I started with the Foundations of Education class with no working knowledge the education system nor any teaching philosophies. I did not realize that it’s not just about classroom management or teaching to a curriculum. The course has given me new tools and vocabulary. In reflection, Foundations of Education has helped me develop a philosophy of education, realize that there is more than one way of teaching, and open my eyes to the issues facing students today.
To be educated thoroughly, no matter the circumstances. This is the first thought that comes to mind when I think about my philosophy of education. As of now, my philosophy is fuzzy, but I do believe that, as the text used for this class suggests, my philosophy will evolve and develop as I gain more experience in the classroom. (Kauchak, 2017) My philosophy is this: I believe that education should be practical, that it should be enjoyable, and that it should be a lifelong pursuit that helps the student become the best person they can be. As I plan on becoming a paraprofessional, I realize that I need to communicate and collaborate with the teacher I will be working with to have our day run smoothly. (Fitzell, 2017) This means being open to and supporting the head teacher’s philosophy of education and teaching style while still maintaining my own.
It is my belief that to be well-rounded in your education you need to be open to experiences, that you need ‘Just Do It’ as the slogan goes. It would be naive of me to believe that all my students will have such prospects, so it is my challenge to provide opportunities for students to learn in a way that is relevant to their lives. (Kauchak, 2017) In other words, I’ll most likely be using the progressivist philosophy with a hands-on approach to instruction. I’ve found that my most memorable lessons have always been tied to my interests. For example, in elementary school, I learned how to do citations and look up multiple resources. This was done by making an A to Z booklet with each page featuring a topic of my choice. Although I sometimes struggled to figure out a topic to fit a letter of the alphabet, the project was engaging since I could choose what I researched, and I learned how to properly cite resources through repetition.
This project also helped me form a base for information literacy (Baron, n.d.), which has helped me immensely in our media-laden world. But it’s not just the nitty-gritty of sifting through information that I feel needs to be focused on. Students need to be able to translate what they learn in school into life skills, both social and practical in nature. (Watson, 2018) Most of my ideas in this area are math based since the subject was excruciating for me to grasp as a child. As an adult, I use math concepts daily. Shopping, sewing, and cooking are just to name a few. I feel that if the concepts had been applied to everyday uses, then I would have learned them more quickly, and probably would have enjoyed my math class much more. I now know that I can be the driving force behind my students’ enjoyment of learning and that I do not need to feel limited to one mode or thought of teaching.
It came as a surprise to me that there were so many ways of teaching. In fact, when I read about the Axiology branch of philosophy, I did not give it much thought. Why would I need to teach ethics and values? I never thought that ethics could be something that I would consider including in my instruction in a classroom. Recently, I learned that moral development starts early and is influenced by the adults and peers in a child’s life. (Berk, 2013) This knowledge in conjunction with our nation’s current obsession with high-stakes testing leading to shallow learning and arbitrary tests (Kauchak, 2017) has led me to believe that we need to go back to learning character skills. Even if it is as subtle as imbuing lessons of character, morality, and ethics with the standard curriculum, (Barnwell, 2016) or directly teaching empathy through reading, (Rymanowicz, 2018) I want my students to be able to feel their moral compass.
I recognize now though that there is so much working against our students today, not just in the way of morals. Before I only thought of what affected me as a student, and I realize now that this can be a sort of trap and being aware of that is the first step. Whether it’s funding, chronic absenteeism, academic pressure (Litvinov, 2018) or new drug paraphilia such as ‘Juuls’, (Ducharme, 2018) I am now more alert to keeping myself informed of what may be hindering our students. I realize that I also need to work on not being so quick to judge these issues if I am to become a more effective instructor. I feel that an effective teacher is a caring one, and by educating myself on what faces my students I can develop a positive relationship with them. (Suttie, 2016)
Learning is for life. It makes living enjoyable, it helps us with the mundane things, and it makes us better people. This is what I hope to instill in my students: to be the best person and live their best life through knowledge. Foundations of Education has bolstered my understanding of the many modes and philosophies of education as well as the issues facing our students. The course has made me feel more prepared for my instructive pursuits. In the end, my life-long academic journey continues, and I look forward to using the knowledge from this course to help enrich the lives of my students.