Professional Philosophy of Education and Developmental Theory

Introduction

I recently put the finishing touches on my personal background reflection essay and because of this not much has changed in how I thought I would teach so I intend to explore how my professional philosophy of education and developmental theory has changed but more importantly what were the reinforcements to this philosophy that I gained this semester.

Professional Philosophy of Education and Developmental Theory

I find myself in teaching situations where I rely heavily on the works of others to provide merit to the instruction. It’s the idea that it has been said before, and most likely said better. Or perhaps what I feel is necessary to support a claim is that backing of someone else’s words. The readings of Tolstoy gave me the inspiration I needed to recognize that the requirements of each generation of learners evolves from the previous requirements and to continue to find the best way to teach each new set, is to evolve with them. He remarks that at each time in history that corresponding school of thought was pertinent for that time, but now is our time to make a difference in the student’s current environment. I appreciate that permission to adapt, and within this adaptation we are able to provide what the student’s needs.

During this semester I received affirmation of the merits of learner-centric teaching. I feel like most people remember the intention behind the content, not so much the memorization of it. So in this sense the learner becomes the subject, and in watching how they interact with the materials, one could find out what sticks and work with that to create a sense of self-discovery. I still believe people learn best when they are free to explore ideas they are curious about. I think nurturing this innate curiosity outside of the confines of requirements is where real progress is made.

This philosophy relies heavily on an honest feedback system. So I believe it is imperative to first create an atmosphere of comforting acceptance. In this manner fostering that feedback as well as practicing and encouraging that honesty will help to not only evaluate the system, but to tailor their experiences. I was just recently introduced to the idea of exit surveys, they are anonymous and because of that invite honesty. I think another way to create a conducive atmosphere to self-discovery is to start lectures off with thought provoking quote, and to give kids a fun once a week quiz based on a topic that is currently interesting them about lifestyles, social, economic, political or environmental topics. I have also been introduced to the concept of “me” charts, starting a year out with the students public self-description and having them develop the rules of conduct that they wish to instill for their class will help create a starting point. As is evident at this point I am very interested in working science into self-betterment, global education should involve learning for something, rather than about something (Ellis, pg. 8).

One of my philosophies about the importance of building communication skills involves finding ways to get students to become interdependent in a way that is not cheating. Robert Muller inspired me to consider that “a child born today into a world of 4 billion people will, if he or she reaches the age of sixty be sharing the earth with three times that many human beings.” Muller goes on to say that “A child born today will be both an actor and a beneficiary or a victim in the total world fabric, and he may rightly ask: ‘Why was I not warned? Why was I not better educated? Why did my teachers not tell me about these problems and indicate my behavior as a member of an interdependent human race?’” (Ellis, pg. 7). This reminds me that people will need the skills to work with other people, more so in the future than ever before, and I believe it is our place as teachers to not only provide them the tools and practice to do so, but inspire them to want to. In this age of YouTube instruction it is easier than ever to co-exist with minimal interactions, or finding these interactions on public forums that are unburdened of the responsibility of immediate personal consequences.

I feel the pinch of specialization in our field, capitalism encourages people to find niches, and in these pockets of experts there are often few interdisciplinary connections. But this is an eventual detriment because we are missing the potential applications. While I feel it is unrealistic to do all, it is important to keep in mind the potential sources of bridges to other disciplines and find time to explore them. This can be mimicked in the classroom, by bringing in content related to their other classes, or guest speakers and materials from other disciplines.

There is so much to know about our natural world, and it is easy to feel like ones subject is the most important, but if the chemistry student understands how a chemical is structured, but can’t deduce how it interacts with the cells biologically then they lose the most valuable perspective of their work, the potential of application. Our current system relies on a few people to connect the dots among a sea of information and we can better prepare students to look for the bigger picture of society (without overwhelming them), instead of only narrowing the focus to find economic wealth.

