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Philosophy of Education James Guerra Azusa Pacific University History and Philosophy of Education EDTC 573

June 14, 2013

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION Philosophy of Education Every teacher, through either conscious meditation or personal discovery, develops a

philosophy of education that directs his attitudes toward his profession, students, and curriculum, and which ultimately wends its way into his classroom practice. It is important for an educator to constantly examine his conscious and discover his subconscious beliefs, since these paradigms ultimately determine the success or failure of his endeavors. In the pages to follow, structured as answers to pertinent questions, I will explain different facets of my personal philosophy of education based on the research presented in this class, my personal experience of twenty-three years of teaching, and my own ideas culled from my Christian beliefs. Where appropriate, I will directly link it to an educational philosophy mentioned in this class.

What are the broad goals of education for individuals? Since education has both personal and societal impact (society is ultimately shaped by the thinking of those within that society), let us begin with what the broad goals should be for both the individual and society. Since our goal is ultimately a unified and thriving society, it is imperative that we develop citizens who can be literate in at least one language and able to access quality ideas and information through printed media. These individuals should know how to evaluate ideas, learn to discern between truth and deception, useful and useless ideas, and know how to apply that information to their lives. Ideally, although this may be out of the scope of the public school teacher, students should have a good grasp of Scripture and its application in modern times, and be able to expound those truths to others. But since we do live in this material universe, students should also have basic mathematics skills, as well as a knowledge of laws, government, and finance to live within the boundaries of a secular society and not become

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION a public burden. Finally, our education should prepare us for the world of work so that we have something to contribute to society and to keep us off the public dole.

What are the broad goals of education for society? A good education will ultimately create good citizens. Therefore, another of the broad goals of education is to create citizens who will function responsibly in our American democracy. They must learn that self-control is necessary for self-governance. A citizen who cannot control his character, or passions, or behavior, is not ready for the freedom afforded by our nation. A well-educated American should understand the philosophical foundation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights. A strong background in History should help us define the American character and inform us of what happens when we no longer have civic virtue. It should also warn us of despots and demagogues, since tyranny always seeks a foothold when men and women are free (The Deluder Satan's desire is to kill, enslave, and destroy.) It is wise to instruct our citizenry in virtue and teach them self-reliance (and reliance on God) and hard work as the route to good citizenship and prosperity, with the understanding that we support the weak and the poor among us as part or our civic duty. From this paradigm of what the broad goals of education should be, it appears I would function best as an Essentialist. "Essentialism strives to teach students the accumulated knowledge of our civilization through core courses in the traditional academic disciplines. Essentialists aim to instill students with the "essentials" of academic knowledge, patriotism, and character development."(Sadker & Zittleman, 2010) (As I will later discuss, my goals are Essentialist, but my teaching methods are not.) Furthermore, "Essentialists maintain that

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION classrooms should be oriented around the teacher, who should serve as an intellectual and moral role model for the students." (Sadker & Zittleman, 2010) Although I believe I should be an

intellectual and moral role model, I do not believe that it is good pedagogy to be the "sage on the stage."

What is the role of the school in our society? I believe schools should transmit our Founders' principles of democracy to our kids. Schools should reinforce Biblical morality through secular methods. It is not the role of school neither to replace parents nor to instruct against the values of the parents. Schools should be arenas of public discourse where truth is sought, not laboratories of indoctrination for those who wish to pervert our shared moral consensus.

How do I envision others (government, church, businesses, and families), supporting education? Schools need support in order to function as no school exists in a vacuum and that support should come from other institutions in our society. Our federal government has a selfinterest in supporting education financially since an educated and well-trained work force increases tax revenue and lowers the need for others to be a financial burden on other taxpayers. Our local and state governments should support education by ensuring quality curriculum and sound teacher training. Churches should support education by providing Christian options to the public school system with quality and Biblical curriculum. They should encourage everyone to develop their minds and to support the teachers in their midst. Businesses can and do support education by helping fund extra-curricular and other quality programs that are not funded by

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION general fund dollars; by donating technology, gift cards and raffle prizes to motivate students,

and by offering internships and jobs when students graduate so that students have hope that their efforts will pay off in the end. They can also dialogue with the educational establishment to ensure that graduating students can function in the twenty-first century job market. Finally, families can support education by supporting their own children and making sure that they are working hard and behaving in the classroom. Parents can help teachers by volunteering in the classroom and school, helping them organize and run activities and assist in other needed areas in the school day. Parents, also, can be good examples of hard work and responsibility, and make sure that their kids are organized and thorough in their work.

