|A few years ago, I
based my teaching philosophy on the principles below. However, the chief aim of education is not to impart math,
reading or writing "skills." A child's natural
development, stimulated by the totality of its' experiences will
result in acquiring knowledge. Imparting intellectual
curiosity and a love of knowledge is the creative
task of a teacher, but even more so is empowering
the child to believe in his or her abilities and value as a human
being in community with others. Without
this belief, there can be no life long learning or
maximization of potential. The most dramatic learning results that I
obtained sprung from my
devotion to helping a child believe in him or her self and others.
Still, one of the best contexts to achieve this empowerment is a
supportive, compassionate and collaborative learning environment that unleashes the child's
creativity and "magically" bolsters the aforementioned
Doing, not strictly
reviewing. One learns by doing. Concentration on repetitive reviewing, cramming and
rote memorization is de-motivating and useless for other than creating proficient
test takers. The emphasis should be on providing a rich curriculum and
development of strong real life learning and critical thinking skills that
apply across different subject areas. Ideally, knowledge should be taught in context and
with the purpose of accomplishing some goal. There should be less emphasis on right
answers and more open discussion of questions for which no answers are known.
Levels of achievement should be set that are objective, relevant and highly motivating.
More fun, less
discipline. In the right learning environment, children will want to learn and
traditional discipline will be less necessary. The concept of the learner as requiring
discipline to learn is faulty- learners learn because they are curious and want to
understand their surroundings. Unfortunately too many schools, kill that desire to learn
and instead force the learner to discipline themselves, ie, do what they really
don't want to do to accomplish tasks and goals.
Critical, Holistic & Compassionate Thinking.
In a world bent on ecological destruction, the ability to
think holistically and compassionately-to perceive the hidden
connections between phenomena and their ethical implications- is
critical for sustainability and survival. The development of
critical thinking skills is essential in an age suffused with
propaganda and the false need for conformity.
Interest groups, not
only age groups. Children will often learn best from each other. They will sometimes
do better if organized by similar interests instead of similar ages or abilities. It is
critical that children learn how to work cooperatively and productively in groups.
Students of any age must be challenged to their full potential.
More visible projects,
not invisible projects. The focus should be on what children produce- actual work
projects that can be completed with pride and enthusiasm. Reduced emphasis
should be placed on scores, grades, multiple choice/fill in the blank exams and other
competitive and/or arbitrary measures. Emphasis should be placed on authentic
assessment that is continuous, integral to the curriculum, focuses on student's strengths,
involves self evaluation and is a collaborative student and teacher effort. What is
learned in school should ideally be directly applied in the school environment. Schools
should become great laboratories of learning and applied creativity.
More Hearing and
needing, less listening and reading. Active learning not passive
learning should be stressed. Instruction in language arts, science, social studies, art
and should be integrated, meaningful, challenging, provided with sufficient background and
should stimulate and reflect a child's desire to learn. With respect to reading skills, a
key benchmark is the student's ability and motivation to independently read, interpret and
fully comprehend challenging text that reflect his or her continually changing and
resignation. Children should be encouraged to explore their own unique
interests and talents in school. A teacher should help expand a child's interests, not
the reverse. Teachers should have a great deal of flexibility in curriculum's design
and at the same time be held more accountable for results. Ideally, all course work will
relate to goals held by the student. Once subjects have been mastered, the student should
have the opportunity to move on. The overall classroom environment should be non-judgmental
and encourage, not "compel" free expression of thought. Children should
understand that the key to success is failure (learning from ones' mistakes).
More Fun. Ideally,
learning should be as fun in school as it is out of school. However, the aim of school is
to provide fun and meaningful active learning experiences that challenge students
to develop to their maximum potential.
Education. Effective use of computer technology must permeate
the curriculum. Web technology in particular should be seen as a vehicle for personal
empowerment, collaborative work, positive global change and substantive research.
My Personal Goals as a Teacher
I wish to help unfold the
maximum individual potential of ALL my students. This means treating
the child as a whole and helping unfold all of his or her potentialities whether they are
artistic, musical, analytical, verbal, scientific, moral, interpersonal, intrapersonal,
I wish to teach children how
to thrive in a COMMUNITY. How to be accepting and compassionate to
ALL of their classmates and to learn how to effectively express their needs, concerns,
fears, frustrations, and goals. I want EVERY child to be able to live and work
successfully in the classroom, school, family and larger community. This
is a "skill" that must be taught explicitly and by
example. See: "Teaching
Children to Care: Management in the Responsive Classroom, by
I wish to teach children how
to live in the "real world" and to make their school experience as refreshing
and vital (fun) as the world really is. I want to help instill in
them values of hard work, focus and INNER drive. I want them to be able to think
critically and internalize THEIR goals. I want less discipline and more a fascination with
life. I want them to assume CONTROL of their lives and FEEL COMFORTABLE TO FAIL in this
great experiment we call life.
I want to present students
with an enriched curriculum that presents from an early age concepts and insights normally
deemed "advanced". Upper elementary students can, for
example, grasp (and may want to grasp) essential elements of Einstein's theories of
relativity IF it is presented in an understandable, concrete yet exciting fashion that
stimulates the imagination. Throughout the school years concepts and areas of study should
be presented without successive degrees of approximation and challenge until the concepts
are synthesized and truly understood (planting seeds).
I will not settle for
students mastering rote knowledge without acquiring a conceptual understanding of WHAT
THEY ARE REALLY DOING AND WHY.
Finally I have high learning
and life expectations for ALL CHILDREN- no less than for my own