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Education is a path to the fulfillment of ones potential and aspirations.

I believe that the relationship


between the student and the teacher is akin to that of an explorer and guide. This relationship should be
nurturing and mutually beneficial. While the educator provides a path to knowledge they should also
receive feedback from their students that affirms or denies their methods and thereby improving their own
techniques. I feel that the relationship should be personal on the part of the educator.
An education should be a tool that the student gains through the interaction with their instructors to create
the world that they desire. What is important in my opinion is that the student is left to use this tool in the
way that they feel is most appropriate. As an educator I strive to encourage students to take action on
issues and apply the knowledge that they have gained but refrain from trying to influence the direction of
that action. What should be focused on are the issues that most concern the student and if those issues
relate to a broader context then it is allowable to expand the materials to allow for a clearly vision of the
larger issue. An educator should promote action but not direct it.
Education is a basic right of all people and it should not be tied to class or financial status. I am extremely
opinionated on this and see it as a black and white issue. I see the population of any group or nation as the
greatest resource that they possess. By providing education to all that reside in that group you can only
serve to strengthen it. It is not the responsibility of each group member to pursue education but it is the
responsibility of the group to provide a path to that education if it is desired by the by the individual. As
an educator I believe it is also the responsibility of each teacher to advocate for the population that they
serve. This can take many forms from trying to shape and influence policy to volunteering their services
to groups that cannot afford or have the ability to provide for their populations.
Exposure to diversity is key to becoming a complete human. I believe that diversity in ideas, sources and
materials are imperative to giving students the clearest path to reality. If possible diversity should be
reflected in the makeup of the group but this is not always possible. If it is not, the educator, or facilitator,
must be willing to draw from the knowledge of all groups to provide their students with the opportunity to
discern truth. If one is not willing to draw from the knowledge of all cultures, classes, races, and genders
or is biased, there can be no progress towards understanding. Wisdom, which should be the end product
of any educational experience, cannot be attained through a narrow perspective that only reinforces
existing standards and views. The world is full of differing ideas and opinions on virtually every subject
imaginable and all of them are valid when they are being used to present all aspects of a given issue to a
student. It is the job of the student to decide what is most useful and what the truth is.
It is my goal as an educator to be flexible at all times. There is no one philosophy of education that is
applicable to all situations as there is no philosophy that is complete. I have my own personal preferences
but those preferences should never dictate what or how material is presented to a student. The job of the
educator is to guide the student through a process and each student is unique and should be treated as
such. If one student responds to Humanism, another may require Behaviorism. The atmosphere and the
way in which a class is conducted should be based on the needs of the group and it is part of the
educators role to determine early on what those needs are. An educator must also be willing to admit
mistakes or recalibrate for missteps if the need arises, if an educator is not willing to do this they are
doing a disservice to their students through no fault of their own.
I do not believe that it is the role of an educator to bring social and political concerns into the classroom if
it is not pertinent to the material or subject being presented. In many cases I believe that, while the