In utilization of my philosophies: I look forward to helping high school students realize that they are often held to higher expectations than that of “adults” or of their own parents, and finding ways to reinforce that they are capable of learning, and motivating them with a compelling vision that will hopefully influence them to reach for their ideal selves. I look forward to helping them look for more sides than just one, and determining what is within their choices, and accepting what they have no control over. I am not an expert in my field, so I also look forward to the challenge of keeping up with them and their interests, but most of all I am excited to discover new ways of accommodating, adapting and communicating to a diverse set of individuals and finding what makes them work.

References

Ellis, Arthur. (2014) Multicultural Education Session 7. http://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-7-ellis-multicultural-education.pdf

Personal Background Reflection Essay

Introduction

I started gaining appreciation for both science and teaching while I was in the 5th grade from an inspirational instructor named Mr. Boyle. This was further reinforced in 6th grade with Mr. Roth. Both made lasting impressions through their engagement with the materials and students. I got a degree in chemistry because I knew I could do it, and it would give me more choices upon graduating, but it was really a backup plan for if I couldn’t get through the memorization required for my upper division biology classes. When the school requirements stated I would have to get through Calculus 3, and I was starting college at pre-algebra I just put one foot in front of the other, and made my way with resilience and not without failures. In the same manner I worked my way up through Fred Hutch to be working in the most estimable laboratory on campus.

I intend to be a high school biology teacher. This subject is where I found my passion, and where I found the passion of our teacher to be most infective. Albeit to be teaching public high school is surprising and will be most assuredly challenging, seeing as how I never passed my first and only experience in public high school. I reasoned in 9th grade the predominance of my fellow attendees were not there to learn, but rather to engage in things I did not or did not want to understand. My mother picked up on this, and realizing how very difficult it was for me, searched for alternatives until I was cozy in a group homeschooling situation.

These experiences affect my personal educational developmental philosophy, as does my gender, spirituality and socio-economic status and I intend to find the ways these relate to that philosophy. “True professionals know not only what they are to do, but also are aware of the principles and reasons for acting. Experience alone does not make a person a professional adult educator. The person must be also be able to reflect deeply upon the experience he or she has had” (Elias & Merriam, 1980, p. 9).

 

Personal Educational Developmental Philosophy

As an educator I seek to create an environment that attracts and holds learners, moving them towards the objectives of the state requirements, but outside of that I believe people learn best when they are free to explore ideas they are curious about. I think nurturing this innate curiosity outside of the confines of requirements is where real progress is made. In following that belief a teacher could plan instructions by asking what the learners what their interests are, not only to show that their interests matter, but that they could make a difference.

This philosophy stems from my own freedom to follow my curiosity. I was raised under avoidant agnostic conditions but was allowed to come to my own conclusions based on what I was interested in. This hands-off approach lead me to appreciate religion and find faith in an organic manner. The impacts of my actions in my role as a professional educator is hopefully one of inspiration. I look forward to finding a resonance between requirements and what is on the hearts and minds of the youth, and in these moments cultivating the self-awareness, self-assessment and self-confidence that are oh so necessary for progress.

Another of my philosophies lies in being a facilitator rather than a director thereby instilling resilience in having courageous conversations and difficult discussions. I feel most successful in situations that are structured, and then finding the ways we can be flexible within them. I believe good educators start planning instruction by considering the end behaviors they are looking for and finding ways to produce them and using the learners feelings to accomplish objectives. This comes from an appreciation for clear goals, and wiggle room within them, and from the times that a teacher has acknowledged my non-verbal cues and engaged me for a response to the materials instead of bulldozing over them to get what they want done.

In an image of my ideal self, I am the instructor that is successful when the learners have awareness of social and political issues and are willing to explore the impacts of these on their lives, and while I feel compelled to the importance of such things I doubt I will feel capable to practice the concept. This is my ideal self, because it wasn’t until college that a teacher felt comfortable and knowledgeable enough to engage his class in this way (bio-chemistry and nuclear sciences). I find myself wishing for these interactions earlier in life to better prepare my future self.

Resources

Elias, J. L., & Merriam, S. (1980). Philosophical foundations of adult education.

Huntington, NY: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co.