Dr. Alice Terry
18 February 2003
My Personal Philosophy of Education
A philosophy of education is essentially how you believe the student/teacher relationship should be enforced, what type of classroom you intend to run, and what the teacherís role should be in educational renewal/reform.† Because my academic background is home schooling I do not yet know where I stand on educational renewal/reform or what the teacherís role in these events should be.† Before this class I had never really focused on what I believed the educational experience should be from the teachers perspective.† Iíve always tried to glean as much knowledge as possible from the classes Iíve been in; but now that the tables are turned I have to state my own teaching style.† While believing portions of each school of thought, I will focus on essentialism and progressivism because there needs to be a blending of the two to create a successful classroom.†
At first glance essentialism seems to be the complete opposite of progressivism, but both are concerned with making the student ready to face society.† Interestingly enough, essentialism was a reaction to progressivism in the 1930ís and focuses on the basics of education (the 3 Rís) needed to be successful in modern society.† Essentialism has been the guiding philosophy of education for decades.† It is the workforce that provides input to the institutions and they base the curriculum on this input.† Programs of study are designed around reading, writing, math; and other skills needed to enter the job market.† It is the teacherís job to instruct the students on the basics, moving from less complex to more complex material through successive grades.† The student is to
master the material and show their knowledge through quizzes, classroom tests and standardized testing.
Progressivism, founded by John Dewey, is more concerned with the students and how they think, as opposed to the content and what they think.† The curriculum is centered on the needs of the students, which embraces academic, social and physical needs.† Education is a joint effort between the school, teacher and student; realizing the students knowledge is ever changing and increasing.† Teachers are seen as facilitators of learning and their job is to teach students to analyze and solve problems they will face in everyday life.† They would espouse that students learn best through real-life experiences and not just reading alone.† The primary role of the student is to grow deeper through his or her own exploration and discovery.† Students learn from each other, therefore; group learning is as important as operating alone.
So how can a teacher successfully combine these two very different styles of teaching?† Which of these elements need to be combined to create a positive learning experience?† It is important to teach both the essentials, the events that shaped our heritage; math, science and English in a way that relates to daily life and through alternative exercises.† While there is a place and need for lecture-discussion, memorization and standardized testing; curriculum based on and relating to personal experiences is also very important.† Students should have the freedom to write, draw and play music creatively and of their own design.
I would like to see my classroom run in an organized manner.† It is important for the teacher to maintain control of the environment, while at the same time being approachable by the students.† As I sit and daydream, I visualize how I want my class to appear.† I can see the seats, lined up in rows, the studentsí file in and take their place.† My desk is at the front of the room with pictures of my son.† The chalkboard is behind me with todayís lesson plan.† The class meets daily, today will be a lecture.† At the end of class I assign the next topic but it is up to the students to supply the material to be discussed by next class period.† Each class will be different and incorporate various teaching methods.† There will be lectures, group projects, visual and computer aids, tests (both multiple choice and essay), videos, models, and papers (both assigned topics and creative).† Never let the classroom become rote and predictable.† You cannot predict how life or events will unfold so it is important to have many methods of problem solving available to you.† Every person has strengths and weaknesses.† I excel in a very structured environment and am grateful to the teachers who pressed me to create my own works of art.† In the end I produced better results when given an assignment and told what was expected of me.† I recognize that not everyone learns best in this fashion and this method could feel cold and stifling to some.† Therefore, I believe a well-rounded education is essential.