To instruct someone... is not a matter of getting him to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process not a product. (Bruner 72)
My personal philosophy of education has been changing since the first moment I stepped into an education course. However, I don't see this as something that is negative. In fact, I think that a teacher's personal philosophy of education should forever be evolving. Teachers should continually make efforts to inform themselves of new technology or innovations that help to facilitate learning in the classroom.
I believe that each student has the capacity to accomplish any goal that is set for them as long as they feel connected to what they are learning; without a link between the students and material, the interest is lost and the learning is harder and may take more time. According to Jean Piaget's theory of development and learning, a developing child builds cognitive structures, or schemes, that connect previous knowledge and/or experiences to new knowledge. This connection cultivates the student's understanding and responding to his or her environment. As a student makes progress, his or her cognitive structures increase in sophistication.
A teacher must also have positive expectations. This means believing in each student and believing that the student can learn and be successful. Students only learn as much as the teacher expects; teachers who set high expectations for their students will receive higher achievement from their students. It is amazing to see what students can accomplish when they know and sense that someone believes in them. It is my aspiration as an educator to help students meet their fullest potential by establishing an environment where my students feel safe, are comfortable taking risks with new learning, and presents them with opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas.
My philosophy of education aligns itself closely to that Jerome Bruner's Theory of Constructivism. In the Constructivist theory, the learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions; its focus is on knowledge construction, not recitation of knowledge. Knowledge is constructed through one's personal experiences, previous knowledge, and beliefs. For me as an educator, this means that I try and encourage students to discover principles by themselves. I give them the opportunity to have dialogue among their peers and with myself. My main task as a teacher is to present information to be learned that matches or closely matches the student's current level of learning. My curriculum is organized in a spiral manner, so that students continually build upon what they have already learned. As the teacher I would also try to modify my teaching strategies to student responses and encourage my students to analyze, interpret, and predict information in the course of their learning. An educator's personal philosophy of education is an important element in their approach to instruction. There are five key educational philosophies in the field of education that include: Essentialism, Perennialism, Progressivism, Existentialism, and Behaviorism (Shaw 1).
From what I have stated, my philosophy of education aligns itself to that of Progressivism. This philosophy greatly impacts the way in which I decide to design and develop a curriculum. My curriculum would focus on promoting progress and in improving the self and society. The emphasis would focus on the learning process, develop thinking skills, better interpersonal relationships, and meeting student interests. The students would be encouraged to be creative, express their own ideas, and appreciate the differences between themselves and others. My responsibility would be to guide and stimulate curiosity and interest in students and push them towards problem solving and scientific inquiry.
Technology Curriculum Design and Development
One of my favorite quotes comes from The First Days of School, a book that was used in my Introduction to Teaching class as an undergraduate, it says "If you dare to teach, then you must dare to learn." Teachers must continually make efforts to bring new ideas into the classroom, try them, and learn from them. Learning to become a teacher does not stop after graduation; it is a long term journey and commitment to your students, your colleagues, and yourself. Teachers are leaders. Leaders think, make decisions, and solve problems; they do not wait for someone to do it for them. However, leaders are always willing to learn from someone else.
Since my interest is in Elementary Education and Technology, my ideal vision for a curriculum in Technology at the Elementary level is that it is best implemented within the outcomes and activities of other content areas (i.e., Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Physical Education content areas). It should be considered a tool that facilitates and enhances instruction of the other content areas while also exposing students to real-world skills that will be used in higher education and the work place. Technology should not be taught as a separate subject; as such, it would have minimal educational value.
Technology's benefits best emerge when integrated into project-based curricular activities in which students are gatherers of information, problem solvers, and communicators of information. Students should demonstrate their learning using a multitude of resources, be active participants in their learning, develop skills and self-direction to become life-long learners, and be collaborative and cooperative in the learning process. As far as learning, it is my belief that all students can learn and can meet high expectations; parents are to be considered integral participants in the school community. The role of teachers is to serve as guides for learning, encourage individual growth within students, and always use multiple types of assessments beyond objective tests to monitor the individual progress of students.
