2 WBC Dr. Mark Malaby changing the MA, a perspective on higher education

Today’s Lineup

Thom Markham, a psychologist, educator, and president of GlobalRedesigns. His goal is to help young people gain the advanced skills and core knowledge necessary to prepare for the workforce, contribute to global progress, and work toward a sustainable future. He served as a director with Active Learning, Inc., an innovative, motivational and learning-skills camp program for high school and college students; taught at an award-winning high school, where he led school reform efforts and developed a highly acclaimed internship-based program; and cofounded the Marin School of Arts and Technology, an innovative charter high school in Novato, Calif. Connect with Markham on the ASCD EDge®social network and his website.

  • Guest – Dr. Mark Malaby , McPherson College

Dr. Mark Malaby directs the Master in Education program for McPherson College. Prior to his arrival in Kansas, Dr. Malaby founded and directed the Schools and Communities Project, which developed meaningful partnerships between pre-service teachers and high-need public schools.

McPherson College – Small Town Feel, World-Wide Appeal

McPherson College offers an energized academic community, a multitude of opportunities to connect and a place to come together to face the challenges of the world ahead. We are a liberal arts community producing leaders, creative thinkers and entrepreneurs of the future. Through service, internships, international travel, interdisciplinary studies and athletics, our students experience a unique educational setting unlike any other.

Regardless of major, our students explore – they step outside their own experiences and cultures to prepare for the ever-changing world in which they will live and work.

Visit McPherson College and experience all that we have to offer.

Philosophies of Education


Many times, when asked about philosophy of education, teachers reply that they care about their students; this answer, while a great characteristic for a teacher, does not provide concrete information from which to act.  Philosophies of education do not have to be hard to understand: while various terms are used to define and describe specific philosophies, all philosophies of education describe what an educator believes about teaching and learning.  What is the purpose of education?  What is the ideal student-teacher relationship?  What should the content be? How is content best taught? These are critical questions that are addressed when developing a philosophy of education. The answers to these questions form a philosophy of education from which an educator decides content, pedagogy, and relationships. These are critical skills for teachers.

Discovering and Developing Your Philosophy of Education

Take the quiz for a rough estimate of your educational philosophies.  And don’t worry if your results or inclinations incorporate more than one philosophy.  Most people employ parts of multiple philosophies; just be sure to think about whether your results reflect what you actually believe about education rather than just what you did when you were in school.


(Taken from Teachers, Schools and Society, by David and Myra Sadker.)

Explanations of Various Philosophies


Dewey is considered the “father” of progressivism.  Valuing real world, hands on, student-directed, and collaborative education, progressivism is about much more than simply working in groups. Effective progressive educators make the content relevant to the student’s lives and equalize power relations in the classroom.

• John Dewey – Democracy and Education http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/publications/dewey.html

·       Alfie Kohn, “Progressive Education: Why It’s Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find”


Social Reconstructionism (Social Justice Education)

Educators who hold this philosophy believe that they need to teach students to look at their world critically and ask “Why are things that way?”.  Not only do these educators believe that they are enacting social justice with their students, they believe that they need to teach students to enact social justice in their daily lives.

Progressivism/Social Reconstructionism in Action

• A school in New York in which the students use consensus to make all the decisions.


• (Herbert) Kohl Open School–working within and defying the system



At it’s core, essentialist teachers and schools are committed to teaching the academic basics, citizenship including cultural literacy, and skills needed for the workplace (often called “21st Century Skills”).  Essentialism also posits that teachers are the holders of knowledge that needs to be transmitted to students.  Due to their push for a common culture, pure Essentialists disagree with culturally responsive/multicultural education.  It is noteworthy, however, that few schools today are purely essentialist–many have embraced elements of Progressivism while still teaching basic subjects. NCLB and other current education reforms are essentialist in that they focus on what every student needs to know (math and reading being the most important), ignore electives (such as art and music) that are deemed frivolous, and mandates “objective” assessments of core knowledge.

• An Overview


• E.D. Hirsch (the person who wrote the What Your 2nd Grader Should Know and a similar book for each grade) on “cultural literacy”


• “Why We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know: Just Ask E.D. Hirsch”, New York Times


Perennialism (also known as Traditionalism)

Found in many liberal arts colleges, parochial schools, and schools that use the term “classical education” or “latin education,” perennialism is the philosophy behind “Great Books” classes or courses of study.  It is based on the idea that great ideas by definition survive the ages, and by looking at the works that contain those great ideas can provide the basis for a proper education. It is easy to see why many religious schools favor the traditionalist leanings of perennialist education.

Mortimer Adler


Essentialism and Perennialism in Action

• New Holland Core Knowledge Academy


• Kansas Common Core Standards, see video from Diane DeBacker, the Kansas Commissioner of Education


• A reading list of the “great books” that contain the “great ideas” according to Mortimer Adler


• Whitefield Academy, a Classical Christian School




Put simply, existentialist educators believe that humans are born to create their own realities, and that given the freedom to so will seek knowledge. Educators work solely as facilitators of the students’ journeys.

“Existentialism in the Classroom” by Raymond C. Emery

Journal of Teacher Education 1971


Existentialism in action

Sudbury Valley School