How Do Teachers Apply Existentialism?


Diego Sanchez

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. It has had a significant impact on the fields of psychology, literature, and education.

As an educational philosophy, existentialism focuses on the development of the whole person, including their unique experiences and perspectives. In this article, we will explore how teachers can apply existentialism in their classrooms to enhance their students’ learning experiences.

Teaching as Authentic Existential Encounter

One of the key ideas of existentialism is that humans are unique individuals who must create their own meaning in life. Teachers who embrace this philosophy recognize that each student comes to the classroom with their own set of experiences, ideas, and beliefs. They view teaching as an authentic encounter between themselves and their students.

Building Relationships

To create an authentic existential encounter in the classroom, teachers must build relationships with their students based on trust and respect. This means taking the time to get to know each student as an individual and valuing their unique perspectives.

  • Teachers can encourage students to share their thoughts and feelings in class discussions or through written assignments.
  • They can also provide opportunities for students to connect with one another by working in groups or pairs.
  • Creating a safe and supportive classroom environment where all students feel valued is essential for building these relationships.

Fostering Personal Responsibility

Another important aspect of existentialism in education is fostering personal responsibility in students. Teachers can do this by encouraging them to take ownership of their learning experiences.

  • Teachers can provide choices when it comes to assignments or projects so that students can express themselves creatively while still meeting learning objectives.
  • They can also encourage self-reflection by asking questions like “What did you learn from this experience?” or “How did you grow from this assignment?”.
  • By giving students more control over their learning, teachers can help them develop a sense of personal responsibility.

The Role of Authenticity in Education

Existentialism emphasizes the importance of authenticity in life. In education, this means encouraging students to be true to themselves and their values. Teachers can help students develop authenticity by creating opportunities for self-expression and reflection.

Encouraging Self-Expression

Teachers can encourage self-expression by providing opportunities for creative writing, art projects, or other forms of self-expression. They can also create a classroom culture that values individual differences and encourages students to share their thoughts and feelings.

  • Teachers can create prompts that allow students to explore their own experiences and beliefs.
  • They can also encourage students to express themselves through music, poetry or other artistic forms.
  • By providing these opportunities for self-expression, teachers can help students develop a sense of authenticity.

Promoting Reflection

Another way teachers can promote authenticity is by encouraging reflection. This means asking questions that prompt students to think deeply about their own experiences and beliefs.

  • Teachers can ask questions like “What are your core values?” or “What do you believe in?”

    to encourage reflection on personal beliefs.

  • They can also ask reflective questions about class material such as “How does this relate to your life experiences?” or “What did you learn from this reading? “.
  • By promoting reflection, teachers help students develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world.

In Conclusion

Existentialism offers a valuable perspective on education that emphasizes the development of the whole person. Teachers who apply existentialism in their classrooms recognize the importance of building relationships, fostering personal responsibility, and promoting authenticity. By doing so, they can create a more engaging and meaningful learning experience for their students.