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Key Terms
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aesthetics  The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of beauty and judgments about it.
assertive discipline  A behavior modification program developed by Lee and Marlene Canter designed to "catch" and reward students being good, while discouraging off-task and inappropriate behavior.
back to basics  During the 1980s, a revival of the back-to-basics movement evolved out of concern for declining test scores in math, science, reading, and other areas. Although there is not a precise definition of back to basics, many consider it to include increased emphasis on reading, writing, and arithmetic, fewer electives, and more rigorous grading.
behavior modification  A strategy to alter behavior in a desired direction through the use of rewards.
behaviorism  A psychological theory that interprets human behavior in terms of stimuli-response.
constructivism  With roots in cognitive psychology, this educational approach is built on the idea that people construct their understanding of the world. Constructivist teachers gauge a student's prior knowledge, then carefully orchestrate cues, classroom activities, and penetrating questions to push students to higher levels of understanding.
core curriculum  A central body of knowledge that schools require all students to study.
deductive reasoning  Working from a general rule to identify particular examples and applications to that rule.
empiricism  The philosophy that maintains that sensory experiences, such as seeing, hearing, and touching, are the ultimate sources of all human knowledge. Empiricists believe that we experience the external world by sensory perception; then, through reflection, we conceptualize ideas that help us interpret the world.
epistemology  The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of knowledge and learning.
essentialism  An educational philosophy that emphasizes basic skills of reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, geography, and language.
ethics  The branch of philosophy that examines questions of right and wrong, good and bad.
ethnocentrism  The tendency to view one's own culture as superior to others, or to fail to consider other cultures in a fair or equitable manner.
existentialism  A philosophy that emphasizes the ability of an individual to determine the course and nature of his or her life and the importance of personal decision making.
idealism  A doctrine holding that knowledge is derived from ideas and emphasizing moral and spiritual reality as a preeminent source of explanation.
inductive reasoning  Drawing generalizations based on the observation of specific examples.
informal education  In many cultures, augments or takes the place of formal schooling as children learn adult roles through observation, conversation, assisting, and imitating.
laboratory schools  Schools often associated with a teacher preparation institution for practice teaching, demonstration, research, or innovation.
logic  The branch of philosophy that deals with reasoning. Logic defines the rules of reasoning, focuses on how to move from one set of assumptions to valid conclusions, and examines the rules of inference that enable us to frame our propositions and arguments.
metaphysics  The area of philosophy that examines the nature of reality.
oral tradition  Spoken language is the primary method for instruction in several cultures around the world. Word problems are used to teach reasoning, proverbs to instill wisdom, and stories to teach lessons about nature, history, religion, and social customs.
philosophy  The love of or search for wisdom; the quest to understand the meaning of life.
political philosophy  An approach to analyzing how past and present societies are arranged and governed and how better societies may be created in the future.
rationalism  The philosophy that emphasizes the power of reason and the principles of logic to derive statements about the world. Rationalists encourage schools to emphasize teaching mathematics, because mathematics involves reason and logic.
scaffold  Taking from the construction field, scaffolding provides support to help a student build understanding. The teacher might use cues or encouragement or well-formulated questions to assist a student in solving a problem or mastering a concept.
social reconstructionism  (See Reconstructionism.)
Socratic method  An educational strategy attributed to Socrates in which a teacher encourages a student's discovery of truth by questions.
scaffolding  Taken from the construction field, scaffolding provides support to help a student build understanding. The teacher might use cues or encouragement or well-formulated questions to assist a student in solving a problem or mastering a concept.

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