Descriptive Theories of Education

Descriptive theories of education provide descriptions or explanations of the processes of education.

Curriculum theory
Descriptive theories of curriculum explain how curricula "benefit or harm all publics it touches". One descriptive concept from curriculum theory is that of the hidden curriculum, which is “some of the outcomes or by-products of schools or of non-school settings, particularly those states which are learned but not openly intended.”

Instructional theory
Instructional theories focuses on the methods of instruction for teaching curricula. Theories include the methods of: autonomous learning, coyote teaching, inquiry-based instruction, lecture, maturationism, socratic method, outcome-based education, taking children seriously, transformative learning

The nature of the learner and of learning
Philosophical Anthropology
Philosophical anthropology is the philosophical study of human nature. In terms of learning, examples of descriptive theories of the learner are: a mind, soul, and spirit capable of emulating the Absolute Mind (Idealism); an orderly, sensing, and rational being capable of understanding the world of things (Realism), a rational being with a soul modeled after God and who comes to know God through reason and revelation (Neo-Thomism), an evolving and active being capable of interacting with the environment (Pragmatism), a fundamentally free and individual being who is capable of being authentic through the making of and taking responsibility for choices (Existentialism). Philosophical concepts for the process of education include Bildung and paideia.

Educational Psychology
Educational psychology is an empirical science that provides descriptive theories of how people learn. Examples of theories of education in psychology are: constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism, and motivational theory

Sociology of education
The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education. Examples of theories of education from sociology include: functionalism, conflict theory, social efficiency, and social mobility.

Educational anthropology
Educational anthropology is a sub-field of anthropology and is widely associated with the pioneering work of George Spindler. As the name would suggest, the focus of educational anthropology is obviously on education, although an anthropological approach to education tends to focus on the cultural aspects of education, including informal as well as formal education. As education involves understandings of who we are, it is not surprising that the single most recognized dictum of educational anthropology is that the field is centrally concerned with cultural transmission. Cultural transmission involves the transfer of a sense of identity between generations, sometimes known as enculturation and also transfer of identity between cultures, sometimes known as acculturation. Accordingly thus it is also not surprising that educational anthropology has become increasingly focussed on ethnic identity and ethnic change.

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