“Pragmatism is a temper of mind, an attitude, it is also a theory of the nature of ideas and truth and finally it is a theory about reality.” William James
Singh (2007) says the word pragmatism is derived from the Greek word “Pragma” which means activity or the work done. Pragmatists firmly hold that first the activity or experiment is done and then on the basis of result, principles and ideas derived. Hence pragmatism is also known as Experimentalism or consequentialism. It is called experimentalism because pragmatists believe experiment as the only criterion of truth. To them truth reality, reality, goodness and badness are all relative terms. These concepts are not predetermined and absolute. They are proved by man’s own experiences. Pragmatists also hold that whatever was true yesterday; need not be the same today. Pragmatism is called consequentialism because any human activity is evaluated in terms of its consequences or results. Change is the basic factor of pragmatism. No truth is absolute and permanent. It is always changing from time to time and from place to place. Pragmatists do not believe in fixed, eternal and absolute values of life to be followed in all times, places and circumstances. To them only those ideals and values are true which result in some utility to mankind in a certain set of times.
Definition of pragmatism:
According to Singh (2007) pragmatism is essentially a humanistic philosophy, maintaining that man creates his own values in the course of activity that reality is still in the making and awaits its part of completion from the future, that to an uncertain able extent our truths are manmade products.
Forms of pragmatism according to Singh (2007)
· Humanistic pragmatism
According to this ideology only those things and principles are true which satisfy the needs, requirements, aspirations and objectives of human beings and cater to the welfare of mankind.
According to this thing or principle is true which can be verified as true by experiment.
· Biological pragmatism
According to this power or capacity of a human being is valuable and important which enables him to adjust with the environment or which makes him able to change his environment according to his needs and requirements.
Principles of pragmatism:
· Changing nature of truth
· Truth is formed by its result
· Problems as the motives of truth
· Emphasis on social and democratic values
· Emphasis on the principle of utility
· Opposion to fixed ideals and values
· Importance of man power
· Importance of activity
· Faith in present and future
· Opposition to social customs and traditions
· Faith in pluralism
· Faith in flexibility
Pragmatism and education:
Singh (2007) stats pragmatism is closely related to modern education. It believes in change in education and opposes traditional education. Only gaining of knowledge for the sake of knowledge is not the real aim of education. This philosophy focuses mental, religious and aesthetic modes of human activity. Theough activities human being creates their own ideals and values. Aspects of education should be suitable to human good and human growth. According to pragmatists educational process should promote human welfare. Only flexible educational institutions can remain alive, active and satisfy the changing needs of the society and provide real experiences through activities.
Characteristics of pragmatic education:
· Education as life
· Education as growth
· Education as continues reconstruction of experience
· Education as a social process
· Education as a responsibility of the state
Pragmatism and aims of education:
Singh (2007) claims it does not believe in fixed aims of education. They emphasis that aims of human life always change with the changing times, places and circumstances. No specific aim of education can be predetermined which holds true and good to all children at all times, places and situations. Aim of education according to pragmatists is more and more growth and creation of new values and to provide such dynamic direction and guidance to the child according to his natural interest, aptitude and capacities in the field of academic activities that he grows up and develops more and more capacities to successfully achieving a happier life.
Pragmatism and curriculum:
According to Singh (2007) pragmatists curriculum should be based on principle of utility. Only those activities, experiences and subjects should be included in the curriculum which are useful to the present needs of the learner and also meet the future expectations of adult life. It should be interesting for the students and contain all the skills to develop the learners. The curriculum should incorporate the necessary activities, vocation and experiences. It condemns the principle of cramming and encourages original thinking and freedom to develop social and purposeful attitude.
Pragmatism and methods of teaching:
Singh (2007) says this school of philosophy favours project method and consider it active and dynamic. Through this method the child learns by his own activities and experiences. The teacher only guiding and suggesting wherever and whenever there is necessity for such help. They believe learning by doing. They oppose bookish knowledge and condemn those methods which promote knowledge which is not useful.
Pragmatism and teacher:
Shahid (2007) supports teacher works as a friend and guide to the children. The teacher comes in close contact to the children to know their interest and understanding regarding the conditions of changing society. The teacher puts in front of the students problems which are interesting and students are expected to solve it.
Pragmatism and discipline:
Shahid (2007) pragmatism believes on social discipline based on child’s interest, activities and sense of social responsibility. It condemns enforced discipline.
Pragmatism and school:
Singh (2007) says school as a social institution according to this philosophy where the students gain real experiences of actual life which develop in him social sense and sense of duty towards society and the nation. It is not only a centre of education but a centre of community. School is a true representative of a society.
Merits of pragmatism:
· Importance of child
· Emphasis on activity
· Faith in applied life
· Social and democratic education
· Progressive and optimistic attitude
· Construction of project method
Singh (2007) believes pragmatism wants to develop such a dynamic, flexible and adaptable mind which is always resourceful and is able to create new values for an unknown future. This ideology has given a new direction and new purpose to all educational activities and programmes. It prepares an individual to face successfully all the present and future problems and challenges of life. Pragmatism is an attitude and a way of living which opposing the old doctrines of idealism and naturalism and inspire the individual to look ahead and create new values for an unknown future, so that he leads a better, happier and richer life.
Singh, Y. K. (2007). Philosophical foundation of education. New Delhi: A P H Publishing.
Shahid, S. M. (2000). Philosophy of education. Lahore: Majeed Book Depot.