History shows that the most primitive tribes viewed education as a means for securing social solidarity and uniformity. For this, instructions in certain exercises and forms were imposed on children under the guidance of the ‘wise men’ of the tribe.
During the medieval period education was used to serve political and religious ends. The Renaissance effected a change in the whole outlook of life and education was regarded as a means for independent personal culture and individual development.
At first the Reformation was a continuation of the best educational influences of the Renaissance. But because of many sects, a new formalism crept into educational practices, little different from the medieval scholasticism.
With Realistic tendencies during the seventeenth century we find the beginning of the psychological, scientific and sociological movements in education which are trying to reach their peak to-day.
These conflicting convictions have always found a place in the minds of educational thinkers. Consequently, we find opposing ideas as regards the nature of education. Some of the more important ones of these are very briefly mentioned below:
1. Education to fill mind with knowledge:
This is one the earliest notions of education. It regards mind as ignorant and empty. Therefore, mind has to be fled in with golden grains of wisdom. The teacher is the active agent for pouring well-condensed information into the mind of the passive pupil.
No doubt, knowledge is important in any scheme of education but it cannot be inserted into the learner’s mind. The pupil himself has to pick up the knowledge by recognizing the relationships of the same with his varying worthwhile experiences.
2. Education a mental discipline:
This conception is based on the wrong notion that mind consists of separate faculties, such as memory, imagination, judgment, and the life. This theory accepted subject matter for its fitness to provide mental exercises and not for its direct usefulness in everyday life.
It thought that training in one field would have a great transfer value for use in another field. The faculty concept of psychology has now been entirely discredited and the transfer value of training is partially accepted in case of subjects which have identical elements.
3. The psychological approach:
This concept shifts the balance to the normal child’s development in terms of the individual’s desires and demands of expression. Thus, in education, the individual is to be accepted as the starting point.
The child is helpless at birth, and he must acquire adaptations of behavior and performance in various life situations, if his survival is desired. Thus, we come to education 35 adjustments.
4. Education as adjustment:
Man has an amazing propensity to be dissatisfied with things as they are. Therefore, he is involved in a constant struggle with physical, social and other forces for making them minister to his comforts and safety.
In this process he comes to know new things which develop his power of adjustment. Besides, man is also capable of making necessary adaptations on his own part. He alters his behavior and acquires new skills according to the demands of situations.
He wants that his children, too, should acquire these experiences “as a means to their increased security and happiness.” Thus, education is to be so organized as to provide to the child the racial experiences in order to enable him to make necessary modifications in his behavior.
Thus education should be regarded as adjustment. But adjustment is a lifelong process, therefore, education, too, should be a lifelong process.
Education as Self-activity: Education as adjustment suggests that education is a matter of self-activity. Any modification in behavior which is expected from education must come through energizing the inner activity which is to be directed towards reconstruction of experience for meeting the situation at hand.
For finding a justification of the above concepts of education one has to look to a philosophy of education which can be derived from philosophy alone, because one wants to educate himself or bring necessary modifications and adjustments in his behavior in terms of his outlook on life.
Hence, there appears to be a close relation between education and philosophy. We shall discuss below the interdependence of philosophy and education.