My educational philosophy is dynamic. It has been evolving over time. In my opinion, the educational needs of learners keep changing in our ever-changing world. In that regard, a teacher's approach to education must not be rigid. My educational philosophy is largely centered on a number of issues. These include education and its key purpose, the role played by not only the teacher but also the students in education and lastly, the interrelationship between the teacher and the community.
Being one of the oldest professions in the history of mankind, the relevance of teaching as a profession cannot be overstated. Over time, the prosperity and growth of civilizations has largely been founded on knowledge passed on from one generation to the next. The technological advancements we marvel at today are a direct consequence of past knowledge that has been preserved, advanced and modified throughout the ages. Advancements in medicine, farming, and even construction have followed the very same process. The role teachers have played in the preservation as well as development and advancement of knowledge is critical. I am proud to be a member of this noble profession.
To me, the role of a teacher in education is more than just the dissemination of knowledge. In addition to equipping students with the necessary academic skills relevant to their respective areas of specialization, we as teachers have a responsibility to prepare students to face the various challenges of life. We must be teachers of life as well. We as educators must prepare students to become responsible and productive members of the society. In my opinion, it would be naive to expect students to succeed in today's society by relying on their academic prowess only. To reach new heights, students of today should also be 'street smart.' This way, they can manage to be competitive once they are on their own 'out there.'
Personally, I regard classroom diversity as a key component of the learning experience. Today, we live in a borderless world. Unlike a number of decades ago where interaction between people from different parts of the world was still regarded a challenge, today's world is largely a global village. According to Berns (2009), to be equitable in regard to diverse groups, teachers should demonstrate a certain level of sensitivity to various customs. In the classroom setting, I take every opportunity I have to demonstrate the need for tolerance.
I am an educator because I am also eager and ready to learn. In that regard, I expect my teaching approaches as well as capabilities to keep evolving going forward. As a lifelong learner, I also hope to influence my students to be constant learners. I am also a firm believer in fairness. Every student in my opinion should be exposed to fair and proper treatment. I am however cognizant of the fact that based on a wide range of factors, some students may require more attention than others. With that in mind, I will ensure that my attention is allocated effectively, fairly and efficiently.
Still on the role of a teacher in education, I personally believe that a positive mental attitude is critical when it comes to the dissemination of knowledge. For instance, each teacher should be able to believe in the ability of his or her students regardless of the prevailing circumstances. In my opinion, the confidence students have in themselves mirrors the confidence the teacher has in them. Thus a teacher who is overly critical of the performance of students does more harm than good. I believe that even when criticism is deserved, it should be constructive. Constant encouragement is also a sure ingredient to success. I personally believe that students can achieve more if teachers extend genuine support in the form of constant encouragement, constructive criticism and offering of feedback. As an educator, I am fully committed towards ensuring that the students I interact with exploit their fullest potential.
As an educator, I also recognize the need to avail myself for both academic and personal consultation. Students should feel free to consult me for any reason whatsoever. This effectively creates a caring environment in which the student feels comfortable and safe. I am also aware that problems which fall outside my area of comfort should be referred appropriately. For instance, while I could be of much help to a student who needs to enhance his or her time management skills, some issues of a personal nature should be referred appropriately. A school counselor would come in handy in such a case. I believe that the most effective learning takes place in an environment whereby everybody is in good condition physically, emotionally as well as socially.
To make teaching more exiting, I seek to learn with and from learners. This way, knowledge acquisition becomes two-way. Knowledge is dynamic. There is always something new to learn. I view learning as an ongoing process for students and I. Over time, I have also come to appreciate and embrace the use of technology in the classroom setting. According to Moore (2005), "there is a growing consensus that today's technologies possess incredible potential to improve and even revolutionize our schools." I totally agree with the author's assertion. With the mundane learning cycle broken, technology in my opinion makes the teaching process easier and more interactive. Indeed, in the words of Moore (2005), "technology has a motivating quality for students."
In relation to the role of students, I am of the view that learners should be involved actively in the pursuit of new knowledge. Towards that end, learners must be ready to explore, experiment, and even assess new learning avenues. I am strongly convinced that learning takes place when individuals interact with new experiences to construct not only their understanding but also their knowledge of the world. This is largely in line with the theory of constructivism which according to Killen (2006) is based on the premise "…that knowledge is obtained and understanding is expanded through active construction and reconstruction of mental frameworks." In that regard, students can also be seen as active participants in the creation of their own knowledge and understanding of issues. Indeed, as Killen (2006) further points out, learning cannot be regarded a passive process in which case information is simply received. Instead, learning according to the author "involves deliberate, progressive construction and deepening of meaning" (Killen, 2006). It is however important to note that even in such a case, there is always a need to establish some sort of connection between the students and the course content. Lack of interest is the most likely product of lack of the said connection. This feeling of connection could be attained through the utilization of the relevant motivational strategies. This is more so the case given that where difficult subjects are involved, students could lose motivation. According to Keller (2009), ensuring that learners see how personally relevant the learning experience is to them remains an important component of ensuring that students are motivated enough to follow through.
Still in relation to the theory of constructivism, the relevance of group effort cannot be dismissed. In seeking to further enhance the personal experiences of students, I recognize the need to encourage dialogue between peers. I am of the opinion that students should be given an opportunity to make new discoveries on their own via group effort. Different students possess different sets of talents and skills. Group settings help students to learn from one another. The level of interaction involved in a group setting also helps students appreciate the fact that each and every person is unique. We cannot all have a similar set of skills. One could be strong in one area but weak in another. As much as this approach helps in academics, it is a key lesson in maintaining proper interpersonal relations. When it comes to group activities, the minimum role a student should play is that of active participation. However, I recognize that even in such group settings, the teacher's role still remains critical. As O'Donnell, Reeve and Smith (2011) point out, even when using peer-learning approaches, the involvement of the teacher should remain active. Roles the teacher could play in this case according to the authors include but they are not limited to coordinating activities, designing tasks appropriate for groups, etc. Students learn more when they willingly engage in the learning process. Towards that end, there exists a need to ensure that students also own the learning process. My goal is to make students passionate about learning. I intend to further enhance their thirst for knowledge.
In relation to the role the teacher should play in the society, I remain convinced that as we seek to enhance our growth and that of our students, we should also be mindful of the growth and advancement of the society. We should be the voice of reason in calling for meaningful changes. Our own conduct should and must reflect the ideals of the society…