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Philosophy of Education

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” I agree with this educational quote because I believe it is more important for students to be passionate about learning than to memorize facts. In my future classroom, I want to ignite a flame in my students to love learning and seek deeper understandings instead of just retaining facts for a test. This belief is part of my personal philosophy of education, developed after considering current educational philosophies, and reflecting on my own experiences in education. My philosophy of education is valuable as a future teacher because it will affect various aspects of teaching and learning, including learning goals, teaching practices, and classroom management.

The two major and opposing philosophies of education in contemporary American schools are teacher-centered and student-centered viewpoints. Teacher-centered viewpoints include essentialism, perennialism, and behaviorism (Oakes, Lipton, Anderson & Stillman 2013). Student-centered viewpoints include progressivism, humanism, and constructivism. These viewpoints are in opposition in terms of “aims of education, educational practices, the dichotomy of authority versus freedom, and the uses of subject matter” (Witcher, Sewall, Arnold & Travers 2001). By studying these traditional and progressive educational philosophies, I decided that my personal philosophy of education is a combination of both.

Additionally, my teaching experience  has shaped my personal philosophy of education. I have worked with a diverse population, including students with zero-English, special needs, and at-risk students.

With today’s technology, students could “Google” it when they need to find out facts. For that reason, simply memorizing facts is not necessary or enough in the 21st century. More importantly, today students need to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. My overall learning goal for my students is to understand foundations of content areas instead of learning by rote. For example, they would be able to analyze the information and determine whether the information is accurate. In this student-centered progressivist viewpoint, the focus is on teaching divergent points of view and diverse subject matter (Johnson, Musial, Hall & Gollnick 2014). Students would test their ideas through experimentation and discussions. This would help students in all aspects of their lives because they would be able to solve complex problems in their personal and post-high school lives.

Furthermore,  I agree with the teacher-centered approach of essentialism in which students are taught the importance of being part of the community. Connection to community is important for developing the kind of students who will be law-abiding and responsible citizens long after they leave my classroom. Students would learn behaviors and skills needed to be productive members of society.

From my teaching experience in student teaching, building sub, and formerly as an English learner Paraprofessional, successful teaching begins with engaging all students. Without it, I have seen students lose interest and disrupt the class instead of paying attention to the lesson. No learning is accomplished. Given this, I plan to utilize several teaching practices, depending on the needs of my students and the subject matter. For example, I plan to facilitate cooperative learning in which students are given the opportunity to learn from their peers and not just from me.  I have used this student-centered approach successfully by having students work with partners and in small groups. Not only did cooperative learning engage students, but it promoted learning for all learners, especially the English learners and struggling students who learned from their peers. Moreover, “[c]ooperative learning provides students with an environment that enables them to develop as leaders who have confidence and who inspire others with their sense of individual and societal responsibility” (Williamson and Null 2008). In other words, it also helps the higher level students.

Much of my teaching practices involves similar student-centered approaches, including constructivism that “emphasizes developing personal meaning through hands-on, activity-based teaching and learning” (Johnson et al., 2014). Not only are students more engaged through this approach, but they gain a rich and meaningful connection which will help them truly learn instead of learning for a test. Moreover, I create lessons that challenge students to become critical thinkers. For example, I created a lesson where fifth graders had to analyze text for deciding where a new paragraph should begin. This was a higher-order thinking skill and challenged students. Additionally, use ongoing open-ended questions and tasks to help students learn, adapt, analyze, ponder and stimulate thinking. Overall, I create opportunities for creativity and promote meta-cognition because these not only engages students, but promote active and meaningful learning.

While most of my teaching practices will likely stem from a student-centered focus, especially constructivism, there may be times when I rely on teacher-centered ways. For example, for certain lessons about abstract subjects I could use Socratic questioning, which is based on perennialism. By using the Socratic dialogue, “learners’ beliefs are challenged by the teacher through a series of questions that lead learners to reflect on their beliefs, induce general principles, and discover gaps and contradictions in their beliefs” (Johnson et al., 2014). Consequently, I will engage students through a lively discussion, rather than lecturing.

Students often become unwilling spectators of a chaotic ping-pong match between disruptive classmates and their teacher. In the meantime, all productive learning ceases. An effective classroom management plan is essential for optimal learning and must encompass preventive, supportive and corrective strategies.  On the first day of school, I plan to use a student-centered approach in teaching behavior expectations and consequences. For example, I will involve the students in developing rules and consequences. I can model acceptance of other cultures or differences, by giving all students a voice in the discussion. After that, students will sign a class contract on chart paper that will be prominently displayed. I will send home a letter to the parent that includes my high expectations, as well as a copy of the rules and consequences and a brochure about the school’s zero tolerance for bullying. Then, during the first ten days of school, these rules and consequences will be continually and clearly explained, modeled and practiced. Students will then fully understand their limits or boundaries. If students choose to break these rules, I will consistently enforce consequences. Consistency is crucial in correcting misbehavior and/or stopping it from recurring.

