You are on page 1of 4

In Order To Change the World: My Educational Philosophy

As an educator, I believe that I will have several opportunities to change lives and therefore, to change the world. While this is an exciting thought, it is also an incredible responsibility and should not be taken lightly. In consideration of this important commitment to the future, my educational philosophy will serve as a guide and a source for remembering my own purpose and beliefs as an educator. It can be expected that my philosophy may change with time and experience, however; these initial thoughts display my intentions and my foundational beliefs in regards to education and the purpose of my career. Providing my students with nontraditional, individualized educational experience which is relevant to the challenges of the modern world will align my philosophy with progressivism, while retaining tendencies toward social reconstruction. One of the most fundamental aspects of my position on education is that the students must be seen as individuals. Each student will enter my classroom with a unique set of values, challenges and strengths. It is my responsibility as an educator to find ways to engage each of these students. Progressives such as John Dewey and Jane Addams believed that in order to reach students, educators must “…understand the knowledge base each student possesses. The teacher must use this understanding in designing learning experiences that are rigorous and challenging to all students.”(Oakes & Lipton, 2007, p. 13 [Online Course Handout]) Like Jane Addams, I will encounter students from various social and cultural backgrounds. In addition, students will display multiple intelligences and diverse challenges. I can expect that my students will have vastly different experiences and for this reason I must be prepared to reach each

student at his or her own level. In other words, I must create a classroom environment based on the concept of educational justice. As a member of a multicultural family, I appreciate and highly value the importance of finding similarities in order to work together to solve problems. I believe that students (as well as adults) often segregate themselves based on perceived racial and cultural differences and this inhibits cooperation and effective world change. As an educator, I will strive to unite my classroom so that the differences between my students will not cause tensions which segregate the classroom based on race. This approach is not only essential to classroom harmony; it should be considered an important part of preparing students to participate in an increasingly global community. In order for our students to transition into the working world of the twenty-first century, it is crucial that students be able to “…develop critical thinking…they need to be able to analyze multiple perspectives.” (Oakes &Lipton, 2007, p.9 [Online Course Handout]) My vision for the classroom is one in which each student is seen as an individual and the differences are perceived as resources for the entire community. I believe that one of the most important things I can teach my students is to constantly ask questions and seek knowledge about the world around them. A progressive philosophy on education has “…promoted fieldtrips and learning beyond the walls of the classroom so that students were immersed in society and nature” (Oakes & Lipton, 2007, p. 13 [Online Course Handout]). In contrast with teaching from a textbook, hands-on experiences such as these encourage students to engage the material and create connections with life outside the classroom. This allows students to use the information to improve their own lives and to provide them with greater opportunities. From my experience, students question why they need to do the work in subjects such as math and science. Instead of merely avoiding the question, teachers should

provide students with opportunities to use what they have learned so that they will be prepared to use it again when the need arises. For example, a school garden might provide students with the experience needed to grow a garden at home which would give students greater opportunities for lifelong healthy eating. Although a relevant curriculum is a good start, I do not believe it is enough to prepare the students for the future. The information can be relevant and remain ineffective if the students are not encouraged to engage in the world around them. However, in order to relevantly engage students, educators must explore difficult and often controversial topics which are relevant and have a definite impact on the lives of students. While I believe that abstract ideas are important and interesting, students need to feel confident that what they are studying has a real value in their own lives. After all, education should be intended to provide students with the tools to question and discover the world in the hope that they will then use that information for positive world change. For this reason, I strongly relate with the social reconstructionist philosophy. As Social Constructionists argue, “…a curriculum centered on social problems, informed by ideas from the social scientists, would lead students to independent thinking and social action” (Oakes & Lipton, 1999, p. 106). In my own words, I would say that this approach is about making learning both real and purposeful for students. For example, students could adopt a problem which they recognize as a legitimate threat to the surrounding community and could then find ways to change the proposed problem through political and social action which would familiarize them with the democratic process. Although opponents argue that reconstructionists impose the educators political beliefs on students, I view the philosophy differently. Instead of forcing a political agenda on my students, I believe that this approach calls for a relevant

curriculum which would engage students and would teach them that they have the power to positively impact their surroundings. While I fully recognize that experience and changing circumstances will have an important impact on my educational philosophy, I believe that my actions as an educator should always be a direct response to the needs of my students. As I have explored throughout this statement on my philosophy, I believe that my students will benefit the most from a progressive approach to education with a tendency toward social reconstruction. This approach is not only student focused, it also attempts to prepare the students to meet the needs of their communities. In other words, I align myself with this educational philosophy because I believe it will give my students the greatest opportunity to improve themselves and make the world a better place.