My Philosophy of Education Thesis

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¶ … Philosophy of Education

When it comes to my philosophy of education, I lean more toward essentialism. Essentialists believe that there is a common core of knowledge that needs to be transmitted to students in a systematic, disciplined way. The emphasis in this conservative perspective is on intellectual and moral standards that schools should teach. The core of the curriculum is essential knowledge and skills and academic rigor. Although this educational philosophy is similar in some ways to Perennialism, Essentialists accept the idea that this core curriculum may change. Schooling should be practical, preparing students to become valuable members of society. It should focus on facts -- the objective reality out there -- and "the basics," training students to read, write, speak, and compute clearly and logically. Schools should not try to set or influence policies. Students should be taught hard work, respect for authority, and discipline. Teachers are to help their students keep their non-productive instincts in check, such as aggression or mindlessness.

My Philosophy of Education

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Education is very important. Its purpose is to enlighten the minds of children and show them not only what they can learn, but how they can learn. To know how students learn and behave, a teacher has to understand the student's philosophy (Barrett, 2001). This set of ideas about the meaning of life and nature of reality gives the student his whole concept of the world and life itself. It is this philosophy that shapes who the student is, and also helps shape who the student will become (Barrett, 2001). Until a teacher knows about the philosophy of a particular student, learning can be more difficult.

TOPIC: Thesis on My Philosophy of Education Assignment

Philosophies can be dangerous things, however, and seriously interfere with the process of education. It has been pointed out that for every principle, there is an exception (Barrett, 2001). Principals, philosophies, and opinions are often what separates people from each other and makes them different. It is also what causes them to argue and fight. One purpose of education is to get around all of these different feelings and opinions and bring a group of students to one understanding about a subject (Barrett, 2001).

Or, failing that, at least get them to see that there are other options than the one they have chosen. Education is the lifeblood of the world (Barrett, 2001). It is invaluable in showing young people how to survive in the world, and teaching them that there is more to things than meets the eye. It teaches them to respect themselves and others, and also shows them that there are often many different ways of solving the same issue.

Aristotle had a concept that he called 'practical argument' (Kemerling, 2002). The point of this concept was that an argument should end in action that was related to the logic of your position. Put another way, teachers should be able to see what the student's 'practical argument' is, and by doing this they can see why the students are argumentative or unhappy.

This can lead to the teacher explaining to them why they feel as they do so that they can understand it and change their behavior based on logic, not because someone told them to or felt that they should (Kemerling, 2002). When they change their behavior and opinions based on logic they are much more likely to be happy and content with the new choice, and adopt it as their own, not something that was forced on them by the teacher.

Students learn best in an environment that they are comfortable with (Ornsteind, Pejak, & Orstein, 2007). Whether it be the temperature of the classroom, who they are sitting next to, or something more important, students who are uncomfortable will spend more time worrying about their discomfort than they will about their learning. They need a nurturing environment (Ornsteind, Pejak, & Orstein, 2007). A nurturing environment is one in which the student feels safe and cared for.

Teachers need to be kind to students and help them to feel that they are appreciated (Ornsteind, Pejak, & Orstein, 2007). Discipline is, of course, necessary, but moderation and tact is also required. Students are not there to be bullied, frightened, or threatened. They are there to be gently corrected when they make a mistake, so that they can grow up realizing that everyone makes mistakes and that is all right, provided they make an effort to correct the mistakes they are making (Ornsteind, Pejak, & Orstein, 2007).

Curriculum in any school should be varied. Students need to learn a variety of different things, and they cannot do that if they are stuck with one generic textbook in a classroom behind a desk all day (Sayer, 1997). They need to learn to exercise their bodies as well as their minds, and to appreciate things like fine art and good music. In addition to music, art, and physical education classes, students need things to stimulate their minds and make them interested in learning more. Often textbooks can be dry and somewhat boring. Other activities such as science labs, art workshops, and any other type of hands-on activity can greatly help the curriculum in that students who find learning interesting will be more receptive to it, and want to learn more about different things (Sayer, 1997).

A good learning environment and how a student learns best are somewhat similar. To put it another way, a student learns best in a good learning environment (Sayer, 1997). For learning to take place, a good environment will be pleasing, comfortable, and free from distractions. It should be the right temperature, without glaring colors or bright posters that take the attention away from the teacher and the learning (Sayer, 1997). It should be free from excessive noises like the playground sounds of other children having their recess or physical education time (Sayer, 1997).

Sometimes certain distractions cannot be helped. For example, if the classroom windows face the athletic field, some noise is likely to filter in even if the windows are tightly shut. The goal is to reduce these kinds of distractions to a minimum, so that the students will not have their attention pulled away from the teacher (Sayer, 1997). Another way to help the learning environment is to make what the students do a hands-on experience.

A good teacher has to be many things throughout the day. He is an instructor first and foremost, but he also must possess other qualities such as: kindness, compassion, good listening skills, the ability to comfort, laughter and enjoyment from life, understanding, and caring (Sayer, 1997). Good teachers are all of these things rolled into one, and they help to bring out those qualities in their students as well.

One of the philosophers of the past who paid a lot of attention to education and learning was Plato. Plato wanted to give a clear explanation of how he felt human beings learned, and "The Allegory of the Cave" is by far the clearest of all of his work (Plato, 1935). Not only does he discuss education, but philosophy, political life, and human life in general. A lot of what Plato pointed out through the dialogue of Socrates and Glaucon is still accurate today. Many people still do not wish to look at other ways of doing things, or seeing things, and they are content to sit and stare at whatever they are used to seeing (Plato, 1935).

They do not see much as necessarily bad or good, and simply go through their day-to-day life without realizing that there is so much more out there to be seen (Plato, 1935). If only they would break the chains that enslave them in that cave, and climb up into the light where they can truly see, they would be aware of all the beauty and wonder in the world.

Unfortunately, they choose not to, and because they do not strive to see and learn more, they do not teach their children to see and learn more, and the cycle perpetuates (Plato, 1935). If only one person would believe the man who came back to the cave and said "Guess what I saw? You have to see what's out there!" If only one person would go out there with him and take a look, maybe they would tell others, and others would come, and the chains could finally be broken for everyone (Plato, 1935).

Plato was very serious about the idea of education and essentialism, as were authors such as William Bagley, James D. Koerner, H.G. Rickover, Paul Copperman, and Theodore Sizer. They all made their contributions to the field in various ways, but they all had the same basic ideas, and those ideas moved education and essentialism forward. There are still individuals, though, who are against essentialism when it comes to education. However, where it is being used students are succeeding and performing better -- as well as doing better once they graduate -- then they are where it is not being used.


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