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My Philosophy of Education
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “character is higher than intellect.” I believe more schools should use this as their motto. In my opinion, the ultimate role of the school is to help develop character in our youth today, it is something that should be taught and integrated into all lesson plans beginning at the earliest stage possible. The second role of the school is to increase intellectual capacity. Because each child brings with her a combination of qualities or features that distinguish him/her from another – we can hypothesize that individuals learn at different rates and by different methods. This means that education should be student-centered, allowing for the enhancement of qualities that make each child different but at the same time teaching a curriculum that enables students to accept their peers’ differences. The students of today are going to be our leaders of tomorrow; therefore, it is, in my opinion, of greater value that our schools today transmit the societal values we, as a society, hold worthy. It is through these values, intellect, and character that will uphold and carry on our society for the future.
Education is not just something that takes place inside the classroom, it is something that takes place everywhere – the majority of the time being outside of school. Much of the educational process involves the children interacting with real-life stimuli in their natural environment. As a teacher, it will be my goal to bring real life examples into my classroom. Whether it is a math project on geometry, having the children go home and find a food package in the shape of a cube, box, rectangle, triangle, or cylinder or maybe even providing a lesson on the history of the town the children are living. It is through these lessons, that children are able to make connections and apply their knowledge to their everyday environment. In other words, children are actively constructing their own knowledge base.
I mentioned earlier, that one of the roles of the school is to increase intellectual capacity. I feel that every student should be taught essentially the same core knowledge: English, mathematics, history, and science. At the same time, I feel the teacher should organize instruction in a way that allows students to discover for themselves the answers to problems and questions; also, the curriculum should be designed to allow social interactions and allow for group work and discovery. Each child should feel challenged by the curriculum that is presented to them; when a child feels challenged, she will work hard to reach an understanding of the material. The goal is to then follow up with an assessment that is based on mastery of certain key material. Promotion from one grade to the next will not occur unless this mastery exists.
Each child brings with her certain experiences and expertise that other children do not share. As a teacher, the curriculum we design should build on the experiences of the children. Grouping by interests is important because it allows students to work both on their social skills, and more-importantly it allows for them to work on something of interest and contribute knowledge on something they know a lot about. As for the subject of English – instead, of reading small excerpts out of a multitude of books/novels, I think it would be in the schools best interest to read whole works, so that our students feel that they have mastered an entire subject. The same for mathematics, natural sciences, and social studies – these should all intertwine with one another. For example, in mathematics – when going over the Pythagorean Theorem, the teacher could integrate a little history on famous Greek thinkers, Pythagoras being one of them; this could then lead into a whole unit on Greek thinkers for Social Studies. The teacher might also make up an assignment for English – by asking the students to do some research on one of the famous Greek thinkers. If teachers are able to integrate a number of the subjects taught, this would help children get a fuller understanding of how education can be applied to many things – integration of subjects helps build student’s critical thinking and their logic.
There are three ways to teach: by example, example, and example. As a teacher, one of the most important roles that we will play in our students’ lives is that of a role model – meaning that the students will learn through direct observation. Another role the teacher plays is that of a facilitator – the making of tasks and information easy enough and tangible enough for the students to grasp. This means that teachers need to construct creative ways for their students to become involved in their learning, maybe through content integration or just by simply creating a fun atmosphere for the students to learn in. The last and, in my opinion, the most important role a teacher has is to promote motivation and the realization that “the reward of a thing well done is to have done it (Ralph Waldo Emerson).”