Existentialism and Reconstruction



Existentialism and Social Reconstruction are two understanding that focus on the individual or personal ability. In education, these perceptive are very meaningful and useful in order to develop students to be creative, innovative, independent and responsible.
The most important issue in this report is the awareness that human (including students or everyone) is unique and everyone has the role as the agent of social change (in positive meaning).

Existential, according to Heidegger (in Adian, 2003:18) was a derivation from Latin ‘Existere’, or ‘taking distance’. It means that human is the only one creature that can take distance from their existence and asking about it. An English department student can sometimes can say “This is not my choice; actually I was interested to literature”. He can quest and think his existence.
By understanding this, human can change his condition, can plan his future and this is the real difference between human and other creatures. Human is the only one creature that realizes his existence or being.
Existential movements in education firstly come from philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre. However, Martin Heidegger also explained existentialism very much in his tractate titled Being and Time (Sein und Zeit).
Alwasilah states that the core of this philosophy is the respect to the individual on their unique. Further, he states that existence precedes essence. We was born, exist and determine our essence freely (Alwasilah, 2008:106), Gaarder (2004:493).
In line with this, Sapp (2008) states that individuals are responsible for determining for themselves what is “true” or “false”, “right” or “wrong”, “beautiful” or “ugly”. For the existentialist, there exists no universal form of human nature. However, human create it (www.jeffsapp.com), (Alwasilah, 2008:106).
Based on these theories, Alwasilah suggests that teachers have to be facilitator and giving students opportunity to develop their self (ability, knowledge and skill). Teachers have to motivate students’ creativity and imagination, not only imitate what which there are. Individually, students’ learning should be accommodated with their ability (Alwasilah, 2008:106).
Kierkegaard stated that we were unique individual; therefore, he rejected what Hegel said objective truth, because it was not relevant with a personal life of an individual. What is true for someone is not always true for someone else. What is appropriate for a class is not always appropriate for other. What exists is the subjective truth (Gaarder, 2004:411-413).

This understanding (Social Reconstruction) tends to culture transformation based on mistakes in education practice (Alwasilah, 2008:107). Student or learner should to be the agent of change. Sapp stated that teachers who are reconstructivist believe that they are responsible for social change and they model their students to be agents of social change (Sapp, 2008).
Social Reconstruction was the continuation of Progressivism. This movement was acted based on assumption that progressivists just though about current social problems, but not to change it. Social Reconstruction emphasized the future civilization. Thus, “utopia” approach was needed in order to stimulate the thoughts about the future world that need to be created (http://fadhliyanur.blogspot.com)

Existentialism understandings can be applied in education practices. Meanwhile Social Reconstruction understandings are very useful in planning the future of education.
Based on existentialism views, that everyone is unique, so that there is not a universal method of teaching that appropriate to all. Education must be grounded on people background. In this line, I agree that Existentialism view is strong related with the theory of Multiple Intelligence. Everyone is unique in their ability, although people have multiple abilities, but they realize that only one ability they can mastery. Meanwhile, Social Reconstruction understanding is very useful to stimulate people in order to build a planning of the future of education, even the future of the life.

Adian, Donny Gahral. 2003. Martin Heidegger. Teraju. Jakarta
Alwasilah, A. Chaedar. 2008. Prof. Dr. Filsafat Bahasa dan Pendidikan. Rosda Bandung.
Gaarder, Jostein. 2004. Dunia Sophie: Sebuah Novel Filsafat. PT Mizan Pustaka. Bandung

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