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Naturalism and aims of education | Meaning and Definition of Naturalism


What is Naturalism?

Meaning and Definition of Naturalism

Naturalism believes that “the real world is the material world”, that is why we also call naturalism a materialistic philosophy. Naturalism holds nature responsible for the creation of the universe. According to this, the answer to all philosophical problems lies in nature.

Meaning of Naturalism

According to Prof. Sorley, naturalism can be well explained negatively. This is the ideology according to which natural or created power cannot be given to the human body. 

Naturalist thinkers believe in the place of intelligence, but say that its meaning is only to control external circumstances and thoughts, which are born outside one's power. 

In a way, naturalists, like materialists, do not believe in the existence of soul, God, clear purpose, etc. 

Naturalism has come to us as a response to the complexity of civilization. The main slogans of naturalism are “return to nature”.


First meaning of naturalism : 

In the first meaning, nature means inherent qualities and especially those qualities which are helpful in the development of life and gradually leading to progress. If we want to teach a child, we should know the rules of his development. 

Rousseau has the honor of interpreting nature in this way. What Dr. Hall calls child-centered education was inspired by Rousseau, although Quintilian also knew about it before him. In this context, we can say that in the first sense nature means a lot of things.

Second meaning of naturalism: 

The second meaning of nature is the exact opposite of design. The work in which man did not contribute is only natural. It is true that man brings changes in nature through his actions. But this does not mean artificiality. Because how can the said change be unnatural, whereas man himself is alive because of nature and he is a natural creature. It just means that we start thinking about the beginning of time. It is difficult to decide whether man was an animal or a saint at that time. Then doesn't a thief resort to his nature while committing theft? Then why does he get punished? Do we have to teach values, tendencies or emotions to the child? We can't tell exactly. Our heart is not only to help the fit and healthy humans to survive, but to enable survival of more than half of humans and we take nature here in both natural and artificial forms.


Third meaning of naturalism: 

The third meaning of nature is the entire world and its actions and in this sense whatever man does is natural. In education, this would mean studying the functioning of the world and bringing it to life. This means that even a lazy and lazy person can get the chance to say that he cannot work naturally like many germs. 

In this way, a person with violent tendencies will have the audacity to call his violent actions natural. 

Some scholars are of the opinion that man should not become an obstacle in the evolutionary chain of nature, rather it is better for him to remain separate from that process. 

Development cannot happen without personality, Personality cannot function without purpose. 

Therefore, according to some scholars, we should study this law of development and become followers of nature. 

The aim of education is to understand this development and help in becoming its follower. 

To make education possible, we have to emphasize on many artificial things also. 

Thus we saw that it is difficult to decide the meaning of nature. Still we know that Herbert Speiser and Rousseau are considered naturalists.

Definitions of Naturalism

According to James Bard - " Naturalism is the doctrine which separates nature from God, subordinates matter to spirit, and gives supremacy to immutable laws. "


According to Thomas and Lange - " Naturalism, in contrast to idealism, views mind as subordinate to matter, and believes that ultimate reality is physical, not spiritual. "

According to Zayas - " Naturalism is a philosophical system in which spiritual, cognitive and experiences beyond the material world are excluded as the dominant characteristic. "

According to Parry – “ Naturalism is not a science, but a claim about science. More precisely, it is the claim that scientific knowledge is final, with no place for philosophical knowledge or outside science. ,

According to Bryce, “ Naturalism is a system and its main characteristic is the exclusion of all that is spiritual. ,

According to Rusk, “ Naturalism is a philosophical position adopted by those who interpret philosophy from a scientific point of view. ,


Characteristics of Naturalism

Nature is Ultimate Reality, Naturalism considers nature as ultimate and gives more emphasis on human nature. It believes that there is no difference between reality and nature. That is, whatever is real is nature or whatever is nature is real. 

In the words of Hawking – “ Naturalism denies that anything exists beyond nature, behind nature or apart from nature, whether in the worldly realm or in the spiritual realm. ” 

Naturalist ideology does not make any distinction between mind and body. She believes that man is matter, whether his mind or body, both are the result of this matter.

Naturalism also believes that scientific knowledge is the only proper knowledge and our effort should be to connect this scientific knowledge with life. 

Emphasis on acquiring knowledge through scientific method: Under naturalism, the acquisition of knowledge through inductive method has been discussed, along with this it also discusses that the best method of acquiring knowledge is observation. 

There is a need of sense for acquiring knowledge. Whatever knowledge a human being acquires in this world, Its medium is the senses.


Without the help of senses, humans cannot acquire knowledge. The supreme power in this world lies in the hands of nature and the laws of nature are immutable. 

Naturalism does not believe in any spiritual power or soul. He believes that man is created by nature and as soon as man's body is destroyed, his conscious element also ends.

Naturalism and aims of education (Aims of Naturalism in Education)

Famous educationist Rousseau said that the aim of education is to enable humans to live a life in harmony with nature. Through education, we do not create anything new in humans, rather we try to maintain the originality of humans and try to destroy the artificiality that comes in them as a result of human interaction. 

Rousseau said, “Change your everyday behavior (social behavior) and your actions will always be right.” 

Rousseau has disregarded social institutions everywhere. 

He says that '"Human institutions are a mass of absurdities and contradictions. But he considers nature as divine creation and man as divine creation.


According to biological naturalism, three main objectives of education are considered:-

1. To make a person capable so that he can keep himself alive in this world, can face the struggles of life and can try to achieve success.

2. The aim of education is to provide the individual with the ability to adjust to his environment.

3. According to Bernard Shaw, “The aim of education should be the preservation, transmission and enhancement of ethnic culture from one generation to the next. This objective is close to the idealistic objective.

According to naturalism, we can state the following objectives of education -

  • To prepare the child to live a natural life through education.
  • To develop the natural powers of the child.
  • To provide such knowledge and skills to the child so that he can adjust to his environment.
  • To generate appropriate and useful instinctive actions in humans means to develop such habits and powers through education in humans which can be used as per the occasion like parts of a machine.
  • To make the child capable of life's struggles.
  • To conserve and develop ethnic heritages.
  • Child's self-preservation and attainment of self-satisfaction.
  • Refinement and transformation of basic tendencies.
  • Independent development of the child's personality.


Naturalism and Curriculum

Regarding the aim of education of naturalism, Spencer has discussed five objectives. He also considers the curriculum of naturalism as a means of achieving these objectives and says: - In fact, if seen, naturalists organize the curriculum in their own way and believe that the child's nature, natural interest, ability, experience and The curriculum should be organized on the basis of natural activities and those subjects should be kept in the curriculum which are according to the different stages of development of the child. Regarding the principles of curriculum development, naturalistic ideology is as follows:-

  • The basis of curriculum development should be the child.
  • Science subjects should be given important place in the curriculum.
  • The curriculum should be practical and useful in life.
  • The curriculum should be experience-centric.


Naturalism and Discipline

Naturalist philosophers do not believe in forced discipline. He is in favor of independence. 

According to Rousseau, “Children should never be punished; freedom, not power, is the best thing.” Naturalists emphasize discipline induced by natural consequences. 

For example – when a child falls or hits his head on the table. When a person feels pain, he feels pain. The memory of this makes him more careful. Due to such repeated experiences of pain, he eventually becomes disciplined in his actions. But this principle applies to every age group. Cannot apply to children.