Monday, February 28, 2011

My Philosophy of Education

This was something I wrote about Philosophy of Education.  I am not taking all credit, since I gathered some information from all over the internet.  I apologize that I couldn't site links since I made this a long time ago and have forgotten where I got them.

When I was nine years old, I remember looking at my teacher while she was telling us a story about a mother hen and her chicks.  She relayed the story in a manner that moved me.  All the time she was speaking, she reminded me of the hen that she was talking about.  She was my second mother—caring, nurturing, and teaching me.  At that moment, I chose to become like her.  I wanted to be a part of a child’s life.  I wanted someone to remember me someday as someone who changed his or her life forever.

That changed when I was graduating from high school.  My mother did not want me to take up Education because she said there was no money in teaching.  I took up Communication Arts instead.  I worked as a banker, a marketing assistant, and then as a customer service representative.  Though I was happy with meeting people and working with them, I still feel incomplete.  Like there was something missing.  I then took up the Certificate in Teaching Program (CTP-PNU) and then attended the review (slept more than listened through it).  I was then working as a call center agent for an international company and I came straight from the graveyard shift to the review.  After finishing the review, I took the Licensure Examination (LET) in 2004 and passed. 

Unfortunately, I could not resign from work to start teaching right away.  When I finally did, I got sick and had to undergo a kidney transplant.  While resting and getting bored getting holed up in my room all day and doing nothing, I decided to finish my CTP course and take up the practicum.  I did not want to apply for a teaching position without some kind of experience.

The three months I was in school teaching Grade 1 students, I learned not just from my co-teachers, but from my students as well.  In our batch, I also got the highest grade in Practicum.  In that short span of time, I began to see the importance of teachers in our lives.  They are there not only to teach their assigned subjects but also to hone children into persons of worth someday.  You teach values, norms, religion, culture, and other social issues that are tackled in everyday life.

Children come to you with different problems.  You will be shocked at how numerous their problems are, ranging from simple to complex, like being in the middle of a family squabble.

I am now teaching in a parochial preschool.  This was my first official teaching job, and though I receive only a little in monetary value, I receive more in other aspects.  I have not been there for the whole school year and I already have a child abuse case (a mother abusing her son).  This was also the school’s first case.  I learned how to be more compassionate.  I discovered that a child’s attitude in school can stem from serious problems in the home.

I have encountered a lot of problems and a lot of happy moments in teaching.  When I took up Philosophy in Education, I realized that every teacher should have his or her own philosophy and principles in teaching.

A teacher's personal philosophy of education is a critical element in his or her approach to guiding children along the path of enlightenment.  There are schools of thought and philosophies that I could see myself believing in.  However, I could not just put myself into just one.  There are different factors to consider before you choose the philosophies that you will use and believe in.

Each carries both positive and negative tenets, at least in my opinion. Therefore, I prefer an eclectic discernment in my quest of an educational philosophy.  A certain amount of creativity, enthusiasm, and motivation is needed of the teacher and this requires more than one philosophy.

Being a teacher also does not only involve teaching per se, but also molding the child in all aspects of his development, and this also involves parenting and friendship.  I relate to the adage of serving as the "guide on the side", rather than the "sage on the stage", as is the case in teacher-centered philosophies. I believe in focusing on individual needs, and involving students in the process of their learning.

I do not like perennialism much, the aspects of multiculturalism and gender issues having no place in the curriculum. I think that individual differences need to be recognized and respected.

Another is perennialist view of education as a "sorting mechanism". All students have strengths, and the teacher’s goal is to assist students to identify and build upon these. Tracking does not necessarily provide opportunities to do this, and may in fact limit potential in individuals which do not fit the educator’s definition of what constitutes the "intellectually gifted".

To summarize:

I have to be Idealistic.

Since those we study like measurement and laws of science are mostly transcendental (which is idealistic), and we apply them to actual objects like in construction and manufacturing, Idealism is a very important philosophy of education that I have to absorb.

I have to be naturalistic.

As opposed to Idealism, naturalism or materialism also plays a vital role in education, especially in the fields of science as it regards scientific knowledge final.  Since it is said that learning is a very natural thing, it is also but natural for a teacher to be believe in this philosophy.

I have to be pragmatic.

Since pragmatism considers practical consequences and real effects to be vital components of meaning and truth, I believe that teachers should also embrace this philosophy, because for some or most cases, practical experience and observation is a better method in learning than giving out theories.

 I have to be an essentialist.

I believe that teachers should instill such traditional virtues as respect for authority, perseverance, and consideration for others, especially in the Philippine society wherein we are born and known for our “bayanihan” culture.  In the classroom, traditional disciplines are taught such as math, science, history, and literature, which form the foundations of the curriculum.   It is hoped that when the student leaves school, they will possess not only basic skills and an extensive body of knowledge, but disciplined and practical minds as well.

I have to be a behaviorist.

Skinner, the father of Behaviorism, believed in reinforcements, both positive and negative to attain goals.  This now, is important as a teacher.  Every individual is different and unique.  In a classroom of 25 or more children, the philosophy of behaviorism plays an important role.  Basically, it depends on the skill of the teacher to create a positive and harmonious environment conducive to learning in all aspects.  One of the most proven positive reinforcement in a kindergarten classroom is the giving out of “stars” whenever a good behavior is observed.  I use this method not only in wanting my students to keep quiet, but to get them to learn on their own, like turning the pages of a book to the correct page.  In as much as I believe in positive reinforcements, I do not like it very much to use negatives on children, though sometimes, this cannot be helped as children nowadays are growing to be disrespectful and irresponsible.  Personally, I juggle between positives and negatives, judging and depending on the situation.

I have to be a progressivist.

I, myself, have a respect for individuality. I believe that people learn well through active relationships with others and we learn when we are engaged in things that have meaning for us.  That is one of the reasons why we have curriculums and lesson plans.  Teachers plan lessons to arouse curiosity and push the student to a higher level of knowledge.   Like me, for example, I have been able to memorize information in order to earn good grades, however I have not always related to the information, or seen its relevance to my personal life and interests. After examinations, and years after taking Algebra, I cannot teach my 2nd year high school student daughter the fundamentals of getting the value of x.  This approach to learning was, in my opinion, so as my daughter’s opinion, an effective use of educational time and effort. 

Progressivism is a philosophy that is adaptable for society’s current state.  It is a philosophy that promotes education aimed at helping students to develop the kind of problem solving skills that will enable them to function successfully in a competitive society.  In line with the progressivism philosophy, the role of the teacher is to facilitate learning by posing questions for students that exercise their minds in a practical manner.  Teachers of the progressivism philosophy encourage creative thinking as well as analytical thinking.  The questions they pose for their students are often open-ended questions that may or may not have prescribed answers. 

By allowing students to bring their own stories, experiences, and ideas into the classroom, this provides the students with opportunities to work together, to learn from each other, and respect each others’ differences.

Consequently, my personal philosophy is drawn from those listed. I believe that all children can achieve their full potential as they follow the educational path, if they are given the basics the Essentialists extol, the individualism and cooperative learning environments the Progressivists commend the reinforcement of Behaviorism, and the fundamental tenets of Idealism, Naturatism, and Pragmatism. The vision of my future classroom reflects all of these points.

As I go through life not only as a teacher, but also as a parent to three children of same nationalities, but of different personalities, it is my fervent hope that they will remember me someday as someone who embarked with them a journey that changed their lives forever.