Archive for the ‘Realism and Idealism’ Category

Idealism and Realism

23 Sep

Idealism: The Cave from Plato’s Republic & Oversoul by Ralph Waldo Emerson

First off let me start of by saying that I found these readings difficult. I have no idea if it’s just me or not but for some unknown reason I had a very hard time following what both of them were talking about. Plato was easier to understand once I read the summary of his writing from and his ideas became more clear and actually very interesting. I enjoyed how he used a cave, the shadows and the sun to describe the knowledge that people have and the knowledge that they COULD have if they worked to “unlock” said knowledge. I like how he used the shadows in the cave describe the false reality we are all living in and the world outside of the cave as the world of spiritual enlightenment (the real reality that is locked away in our minds) which, according to Plato, is something we should all strive to have. Something that I found interesting between the two writings is both authors believed that humans’ minds already had all of the knowledge it was every going to possess and that humans needed to unlock there knowledge for themselves. They both believed in a divine being and that the reality we see/live in isn’t the real reality. They wrote that the real reality could only be uncovered by divine enlightenment. It was interesting to see both authors focus so much on the divine and the power and knowledge true divine understanding could bring. Idealists believe that knowledge “is about the universal spiritual truths that underline reality and about the ideas that reflect that truth.” (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011, p. 171).

Sound or No Sound?

Realists believe “that reality is outside our minds, or objective, not latent or internal to out minds as Plato claimed” (Ornstein, Levine & Gutek, 2011, p. 1713).

Therefore the answer to the question: “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, would it make a noise?” from a realists point of view the answer would be yes. A realist would say ‘”yes” because the tree DOES exists and it grows rather or not you are there to see it grow inch by inch, so it makes a sound when it falls even if you aren’t there to hear it.


Idealism or Realism?

Surprisingly I am a Realism. I was surprised by this because I do believe in God and many of my core values and my beliefs come from my relationship with God. I also believe that the world was created by God, but to me Realism is more logical when it comes to education. I believe that students should be taught different skills and teachers should use many different methods to teach their students (hands on learning, discussions, visual aids and so on) to ensure that they can make the subject matter as clear as possible to every student in their classroom. While I don’t totally agree with the idea of standardize testing as a way to always test students I do believe that teachers and students should be held accountable for the knowledge they teach and the knowledge they learn.

Realism, Idealism and Learning

While I am more of a realist I think both Idealism and Realism offer interesting and unique ways to think about learning, education and the world around us. Both theories can be used as a base to form an educational institution and both bring up good points about how to view the world around us. Realism, I feel, is for people who think more logically and Idealism is better for people who think more abstractly.


This video contrasts Idealism and Realism was easy to follow which was nice for me since I had a hard time with the readings!



1. Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

2. Steven Kreis. (2004, May 13). Lectures on modern european intellectual history. Retrieved from

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