Philosophy Taking Shape

Everyone has a purpose. Everyone has a vision. Everyone has a dream.

But do we really think about them? Do we really consider where those dreams and visions come from? Do we make plans to grow and improve in our purpose?

Odds are, for the majority of the population, the answer to these questions is no. That is because we often fail to take the time to reflect and consider our thoughts and the opinions of those around us. As future teachers though, this reflection process is key to successful teaching, and the continued process of moulding one’s vision is part of this.

Creating a philosophy of education, while certainly practical for applying for positions, is also a very good practice for the soul. It causes one to stop and really look at what you believe and where those beliefs are coming from. Are you influenced by fellow teachers (or student-teachers)? Perhaps by friends and family? The media? Government? Maybe by educational philosophers and theorists?

While I often consider how my thinking is changing, I don’t always take the time to write it down into concrete statements of my own philosophies. Back in the fall, I did take on this challenge and began to create my educational philosophy, which you can read here. Looking at it now, many of those same ideas remain, but I also now have new additions to my outlook on the teaching profession.

I still believe that learning is a never-ending process and that all students have the potential to be great learners throughout their lives. This drive for learning can be cultivated through creating a positive classroom environment and respectful and cooperative relationships. I also think that cross-curriculum integration is key to learning about the world around us, because things in the “real-world” do not exist in isolation, nor should they inside the classroom. By integrating a variety of subjects through the use of different modalities I hope that students will ask questions about the world, and seek to create their own opinions and beliefs.

Since I last wrote about my teaching philosophy, I have also expanded upon my teaching philosophy.

Some of my newly added views on education include:

  • Inclusivity – I believe that this encompasses so many things! It can mean including all students in the classroom (which, I had included before), but also different cultures, different teaching modalities, a variety of tools and techniques for learning and creating, and, of course cross-curricular approaches.
  • Creativity – Being the creative person that I am, I’m not sure why this didn’t make the list the first time! I think that creativity is not just about art expression though, and includes exploration of a variety of subjects, and trying out new ways of teaching, learning, and doing projects. I also believe that through being creative, you can help foster a sense of curiosity, which is integral to exploring new learning.
  • Relationships – While I spoke a bit to the idea of positive relationships in my previous educational philosophy, I wanted to reiterate just how important this aspect is in my teaching philosophy. I believe that teachers can be one of the best types of role models in a student’s life, and that being a positive leader in a child’s life can really influence how they learn and how they interpret the world. By modelling positive inquiry, respect, and honesty, I hope that students will pick up on these ideas and begin to incorporate them into their own lives.

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  • World-view Approach – In our ever-changing society that continues to grow and change in diversity, it is crucial to teach children to think from multiple perspectives and move away from the traditional mono-cultural ways of education. Multiculturalism should be taught from an honest and authentic perspective so that students can really begin to create a sense of the world they live in, and truly see what is going on. By doing this, I hope to be able to incorporate models of social justice, and questioning those in positions of power.
  • Truth – I believe that by encouraging student to question the world around them that I can help them discover the truth that is so often hidden from students in schools. I think that students deserve to know about the world around them, and that teachers should be honest in their teaching methods. Incorporating truth into my teaching pedagogy I hope will encourage my students to seek truth in the world and learn skills in critical thinking.

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  • Holistic education – While I feel that in some ways this has always been part of my teaching philosophy, the concepts of holistic education have really come to the forefront of my mind over the last few months. I have really begun to embrace the idea that curriculum is everything that happens in our world, and therefore should also include the development of a child not just in academics, but also in emotional, personal, and spiritual growth. By culminating all of my ideas together I feel that I can help students become more confident in their own identities, and encourage positive growth in much more than just school subjects.

Also important to me is continued learning, development and connections within the field. Social media is key to doing this! For some this is a challenge, but I think that connecting with others is so great and such a vital part of learning. For tips on how to get started, here’s a good article to read!

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So where have all these new ideas come from?

The classes I am currently taking this semester are constantly pushing my thoughts and ideas and challenging me to think beyond where I was before. I have also been learning about a variety of curriculum theorists and philosophers who have really made an impact on my thoughts, and have been guiding me to find out new things about education and my place in it. Some of the people in this list are/were educators, and others, while not “true” curriculum theorists, have some really interesting views on education.

Maxine Greene – believes in cultivating a curious imagination of inquiry

Rudolf Steiner – believes in holistic education and teachers as role models

Sonia Nieto – believes in multicultural education

Nell Noddings – believes in teaching with care

Gregory Cajete – believes in integrating First Nations and Western ways

Sir Ken Robinson – believes in challenging the current education system through passion

Richard Louv – believes in immersing children in the natural world

I know that my teaching philosophy will continue to evolve as I finish my degree, and also as I enter the classroom, and I am excited for the new challenges that will be brought my way!

To close, here is my personal teaching metaphor:

If the world is a piece of art, then the students are the artists, exploring, moulding, and adding to that work of art, and the teachers are and provide the tools they have to make their mark on the world.

Hang on, it’s going to get messy!

So what are the most important parts of your teaching philosophy? Who guides your thoughts and pushes your boundaries?

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