Naturalism is a kind of philosophical concept. Ward had said,
“Naturalism is the doctrine which separates nature from God, subordinates spirit to matter and sets up unchangeable laws as supreme”.
According to this law, nature is supreme, all answers should be sought in nature and it alone can solve all the philosophical problems.
Like any other concept, naturalism too have influenced education. It has greatly affected the aim and role of education. Naturalism emerged at a time when education was confined within the rigid rules of discipline by the influence of Idealism. Naturalism aims at making education free from the bondage of rigid discipline under which children were tortured. So according to this doctrine, education is not a formal training but a natural biological process of children. Education should be within nature. Adams has said,
“Naturalism is a word applied to those principles of training which do not depend on on schools and books but upon the laws of natural life of the educant”.
Naturalism & Curriculum:-
As a doctrine, naturalism does not favor in imposing any boundary on the children. So advocates of this theory have not framed any curriculum of education. They think that each and every child has the power to and demand of his own to frame curriculum. A child will gather experience from nature according to his own demand. He is not to be forced to practice any fixed curriculum. This concept about curriculum existed till the time of Rousseau but it changed after wards. Later on naturalism was influenced by scientific development. So the thinkers think that to give natural pleasure to man, science should be utilized in life. Hence, their concept of curriculum also changed. According to neo-naturalists, curriculum will be broad and the practice of science comes first. Considering the views and needs of the children, the experiences of the curriculum should be selected. They have advised to include the following in the curriculum -
- Science dealing with nature will include Physics, Chemistry, Botany etc. These branches of science will help children to be acquainted with nature.
- Mathematics and language will be included because these will help to acquire the subjects of science.
- History and Social Science – in order to acquire modern knowledge, one should practice the process of evolution. It will also help to realize the importance of those in their present life.
- Agriculture and Carpentry will offer opportunity to the children to act them in freedom and will increase their power of observation.
- Naturalists felt the importance of Physical Education and Health Training for self protection. But they did not form any particular curriculum for this. They say that the children should be given opportunity for their free movement of bodies in natural environments. They will thus acquire techniques of self-protection from nature and expose themselves in nature.
- Drawing naturalists have considered drawing as the main technique of self-expression. They have included drawing as compulsory in the curriculum. Naturalists have also commented about ethical and spiritual training in the curriculum. They were against spiritual training as according to them children should pick their own religion from experiences they acquire. They also said that ethical training should not be imposed on children. They will build their own ethical sense in natural order by receiving rewards and punishments.
- So we see that, naturalists are not in favor of curriculum to be confined within certain experiences and subjects but it should be more broad, elaborate and practical.
Role Of The Teacher:-
Naturalist philosophers have proposed for radical change in teaching method. they say that children will learn by self-activity. Learning through the senses, learning by doing, play education – all these are the gifts of this philosophy. According to this concept, the method which makes a child inactive, is not a teaching method at all. A child will learn according to his own need and through practical experiences. This is why naturalists have mainly said of creating proper atmosphere. They say that the duty of the teacher is not deliver knowledge but it is their duty to create a proper environment in which a child will get opportunity of working in freedom. The role of the teacher should be that of an observer and felicitator. He will observe their process of works and protects them, thereby felicitating their learning processes. he will not rule over them but they, themselves will be ruled by nature. A naturalist philosopher remarked that
“Teacher is a seller of the stage, a supplier of materials and opportunities, a provider of an ideal environment and creator of conditions, conducive to natural development of pupils”.