EDS 101

Closing Thoughts on Philosophy of Education

Prompt: Write a concluding entry to your eJournal.  Include the highlights of your learning experience in the course, the most significant learning that you will take away with you and will apply in your teaching practice, and the conceptions, attitudes, and behaviors that have changed because of this course.

The first highlight of this course was the opportunity to fully appreciate education as an integral and enduring factor in society. I had never before considered how education is so much more than just a class and their teacher. This course helped me move from a microsomal perspective of education to a much greater understanding of the expansive impact that educational philosophy has on communities across the world. Societies differ in what they consider most important in education, what defines knowledge, and the nature of the learner. These differences create a beautiful diversity in how children are raised to understand the world and their role in it. It was especially interesting to consider the historical context from which the educational philosophies emerged. Educational philosophy translates to a legacy that we try to leave for the younger generation – a blueprint for how to navigate life, live it well, and uphold cultural values.

Another highlight was realizing the connection between the philosophies at large and their educational successors. It was important to have that foundation to understand how different educational philosophies might have framed their practices on the philosophical beliefs and concepts they accepted. Exploring each philosophy and educational philosophy individually helped me work through my own beliefs about the nature of metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic.   This was the first time I paused to consider those concepts in earnest.

The concluding highlight of learning was the acceptance that with all these differing educational philosophies, they all have validity and purpose for someone or some society in some context. It is easy to judge, ‘I like this,’ or ‘I don’t like that.’ But comments and evaluations such as these don’t drive the discussion forward. A better question might be: how can we use what we know about educational philosophies to improve our education systems? And this, I think, could spur a growth in the number of communities and schools adopting an inter-philosophical educational approach.

The most significant learning I had in this course was an understanding of the great variation in education systems across the world. I always kind of subconsciously assumed that other ‘educated’ people had had an educational experience similar to my own. I now have a much broader definition of what it means to be educated because I can appreciate that the standards and content of education are directly influenced by society and its philosophical beliefs. For some, an educated person is one who is competitive in the job market. Others might define someone who is educated as highly intelligent. Another may say an educated person has sufficient knowledge on a variety of subjects. Someone else may say an educated person problem solves logically and possesses higher level thinking skills. An educated person could also be someone who upholds cultural identity and values in accordance with tradition. Educational systems develop in a specific context and applying similar ideals and expectations outside the place of origin is an unfair and unnecessary comparison.

I will come away from this course with greater focus on what it means to be an educator. It is easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed by the little moments that wrinkled up the day in the classroom, but by focusing on the bigger picture of what education means for society and generations to come, the job seems so much more important. In other writings I have mentioned the importance of being flexible and cooperative while working under an educational philosophy that doesn’t quite match your own. I will re-frame my strategies and approaches in the classroom to more nearly reflect my own hopes and goals for my students in the long run but I will also take a closer look at my school’s statement of philosophy and see that I am doing my part to uphold it. Now that I have a basic understanding of major educational philosophies and have explored my own beliefs about what it means to be educated, I can be a better teacher for my community.

EDS 101

Educational Philosophies – Better One or Better All?

While reading about Essentialism, Perennialism, Progressivism, and Reconstructionism in Module 4, I had moments of agreement and contention in each educational philosophy.


Essentialism:

I consider myself to have been educated in an Essentialist school system and agree that its emphasis on a core curriculum of English, science, history and math is valuable. I appreciate the development of diligence, respect for authority, moral character and a sense of citizenship. However, its teacher-centered classroom and conventional instructional methods are dated and out of touch with contemporary goals. I think it is at odds with the diversity of today’s society. Especially in the context of America, citizenship and morality are difficult to define and teach in such a large and multicultural nation.


Perennialism:

Some truths are enduring and I think studying the Great Books can provide an excellent education. The ability to think and reason is valuable in today’s society and a healthy respect for the past is important. I also think the heavy use of lecture, catechism, and books have less impact than those educational philosophies that attempt to create meaningful experiences and learning activities for students. Furthermore, the staunchly Western lens through which the Great Books are selected and discussed is limiting.


Progressivism:

I like the student-centered, experience-based, problem-solving approach of Progressivism. I agree that society is always changing and we must equip the next generation to cope with and influence that change. Learning is inseparable from existence and it is more meaningful to learn how to think than what to think. Curriculum and activities driven by student interest help maintain motivation, drive, and relevance. However, there are basic benchmarks of skills and knowledge that I think should be met. It would be very sad to graduate from high school and not necessarily have appreciated a piece of classic literature or have mastered basic reading and writing skills. The concerns about ‘functionally illiterate’ graduates and meaningless diplomas are valid. (Simon, 2000)


 Reconstructionism:

I love the idea that education can be so instrumental in advancing and improving society. Through experience, discussion, and reflection, students work collaboratively to define and address societal shortcomings. I agree that the subjects and skills of an interdisciplinary curriculum have more meaning and value when they serve a purpose outside the classroom. Modern schools should prepare students to better society. But once again, I think classic literature and basic mastery of core material and skills is a valuable part of an education.


