Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Philosophical Musings

Photo by Richard Shaw

As I try to get myself connected with teachers and the larger education community through social media and blogging, I have been doing some digital housekeeping. Cleaning up my digital footprint and updating my portfolio. I decided that I should review, and probably rewrite, my educational philosophy that I have posted on my portfolio site.  I wrote this statement of belief during my first year teaching, in graduate school, and in my very early twenties.  Surely my beliefs about teaching and learning have changed drastically enough for me to put all my wisdom into a new philosophy. 

So, I read the statement. Thought about what was written.  Scratched my head. Then I smiled.  It was perfect.

You see, I was under the impression that because I have learned and grown as a teacher and learner that my foundational beliefs had changed, but this is not the case at all.  Almost six years ago I wrote,

The progressive philosophy, popularized by John Dewy in the nineteenth century, focuses on pragmatic, democratic learning and social living skills.  Dewy proposed that education is a living-learning process, which should be fostered through active and interesting learning.  Additionally, the teacher acts as a guide for the learning of problem solving and scientific inquiry, but is never seen as the active authority of students' learning.  Learning is based on student interest, while integrating critical thinking and problem solving involving larger human problems and affairs.  

What I realized is that I didn't need to revise this document, I needed to use it to gauge my success and growth as an educator.  Am I the teacher described above? Do I allow interest, inquiry, and problem solving involving issue that really matter to my students and the world around them?  How many times to I impose my rule and "active authority" over the learning happening in my classroom?

I also started to reflect upon my own interest and passions.  In the past, I have struggled to let my students (and others...) seeing the "real" me, feeling somewhat disconnected and closed off.  I am passionate and driven, and if I cannot let down my guard to show this to my students, how can I ever expect them to learn these qualities from me?

So,  at my core, I strive to encompass and demonstrate the qualities I described in this philosophy.  I also am making the decision to not just incubate and nurture my students' passions this year, but to explore my own passions along with them.  

In reality, I can probably learn more about passion-driven learning from my students than they can learn from me.

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