Education theory involves the philosophy of the purpose, use, and understanding of educational concepts and learning. It often serves as an explanation and description of educational practice.
Generally the word theory is used in education in three primary ways:
- As some type of an explanatory model such as constructivism.
- As a body of knowledge that was developed using theoretical means.
- As the opposite of practice such as thinking and reflecting instead of performing actions.
Common educational theories include normative theories, descriptive theories, and sociology of education.
1. Normative Theories
Provide the common norms, objectives, and standards of education. These theories give reasons of what education should be and what it should accomplish.
- Often use the results from philosophical research and factual investigations about humans along with psychology of learning.
- These theories present opinions of what education should be including form, characteristics, reasoning, and whom it involves.
- Aspects of normative theories include what is right, facts about the world and humanity, dispositions education should promote, and recommendations of teaching methods.
- Examples of educational philosophies include Montessori education, democratic education, and Waldorf education.
- Strive to describe or establish concrete norms for conditions that enclose various concepts that classify a curriculum.
- Provide explanations of what is important for learners to understand.
2. Descriptive Theories
Provide details and explanations of education processes using hypotheses that are confirmed by research and observation.
- Concentrates on the instructional methods for teaching concepts of a curriculum.
- Examples of methods include inquiry-based instruction, autonomous learning, lecture, coyote teaching, maturationism, transformative learning, socrative technique, taking children seriously, and outcome-based education.
- Explains how curricula facilitates or hinders learning and describes the outcomes of different educational settings.
Sociology of Education
- Involves the study of how public educational facilities and individual experiences of learners influence education and the attainment of goals.
- Mainly concerned with systems of public education in modern societies.