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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Authentic Applications

How one learns is just as important as what one learns. It wasn’t until college that I finally learned how, and if we can get that into the lives of people earlier I feel like this would increase the potential for societal growth. Having exciting curriculum creates engagement,  finding ways to make the subject interesting provides the value and makes the subject worth knowing. People remember the intention behind content, not so much the memorization of it.
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I particularly liked the application of the first amendment in these cases, although I get the impression that teachers do not feel as free to express controversial view in lectures and readings as would be put forth from the Sweezy v. new Hampshire (1957) case.
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Regardless, these I found interesting:
Barnette v. W.V. Board of Education (West Virginia, 1940): Enforcing flag salute on Jehovah’s Witnesses abridged their First Amendment rights as they considered the pledge an objectionable oath. The court goes on to say that all Constitutional privileges are protected in school settings (cp. “disruptive to the educational environment”).
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McCollum v. Illinois Board of Education (Illinois, 1948): Forbids thirty minute voluntary religious classes on public school premises, court notes that the First Amendment “erected a wall between the church and state which must be kept high and inpregnable.” A precedent-setting decision for strong separation.
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Sweezy v. New Hampshire (1957): Affirms First Amendment freedom of teachers to express controversial views in lectures and readings.
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Pickering v. Board of Education (1967): Affirms teachers’ First Amendment rights to publically criticize the school administration in a professional and informed manner, an important “freedom of expression” ruling.
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Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969): Court rules in favor of students’ right to express opinions on controversial subjects (i.e., armbands to protest the Vietnam War) as long as it does not interfere with normal school activities.
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Wisconsin Board of Education v. Yoder (Wisconsin, 1972): Amish successfully sue for right to complete school after finishing the eighth grade. Court rules that the state must place First Amendment religious freedom above its interest for compulsory secondary education.
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Board of Education v. James (1972): Teachers have the same rights and reasonable limitations as students with regard to freedom of expression in school setting
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Bethel School District (WA) v. Fraser (1986): First Amendment rights to freedom of speech do not prevent school officials from disciplining a student for the use of lewd and offensive language.

I Can Teach

For the first time I have laid witness to John Deweys’ guiding principles of progressivism within a classroom. I had an opportunity to speak to 4 sessions of 8th grade science classes at SAAS and found how student centered learning can be operated. These kids were given the materials to explore what interests them and came prepared with questions about what they found. This active inquiry based system allowed for the students to draw lessons from the content and engage their curiosity for how our lab did things, the process of getting us to our findings, how much it cost, personal stories of the pediatric patients etc. They were very interested in the stories behind the science, and this engagement I attribute to this experimental learning, and the way the teacher let the individual pupil difference influence instruction.

I am all about inspiring optimism for societies future, mixing up the disciplines across ages, and can appreciate the sentiments of school as “home”, class as “family” and teacher as “parent-guardian”. I can teach the content and find ways to provide for that lifelong means of intellectual development. There is a pendulum that swings between student centered vs. knowledge/society-oriented education and I believe that in the moderation between the two, we can find relief.

All Things Considered

Ellis wrote about the fact that “The Melting Pot” never really happened. In the sense that in this melting pot old customs would be left behind, languages would be forgotten and differences would be melted together.  I appreciated the shout out to the fact that teaching immigrants to read and write English was an incredibly difficult task that had never been attempted before.  They did this so that the disadvantage of not knowing the language could give them the tools to rise above the lower stratum. In essence to get better jobs,  and it isn’t for the faint of heart to challenge this idea.

So during this time (late 1800’s early 1900’s) it looked like this melting pot might happen! Ellis contributes a few culturally damaging circumstances out of this zeal for assimilation, like negative stereotypes, racism, discrimination, and segregation (Ellis, 4). I appreciated his honesty in saying that perhaps the teaching profession is that of a reactive and defensive posture. That “Teachers have been demoralized by tight budgets, declining enrollments and increasingly hostile public” (Ellis, 5). He does offer some hope in our ability to understand, and therefore increase of understanding through exposure.

This note from him about Robert Muller was particularly touching, as it relates to my future profession:

United Nations official Robert Muller recently noted 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, 7).
He goes on to offer advice based on recommendations from Gilliom and Remy on how to gain global education. My particular favorite is that global education should involve learning for something, rather than about something (Ellis, 8).

P.S. I wish there was an end of chapter “culture inventory” questions posted as the paper suggests.

 

Search for Meaning

Millennia of experience can help provide the sense of cultural legacy to build the moral sense within young people. The treasure of accumulated knowledge is now dependent on curiosity and available through technology. Herbart in the age of enlightenment came to the imperative that education is to cultivate humanity to a natural morality. That the educational challenge isn’t to impart knowledge but to promote students desire to be good and productive citizens.

With this age, I find people to be self guided in their search for meanings in the teachings technology provides. Making the responsibility to find persuasive means to move their understandings to a position that it is in their best interest and the interests of others around them to promote social values even more pressing. This responsibility is also spread out to not only the academic teachers, but the teachers of the general public. I am finding suggestible youth in public forums being guided by these public teachers unburdened by responsibility of immediate personal consequence. I feel more-so now then ever, that as a society “rising tides lifts all boats” (not in relation to the economy) and have hope that we can all move forward together in our search for meaning.

 

 

Key Idea Identification

I loved how the reading (Ellis, 5) started out with something known, but often ignored. “Each of us has a personal philosophy which we apply, consciously or unconsciously, to our daily life. While some people are more informed than others, most people have established a basic framework within which to view life.”

And something of note from last weeks readings was that teachers are salaries are not high compared to other professions because they are assigned a work year of 180 days while the rest in our society considers 240 days to be the norm. This is working under the assumption that teachers are not preparing for the next school year during that time. And I have yet to meet a teacher for that assumption to be true.

Things from the lecture:

Solicit what the kids are interested in to make an impact beyond themselves – affecting change. Don’t teach until kids react negatively.

Learning Illustrated

I appreciated the story of illustrated learning from the candles in the quiet auditorium for Veterans day and the exercise when we got to come up with our own. My teammate gave me some great ideas like pictures of the graduating class, and the awards and recognition that help his class achieve. The cadence achieved from marching and the knowledge gained from the order and coordination was inspiring, turning off the electricity, picking up trash on the side of the road to illustrate taking care of the environment.

It reminds me how effective these RSA animations are for selected influential speakers. In finding new ways to combine learning with illustrations we can reach a much broader audience, reaching our ultimate mutual goal across the ages of passing on knowledge. https://www.youtube.com/user/theRSAorg

Artful teachers match the learning with the realms of interest, uniting something about what interests them.

“Believe in courage” – Woody