Philosophy of Education
Our convictions border every aspect of our lives from the monumental to the minute; for example, we possess a complex system of thought governing how we function as moral members of an often amoral society, and we utilize an equally complex system concerning our devotion to a favorite television show. However, the process of actualizing a philosophy is daunting. We rarely externalize our beliefs. Why? Are artists the only beings able to successfully translate the abstract into the concrete? Are we too lazy, too busy to question our convictions? Do we fear discovery of the possible irrational basis of our lives? Or, perhaps we are too afraid to realize the ...view middle of the document...
I needed to understand, to develop my own philosophy devised for my new role as a teacher. I knew I had to start thinking like a teacher, but I also knew I didn’t want to forget being a student.
Teaching is learning; learning is teaching.
The relationship between teaching and learning, I believe, recalls John Keats’ beauty and truth equation: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” The pair illustrates a symmetrical purity that is both obvious and profound. Symmetry exists in education, as well. One must learn in order to teach; one teaches in order to learn. The college degree does not signal the end of learning; it merely indicates that each graduate possesses adequate tools for the next phase of his or her educational process. Scholarship continues because recent research, fresh voices, and new events must be explored. Learning in my own discipline of English is an act of infinite fascination. For example, each writer leads the reader on an odyssey of discovery, seeking textual and contextual influences; each writer is continually examined and re-examined, adding volumes to the existing critical library; each writer inspires another, becoming the next force keeping the quest alive.
The teacher learns in the classroom as well. Each year dozens of fresh perspectives walk into a teacher’s world, increasing knowledge by the pound instead of by the page. It is here that the didactic must give way to the interactive. How can any scholar resist the learning possibilities teeming in these minds fueled by so many varied influences? The intelligences dwelling in every student, whether a first grader or a non-traditional college student, must be respected; the questions and the insights diversity offers must be heard. The student as teacher extends beyond subject into pedagogy as well, pointing out gaps and problems instructors need to address in order to avoid becoming their own nightmares. Every student is a tool for learning, and every student increases teacher potentiality. For me, teaching is inseparable from learning. I must learn in order to teach; I teach in order to learn.
Teaching is making knowledge.
The teaching-learning dynamic produces a unique phenomenon—a new body of knowledge. Why be content with a static teaching situation when the classroom offers the perfect opportunity to actively expand areas of knowledge? The pedantic professor whose dazzling breadth of scholarship thrilled me missed countless opportunities to enhance his own knowledge because he ignored the possibilities, the experiences in each classroom. The physical reality of a group of people gathered to explore a subject necessitates, in my opinion, interaction. Not mere reaction. The neatly margined body of knowledge presented by the traditional teacher needs to be challenged by every class; each challenge creates new boundaries—lines that will be explored in the next class. For example, a teacher often presents a...