Philosophy of Education
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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 innate creativity and "magically" bolsters the aforementioned skills. 

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.

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.

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.

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 expanding interests.

Motivation, not 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.

Technology and 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, etc.

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 Ruth Charney 

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 life.

 

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