Final Foundations Paper

Introduction

I gave a response to two selected questions:

(3). Of all the individuals and philosophies we have discussed during this course, select one or two whose ideas have influenced you the most. What are those ideas, and what relevance do they have to your own philosophy?

Plato’s Cave “On Breaking the Chains of Ignorance”

I particularly enjoyed the revelations and mental confirmations I received from this reading. He starts off with a dialog that was difficult for me to follow, but his conclusion was undeniable. “But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put knowledge that was not there before into a soul, like sight into blind eyes.” (Allen, 232) this statement reaffirms everything I have thought about concerning the different stages of development. Like when one asks another what love means, they will describe only what they have known, and until they experience something different, they are unable to learn the next level of understanding by just telling them what that stage of love looks like.

Plato talks about dragging man out of the cave, and I believe that is the goal of education. I feel that not only should education aim to put knowledge of these stages into the soul, but also at turning the soul to desire the light.

What relevance it has to my own philosophy is that I feel there is no higher form of contribution, than education. In this story that comes at a cost, that these enlightened folks need to return to the cave to pull people out. This is a remarkable characteristic of humanity, the desire to share ones knowledge to short cut the struggles of other. Plato spins this even further to place the responsibility onto the higher stages to inspire others to reach for the truths and desire them. I believe an achieved educator does just that.

Leo Tolstoy “On Popular Education”

I believe education is best received when one is ready to hear the information. Perhaps it does not become clear until one has already thought about it. It seems it isn’t until they have thought of something similar or are close to the same conclusion do they receive the education. In this manner Tolstoy talks about “every thinker expresses only that which has been consciously perceived by his epoch, consequently the education of the younger generation in the sense of this consciousness is quite superfluous: this consciousness is already inherent in the living generation” (Scheuerman, Session 8 pg. 5).

Tolstoy also brings up the fact that curriculum is easy when there is no doubt. Plato did not doubt the truths of his ethics (Scheuerman, Session 8 pg. 5) and neither did the religious pedagogues of the medieval ages etc. but he questions how to select what must be known among so many choices. I agree this is overwhelming to think about, but he provides hope when he points out the unconscious commonality between all pedagogues (in spite of their divergent opinions) and it is that all of them wish to liberate the curriculum from the “historical fetters” which weigh it down. That the schools of the past corresponded effectively with their times, and ours schools need to be current with right now to be effective. To be guided by an expression of the peoples will (Scheuerman, Session 8 pg. 7) to let the students decide what they want to learn, because what we have learned, is in a realm of “historical”.

This is relevant to my own philosophy in the fact that a seed has to be planted in the minds to yearn for knowledge, and after that students tend to search for not only what relates to the now but also what interests them about the past. I wonder how we could better the next generation if we are not adaptive and receptive and thus leading by example.

(2). Taking into consideration the three best ways by which we obtain knowledge (received, discovered, constructed), what are the implications for achieving proper balance in teaching and learning?

In revisiting this concept it wasn’t until after I finished this class, that the intent behind the content became clear. The implications of achieving a proper balance in my opinion is a synergy between student and teacher. It is tapping into that person’s innate abilities and wonder, to present the knowledge in a manner that can be manifested. The role of the teacher is that of instructor, expert, and facilitator while the role of the learner is that of both passive (traditional view of learners receiving information from authorities) and active (engagement in process, creating constructing knowledge by doing, discovering and reflective thinking). (Scheuerman, Session 1 pg. 2) I think the most effective of teachers facilitates learning in both passive and active means to find what works.

The balance comes from being proficient in all means of imparting knowledge. Knowledge received/revealed: didactics, i.e. “being told”, someone else’s knowledge, oral traditions, ancient and recent. Knowledge discovered: induction, “finding out for one’s self”, “Discovery,” “Inquiry based” learning, more active, engaging, enduring, “D” vs. “d” . Knowledge constructed: understanding built creatively: writing, drawing, original construction, etc. (Scheuerman, Session 1 pg. 1) That effectiveness and synergy with one’s student comes from the execution of these forms with clarity, expertise in that subject, passion, communication of expectations and goals, understanding ones pupils and their situations, soliciting feedback and constructively adapting that into the next time. Teaching them the bigger picture of interconnectedness, and giving them the environment to reflect and develop the cognitive intuitions that will provide the foundation for them to make decisions about their surroundings.

There is a balance between teaching and learning that can be achieved in confidence when everything is approached with love. Both student and teacher are in both roles and sometimes doing what is best for the relationship, is not always what one thinks is correct. I was just writing about the difference a teacher makes when they stop relying on the “zero-tolerance” policy and engage with the student to determine the cause of a disturbance. The disturbance is not without repercussions, but it provides an opportunity for both parties to learn and teach.

Something to consider in these situations of learning and teaching is the sentiment: “what is fair is not always just, and what is just is not always fair”. Perhaps what one thinks is just in that situation is to rely on the policy and that it’s not fair to the other students to take the time to engage. But perhaps what is best for the student teacher relationship would be to take a moment to understand how much of that disturbance behavior is from a choice, and how much is a stress reflex response that is outside of their control.

With only 5% of suspensions being attributed to weapons or drugs, the other 95% were for “disruptive behavior” or “other” according to a 2011 report from the National Education Policy Center, means that teachers are often on the front lines of keeping that student out of a suspension situation. “Studies show that one suspension triples the likelihood of a juvenile justice contact within that year,” California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye told the California Legislature last month. “And that one suspension doubles the likelihood of repeating the grade.” (Cantil-Sakauye, pg. 1). So this this synergy that is so desperately needed comes from that balance of teaching and learning, and I am eager to implement the things I have learned thus far and put these into practice.

References

Allen, R.E. (2006). Plato: The Republic. New Haven: Yale University Press

Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice Tani G. (2012). State of the Judiciary Address to a

Joint Session of the California Legislature.

http://www.courts.ca.gov/17293.htm

Losen, Daniel J. (2011). National Education Policy Center, Discipline Policies,

Successful Schools, and Racial Justice 8. http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/NEPCSchoolDiscipline.pdf

Scheuerman, Richard. (2014) Session 1 EDU6120:Foundations.

http://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-1-goals1.pdf

Scheuerman, Richard. (2014) Session 8 EDU6120:Foundations.

http://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-8-

progressivism1.pdf

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