Statement of Educational Goals
The role of the teacher has changed, perhaps evolved is a better word, since students left the atmosphere of home schooling to that of the classroom. I'm sure that there have always been innovative teachers, but lecture and paperwork (or slate board work) were at one time the norm. In some classes it still is. However, the fact that we have so many stu- dies concerning the development of learning skill, such as the four stages that Piaget ident- ified, and so many theories on the best way to teach a child, such as Constructivism versus Behavorialism, indicates that many educators have realized there have to be better ways, than exclusive lecture and paperwork, to evoke learning.
We have learned in our educational courses there are several styles of learning that each of us use one or more of. This is a challenge to the teacher, because it means we can't con- struct all our lessons based on only one style (which is usually our own learning style). We, as teachers, must be willing to expand our own realm of thinking and try new approaches. I love this concept, since I would get bored if I had to teach the same way every day.
In my personal view, a classroom that is learning is not the one where seats are neatly in their rows, each child is busy completing a worksheet and no voices are heard. Give me clusters of desks, with students collaborating on projects and the air buzzing with the sound of excited voices. I feel that textbooks should be used as reference tools, not the sole amount of knowledge we want to obtain on any particular subject. In fact, I believe that the true measure of the success of a teacher is when students endeavor to know more. How can this be achieved? By making the attainment of information interesting and ap- plicable.
From early in life children have an idea of what is important to them. How they ap- proach every part of their life is based on this idea of self-importance, because we start our lives as egocentric beings. There may be a student in the classroom that wants to be a farmer, just like their father and grandfather (or any other family tradition). This student may feel, either by personal assumption or being told by someone else, that book knowledge will not benefit them in their chosen life's work. It is up to the teacher to convince them of an education's importance in any realm of life and it needs to be specific. If the stu- dent wants to be a farmer, then use farming aspects to explain math concepts, such as per- centage, area, volume, etc. Use science to explain the importance of the right soil and environment in agriculture. This doesn't mean that you have to explain each concept 20 different ways for each of 20 students interests. Many students will understand the concepts in whatever way you present them. This applies, mainly, to students that need motivation.
One way to get a jump on knowing the interests of...