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Philosophy of Education By: Joshua P.

Kelly Recognizing that my pedagogical philosophy will always be in flux as it evolves with experience, there are a few key ideas that I will structure my curriculums around. The essential component of my classroom is two tiered- the first being that I teach English in a way that acknowledges literature and language as being deeply embedded in historical and cultural context; that the background and experiences of the writer as well as the people of the time period are major influences, thus literature is the documentation of what they know. This idea of documenting and sharing what a person knows, their experiences, leads me to the second tier- a classroom that promotes diverse backgrounds and experiences and encourages the students to incorporate what they know in the classroom setting. It is through exploring themes found in canonical and non-canonical texts, as well as keeping an open mind to non-traditional mediums that will contribute positively to the learning environment of the classroom, that I will attempt to help students to find our discussion of literature and language relevant to their own lives. Once they see the relevance of the classroom, they will be more inclined to contribute their own experiences and backgrounds into the classroom discussion. There is the hope that in structuring a classroom that stresses what each student brings into the class, rather than a complete focus on me the teacher, can be vital to achieving my ultimate goals. My first goal is the students gaining and honing skills that will make them adept at being able to read and interpret literature, recognizing the styles and motifs that writers use to touch on the themes of the text, and lastly being able to use their experiences or the experiences of other classmates as tools with which to dissect he text and be able to understand it’s relevance beyond just the classroom environment, as well as how they personal relate to the themes. Cognitive apprenticeship will be an essential to this goal- that just knowing what the themes of the text are isn’t enough for being able to use the knowledge is just as key to the learning process. Using the knowledge will allow the students to strive for a higher level of understanding of the human race and, more importantly, themselves; also, it will aid them in the way they approach literature as a whole. The idea of personal growth in knowledge through these stages can help in my next goal- trying to instill a passion for knowledge in the students. If the students recognize the potential for growth through reading and understanding literature, this may spark a passion within themselves for literature as a way to cultivate understanding of society and where they perceive themselves in society. My last key goal is a classroom set up for affective development in which students begin to develop empathy. Empathy in the classroom is important to me for two reasons. First of all, an empathetic classroom will encourage students to not be afraid to bring their experiences and backgrounds into the classroom to enhance discussion and understanding. Secondly, social learning is an essential part of the student’s learning experience, and emotions play an important role in this learning process. A teacher that believes emotional intelligence as being equally as relevant as intellectual intelligence can help students understand the values of society and discover new ways to relate to and interact with students they had previously believed to have nothing in common with. This development of multiple perspectives comes from an emphasis on empathy and can facilitate class discussion on the texts as well as social culture as a whole.

It is my belief that teachers begin to fail their students when they try to incorporate too much into the curriculum. This is due in large part to national, state, and local standards as well as an emphasis on education for testing. My ideal for my classroom will be structured would be less texts so the class can move at a pace that will really allow the students to engage with the texts. I will use journaling techniques to have my students reflect upon and engage with the material because it can help the students frame their thoughts for class and put down in writing thoughts they don’t want to share with the class. It is important to monitor the students progress with their writings, ensuring that they’re not just summarizing the text but are trying to relate to it. Incorporating books that deal with themes like alienation, ethnic heritage and identiy, and the struggles of growing up would be effective in promoting relevant class discussion; to achieve this, I would be constantly looking for books that are not part of the canonical tradition but may fall more in line with the experiences and backgrounds of my students. The journaling combined with the set up of my exams and papers will provide concrete forms of assessment in how the students are being engaged and finding the class relevant. The exams would be in short answer format, focusing on the themes of the book as a way to help the students prepare for their paper. The papers would be the most important artifact that the students would produce in response to each text, being the final culmination of the journaling they’ve been doing. Working off their journaling exercises, the students will put the knowledge attained to us by crafting a paper that builds off a theme or multiple themes of their choice that they find relevant to themselves or to society as a whole and writing about how the themes are relevant. This artifact would be the ultimate assessment of the progress of my students and of myself, for it incorporates all the goals of the class in a slow development that culminates in the reflections made in the final paper. To reinforce, it is my philosophy that literature isn’t meant to be simply read and memorized. It is my duty as the teacher to build a classroom that allows students to actively engage the material by encouraging them to bring into class discussion and their personal reflections their own backgrounds and experiences. By learning how literature can be relevant to their lives as well as the lives of others, my students may begin to gain a deeper understanding of the themes of the texts discussed and how these themes play out in society in general- that building off of their own experiences and those of others is the true beginning to opening up minds. This will hopefully create in the minds of my students a higher level of respect for language and literature.