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Final Philosophy of Education

Final Philosophy of Education
Brittany Beaulieu
Duke University

Final Philosophy of Education

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Before I began student teaching, I wrote a two philosophies of teaching,
somewhat in a vacuum. While I have teaching experience, the English classroom and
curriculum and public education were new to me. Much of my Philosophy of Teaching
English poses questions; “What is the point of the English curriculum?” “How can we
combat this desire to be right and replace it with the desire to understand?” “How do we
get students to risk error?” I did not offer comprehensive answers to those questions
before student teaching and I will not now, either. These, and other questions, must be
addressed continually. To conclude absolutely that the point of teaching English is X
removes the possibility of growth. To decide absolutely that there is one way to convince
students to risk error ignores the individuality of those students. What I knew before I
began student teaching and what I believe even more firmly today is that each student
must be approached as an individual. Teachers must work every day to show that they
know, respect, and care about their students’ success; it is one of the more effective ways
to get students to take risks and seek understanding.
I spoke in my previous philosophies of my desire to incorporate movement into
the English classroom. This I believe in implementing even more strongly than I did
before student teaching. Before student teaching, this desire grew out of my love for my
other discipline, dance education. I had a hunch incorporating movement into the English
classroom would yield positive results. After 27 weeks of experimentation, I have seen
first hand the difference it can make. Active participation, interaction with peers, physical
creativity, and ownership of learning motivates students to dig in deeper. This is
particularly vital in block schedules – students are expected to sit for one subject for 90
minutes, often without getting out of their seats or interacting with other students.

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Attention flags and discomfort sets in halfway through the class if students are not asked
to get up and move around. This is essential for health as well as attention. Research
suggests that sitting for longer than 45 minutes at a stretch can be detrimental to a body’s
fitness.
While I am clearly a proponent of kinesthetic learning, I continue to recognize the
importance of offering students a variety of modalities through which they might connect
with the curriculum. This stems from Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and
recognition, again, of students as individuals.
The largest growth in my philosophy is in the absolute necessity of recognizing
the role that culture plays on a student’s readiness in the classroom. As I stated previously
in my Philosophy of Adolescent Learning, “It is important to consider culture when
thinking about adolescent learning. As a teacher, it is imperative to recognize where the
student is coming from – this informs their social aptitude, language skills, and ability to
apply previous knowledge to new problems. When these factors are considered and
supported, effective student-centered learning is more likely to occur.” I now believe this
to be a profoundly indispensable piece of student learning. As a former boarding school
teacher, developing student relationships was a priority. In public school, this is harder to
do for myriad reasons. Student teaching showed me how important those relationships
(and the understanding of children’s backgrounds often garnered through the
relationships) are to creating a safe environment where learning can occur.
Reflection on my philosophies from before student teaching shows growth in my
understanding of education. I hope to develop and revise my philosophy on education
each year as I continue to learn how to teach and lead most effectively.

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