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