Katie M Smith Foundations of Education Rebecca Werner Spring 2009 On Teaching Philosophy At this point in time, it is the Progressive

philosophy on teaching that interests me most of all. According to Henniger & Duckworth (2008), “The progressive teacher feels that the curriculum should be experience centered. Students learn best when they are engaged in conversations with peers or as they manipulate real-world materials that are relevant to their lives (p. 324).” I feel that hands-on experience is some of the most valuable experience students will have. Experiments and group discussions will be memorable for students more so than dry study of facts. LeoNora M Cohen (1999) mentions that “[s]hared decision making, planning of teachers with students, student-selected topics are all aspects (of progressivism). Books are tools, rather than authority.” I could not agree more. Books are valuable and wonderful tools, however, there is a reason they are re-edited every year, and why there are so many choices of textbooks on any given subject. They are to get us thinking and to keep our facts for us. To me, it is more important that a student learn how to use a book than to memorize all of the information in one.

My Personal Philosophy on Teaching I believe that an education is only as good as its relevance to the learner. I believe that it is my job as a teacher to instill in my students a sense of ownership over their own education, and to foster a love of learning that will continue throughout their lives. I believe that it is my job to investigate the skills and interests of my students, and help

them to translate that into something meaningful to them, that will help them become a happy and productive member of society. There are many ways to go about doing this. In my opinion, group work is essential because it lays the foundation for the type of cooperation and initiative they will face later in life, no matter what their profession. I feel that students gain more from their work when it is their work. Students should be led to see their education as their own responsibility, while at the same time trusting that they will have guidance and help when they need it. My students will be encouraged to ask questions, and they will count on me to help them find the answers. In order to encourage them to take on that ownership, they must believe that they can take that education in any direction they wish to go. Human beings are social creatures. Almost everything we do in our adult lives involves collaboration with others. I believe that group work in the classroom fosters an important ability to find one’s place in the group, and to learn to make a positive and meaningful contribution to that group. I believe that making a positive contribution to society is a main goal for humans, and that the ability to do so is the foundation for a meaningful life, which is why it is so important to foster that ability from a young age. Lastly, I recognize the plethora of choices that a person will have to make throughout his or her lifetime. I believe that the ability to make choices is yet another critical skill that we, as teachers, have a wonderful opportunity to foster in our students. Teaching is not just about passing on to students the facts and concepts of the classical subjects. Teaching is about giving students the confidence to formulate and test their own ideas. Teaching is about guiding students to a place where they know, not only how to find information, but how to make sense of that information within the context of their

own life. It is about fostering habits that students will need to be life-long learners, and the confidences that will instill in them a love of learning. Relevance, ownership, freedom of choice and trust all come together in the classroom to foster a student’s confidence in his or her ability to learn. That confidence is the key component to life-long learning. If, beyond lessons, we can teach students that they can learn, and that their future is what they make it, we have done our jobs well.

References Cohen, L. M. (1999). Philosophical Perspectives in Education. Retrieved March 3, 2009, from http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP3.html Henniger, M. L. & Rose-Duckworth, R. (2007). The Teaching Experience: An Introduction to Reflective Practice (Second). Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing.

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