How do we view the student? However, what is the school without the student? In addition, how do we view the student: as a vessel to fill or as an imperfect but growing person created in the image of God? When we stand before our students, it is critical that we understand with whom we are dealing, since it is easy to clump them into an amorphous group of noise and therefore miss the specialness of those entrusted to us. The student is a human being with a variety of dormant or developing skills; in school willingly, or unwillingly. He is fully human and as such has a tendency to sin, to believe deceit, and to desperately crave love and acceptance. As an emotional and sentient being, he is made in the image of God with the power to grow intellectually, morally, physically, and spiritually. What we see now is not what shall be. The student is clay, which will be molded by the authorities they respect the most. At times, this will be his peer group. At other times, his role

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION models, and sometimes me. Learning is their choice, not mine. I can only influence, but never control what they will eventually believe. Students are not passive vessels to fill, but active consumers of the world around them, and choose to allow different ideas into their minds, whether for short visits or permanent

abiding. Students have free will and choice, and we reward them for the good choices. They are not the one-dimensional beings I see through the lens of their mathematical progress; they have other talents and pressures and emotions; and goals other than just passing my class. They are made in the image of God and so have great worth and great potential, and are to be respected as unique gifts from the multi-faceted God of Creation. This is Emily in the second row.

What are my hopes for my students? I want them to learn the basic skills that will prepare them to survive in a culture that promotes evil and rejects God. I want them to leave my class smarter and better than when they entered. No child in my class should feel like a less valuable person because their skill sets do not match what our schools value. Instead, they should become independent thinkers who validate all their thoughts through the lenses of reason and Scripture.

What is the students role in his or her education? The student's role in his or her education is simple. They should take an active role in investigating truth. They should work at a skill until they have met their goals. To achieve them, they should avail themselves of all the resources available to them, including the teacher and classmates, to increase their understanding of whatever is taught. As I will later explain, my Constructivist view of teaching explains the hands-on role I feel every student should bring to his


or her education. "It recognizes the construction of new understanding as a combination of prior learning, new information, and readiness to learn. Individuals make choices about what new ideas to accept and how to fit them into their established views of the world." (Southwest Educational Development Library [S.E.D.L.], 1995) Consequently, they should receive but verify what they have learned, and not allow a teacher to become a propagandist. Finally, the student should attend school regularly, complete all assigned tasks, and help others achieve the same in an honest way.

What is the teacher's role? What then is the teacher's role if I believe that students "construct" knowledge and don't simply receive it? I have an eclectic view of the teacher's role. I believe that teachers should be primarily the "guide on the side" and allow students to engage in problem solving activities that allow them to actively figure out solutions and concepts. "Constructivism is basically a theory -based on observation and scientific study -- about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences."(Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004) As a teacher, I respond to that theory by not centering my class on lecture and note taking. Students are not passive learners. True learning occurs when people experience things and reflect on those experiences. My own classroom experience has borne this out to me. I can say something multiple times, but it rarely results in learning. Since my understanding of how students truly learn has changed, my practice also must change so that I can become a more effective teacher. "The constructivist teacher provides tools such as problem-solving and inquiry-based learning activities with which students formulate and

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION test their ideas, draw conclusions and inferences, and pool and convey their knowledge in a collaborative learning environment. Constructivism transforms the student from a passive recipient of information to an active participant in the learning process." (Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004, para. 6) Sometimes direct instruction is necessary to break difficult concepts down into more manageable parts, particularly when your class is intellectually challenged. However, the teacher still has a role regardless of the pedagogy employed. We have an administrative role in selecting curriculum and activities that match the state standards, a creative role in designing

curriculum that allows students to access the important ideas in a meaningful way, and the larger task of assessing student learning.

What are the primary responsibilities of the teacher? Our role is to motivate the learners, maintain classroom discipline, and keep parents informed of their child's progress. We are also called to set the stage so that students can discover and create meaning from the experiences we present in our classrooms. We use a variety of questions to stimulate thought and help students to reflect on their learning. We direct students to the learning but do not figure everything out for them and tell them the answers.

What values will you consciously promote in your classroom? As a teacher, I will consciously promote certain values in my classroom. To develop a classroom environment where students wrestle with knowledge and work interactively, there must be many values in place to make it a safe enough environment where students are free to risk and share their thinking. Basic civility and respect are necessary. Hard work and

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION doggedness are required. You must be a good listener, polite in disagreeing, thoughtful and reflective, for this to work. Other Biblical values such as honesty, respect, diligence, faithfulness, and respect for authority should be modeled and expected. Whenever possible I seize on the opportunity to model good character and patience.

What should the content of the curriculum be (what should we teach our children, and why?) We should start with the end in mind of developing good citizens. Consequently, it is imperative that students understand our Constitution, our history, our animating principals and what it means to be an American; what are our duties as citizens, and how we can participate responsibly in public life. To achieve this, we should teach American History and Civics, Government, and World History. The World History course should give us some context for understanding our country, its uniqueness, and what are the consequences of deviating from our American and Judeo-Christian values. We should develop skilled and educated workers to participate in our economy and to support our society. To do so, we need a literate public who can understand the literary, economic and mathematical foundation on which our society is built. We should teach mathematics through Algebra to all students; this gives them the skills they will need hen confronting basic problems on their job and at home. We should teach students how to read and how to independently access information and how to evaluate it, so some internet literacy courses would be imperative. Anyone incapable of accessing knowledge should be trained in search and evaluation methods, to understand what a reputable source is and what propaganda is.

