My Educational Philosophy
My philosophy of education represents an eclectic mix of personal observations and experiences, opinions and beliefs. As an older, non-traditional student, I possess a wide array of experiences that color my beliefs and give me perspectives that are unique and quite possibly unconventional among the younger attitudes that surround me. I am not very receptive of conventional wisdom; instead choosing, for right or wrong, to reason out my own ideologies and philosophies. My fervent desire is to teach and mentor young minds, however, I do not look to the professional associations of education to guide or instruct me on the current methodology that is in vogue – much like Socrates, and perhaps just as irritatingly, I prefer to examine ideas and think for myself. That perhaps is reflected in the duality of teaching that I strongly advocate. My “essentialist” side urges me to provide my charges with a strong framework of fundamental knowledge that can act as a setting for the critical thinking skills that my “social reconstuctionist” side endeavors to train. The minds that we address today truly are the ones to shape tomorrow’s society.
One of the most frustrating conditions that I have observed is the lack of respect that “educators as professionals” receive. After much reflection, I have come to the opinion that much of what causes people to disregard the teaching profession is self-inflicted. We, as educators, wish to reach as many of our pupils with as much information as we can. This strong desire makes us susceptible to “pseudoscientific” unproven ideology, ever-changing popular methodology and perpetual, often unnecessary, reforms. How can we expect a society to respect our profession when the magical formulas that we championed last year are now considered deficient and antiquated? Indeed, the old saw of “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” applies to much of what I choose to strive for as a teacher. I am very open to both new ideas in teaching and better ways to communicate with students, but I am not prepared to scrap my existing model of the “professional educator” for the newest, most progressive version – shiny and new though it may be. I take a much more traditional view that much of what a teacher does is singularly reliant upon his or her ability to effectively communicate with young minds.
I feel that the mission of education is two-fold. We cannot simply fill our student's heads with facts and figures and expect them to build a world based upon wonderful “memorization” techniques. Nor may we simply focus upon training minds to think critically while neglecting the vast body of knowledge available to serve as a cornerstone for efficient problem solving. How can you possibly hope to confront political challenges and moral dilemmas without the appropriate historical or ethical background to base a decision on? I strongly feel that any philosophy that would lean too heavily upon either...