Existentialism is a student-centered philosophy. The ideas held by this education philosophy are in opposition to those of essentialism. Existentialism in education rejects standard curriculum and testing in favor of an open dialogue with students, in which the actions of historical individuals and students' reaction to the presented content is the focus.

Like progressivism, discovery learning is encouraged. However, existentialists focus more on self-discovery within the student over the in-depth exploration of content. The instructor acts as the facilitator, not guiding the student in any particular direction, but instead giving them the opportunity to explore their thoughts and know themselves. The goal of existential education is for students to form their own, authentic opinions on various subjects.



Major Players

Jean-Paul Sartre

Soren Kierkegaard


Roll over the image to read about an example of existentialism.

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