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Personal Educational Philosophy

Many different ideas of the correct educational philosophy exist. Highly acclaimed psychologists and educators developed these varying philosophies. Each of these philosophies have their strengths and weaknesses and have their positives and negatives in different situations. It is our job as educators to sift through this list of philosophies to find our own style and philosophy. We must research the pros and cons of each philosophy and pick and choose which sections of each idea to take out and make our own. Our job is also to familiarize ourselves with the philosophies that we do not agree with.

So that we have a clear picture in our minds of what we want and do not want as part of our educational thinking and to have the knowledge to back up these opinions. After reading through different writings on each of these philosophies, I have begun to take on the task of sorting out which I choose to support and which I strongly oppose. Once having a clear idea of which philosophies appeal to me and which do not, I hope to have the groundwork laid to then analyze the philosophies and take from them what I need to develop my own personal philosophy.

Sometimes to find out what you are or what you find true, you must first learn what you are not and what you do not find as truth. Therefore, in beginning my search for my own personal philosophy, I began with ruling out the philosophies that I am strongly opposed to. These philosophies are perennialism and behaviorism. Perennialism is a very conservative and inflexible philosophy of education. It is based on the view that reality comes from fundamental fixed truths-especially related to God. It believes that people find truth through reasoning and revelation and that goodness is found in rational thinking.

As a result, schools exist to teach reason and Gods will. Students are taught to reason through structured lessons and drills. The teachers role is a fountain of knowledge, put in place to regurgitate the wisdom of the past and pass it down to the next generation. To begin with, I find this philosophy extremely outdated since church and state have been separated for quite some time now. Perenialism leaves no room for progression, which seems to be its objective. Students in these schools do not learn to think independently. They do not learn creativity or how to problem solve. They learn to memorize and very little else.

The largest problem with this philosophy is that children do not learn the importance of learning, how to learn, or to love and enjoy learning. This philosophy may teach children to read, write, and do arithmetic, but it will also teach them to detest school and dislike learning. To correspond these complaints specifically to literacy learning, students will only learn how to read and how to write. They will not know why to read or write. Nor will they learn what to read or write. Like said above, they will not learn to love the creativity of writing nor the excitement of reading.

Behaviorism is the idea that behavior is learned and because of that all behavior can be unlearned and new behaviors learned in its place. Behaviorism views development as a continuos process in which children play a relatively passive role. Behaviorists assume that the only things that are real are the things we can see and observe. We cannot see the mind, but we can see how people act, react and behave. What people do, not what they think or real, is the object of study. Behavior is the essence of a person. I do not so much disagree with the general ideas of this theory.

Behavior does impact learning and much can be learned about a child through their behavior. Also, behaviorism has developed many excellent means of discipline and classroom management. However, the behavior is not the child. I feel that a behavior is merely a cause of something else that is occurring within the child. It does not seem thorough to treat the behavior only and not take into account the reason for the behavior. I am bothered by behaviorism because it reduces children to thoughtless individuals meant to mold. Within teaching, behaviorism like perenialism, removes the enjoyment out of learning.

These philosophies are not concerned with if the student is enjoying learning. They seemed to be unconcerned with the child at all. Both of these philosophies do not take the time to meet the child within the student. The love of learning is the most powerful gift a teacher can give a student. These philosophies do not concern themselves with the student beyond the classroom or in the future. After putting in perspective what educational philosophies I do not agree with and the reasons as to why, it is easier to recognize those that I do support and intend to apply in my own classroom and teaching philosophy.

The philosophies that I strongly agree with are constructivism, progressivism, and humanism. The main idea behind constructivism is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current or past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to “go beyond the information given”.

As far as instruction is concerned, the teachers responsibility is to encourage students to discover principles by themselves. The teacher and student should engage in an active dialog. The task of the teacher is to translate information to be learned into a format appropriate to the learner’s current state of understanding. Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned. This theory also emphasizes hands-on and activity based teaching (Johnson). I am personally drawn to this philosophy for many reasons.

Constructivism empowers the students and gives them the opportunity to take learning into their own hands. Its motives are to give the students the tools to make personal and independent decisions, making them problem solvers. Constructivism also emphasizes scaffolding, building upon past knowledge and making connections. My personal view is that this is the most logical and effective teaching strategy. The emphasis of hands-on, activity based lessons also appeals to my teaching style. I feel that students learn best through experience, which often comes about through hands-on activities.

Most importantly, constructivism promotes instilling the love of learning into students. The only complaint about the philosophy would be that it relies too heavily on one type of learning and relies too much on the assumption that students have past knowledge to build upon. Teaching literacy through a constructivist point of view would be worthwhile. Teaching local literacy knowledge (phonics, grammar) by building knowledge and skills upon one another is logical and effective. Students are also given some freedoms and choices as to what to write or read.

It promotes creativity, which is important in both writing and reading. Once again, it supports the idea of instilling the love of reading and writing into students. The humanistic philosophy of education is the idea of studying the whole person or student. It looks at a childs behavior not only through the eyes of the observer, but through the eyes of the child doing the behaving. Humanistic psychologists believe that an individuals behavior is connected to his inner feelings and self-image. The humanistic approach also believes that individuals are internally directed and motivated to fulfill their human potential.

The humanistic educational philosophy believes that students should be able to choose what they want to learn. It is believed that students will be motivated to learn a subject if it is something they need and want to know. The perspective of this philosophy is that the goal of education should be to foster students desire to learn and teach them how to learn. The humanistic teacher is opposed to objective tests because they test a students ability to memorize and do not provide sufficient educational feedback. They believe in self-evaluation and feel that grades are irrelevant.

Grading encourages students to work for a grade and not personal satisfaction. I most identify with this philosophy and strongly agree with the majority of its principles. As stated above, the most important lesson a teacher can teach a child is the importance of learning, the enjoyment of learning and how to learn. Above all, this is the most important lesson. I agree that students are self-motivated if the desire to know something. The job of the teacher is to make the student want to learn, not make the student learn. I agree that self-evaluation and self satisfaction should weigh above grades.

Grades should be a measure more for the teacher, not the student. The humanistic philosophy can be effectively applied to literacy mainly with its ideas of choice and desire. Students will be more inclined to write to their best ability and read at a high level if they are the ones choosing the topic to write on or the book to be reading. Humanism parallels with my strongest conviction of teacher and once again I will repeat what I have repeated throughout this entire paper. The goal of literacy learning is to instill a love of reading and writing within them and to give them the tools to continue with that love.

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