., Core knowledge), social and community problems and issues, knowledge, and understanding specific to cultures and their achievements (e.g., African-Centered Education)