intentions of the educator are usually to be respected, the students are not always receptive. I also believe
that in many cases, when controversial topics are being discussed, there are so many ground rules that it is
difficult to get honest and thoughtful opinions from the students. It also would appear obvious that the
fear of offending others and the repercussions that would follow prevent students from being forthright
with how they may feel. No progress can be made when dealing with controversy if honesty is not a part
of the equation. It can also be the case that an educator can push a particular side of an issue and all they
get back from the class is regurgitated answers that the students think that they want to hear. In my own
experience, I have been part of classes that were infused with certain topics artificially by instructor and
by doing so lost sight of the actual topic at hand. I believe there is absolutely a place for social and
political issues in the classroom when it is appropriate and if it is an honest and open discussion but I do
not believe the classroom is the place to mold students perspectives on those issues. Outside of the
classroom through their experiences is where that will happen.
In Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education Elias and Merriam provide us with the context and
needs that gave rise to each of the philosophies that are discussed. Early on I found a line that I believe
helps to support my belief in the need for the educator to be as adaptable as possible. Finally, all
philosophies of adult education originate and develop in a particular history and sociocultural context.
(Elias & Merriam, 2005, p. 15) My interpretation of this statement is that the effective methods of the
educator are defined by the circumstances of the class. The place, the time, the culture, the student, the
desired goals, and many other factors come into play when trying to construct the best approach for
delivering knowledge. There is no one particular way to do this and there is certainly no one way that
exceeds all others.
It is rare that marginalized voices are accepted as valid and more common for them to be measured
against the standards of the dominant culture. (Bailey & Baumgartner, 2008, p. 47) I dont know that I
found a quote in any of the readings that supports my ideas on diversity any better than this one. It has
been my experience that this almost always the case. I feel that every culture and group views outside
opinions or cultures with a suspicious eye and because of this do not find the value that is inherent in
every culture. One of my goals as an educator is to show the value in these different ideas and cultures.
The knowledge of the world is available to us all and many times a problem that is occurring in the
United States is applicable to a proverb that originated 2000 years ago in a completely different place.
Many times the solution to a problem is presented by the unlikely of sources and if we take the time to
listen we can find it. A Guatemalan farmer may have the answer to the issues you face today.
The idea of the universal Asian American experience discussed by Ming-Yeh Lee is another reason that
I think including diversity in education is a must. (Sheared et al., 2010. p. 297) I have found Americans
on average to be relatively ignorant of the outside world other then what they see on TV and because of
this have many misconceptions regarding other peoples and cultures. I have also encountered the same
situation in other places and I believe that it is the duty of the educator to help bring peoples together
whenever possible and introduce them to the ideas and values of the others so that mutual understanding
can grow.
humanistic educators believe that humans are truly free creatures. A Persons behavior is not
determined by external forces or internal urges; rather, behavior is the consequence of human choices
which individuals can freely exercise (Elias & Merriam, 2005, p 120) I have come to believe this
through my own life experiences and it has been validated time and again for me. Each and every

individual is influenced by their environment but it is the choices that they make as to whom they
become. Some choose to blame others and their environment and others choose to take action to correct
ills that they perceive and improve their situation. Because I view people in this light I choose to let them
make the choices that shape the way in which they learn and provide feedback to the ways in which I can
help to guide them most effectively.
Some support for my views on keeping social and political views out of the classroom can be found in the
views of the Anarchists. Anarchism opposes national systems of education because of its conviction that
education in the hands of the state serves the political interest of those in control. (Elias & Merriam,
2005, p 148) I take this theory one step further and say that it serves the interests of the educator. I agree
that there are political socialization aspects to the classroom but beyond that there are also private
interests that can be served and I believe that this is just as important to guard against.
everyone is a teacher, everyone is a learner, and everyone contains within them the seed to make
change. (Highlander Research and Education Center) This is how I view the relationship between the
educator and the student. Both play each others role at different times and the relationship should be one
that both walk away from having gained from the experience. While I do not advocate directing a student
to take action I do encourage them to do so in the way that they see fit. I believe that the work done at the
Highlander does the same for the people that choose to go there and participate.
The main theme that I find when looking at humanism through a historical lens is that resurgence can be
found whenever who we are as human beings and our role is society is questioned by outside forces.
When looking at humanism there is a distinct correlation between a threat to what it is to be human and a
resurgence into of interest in humanism. Elias and Merriam point to the restrictive power or the church,
the rise of natural science, and the industrial revolution as all playing roles in the revival of humanism at
different points in history. (2005, p112-113) In examining current issues I see the rise of technology to
play the same role that science did at an earlier time. I see many people trying to shun technology as they
believe it takes away some of the elements that make us human.
Another theme is that is to put humans at the center of existence. Remove hierarchies and the limitations
placed upon them by the world at large. Allow humans to explore their capabilities and give them the
opportunity to be the creators of their own destiny. As stated in the Humanist Manifesto Man is at last
becoming aware that he alone is responsible for the realization of the world of his dreams. (Elias &
Merriam, 2005, p. 117) This is at the core of my philosophy of education. Allow the student to drive their
education to enable them to fulfill what it is that they most desire and their desire.
Radicalism is another philosophy that I find value in but in a different way. I believe that it is important to
be critical of society and culture but at the pace and preference of the student. Radicalism is a backlash
against society and accepted norms. It is through the restructuring of society that we can correct these ills.
(Elias & Merriam, 2005, p. 147) The power structure that exists in education has given rise to varied
forms of radicalism including Anarchism, Marxist-socialism, and the Freudian Left. My philosophy
supports this but not in an activist way which can be construed as not supporting radicalism at all. I
believe that hierarchy of institutions is not conducive to the learning of students and they are much better
served outside of this hierarchy. As I also point out in another part of this writing, I agree with the
Anarchist view of institutional perversion of power. Promote action but do not influence it.

