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Realism: Overview & Practical Teaching Examples

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  • 0:01 Realism
  • 0:49 Educational Realism
  • 2:40 Inquiry
  • 4:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

If a tree falls in a wood and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Find out what that classic riddle has to do with the Greek philosopher Aristotle and modern teaching methods in this lesson, which will cover educational realism.

Realism

If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound? You've probably heard that question asked before and may have thought about it for a few minutes before coming to an answer. Or you may have taken it as a silly question and laughed at it.

But the fundamental question behind that question is simple: is there a true reality, which exists outside of human perception or is reality only what we perceive? Realism is a philosophy started by the ancient Greek writer, Aristotle. It states that there is a true reality, and things exist whether humans perceive them or not.

Let's look closer at realism and how it influences teaching and curriculum planning.

Educational Realism

Okay, so Aristotle believed that there was an absolute reality out there, regardless of whether we perceive it or not. But what does that have to do with teaching?

Educational realism is the belief that we should study logic, critical thinking, and the scientific method to teach students to perceive and understand reality. As you might imagine, there is a heavy emphasis on math and science, though the humanities can also be influenced by educational realism.

What does educational realism look like in a classroom? To figure that out, let's imagine a teacher, Henry, who is trying to plan his curriculum for the upcoming school year. Henry is a realist and believes that Aristotle was on the right path all those years ago. So how can Henry plan a year of learning to help students perceive and understand reality?

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