Philosophy of Teaching
My Education Philosophy
Educational institutions can no longer focus exclusively on intellectual development, because students’ needs have changed. Families are, to a large degree, no longer the exclusive fortresses that once fostered the moral, emotional, and psychological development of children. Consequently the responsibility of social and emotional grooming of future generations has fallen largely on the shoulders of schools. For this reason, I believe that the purpose of education is to foster and facilitate the development of each student’s potential, so that each may achieve self actualization and contribute productively to society. A good education is one that prepares students for their roles in society, whether it is in academia, art, farming, the sciences, technology, or law enforcement. It equips students with the intellectual, physical, and socio-emotional skills needed to achieve their goals, so that each may be the best that he/she can be.
This can only be a reality if the teacher focuses on the holistic development of his/her students. I believe that the teacher’s role is crucial to students’ success – success being measured by both students’ output as well as their level of motivation and sustained interest. Therefore, the teacher’s role is to inspire learning, in addition to imparting and confirming content. However, in this process, the teacher is not the sole authority of knowledge. Instead, he or she takes the role of the facilitator and guide. To achieve this, the teacher must incorporate creativity, enthusiasm, and motivation as modes of instruction. S/he needs to plan lessons that arouse curiosity and propel the students to a higher level of learning. Above all, the successful teacher must be flexible and consistent. S/he must be able to adapt instruction to meet the needs of all learners and changing circumstances. She/he must be able to recognize and capitalize on a teachable moment.
Success in this area also depends on the skill of the teacher to create an environment where appropriate reinforcement is used to facilitate learning and establish acceptable behavior within the classroom. By practicing positive reinforcement, the teacher would motivate students to behave well toward one another, to stay focused on tasks, and to participate when required. At the same time, the teacher would instill values such as respect for authority, perseverance, and consideration for others – qualities that are necessary for success as an adult – by modeling such behaviors. Consequently, the teacher serves as an intellectual as well as moral role model for the students.
In addition, the teacher must place equal emphasis on caring and concern for students’ well being, as well as connection to students’ lives. This may be demonstrated by the teacher taking time to learn of students’ cultural backgrounds and incorporating cultural practices that would enhance student learning, as well as providing a secure and nurturing environment. Establishing such an environment requires that the teacher treat students equitably. Since the needs of students differ considerably, the teacher could not afford to work on the one rule fits all premise. He/She must take cultural and other social barriers into consideration when planning instruction and procedures.
In this nurturing environment, students would be actively engaged in their own learning. This means that students do not quietly imbibe facts that the teacher imparts. Instead, they ask questions, ask for further explanation of ideas and how relevant it is to their lives, present their own ideas, or even challenge a teacher’s ideas by presenting reasonable arguments. When students challenge concepts, it is because they bring their own cultural perceptions to the learning process, since they are part of cultural community outside of school. Therefore, questioning is crucial to students’ own development as lifelong learners. Whether their knowledge stems from formal or informal sources, it allows students to make sense of new and complex concepts. Students use questioning as a means of accommodation and reorganization of their mental schemas, as they internalize new information. Consequently, interactive learning enhances the classroom dynamics and cultivates individuals who can contribute positively to a plural democracy.
Furthermore, children are social beings. Therefore, socializing should be incorporated into the learning process. Socializing is an enriching process in itself; through interaction with others, students share their diverse experiences and ideas. This can be achieved by having students engage in meaningful activities that involve active interplay with others. Social interaction develops social virtues such as cooperation and tolerance, and allows students to think of alternative points of view. It creates opportunities for students to think critically and learn to build on each other’s arguments. Most importantly, it gives students a sense of community, which makes the learning process realistic, as they solve problems similar to those they will encounter outside school, be it in the area of leadership, conflict resolution, or social etiquettes.
The achievement of these goals also depends on the core elements of the curriculum. I believe that, like the teacher, the curriculum must address the needs of all students. Since students learn differently and the purpose of education is to facilitate the development of each student’s potential, the core curriculum should consist of more than just math, literacy, science, social studies. Art, music, and health education are just as important in the development of a well rounded individual. In fact, health education is extremely important to a student’s success, because of its inherent focus on the mental, physical, and emotional well being of the individual. With a healthy body and a healthy mind, students would be much more prepared to deal with complex scientific and math concepts, as well as comprehension skills. In addition, art and music should be incorporated into all subject areas because of their inherent cultural attributes. Both these subject areas form common ground among cultures and must be seen for the important role they play in shaping society.
I believe that all children can achieve their full potential if they are given the facts, the individual and cooperative learning environments, and the reinforcement, along with caring, concern and security. The vision of my future classroom reflects all of these points. It is my hope that, as I model my own expectations, I will also manage to inspire and motivate my students to seek more by showing them that they are deserving of the best. This is a challenge to which I look forward.