My Philosophy of Teaching

My Philosophy of Teaching

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Philosophy of Education


Have you ever sat down and thought about who your favorite teacher was during your primary and secondary school years? Did you enjoy their class because it was exciting, educational, and unique? When I decided to become a teacher I sat down and asked myself these very questions. After graduation it was very difficult for me to decide on how to further my life, college or entering the work force. After looking back on my life and trying to decide what has made the biggest influence on it, teaching has given me the greatest joy and pride. This is why I have decided to become an elementary teacher. Teachers are very special people placed on earth to aid in the education process of children. Teachers in today’s school system have their own style of teaching which can range from the basics of essentialism to the laid back approach of progressivism. I personally am not going to limit myself to one style of teaching. When I become a teacher I will have an eclectic view of different philosophies and teaching styles for my classroom.

Educator William Bagley coined the philosophical word essentialism in the 1930’s. This term is the traditional, or back-to-basics, approach to education. This particular style of teaching is based on lecture, discussion and recitation of reading, writing, history, social studies, foreign languages and science. This method of teaching has been the dominant since early history and is the most recognized in classrooms today. I personally know that essentialism was the philosophy used by most of my high school teachers and college professors. In my classroom I would use certain aspects of the essentialism philosophy. With the aid of the essentialism philosophy I would instill consideration of others, respect for authority and practicality for life situations.

On the flip side of the essentialism coin is behaviorism. B.F. Skinner popularized behaviorism in the United States. This method of teaching uses classical conditioning from the root work of Ivan Pavlov, critical thinking skills and programmed instruction. Most teachers in today’s society use the behaviorism philosophy because they believe that the material is taught more effectively when it is broken down into smaller sections in each class.

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Behavior modification encourages a reinforcement system to incorporate learning with pleasure and reward. A personal experience of programmed learning was the computer laboratory at my high school. All students at my local high school were required to take mini-lessons in each basic subject every week. In addition to myself participating in the behaviorism methods of my high school teachers, I have found myself teaching my Sunday school class in this same manner. I require my class to do a lesson of Bible trivia on the church computers every Sunday and they also have worksheets they must complete each week. The aspects of behaviorism that I will carry into my classroom are programmed learning, computer-assisted instruction and critical thinking skills.

Another philosophy that I will use in my classroom is progressivism. This particular philosophy focuses on cooperative learning activities, scientific investigation and project methods. Teachers that use this teaching style plan activities that push students to a higher level of knowledge. These are usually hands-on activities. A personal experience was my 8th grade year in middle school. I had a science teacher that used John Dewey’s progressivism philosophy more than any other. He would plan science activities such as students building egg parachutes out of string, newspapers and paperclips, testing the water pH in a nearby stream and field trips to a local park to do research on wild life. He would also invent games to help us as students learn the textbook chapters easier, which made class more exciting for all of his students. I hope that one day I will be able to use these same tactics in my classroom.

Existentialism accentuates the ability of an individual to determine the importance of personal decision making. According to Jean-Paul Sartre existence precedes essence. This philosophy of teaching strives on the importance of values, decision making, and self-reflection. When using this teaching style, you as the teacher have to acknowledge that each child is an individual and is responsible for determining good and evil, right or wrong, and fiction vs. non-fiction. Myself as a teacher would have to expose the students to a variety of choices and paths they may take in life in which they themselves can choose their own route. The aspects of this teaching style that I would use are creativity, imagination, and having a democratic and flexible classroom.

In my personal opinion, the overall purpose of education is for children to be able to attend school, develop character, skills, gain an education, contribute to society and have respect for higher authority. I feel that education is important because you have to have an education to be able to succeed in life. Most jobs in today’s society believe you have a master’s degree to obtain any authority. Some aspects in life that I hope to accomplish as a teacher are proper education, being consistent in my teaching, being flexible, morals, and values for all of my students. I would like to be remembered as the fun and exciting teacher that every child remembers once they get older. I know that every child holds a special place in their heart for their favorite teacher and I hope that one day I can fill that place of several children. I would like to be that teacher that makes “the” impact on some child’s life that makes them want to succeed and strive for the very best in life.

After obtaining my elementary education degree I plan to continue my education by pursuing my master’s degree at Concord College. Before gaining my master’s, I would like to enter the work force for a few years and then return to achieve my master’s. After I acquire my master’s degree, I plan to move back to my hometown and teach Kindergarten at our local elementary/middle school. Being a teacher has been my life long goal. I have worked very hard and I am still striving to reach my goals. I think that I was made to become a teacher because my heart has been set on teaching from day one.
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