As I do not currently work at an educational institution I will have to look at how I and why I would
apply my philosophy in the sense of the future. I will be returning to China in another year and I expect
that the courses that I teach will revolve around ESL and the Culture of English Speaking Nations. How I
apply them will also depend on the setting in which I will be teaching. I expect to teach a university,
language school and one on one classes. I will start with the last first.
In the case of one on one, I plan to shape the entire structure around the students needs. I have done this
in the past and it has been very successful. I will start the first session by asking the student what goal is,
how they wish to get there, and how they feel they could get there the most effectively. With this
information I will develop a plan for each session and following each session reflect on the success or
lack thereof and make adjustments accordingly. I will also be asking for feedback throughout the sessions
to reflect upon as well. Because of the one on one nature of similar tutoring that I have done in the past I
believe that these types of classes will rapidly become personal for me as I will be cheering for the
success of the student and through their success receive a certain amount of validation for myself.
When it comes to university classes and those at the language school it is a different story. I am much
more restricted in what I can do and I am bound by the guidelines of the institutions. I will make every
effort to have as much personal or face to face time with students that I can but in many cases class sized
dictates that this is not possible. In the past I have had class sizes up to 100 students, I combated this by
remaining for as long as possible after class to give each student some sort of interaction if they desired.
In the future I will continue to do so. Especially in the case of large classes this is one of the only ways
that I am able to get feedback from the group so it is a practice I plan to continue.
I will be as flexible as possible in both cases as well. I will try to adapt as much as I can to the desires of
the students within the guidelines of the institution. One example is that in the past I had a class that did
not require testing in my opinion and we had voted as a class to forego a final if they could show that they
had learned the material in class discussions and activities. We found later in the semester that the
university required on and so we were flexible and I provided a five question exam that everyone could
easily pass. I have also had classes that did not respond to this type of environment at all and demanded
the sage on the stage. In this case I moved away from a more open atmosphere and went to giving lectures
each class. Though I was not happy about the process, the students responded extremely well due to the
fact that they were back in an environment that they felt was familiar. In the future I will continue to
maintain this type of approach so that I can continuously discern what is best for the particular set of
students.
Introducing diversity can be very difficult in a Chinese classroom as there is an overwhelming majority of
one particular group that does not necessarily recognize the ways in which they oppress the minorities in
the country. I liken it to the depiction of Native Americans throughout most of American history. What I
will try to do is allow those students to express their own cultures in a safe, non-confrontational way. I
have tried this in the past with mixed results, mostly negative. It is frowned upon to be different there so it
is usually the minority student that does not wish to discuss the issue, and I always respect that. It will not
stop me from continuing to provide the opportunity if a student desires it.
Another way that I try to bring in diversity is using a wide variety of materials from different cultures and
nationalities. I like to bring in readings or art for discussion that come from around the world and try to