Once again, I believe technology will only become an effective means of learning if used properly. There are many software programs that are little more than drill programs. These types of programs can be used in the classroom and may help students to memorize facts faster, but do not promote the type of learning which the constructivists or John Dewey want to take place; this is not the type of learning that technology should only be used for in education.
Although Dewey did not address technology very much, his work does address his beliefs of the function of education and how to achieve this. Dewey believed that education should be considered an end in itself. Education is not preparing children for a certain end; Dewey outright rejects any form of vocationalism. He also believes that schooling and life should go hand in hand. Education does not stop because one has left the classroom. We should be able to apply what has been learned in the schools to ordinary life experiences. Therefore, students should be able to apply skills that they already have, use technology as a tool for manipulating information, so that they may acquire new information and meaningful experiences. They can then apply their own meaning to the new information and build from there.
Technology seems to be the way in which education is steering itself. Some believe that technology can lead the way and eventually produce better schools, while others believe that there may be long-term consequences that are not being considered in the rush to use technology The educational system sees that technology is a means to achieve learning and interaction in students. However, without the proper structure technology will not go beyond the purpose of skill and drill; we must develop it into a tool that fosters meaningful experience.
Chicago's Conceptual Framework
The Conceptual Framework of Loyola University Chicago is deeply woven into the experiences and courses that the School of Education offers. All four domains are fulfilled through the activities and course content offered by the school. The domains are Context, Critical thought and reflection, Experience as a basis for action, and Authentic assessment. Through my experience in Loyola University Chicago's School of Education, as an undergraduate and graduate student, I feel that I have developed professionally and grown personally.
The experiences that I have received during my undergraduate and graduate career have allowed me to apply the concepts that I have learned in my formal coursework at Loyola to the real world classroom. Those formal courses have not only taught me the concepts, but have also served as a model of how to apply the concepts into my instruction as well. In all my graduate courses, I was able to implement strategies, think about their effectiveness, and modify them to fit the needs of those I was working with. I was able to do this through the use of a variety of learning activities which include: journal keeping, reflection papers, reaction papers, small group discussions, the use of experiments and other activities. My professors at Loyola served in facilitating this reflection; they provided me with feedback in all aspects of my work.
Throughout my education at Loyola, I have been presented with opportunities to experience and put into practice much of what I have been taught. Most educational programs allow for this, however, the difference I have noticed in Loyola is the diversity in experience I was given. As a student, my placement in schools has ranged from suburban school districts to the public schools. This has allowed me to gain experience in both educational settings. It has also required me to adjust, adapt, and evaluate my teaching in the various learning environments. I feel that this is an invaluable tool to have as an educator since it is my task reach every learner in the classroom, no matter what the situation.
Loyola's framework also emphasizes authentic assessment. My courses at the graduate level stressed the importance of evaluating the whole student. This means having assessments in which students are asked to perform tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of important knowledge and skills. In order to do so, it becomes necessary to have the ability to recognize different learning styles and also be able to implement a variety of instructional strategies to accommodate the diverse classroom.
In the School of Education, I feel that I have learned that being an educator is a life-long learning process. This is not only because of new technology, but also because of the continuously changing world. The needs of the students of today will not be same of those students who enter my classroom a few years from now. I am in a profession that requires constant adaptation. Schools should be a reflection of the our society; this requires educators to be knowledgeable of current trends and issues in our world. Through my education at Loyola University Chicago, I feel that I have evolved as an educator and have developed a strong knowledge base in the field of education and the area of Curriculum and Instruction.
Bruner, J. S. (1966) Toward a Theory of Instruction, Cambridge, Mass.: Belkapp Press. 176 + x pages.
Shaw, Larry J. Educational Philosophies http://edweb.sdsu.edu/LShaw/f95syll/philos/phintro.html
Smith, M.K. (2002) 'Jerome S. Bruner and the process of education', the encyclopedia of informal education http://www.infed.org/thinkers/bruner.htm.