Education: Empiricists vs Rationalists Essay example

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The importance of experience in education has always been the subject of philosophical debates. These debates between empiricists and rationalists have been going on for quite some time. Rationalists are of the view that knowledge acquired through senses is unreliable and learning can only be done through reasoning. On the other hand, empiricists believe knowledge is acquired through empirical impressions and concepts that cannot be learnt without being experienced (Evans, 1992, p. 35). This debate was however resolved by Kant who argues that both experience and rationality are necessary in learning. John Dewey was an American philosopher of the twentieth century and he also contributed to the debate on the learning process. In his …show more content…
Education systems now encompass different approaches when passing knowledge to learners. Aspects of the system of learning suggested by Dewey can fit into the experiential mode of education. Experiential education simply means learning by doing and in this form of learning; the learner is expected to learn through experience. He is then expected to follow up the experience by reflecting upon the process, therefore being able to understand it (Lewin, 1952, p. 56).

In experiential learning, roles for both students and teachers shift. Teachers are supposed involve their students in decision-making or in problem solving, responsibilities that normally belong to them. Moreover, a teacher is supposed to initiate the transfer of learning from a class setting to a real world scenario. This in turn ensures that students ‘learn from experience’. This shift of roles is sometimes referred to as a student-centered curriculum (Goodlad, 1984, p. 24). This because in this method, the students assume the central role making the teacher’s job to be mainly developing ways to engage them in experiences that impact these learners with knowledge. In this mode of learning, the experience gained is directly translated to positive gain. As in Dewey’s philosophy, knowledge ‘comes about through experience’. Students taking on additional responsibilities can exemplify this mode of learning in schools. For

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