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Amanda Reynolds * ECE 335 BB * Shelley Richardson * April 11, 2007 PHILOSOPHY & EDUCATION The job of guiding and teaching

a child is one of the most important responsibilities that we as educators are given. Children are an untapped resource of knowledge and possibility, however, as life progresses children begin to loose their belief in the possibility of what they can do in this the world. All humans have an unlimited amount of potential; we just have to be willing to work hard, learn and try to reach it. Teacher need help children to hold on to possibility as long as they can because in this world we are faced with too many variables telling us what is impossible so we loose that hope that we can do anything with our lives. Children need to know that they are also special and need their creativity and potential to be nurtured before the world drains it out of them and we as teachers need to foster that potential so that it flourishes, therefore creating truly unique individuals. I also believe that an awareness of diversity needs and anti- bias curriculum needs to be incorporated into the children’s everyday life to encourage and promote acceptance of those who are different from them. Lastly, children need to be given an opportunity to explore their surroundings and learn about the world in their own way; therefore they need to be provided with open-ended experiences that encourage them to gain understanding and idea of things and of life. From my experience, if children are not provided with this opportunity then they will loose the ability to critically think, form their own opinions about things and learn to grasp information and retain it in a way that will help them hold onto that knowledge for longer. “The unexamined life is not worth living.”1 This quote by Socrates illustrates the importance of education encouraging others to look within themselves and discover their full potential. He believed that all knowledge could be found within if we would only be willing to look. Socrates believed that we need to abolish the illusion that we already understand the world completely and honestly accepting the fact of our own ignorance, these are essential steps toward

Amanda Reynolds * ECE 335 BB * Shelley Richardson * April 11, 2007 our acquisition of genuine knowledge, by discovering universal definitions of the key concepts governing human life.2 I believe us as teachers need to understand that in order to facilitate an appropriate learning experience for the children, we need to first be willing to grow and develop as educators. Socrates is my inspiration for the way I practice my teaching with children. I believe that children should be given an opportunity to come to their own conclusions through being in an environment that encourages the use of open-ended questions, hands-on experiences and allows the children to influence their own education. I believe that by doing this it promotes that the children develop their cognitive and independent thinking, therefore potentially creating more open-minded, inspired and self-governing human beings.

Another philosopher that has influenced me is Plato, a student of Socrates. He quoted, “Knowledge is the food of the soul” which shows how strongly he felt that we must acquire as much knowledge as possible in life. Plato’s “Guided Discovery” approach allows children to use their imagination while actively engaging with new materials or activities. 3 Through asking questions and enabling children to come to their own conclusions, “Guided Discovery” gives children a chance to be truly unique and independent with their thinking. Each child is unique in their own way, they each develop differently and they learn in different ways as well. Therefore children need to be provided with opportunities to learn from trial and error, experimentation and hands-on activities that they initiated. From my experience in my field placements, children have the possibility for a limitless amount of thinking, they just need someone (an educator) to facilitate and prompt that in-depth, analytical thinking.


Amanda Reynolds * ECE 335 BB * Shelley Richardson * April 11, 2007 Jean Piaget and his teachings of cognitive constructivism (active learning, adult-child interaction) also known as the High Scope Curriculum follows the belief that we need to construct our own knowledge and that children learn from active, hands-on learning.4 The High/Scope educational approach views children as active learners, who learn best from activities they plan, carry out, and reflect upon. The role of the adult in the High/Scope approach is to plan activities based on the children's interest, facilitate learning through encouragement, and engage in positive adult-child interaction strategies.5 From this they believe that the children can construct their own learning and knowledge. A large part of High Scope is that the children have control over their environment, their activities and over themselves. I have worked in a High Scope environment for two years of my professional career working with children and have seen how this atmosphere helps the children develop their self-help skills, independent thinking through the use of questions and lastly help them to improve their memory skills through allowing them to plan what they are going to do for the day and then reflect upon it. By allowing the child to have a certain control over their experiences, give input and make their own decisions they are empowered to be more self-reliant and independent.

From what I have learned in class other philosopher and approaches that have had an impact on my personal philosophy have been John Dewey and his Progressive tradition as well as Reggio Emilia approach. John Dewey believed that instead of forcing children to spend long periods of time in a teacher-directed classroom, they should be allowed to explore their world, the society. Only then could they truly become functioning members of the community. Progressivism is also more relevant and updated which allows the children to gain a better understanding of the modern world. Because emergent curriculum is based on the child’s interests and skills the child may be

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Amanda Reynolds * ECE 335 BB * Shelley Richardson * April 11, 2007 more motivated to want to learn therefore absorbing more information and knowledge. I believe that through giving children an opportunity to 3

The education of engaged citizens, according to this perspective, involves two crucial elements: (1). Respect for diversity, meaning that each individual should be recognized for his or her own abilities, interests, ideas, needs, and cultural identity, and (2). the development of critical, socially engaged intelligence, which enables individuals to understand and participate effectively in the affairs of their community in a collaborative effort to achieve a common good.6 The Progressivism ideology is child-directed.

The Reggio Emilia approach involves giving the children a sense of belonging while providing them with a very welcoming, real experience. The teacher acts an observer and a facilitator in the Reggio Emilia environment. This allows for the teacher to observe the children’s interests and take note of their conversations throughout a variety of experiences. Then from their interests and ideas, provide the children with activities and resources that can further their knowledge (Project Approach). This approach also allows for the children to be provided with many open-ended, loose materials that can be manipulated in many different ways therefore promoting creativity. It is a very child-directed approach that believes in giving the children ways to explore their natural environment.


Amanda Reynolds * ECE 335 BB * Shelley Richardson * April 11, 2007

I just have to use each experience to refine my practice and grow as an early childhood educator. Children need to learn essential skills that will enable them to solve their conflicts independently By respecting your students, listening to what they have to say and giving them support, then students are more willing to learn and are more open to you and your teaching. From this experience, I was able to learn what makes an effective teacher that actually motivates and encourages the children as a pose to the opposite.

Work Cited Fraser, Susan. Authentic Childhood: Experiencing Reggio Emilia in the Classroom. 2nd ed. Toronto: Nelson, 2006. Neill, James. John Dewey, the Modern Father of Experiential Education. 26 Jan. 2005. 18 April 2006. <>. Shaffer, David R., Wood, Eileen, and Willoughby, Teena. Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence. Toronto: Nelson, 2002.