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Statement of Educational Philosophy - JLG

Statement of Educational Philosophy - JLG

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Published by Joseph L. Grabowski

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Published by: Joseph L. Grabowski on Dec 13, 2010
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12/13/2010

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S
TATEMENT OF
E
DUCATIONAL
P
HILOSOPHY
 
Joseph Lee Grabowski
 Department of English
My educational philosophy has been shaped preeminently by the unique personalist vision of theFrench philosopher, Emmanuel Mounier. In this vision, the human person is seen to be afundamentally social being, one whose true personality “awakens” through engagement incommunity. Education necessarily plays a role in this awakening process; Mounier holds thatthe educator’s proper task lies between the classical model which seeks rather to “make” personality instead of awakening it, and the modern approach which, in the name of “liberating”the student, fails to engage the deeper self at all and ends by merely adapting the individual to acertain set of functions expected by his or her society. To assist my students in awakening their  personalities, I strive to promote in them a two-fold awareness of the forces behind this defining process: first, the impact of the student’s own individuality, of his or her own self, impressed andexpressed; second, the impact of the community, the student’s social ‘worlds’ (
umwelten
) whichhe or she inhabits.Two colleagues who had the opportunity to sit in on sessions of my First Year Writing class eachexpressed admiration at the level of participation which was exacted from the students. Onenoted that “at least every student contributed at some point.” I am glad to say that such participation is something I deliberately endeavor to foster in my classroom. Allowing studentsto speak in discussion is a primary tactic which I employ to promote their awareness of their ownvoices – that is, their own express personalities. Ideally, I have the students engage one another,asking class members to follow up on remarks made by their peers: “Does anyone want torespond to that?” In turn, I allow students the opportunity to follow up on their own iterations,with questions such as: “Do you think you’ve been understood? Does what’s been said agree or disagree with what you were originally saying? Would you like to respond?” Students’ abilityto perceive their peers as an audience of rhetoric helps them to reflect upon the ways in whichthey are heard and analyze to what extent their own personalities – as they understand them – areauthentically expressed and to what extent they are “lost in translation.” In my own responses tostudents, I pursue the same end of making the student aware of how his or her voice is heard:“Let me make sure I understand you… what do you mean when you say such-and-such?” In anyevent, rarely does a student’s iteration turn out to be a one-off event: nearly always it is an entryinto dialogue, a probing for meaning and an invitation to reflect on the ways in we can be bestunderstood – or, very often, the ways in which we are, in fact, misunderstood.Peer review exercises and group work also foster this self-awareness amongst students in myclassroom. I make it clear to the students that the primary relation their peers and I have to their writing is that of a
reader 
. I encourage them to model their own readings of their 
own
texts onthe feedback they receive, or to become effective readers of their 
own
work. This is an extendedapplication of Linda Flower’s concept of the movement from writer-based to reader-based prose.By reflecting
in writing 
on the way in which their peers receive their expression, students stepoutside themselves and turn a reader’s/listener’s mind toward their own utterances. Final draftsalways include a front-page questionnaire which prompts students to reflect upon how they wereable to actualize their own voices – thus, their own personalities – through the rhetorical task undertaken in the writing assignment. They are urged to explain how their peers’ readingsinfluenced their reading of their own text, to comment on whether they feel that they haveexpressed themselves well and why or why not. An essential part of this reflection is to try to

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