get people to express their ideas and what they think they may know about a certain place or group. This
has been one of my most successful tactics and I believe it will be in the future as well.
In trying to make sure that every all have an equal chance at equal access to education I will try to
continue volunteering my own time to the community in which I live. I have discussed in a previous class
that in the future, upon my return to China, I would be interested in developing a nonprofit organization
that can go to the countryside and provide ESL lessons for the students that do not have access to the
resources that are to be found in the larger metropolitan areas. ESL lessons can be an extremely expensive
pursuit in China that are usually only affordable by those of at least middle class income. English is a
required subject from third grade on and it is only those with money that are able to afford the extra help.
Because of this there are many opportunities only afforded to those with the financial resources that are
not attainable by others due to the lack of funds and not the lack of desire. I will also make efforts to be
available as much as possible to the students that I have from my regular duties and provide them with all
the support that I can.
Social and political issues dont tend to do well in the classroom in China and there is the likelihood that
if you delve too deep into them you may find yourself without a job rather quickly. An example is the
three Ts, Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen. If I, as a foreigner, was to discuss them in my class in the way
we would in the west I could be fired. I have in the past and kept my job but that was with a softer edge
then we would discuss here. In the future I will bring up issues that are pertinent if they apply to the
current class topic. If they do not then I will be very unlikely to introduce them into that setting. The one
exception is trying to get minority students to share their experiences. I believe that this is a major issue in
China and that most Han Chinese are completely ignorant of the realities that certain groups, the Uyghur
for example, live with. I will also continue to talk about the hot topics of the day with my class as
expressing my ideas tends to provide them with a different perspective which falls under my diversity
principal. In the past subjects have ranged from corruption to gay marriage.
I certainly feel that my perspective on social and political issues in the classroom differs from many in on
the collegiate level in the United States. I feel that there is a push to bring these issues into the classroom
where they can be debated and students can learn from each others lived experiences. In theory I think
this is a wonderful use of class time and can be very useful when students are able to get a glimpse into
the lives of those with different lifestyles, cultures, or beliefs then their own. What I believe happens
many times though is that the educator, consciously or subconsciously, turns these classes into a tool that
reflects their own opinions of what is important and does not allow for the students to put forth their own
ideas without the fear of repercussions from either the instructor or the other students in the class. Many
times the fear of these repercussions creates a stale and generic environment that is not conducive to real
critical thinking. I believe that students refrain from expressing themselves honestly for fear of offending
other individuals and because of this they do not feel that they can participate fully. If there is going to be
the debate of controversial issues in the classroom there should not be a decision on the ground rules prior
to the start. This only serves to stifle the discussion before it has begun. Any rules about conduct should
come organically through the process the debate is ongoing.
I see my opinions on diversity reflected in two different ways from the experiences I have had and the
differing policies that I have learned and worked under. In the United States I have seen a dramatic
change in the way classes are conducted, both in the way material is presented and the sources that have

been introduced. While there had been one prevailing and dominant view that was portrayed as true
through my education growing up, now there are competing views coming from all angles and sources
that. In some ways I see a real effort to debunk the narrative of the past and bring in all of the voices that
were repressed for so long. I see this at all levels of education but most clearly at the collegiate level. I do
believe that there are still problems when it comes to issues of class and accessibility as was pointed out
by several of the popular education projects that our class undertook. On fronts such as gender, race and
culture, I believe there have been strides taken to bring the issues and concerns of different groups out
into the open where they have received much of the attention that has been long overdue.
In the case of my experience in China I do not see any attempt whatsoever to promote diversity and
inclusion outside perspectives. There is a very clear company line that is put forth and deviating from
that line is very much frowned upon. I have experienced backlash from students and gentle nudges in
different directions from faculty when trying to introduce opposing views on a range of topics. Some
topics were controversial and others missteps on my own part. On the other hand, I have found students to
be curious and quite receptive to less controversial topics dealing with culture and other ways of thinking.
Often times other faculty have viewed these efforts as a waste of time due to the emphasis on test scores
but I have found that to not be the case.
When dealing with flexibility I find that this is a simple case by case issue when dealing with educators in
the United States. I do not feel that there is a policy that reflects my views and it has been my experience
that it is the personal preference of the teacher as to how flexible they are willing to be. Some operate by
a set of guidelines that are set in stone while others can change course on a whim.
Institutionally I find little to no flexibility in the Chinese system. I have not taught in China for almost
five years now so there may have been some changes but that is not what I expect to find on my return. I
believe that when I return that there will be an emphasis placed on test scores and test scores will be the
only path that allows students to progress through the system that is in place. Many people attribute this to
the Confusion rote education style but I find that to be only slightly true. China is dealing with such large
numbers of students it is almost impossible to do anything else without sacrifice on the part of the
educators. Educators have to be willing to give up much of their own time to dedicate the attention the
students require if they are to move away from the emphasis on tests. Allowing students to do projects or
presentations in place of a test is not possible when there are 100 plus students and you only meet once
two hours a week.
My philosophy can be found in my popular education project by looking at that subject that I have
chosen. The focus on immigrants was due to my belief in diversity and the benefits that it presents to
society. I wanted to promote the rights and inclusion of immigrants from all over the world because I
believe that we are greater when we have access to all the knowledge and cultures of the world. The
contributions of immigrants can change our perspective on issues that we struggle with in the United
States through their experiences.
I spoke of how education should be personal for the teacher and this was a personal issue for me. My wife
is an immigrant and I see how she is treated at times and I believe that many of the attitudes she is
subjected to are due to ignorance and not meant with malice. This was one of reasons that I tried to
address microaggressions. This was a both a good and a bad thing. While I was able to bring up the issue

