The Philosophy of Teaching According to Dave
Length: 1147 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)
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Still very much in the developmental stage, the mere thought of a philosophical idea creates a shiver. Older and more worldly than most students, experienced seems to fall short when describing cultural diversity. Thinking inside the box is just hard to do; conventional falls short of my teaching platform. The platform needs to consist of more than what exists in the confines of books. Besides the eclectic mix of essentialism, and behaviorism, the underlining progressivism will be ever present. A history major, I believe there is more than what can be read in a book. The expressions, passion and theatrics just do not exist between the covers of textbooks. Teaching history from a book falls short of telling the story. It is full of epics, and lessons not just dates to learn. It is those lessons that our youth is lacking.
The most concerning thing in today’s schools is the lack of respect, for the teacher as well as the institution they represent. We live in a new world full of true stories, not in the Beaver Cleaver world of perfection. Youth is wasted in the pursuit of a duel household reality. A parent at home to instruct morality is increasingly becoming non-existent. Children are going through life with out mentors and roll models, except for what they see in the media. The belief that education should involve the whole child is not lost here. I believe that an open line of communication must exist between the student and the teacher. I do not believe in labels and stigmatisms that cubby hole any child. We as educators have a plethora of resources at our disposal to impart, at the same time remaining the all-important professional. Our job as teacher is not just to regurgitate facts but also to communicate their importance and value to the student and their life.
It is said that a child will learn all they need to know to survive society before the age of seven. I do realize that the need for the basics is beyond reproach.
However the need to express the importance is just as strong. Not only do we need to teach that our four fathers fought for freedom but why, and how does that affect the child today. Expecting the child to mature and make an impact on the world without the necessary tools in their toolbox is a farce. A child after reaching a certain age should be focused more toward the need, rather than the concept, though both are important. The concept of essentialism as well as behaviorism is stronger in me than I had ever thought, truth be told my background brings this through true and strong. My many years as an instructor and leader in the Army has developed a strong desire to set the example, know the material, and ability to enforce the standards. Nevertheless there is another part of me that wants to be a little rebellious, hence the progressiveness in me.
I do not want to get behind a podium, using it as a crutch to rhythmically lecture from until the snoring of its captors drowns out my voice. I have had this happen to me and it is a tough row to hoe. The other side of the coin is the lecturer that captivates his audience with flamboyant outbursts. Telling the story instead of regurgitating dates, names, and places. Showing a play and bowing to the applause, thanking the audience for their participation. Yes participation, interjection, and following the lead of the class is instrumental. This can be attributed to the many years of scouting experience behind me. This is a time honored youth program devoted to the instruction of moral values and self worth. A good thing for them and a bad for the leader is the underlying fact that it’s voluntary. This means the lessons must be entertaining, captivating, and leave a need for a repeat performance.
This leads to the up side of my philosophy, amusement. With the over abundance of external stimulation available to today’s youth, the lesson must also stimulate. One of two things has to happen here. Either one has to make the lesson interesting as explained above with theater, or humor. Yes, humor. Jocularity can play an important part in the classroom. However must be used in moderation, and limitations must be set. Humor can easily set things in motion that can spiral out of control, causing the need for order and peace to be restored. This leads to the reward and punishment portion of the philosophy, what to do when it does run a rye.
Intrinsic as well as extrinsic values are both instrumental in teaching. This again draws from the eclectic mix of my push me, pull you type thinking. The grade system is a fair extrinsic way of identifying progress; it is after all a very easy universal indicator to send home. One down fall to grades is that it provides no instantaneous external gratification. There is no better thing in the world than to be praised for something you know you did your best. Well there is one thing, seeing the light in a child’s eyes while receiving it. Praise is a under used tool in the teacher arsenal that needs more attention. This provides for internal gratification or intrinsic value. The opposite is also true, that means the lack of, or the use of peer pressure and the loss of things created for pleasure causes a sense of positive discipline, a negative feeling of non-approval. However there is something to be said for the teacher that can silence a room just by walking into it. In the short time that I have been observing different classrooms and exposure by being a very active parent in my children’s educations now almost complete. I have been fortunate enough to see many approaches. From the taskmaster to what I call a “Xerox teacher” (too many hand outs and word find its). It has also made me look at what a wise person once said to me, “if your not part of the solution your part of the problem”.
This is what led to my wanting to become a teacher. Though the mere thought that I do, has provoked thoughts of insanity from most people I’ve talked to. The love of the light is my passion. A light that grows ever brighter when wisdom has been imparted. There is nothing more rewarding than a look of confusion, and a scratch of a head, turns into a gleam in the face and the raising of a hand. I look at each impending year as not only a love for teaching, but one of learning as well. For sometimes the teacher must become the student, we not only impart but also partake in the learning experience together.