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Progressivism and Philosophy

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Progressivism and Philosophy

It has often been said that it takes a whole village to educate a child. Children learn from watching others, working with others, and experiencing first hand the whole realm of learning. Most children are born inquisitive and eager to learn. Preschoolers and early childhood learners are in the discovery mode and must be allowed to experience the relevancy of learning. Public education is the joint effort of teachers and community to provide learning for children. Teachers must have a specific role with specific goals to accomplish the best results. These goals can be achieved by applying certain teaching methods and classroom management skills. Children learn better in a well-disciplined (controlled) environment that provides the appropriate curriculum for each grade level.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic – the core classes – are essential to the foundation of a child’s education. Without these skills, children would not be able to excel in the “real” world or progress to each level of learning. Furthermore, education should address each students other needs and interests. Since children learn at a different rate or have different interests as to how they learn, it is important that I, as a teacher, be willing to use as many strategies as needed to reach each child. Teach them to read and write and do math computations, but also help them to learn in the areas of art, science, social sciences and music. It will be my job to recognize the needs of my students and teach them the not only basic skills but also creative ones so that they will have a well-rounded curriculum and develop a positive attitude towards learning. I want them to develop a “want to” desire for active participation in future learning.

Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy that has children helping children to learn. It aids in developing leadership, cooperation, creativity, and teamwork – all essential elements in the real world. Using community resources and volunteers will provide variety in the daily routine of school and strengthen the “want to” attitude of children to get actively involved in learning.

It is my opinion that the classroom has gotten to be too “technical”. Too much reliance on calculators, computers, video’s, and television. As a footnote, studies have been done that suggest that technology has over stimulated young children and perhaps has contributed to many A.D.D. cases. To provide learning, children must be actively involved with learning. Working with other students on problem-solving projects, rising their creative abilities on hands-on assignments or watching classroom demonstrations or taking interesting field trips can provide meaningful relevancy. Furthermore, textbooks should also be only a small percentage of classroom resources. It’s what the teacher does beyond the textbooks that expands the mind of a child and brings the outside world into the classroom. The outside world is the world that each child must learn to live in.

When studying science or nature, children should be able to explore nature first hand by spending some time outside collecting leaves, acorns, and the like or planting a seed and nurturing it to watch it grow. Nature walks are always resourceful.

I am a strong advocate for allowing children to explore their interests and abilities with other children so that a child who seems to be slow to grasp information can succeed if he is in a group that shares the same interest regardless of level. This group activity teaches teamwork and develops leadership while exploring common goals.

Reading is another way that children can experience life other than their own. Trips to the library, show and tell activities , and creative artwork can make reading a meaningful experience. Children should be exposed to “live” children’s theatre whenever possible; this experience brings literature alive. They should role-play in the classroom, make puppets and perform puppet shows, or dress up like characters from their reading. The more activities a teacher can provide, the more “real” reading becomes.

Children learn better in a controlled environment where rules are few and simple. Occupying children’s minds and keeping their hands busy often deters any discipline problems. Each child is different; therefore , discipline should come in different forms. Most children react positively to kindness and a soft touch rather than yelling and negative rebuke. Direct eye contact and a firm voice are enough to convince a small child that their teacher means business. Often rewarding positive behaviors rather than punishing negative ones achieves better results. Children will react better to this strategy. Room temperature, colors in the room, attractiveness of bulletin boards all contribute to room decorum. A classroom that is too busy with stimuli may have a negative affect on their attention span and behaviors.

Teachers should stress vocabulary, phonics, basic math, writing and reading at the elementary level. These are the basics to a child’s education. Children should be grouped according to interest and/or abilities within a classroom. However, it is important that each child succeeds at some level and explores those areas that is of importance to him or her. Some children are talented in art, while others excel in math. There must be a way to allow the artistic child the freedom to pursue his talent or interest while teaching him the math skills.

Progressivism is a philosophy that states that education is found in the needs and
interests of students. Experimental learning or “learning by doing” is a natural progression of learning. Giving children freedom to explore their interests and experience positive reinforcement will produce better students as well as provide the teacher with a rewarding teaching experience. Including resources found in the community expands the horizons of little learners. It also gives the teacher much needed help in making her students sit up and pay attention. I believe this results in happy teachers , and happy teachers make happy students!

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