As the end of my first semester of graduate studies concludes, I enjoy this opportunity to reflect on the ideologies, methodologies, and approaches I have learned throughout the semester that will serve as the foundation to which my educational philosophy can be built upon. Rooted in my philosophy of education, is a combination of what I believe the purpose of school is for, and, the factors that influence student success. Early on in the semester, I wrote in my reflection 1 paper that, “the purpose of school is to educate students, no matter their age, race, or religion, to become knowledgeable in all areas and aspects of life....” While I still agree with that statement, it is now, after a semester of insightful pedagogy and critical thinking, can I elaborate in greater detail as to the elements that I believe are instrumental to student success and the multifaceted purpose of school and education.
After re-reading my first reflection paper, I noticed that the overall theme was about inspiration and motivation. I can ask myself now, why did I choose those two words as my central theme as I reflected upon my educational path? I suppose that as I reflected, I thought of the certain people and teachers that played an influential role in my academic career. The one’s that came to mind, I realize now, all share the same qualities: They had the ability to inspire and motivate not only myself, but many other students as well. The memorable teachers that influenced me the most were “skillful, enthusiastic, caring…and idiosyncratic (DiGiulio, n.d.).” I consider these teachers to be activist teachers, who strove “to identify, evaluate, and critique their own assumptions, teaching practices, and willingness to conform by putting the interests of their students and a vision of a socially just society as the goal that supersedes all other goals (Winfield, 2010).” They taught with passion, made learning fun, but most importantly, they planted the seed that has enabled me to grow as a life-long learner.
I consider myself to be progressive student, due in part to the progressive teachers I speak of. I believe the progressive approach to learning is significant because it allows for an emotional response and reaction. Through my own experiences as a student, I tend to remember the activities, people, and studies that had me physically engaged, a learn-by-doing type of approach, leaving me with a positive emotional response, and the intrinsic motivation to keep on learning.
I view progressivism to be essential in education, by which it aids in establishing students that are independent learners, who grow to be independent citizens, who live in a democratic society that was first cultivated in the democratically run classrooms of their youth (Class Reader, Appendix A). Schultz’s “Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way” (2005), illustrates “the power of a democratic classroom where all students are critical members…. (as cited in Class Reader, unit 3,...