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Praxis & Philosophy

What is Praxis?

If philosophy is about how we think and how we believe, then praxis is the art of putting our philosophy to work. Our philosophy may guide us, but without practical use, it is like a balloon with no air: flat and lifeless. Aristotle has been mentioned by many, but he is worth mentioning again as his praxis continues to affect all of us, especially in education.

Smith (1999), believes that “Aristotle associated this form of thinking and doing with the work of craftspeople or artisans” (Smith, 1999, p. 5). Putting philosophy into action requires a certain amount of creativity and practical reasoning, and requires us to question our beliefs and reasoning. Aristotle also believed that praxis was about determining the actions that were right and good and guided by a solid moral compass. (Smith, 1999)

Paulo Freire used his praxis to educate Brazil’s impoverished masses. “He argued that education, schooling, teaching, and learning are never objective, or neutral, but always involve ideological commitment and imposition” (Gutek, 2009, p. 171). His praxis can still be seen in the NCLB act where children from impoverished backgrounds are guaranteed the same quality education as their more well to do counterparts.

A third teacher who used praxis to put her philosophy into action was my junior high school music teacher, Mrs. Wilson. She believed that all people had some form of musical talent, and encouraged us to think outside the box when it came to putting our musicality on display. I still remember the musical skits we would have in her class. She taught us that we didn’t have to sing like birds to love and appreciate music.

I’m not sure yet how I’m putting my own praxis to work as an educator. Until this week, I had never heard of praxis, so I’m a little behind the norm. I hope that I can take the lessons of teachers before me by thinking of creative, moral, and interesting ways to educate my students the way they deserve to be educated.


Gutek, G. (2009). New Perspectives on Philosophy and Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Smith, M. (1999). Praxis: An introduction to the idea plus an annotated booklist. Retrieved October 11, 2010, from Infed: ideas * thinkers * practice