Sorry readers for the lack of posting the last six months; I recently started graduate school and have had very little time to post on this blog! But, I am back with a vengeance! Today, I wanted to include an excerpt from a paper I wrote this past semester. I am attending grad school to obtain my Master of Arts in Teaching; my end goal is to become a High School History teacher. With this mission, I was required to evaluate my own personal philosophy of education. I am sharing it with you all, as it intertwines directly with the society we find ourselves in today. I hope you enjoy what inspired me to teach, and my take on the American public education system.
E ver since I was a little girl, I loved hearing stories of the past. My grandmother is from Japan and I would sit in awe as she told me tales of her homeland. I soaked up everything she described; from details of her family life to the times she spent in school, and the environment of the country during World War II. As I grew older, this thirst for tales of the past was never fully quenched as I found myself continuously gravitating towards the subject of history. In high school, I was fortunate enough to land in Mr. Michael Aderhold’s history classroom. He taught American Literature usually, but branched out (one time and one time only!) to also teach Advanced Placement US History in my junior year. The semester with him changed my life as it was here that I decided that I wanted to become a teacher. The passion and love for the subject came through in each one of Mr. Aderhold’s classes, whether it was through lecture or discussion. That passion translated to each student and we as a class came together and fostered a real learning community. A community free of fear of judgement, free of apprehension, free to express oneself however we saw fit. It made a huge difference to a student like myself. I was full of anxiety from the expectation of perfection I set on myself and was quite hesitant to participate in discussions although I always had something to say. Thus, Aderhold (which is what we referred to him as), paired with my existing love for all things historical, amounted to this fascination becoming even stronger. Because of this captivation that has (still) never gone away, I plan on teaching history to high school students. I hope to concentrate on World and European history to upper-classmen, as well as becoming Advanced Placement certified in as many areas in the subject that I can, to share this same love that was inspired in me to as many students as I can. For the students that may not be as enthralled about history as others, I hope to inspire them to be able to utilize the past in order to predict the future, as to make the most informed decisions in the present.
D ue to the fact that our forefathers never fully addressed the establishment of a federal education system, debates have existed on the functioning and purpose of the federal government in the educational system and within American citizen’s daily lives. To me, public schools are institutions that provide the same hope and opportunity to all children within its walls. It allows all children the access to certified teachers who aim to help students succeed and foster their own curiosities to further expand their minds regardless what car their parents drive or if they live in a house or a homeless shelter. I truly believe American public education directly influences a child’s ability to turn their American dream a reality. At no cost, children have access to resources and opportunities to better themselves on a human level. Without education, a person’s own potential is severely impacted. I hope to work inside this public system in order to provide these students with the same caliber of education as a child whose parents can afford private schools or other systems outside of the public realm. Aside from helping cultivate the foundation of student’s futures, American public education is also a tool to inform children of their own roles as American citizens in a grander society. I believe a major function we have as educators in the public system is to influence a student’s worldview and prepare them for life after high school graduation. Aside from knowledge gained from a book, I believe my role as a teacher extends to allowing students the time to explore their own worldview to find meaning in their own lives. With this knowledge, students can then evaluate how to best prepare for their futures within that framework. By doing so, teachers are cultivating responsible members of society that will hopefully contribute positively to humanity as a whole.
N o two children are exactly alike. They all grow and develop at different times, receive information through different means, and experience life through a different lens. Because of this, we as educators must be able to recognize the differences in our students and adjust the delivery of our content accordingly. Elements beyond a student’s control (such as their home life, cultural background, and family dynamic) may influence the way in which they receive information. This forces teachers to think outside of the box; we must present content in a manner that all students may benefit. Although all children learn and develop at their own pace, I do believe there are certain things an educator can do in order to ensure a student’s learning capabilities and development are on track and are going to have a positive impact on their future outlook and worldview. Getting to know students on a personal level allows for teachers to cultivate a community of learning in which all students feel empowered to participate, regardless of their cultural background, income level, language barriers, disability status, etc. A teacher must make learning relevant to each individual student’s lives in order for them to “buy in” to the information. To do this, I plan on having open dialogue with my students to create a positive, open environment. This should help students feel no apprehension participating in and asking questions during class discussion and lessons. I believe this directly affects a child’s learning as it builds one’s confidence and allows them to feel empowered in whatever we are learning/discussing.Through the study of pedagogy, there are many different approaches one can take to teach a student. From the philosophy of Socrates, whom instilled in education the “Socratic method” that forces students to break down problems into questions in order to find solutions, to John Dewey, who believed a great teacher was one full of passion and genuine care for students and not necessarily a “scholar” on subjects, there are many ways to facilitate students on their educational journeys towards adulthood. Aside from educational philosophies, there are essential elements that a classroom must have to produce lasting results. To me, this begins with consistency. For students (no matter what age), consistency will yield better results as they are more prepared and more adjusted in an environment than if a teacher has no routine, rhyme, or reason. Imagine walking into a classroom with no idea how to approach the lesson and no clue how to orient themselves- I can only imagine it as an environment of anxiety and stress, which is not conducive to a good learning environment. With this consistency also comes clear communication and expectations. I believe as a teacher, one must communicate to students clearly what is expected of them both in class and away from class. I will make sure to have a routine for my classroom that my students will adjust to, and I will have high expectations for each student on an individual basis. I believe that people, as a general rule, will live up to whatever expectation you have of them. If a child with a disciplinary issue has a teacher who does not expect much of them, the student will not rise above such expectations. However, if that same teacher held higher expectations of that same student and gave him or her support and guidance for higher results, I believe the student would achieve them. Does this mean it is the same results as an Advanced Placement in the seat next to him or her? Not entirely, but the feeling of achievement for both students will be the same.
Why is this important now? What does this philosophy have to do with a self-professed SJW’s mission is life? With the Trump administration a year in its reign, people like Betsy DeVos can have a profound impact on American public education as it is today. School choice vouchers could ultimately drain this public system and lead to major disparities in education for millions of children around the nation. We think the differences and inequality is bad now, school choice could effectively destroy the existing public education system. This is why it is important; we must fight for our children! As the old saying goes (and it’s true), they are this planet’s future.
Feel free to post your own thoughts below! And, look for a new post on OvulNation shortly.