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION For those who are not academically inclined, we must provide a course of study where


students can develop job skills and special manual skills. We are not just an intellectual society: we need engineers to help us design and create, but we also need workers who can take those designs and turn them into buildings and roads and water fountains. I support programs like auto shop, wood shop, metals, computer graphics, art, and other practical skills. These programs should be held in the same esteem as other more academic disciplines. We also need to have classes that transmit our culture and our values to our kids. We cannot devalue such classes as Art and Music in favor of more esoteric subjects such as Calculus, which is limited to the few who can understand it. Our schools should develop the entire child, and there are many expressions of intelligence beyond the basic math and verbal we test on our standardized tests. As people made in the image of God, we have the natural desire to create and express ourselves according to our unique giftedness. Finally, we need to understand the world around us. Here an understanding of science and psychology is important, as we learn about ourselves and then about the scientific laws embedded in nature around us. I was told that when I went away to college that I would get two educations: the education that comes through the scientific method and man's reasoning, and an education that ran these ideas through Scripture and enhanced and beautified them as the creation reflects the Creator. Although modern science may seem sterile in its presentation of the natural order, there is no reason why a Christian cannot reflect on what is presented and see the wonder of the mind of God in all things around him or her. Although this may not be the purview of the school, it should not be left out of the Christian's approach to his or her own education as they pursue knowledge wherever it can be found.

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION How will you classroom and management reflect your values? I will continue to organize my classroom in table groups to reflect my belief in


Constructivism and the importance of having students construct knowledge through interaction and reflection in a social environment. Since I believe that together we are more than each individual part, I will structure my classes toward teacher-selected group work where the teacher directs the topics but the students work together to solve the problems and find relevant conclusions supported by sound critical thinking.

What are your thoughts concerning discipline? When dealing with fallen human beings, we should understand that our students are motivated both by the desire of gaining rewards and by the fear of consequences. Discipline provides the consequences that students want to avoid, so, in theory, they avoid the behaviors that bring those consequences. Consequently, I will have in place a progressive discipline policy where the consequences increase as the offender continues to offend, until the student decides that the consequences for bad behavior are much worse than any benefit derived from it. Since we do not work in a vacuum, I would bring the parents in when the problem escalates beyond the scope of my ability to bring change. I have found that the last thing a student wants is for me to involve their parents and it usually has worked to my benefit to include them. I expect every student to take responsibility for their own learning and to participate daily in their growth. If a student decides to blow off my class, I do not accept it and I go after them through their parents.

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION How will you measure and report student progress? I will measure student progress using formative and summative assessments. The formative assessments will not count for the grade but will give me some idea of whether the students are learning or not. An example would be for a student to do a math


problem on an index card and show me their answer before being excused from class. Another example would be to use the small white boards at each desk and have students work out a problem and hold their boards up to me when they are done. I also have interactive clickers that allow me to put a problem on the LCD projector and have students click in their answers and display the results on the screen when they are done. The software allows me to identify those who are not learning and provide them additional help. My summative assessments will consist of quizzes that I will give them when a lesson should be mastered and chapter tests when the chapter is completed. I will also give them quarterly benchmark tests to predict how they will perform on the CST's. Once assessed, I will report to their parents three ways. Their letter grade will come in the mail every six weeks as part of the school's progress reports. I print out individualized progress reports showing all the scores up to that date with a signature line for parents to sign and return. Finally, parents have access to their child's grades daily through Parent Connect on the internet. They can log in at any time and see their child's current scores and grades.

How would you summarize your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about education and your role as an educator? To be an educator is an awesome responsibility, and to be an effective one takes many skills and much knowledge. Many of us default to the "telling" method of teaching because it

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION requires the least amount of preparation and it is the model we grew up with. However, as we matured we discovered the joy of discovering an original thought, and we found those experiences more gratifying than parroting the professor or teacher instructing us. Many of us were guided Platonically by great questions that we grappled with and came to peace with our


own understandings. It follows then that our students' greatest growth is going to occur when we direct them with open-ended questions and allow them to discover what we knew all along. To be prepared to teach in this manner requires a little faith in our philosophy and a lot of faith in our students. However, in the end, when our philosophy matches our pedagogy and our results confirm our thinking, we can rest knowing that we have influenced a person for good and given them tools to grow for the rest of their lives.

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION References Educational Broadcasting Corporation. (2004). Workshop: Constructionism as a paradigm for teaching and learning. Retrieved from Sadker, D. M., & Zittleman, K. R. (2010). Teacher Centered Philosophies. Retrieved from Southwest Educational Development Library. (1995). Knowledge in the Classroom. Retrieved from