Moreover, students learn best in a safe environment. To ensure this, I will have a bullying plan in place to help and educate students. For example, students may report bullying privately or anonymously (by using the bully box).  Also, I can teach students problem-solving skills, through the Leader-in-Me school wide program. With these skills, students learn to make better decisions, including to “think win-win”, “seek first to understand, then to be understood” and to “synergize”. With this support in place, disciplinary issues would decrease and the classroom would be a positive learning environment.

“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought”, by Sun Tzu, means that if one spends time preparing now, problems will be avoided later. My classroom management plan is more of a systematic approach of managing a classroom that has practices and procedures in place to prevent the disciplinary problems from beginning or continuing. This includes strategies to make it clear what is expected of students and to consistently enforce the rules with consequences. Overall, my role as the teacher is not that of a disciplinarian, but that of a manager and facilitator

The beauty of creating this philosophy of education is that I was able to “swim in the same social stream as the prophets of old, but a little farther down. The office of philosophy is to bind their times and ours together in a commonality of reflection on experience” (Walcott 1966). In other words, I can pick and choose what works with my students, based on my experience. Thus, my personal philosophy of education is a blend of traditional and progressive ideas. My learning goal would focus on developing critical thinkers, problem solvers and good citizens. This is essential for helping students become successful in their personal lives and in society as a whole. Furthermore, most of my teaching practices will involve student-centered approaches, including cooperative learning and constructivism. This will depend on the lesson and on the students. I will also use some teacher-centered practices, such as the Socratic dialogue. Lastly, my classroom management will be student-centered whereas I include students in creating rules and consequences and I plan ahead in order to prevent disciplinary issues. Overall, my personal philosophy of education is a combination of traditional and progressive ideas and will likely expand through the years. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”

References

Johnson, J. A., Musial, D., Hall, G. E., & Gollnick, D. M. (2014). Foundations of American

Education Becoming Effective Teachers in Challenging Times (16th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Oakes, J., Lipton, M., Anderson, L., & Stillman, J. (2013). Teaching to change the world (4th

ed.). Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

Walcott, F. G. (1966, April). Importance of a Philosophy for Teachers. Educational Leadership,  556-559.

Williamson, A., & Null, J. (2008). Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Educational Philosophy as a

Foundation for Cooperative Learning.American Education History Journal35(2), 381-           392.

Witcher, A. E., Sewall, A. M., Arnold, L. D., & Travers, P. D. (2001). Teaching,  learning: It’s all about philosophy. The Clearing House, 74(5), 277-279.

 
 

Toyota City – Days 5 and 6

The staff at the elegant Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo was helpful and friendly. I will miss Tokyo.  It’s a happening city — very much like what I envision New York City, where I’d like to visit one day.

Saynonara Tokyo!

Day 5

Going on a ride in the Shinkansen (bullet train) was a lot like flying in a plane, except everyone must board in 60 seconds or you are left behind!

What a cool experience! We zoomed all the way to Toyota City in 2 1/2 hours; by car this would take about three times longer!

Mount Fuji was spectacular! This picture doesn’t do it justice since we were going too fast, but we could see it from our seats.  It was a bit surreal. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Family, travel, Uncategorized

 

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Japan Adventure Begins!

This is it! I’m leaving for Japan in less than 8 hours!

Since it’s about a 14 hour flight, this means I’ll be there (U.S. time) about 5:30 AM tomorrow.  With the 13 hour time difference (Japan is ahead), it will be about 6:00 PM Japan Standard Time when I get there.  Oh boy!

I look forward to the new experiences.  It will be a little tricky sometimes, but I’m confident I’ll figure it out.  Money is one of those things.

For example:

  • 1,000 yen is = $12
  • 5,000 yen = $62
  • 10,000 yen = $124

Good thing I’ll have the internet!  I’m renting a pocket wifi so I’m good to go!  Speaking of going….gotta run now!  Sayonara!

~~ Maggie

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in travel, Uncategorized

 

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Domo Arigato – 6 days to go!

It’s over 6,000 miles from here to Tokyo!  As I finish getting ready for my AMAZING trip, I can’t help but think about all the Japanese families who make the 6,000 + mile trip to America AND put their kids in our schools.  Think about it.  You travel that many miles and (jet-lagged) are expected to acclimate to American culture and schools — not to Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Zoom Zoom! 2 week countdown

So much to do before my trip and these next two weeks will zoom by like the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train)!

Some of my tasks are more complete than others.

 
 

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What not to wear…in Japan

Packing for my Japan trip feels a bit like being in the “What Not to WearTV show.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have a decent fashion sense.  At the very least, I’m not the worst dresser.  I like my casual “lived-in” clothes, but I can get a bit stylish when I want to.  I “clean up good” and all that.

I’m traveling as part of an educators group and I’m expected to wear business casual, on most days. Nothing Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in travel, Uncategorized

 

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Creative Chaos Award

Three weird things I do:
  • I have an inflated sense of “luckiness“.  Really.  For the longest time, almost every time I entered a drawing at a school or community event, I’d win.  One time I went to watch my friend’s daughter perform in community theater and I told her, matter-of-factly, that I’d win the basket drawing and give it to her and her daughters.  She said she NEVER wins so she didn’t think I’d win, just by proximity of her bad luck.  I smiled confidently and said to Read the rest of this entry »
 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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