of one aspect of microaggressions for the presentation I completely ignored the other ways in which
microaggressions work.
One of the focuses of my project was who was advocating for the rights of immigrants and this was due
to my belief in accessibility, not only to education but to every aspect of life. I find no reason that people
should be limited in their ability to progress and succeed in life due to the fact that they were born in a
different place and have a different native tongue. This was one of the reasons that I chose to discuss the
Highlanders program on language justice for our week ten discussion. I found it to be a very important
and insightful program.
As to my belief in flexibility, it hurt me in this case. I spent so much time trying to contact so many
people and groups that I lost focus on the main point of working with one group and producing the best
possible work on them. I jumped from person to person and group to group so much that by the time I got
started I was in real trouble and had not achieved what it was I set out to do. I believe that the intent of my
philosophy was true in my project but that in the end I did not employ my philosophy in the most
effective way.

The class and small group discussions influenced me by presenting many different experiences that others
had been through and their reactions to them. My position regarding Behaviorism seemed to be affirmed
when Mathew related his experiences in the USMC and basic training. I thought then as I do now that
simply shaping a student into what you wish them to be is the complete opposite of what my philosophy
of education is. Picturing students being trained in the same way as Pavlovs dogs is depressing to me and
the antithesis of what education is all about. Education is about exploration as a previously stated and not
being molded into the ideal of others.
Another great thing that came out of the discussions was the experiences of the other students in the class
that are currently working within an educational institution. As I am not currently in the same situation it
was greatly appreciated that they could give me a picture of what the real situation was and the difficulties
or successes that they were experiencing. Alison and John both shared their frustrations with the current
policies and on subjects such as accessibility with us and I would have had no idea how difficult some of
the issues discussed are. I had previously believed that accessibility was a major part of my philosophy
but I had thought of it in the context of China due to my more recent experiences but after listening to
their situations I was able to reflect on my past and the issues that kept me from going to college at a
much earlier age. After hearing and reading their opinions it helped to reaffirm the ongoing problem that
accessibility is all over the world.
I was also really enjoyed the contributions or Cathy and Susan as they provided a much different
perspective on issues from my own. In my daily life I dont have a lot of interaction with individuals that
have had the experiences that Cathy has. Cathys history and the experiences that she shared with us
about her life come from a different place then the world that I have known and I found her contributions
to be helpful in trying to understand how the education functioned in the past and in other parts of the
country. In the case of Susan, I thought that her way of thinking and approaching problems was unique in
the class. I loved her description of the postmodern classroom and the detail that she went into. She
painted a picture, not literally this time, which I thought was very effective in presenting how this theory

would look in reality. While I still lean heavily on the humanist philosophy I found more value in the
postmodern after reading her contribution than I had just reading the book.
I feel that my philosophy was in place before the class but was honed throughout it. I believe that each of
the students presented ideas and perspectives that helped me to tweak my own philosophy or debunk
others. It was a group effort and I enjoyed it. In the future I will use these ideas and others that I
encounter to reflect on my philosophy and shape it so that my students can be receive maximum
fulfillment.

References
Baumgartner, L., & Johnson-Bailey, J. (2008). Fostering awareness of diversity and multiculturalism in
adult and higher education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2008(120), 45-53.
Elias, J., & Merriam, S. (2005). Philosophical foundations of adult education (3rd ed.). Malabar, Fla.:
Krieger Pub.
History-1932-Present. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2015, from
http://www.library.wwu.edu/ereserves/cuban_ahe578_highlander.pdf
Sheared, V., Johnson-Bailey, J., Colin, S., Peterson, E., & Brookfield, S. (2010). The handbook of race
and adult education a resource for dialogue on racism. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.