My Educational Philosophy; A Reflection



Iman Mansour Lebanese American University 24-11-2006

My Educational Philosophy; A Reflection


“In modern times there are opposing views about the practice of education. There is no general agreement about what the young should learn in relation to virtue or in relation to the best life…Men do not all prize most highly the same virtue, so naturally they differ also about the proper training for it.” Aristotle wrote this more than 2000 years ago, and today there are still disputes and arguments about the issues he raised back then. There has been a rise to different schools of thought in the philosophy of education with different approaches to resolving Aristotle’s suggested issues as well as many other fundamentals. Each philosophical school might well provide guidance for the teacher and is unique in what it has to offer to the curriculum. As a teacher of the English language, I’m faced with one essential question to answer for my self; which philosophies of education should I study in depth and apply in my lesson plans and the teachings of my students? As an English 11th and 12th grade teacher of two years, I can now say that not all the methods and approaches I believed to be effective and beneficial during my University years of studying education and related matters have paid off in providing optimal learning progress in my classroom. Through various experiences, failures, and successes, I accumulated a great deal of knowledge as to which methods I should use and at what time whether in a single lesson or throughout the curriculum as a whole. I gained more expertise in balancing between the school’s priorities, beliefs, and expectations from its students and my own. Hence, I make sure to follow requirements and regulations set by the school but always add my own flavor to what and how I teach, and thus, ensuring the gratification of the administrators, the parents, the students, and myself.

My Educational Philosophy; A Reflection Literature’s curriculum is rigorous and idealistic at school. Being in agreement


with this prospectus, it is also handled very attentively and studied with a immense detail in my classroom. As the idealist philosophy suggests, the mind is what brings meaning to that which emerges; it interprets, clarifies, and generalizes. There needs to be a quality curriculum that develops the intellect keeping in mind that the will of the student is vital to master subject matter. Therefore, the student must reach out and put great effort to learn and attain knowledge that will cultivate the intellect and mind. Literature seeks to stimulate the mind to grow and achieve. In my opinion, recently written literature has not stood the test of time as having the wroth and value as compared to the writings of authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Robert Louis, and Washington Irving, among others. I support a curriculum that is rich with studies of the classics and spend time with such works to ensure that my students understand carefully and thoroughly these writers and their works. I do give time for discussions but make sure that the class remains oriented around me so that students can always know if they are on the right track in terms of analysis and conclusions. I stress on background, writing styles, purpose and many more aspects because it teaches students ideals, values, morals, and beliefs which can be of help and usage in the real world. Understanding the accountability is important and the traditional methods of assessment such as objective tests and recitation of memorized information are valuable and constructive for me as means of evaluating student progress. For that reason, I test students weekly on the material covered in Literature (ideas, analysis, elements, and vocabulary) to keep track of their progress. Individual readings however, differ a great deal in style from the literature method mentioned above. I believe that a person is nothing more than what he/she makes of

My Educational Philosophy; A Reflection themselves and that feelings are still very important in a student’s educational life. I tend to follow an existentialist technique when dealing with readings that students get to choose and finish on their own. I provide them with a list of library books and give my students the freedom of choice which makes them feel somewhat responsible and active in deciding upon their curriculum material. However, and to make sure they are reading, they are required to hand me an assessment paragraph of each weeks reading every


Friday, which also functions notably in having them practice critical and creative thinking that is relevant to decisions made about their stories. This, in my opinion, develops their self appraisal skills which I believe to be very significant. In addition, and for means of reflection, I ask students to choose a very short part of the story and act it out for the class. I refrain from putting rules or guidelines for them to follow and instead expose them to different ideas and approaches and leave everything up to their own personal choice. They are also free to ask other classmates for assistance if the scene requires more than one actor. Through this activity, they are creating their own essence, discovering themselves and their innermost nature helping them unleash their own creativity, imagination, and self-expression. I believe, nevertheless, that curriculums should be constructed so that education is informative yet also relevant to the needs and interests of students. Students, at the end of the day, are social beings who learn well through active interplay with one another. For that reason, and as a means towards increased learning, I engage students in activities that encompass meaning to them. They are given activities that require them to apply their previous experiences while analyzing and solving new and meaningful issues. In this area I believe the scientific method, which is heavily used among pragmatists, to be very

My Educational Philosophy; A Reflection effective and works hand in hand with the constructivist approach for me. Students are engaged in dialogues. They are being reflective, comparative, and practical; they create their own understandings, reflect upon them, and then discuss them with one another. Often, I provide the class with a set of questions (slightly related to something we read


together in class) and have students answer in their own personal manner. The questions I give require answers to be analytical and supported with personal experiences, beliefs, values etc… Then, I ask students to get together in groups, compare answers, and generate a final group result that combines ideas from each member. During such an interaction, students develop social virtues such as cooperation and tolerance for different points of view. At the end of the period, a group representative presents the answer to the class. Writing periods in my classroom are constructed idealistically and in a way where the students are required to master a body of information at the end of the school year. In my students’ case, they should be able to complete a well written, coherent, and clear composition about a random topic I choose for them. I take the writing process gradually from less to more complex skills and detailed knowledge. In such a period, I serve as the intellectual and moral role model because only then can I transmit the correct way of writing with the minimum misunderstandings and most effective time management. Homework is vital in terms of writing application and students will write a first, second, and sometimes third draft at home and independently. Their writings will be assessed by me and returned to them for further editing until they hand in a final draft which is to be graded.

My Educational Philosophy; A Reflection There are diverse philosophical schools of thought which might well provide guidance for the teacher. Teaching and learning situations vary and how educators


perceive what and how teaching should be taught is subject to interpretation and different philosophies of education. The act of teaching then may be viewed from different perspectives and philosophical schools of thought. In my teaching, I attempt to share with students my love of English. This includes not only the content but also more importantly the questions asked and not easily answered. I try to exhibit a sense of wonder about their world and urge them to begin asking critical questions themselves. I put great importance to classic textbooks and readings yet try to include cooperative work and self developing activities. Therefore, I can conclude that my school of philosophy falls amidst all schools of philosophy as I tend to take bits and pieces from each and every one of them. Not one school is perfect in my eyes, each has its strengths and weaknesses, its effective and feeble premises and that’s why I’m not a strict believe or follower to any one in particular. Nevertheless, in my teaching experience, I learned that I will always be learning and that’s why my current conclusion is subject to change years or even months from now. But for now, and with the experience I have accumulated in my classroom, I would rather say I’m eclectic rather than tie myself down to one educational philosophy.

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