Ultimately, I concluded that it is unnecessary to select one educational philosophy that best represents me as a teacher. Certainly there may be one or two that I identify with more nearly than the others, but my personal approval of any of these educational philosophies is not particularly relevant or important. All of the educational philosophies have strengths and weaknesses, and it would be detrimental to have a world in which everyone was educated in the same manner and to the same standards. The world marketplace of education should be as heterogeneous as possible to best serve the needs of the complex and diverse communities spanning the globe. Each society has unique needs and values and its schools develop in response to the specific context and goals of the community. Some schools rely on taxpayer money and others are run purely profit. A Reconstructionist school in a liberal community could inspire social change and stir a sense of empowerment and direction in its students, while a graduate of an Essentialist school may be a well-rounded, disciplined, and competent citizen for his more traditional community. Students of either school would be considered educated, but would offer different perspectives, values, skills, and knowledge bases that benefit and develop the community in different yet important ways.

The earliest societies recognized the need for varied and distinct roles in society. Plato identified three psyches best suited to social functions of manual labor, police/martial order, and leadership or lawmaking. The various educational philosophies employed by school systems across the world ensure that there is diversity in skills, knowledge, values, and perspectives. Within a nation, I think a similar level of educational diversity is beneficial. It is within the local community that schools may become more similar because of the goals and concerns of citizens.

Interestingly, the educational philosophy I would want to learn under as a student would be the Progressive or Reconstructionist school. As a teacher, I think working in such a school would be significantly more challenging and exhausting. The Essentialist and Perennialist curriculums would be more manageable because the lessons and goals are predetermined and fixed and teachers can focus on modifying and updating previous lessons and assessments for improvement. Progressive and Reconstructionist teachers are responding to student interests in the moment, current issues, social needs, and focusing on process rather than content. Updating schools and faculty to these more modern educational philosophies of Progressivism and Reconstructionism would require a significant overhaul to the working conditions, expectations, and training for teachers.

Uncategorized

Confucianism in Modern Day

Confucianism was extremely successful in influencing ancient Chinese society and shaping its values, as well as the school systems of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. But I can’t help but think how dated the curriculum sounds in today’s context. Huanyin (1993) commented that Confucianism is considered one of the four major cultural systems of the planet, along with Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. The latter three religions have attempted to find relevance in the modern world.   For example, some contemporary churches will accommodate changes in society by appealing to youth groups with rock music, frank discussions about temptation and morality in the age of the internet, and of course food and social bonding. I wonder if Confucianism has experienced a similar process of modernization? I appreciate and understand the momentous impact of Confucianism, but what does Confucian education look like today?

Confucianism’s six teaching manuals centered on classics that would develop a common culture of that time, which included history, music, and the Spring and Autumn annals. Additionally, Confucian curriculum included the six arts already common to Chinese schooling (rites, musicianship, archery, chariot-driving, calligraphy and mathematics). Surely archery, chariot-driving, and calligraphy are not essential skills of this generation. Fundamental principles such as filial piety, altruism, benevolence certainly maintain importance today, but does the curriculum prescribed by Confucius still have a place?

We have studied five major educational philosophies that influence schools and curriculum across the world. Yet Idealism, Realism, Existentialism, Pragmatism, and Confucianism don’t seem to satisfy all the needs of today’s society. I imagine that common global themes are emerging as technology and trends transcend borders. We are more connected today than ever before. Students don’t live in isolation and ignorance of the larger world. Global history, computer proficiency, morality and ethics regarding complex issues are crucial knowledge points for modern society. For example, international travel is exceedingly common today and brings a plethora of complicated situations. Take this issue of animal tourism: ‘I love animals so I want to take a picture with an elephant in Thailand; but when I pay to have my photo taken, the profit funds and prolongs the captivity and exploitation of the very animals I claim to love.’ Morality and ethics gain importance not only at a community level, but also as a cultural and global level. Additionally, I believe mathematics, literature, science, and technological skills are essential knowledge bases for modern students.

I am looking forward to beginning module 4, which I think will more directly link the major educational philosophies with their influences in education systems.

Sources

‘Confucius’ Educational Thought.’ (n.d.)[PDF] retrieved from

http://www.ct.taipei.gov.tw/multimedia/resources/file/346_2_88_20110406174627.pdf

Huanyin, Y. (1993). ‘Confucius (K’ung Tzu).’ In Prospects, 23(1-2), 211-219. [PDF] retrieved from http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/archive/publications/ThinkersPdf/confucie.PDF

EDS 101

Historical Relevance of Major Educational Philosophies

The past several weeks we have studied the major philosophies relating to education: Idealism, Realism, Existentialism, and Pragmatism. The learning activities and forum discussions gave several opportunities to consider similarities and differences between these philosophies. I would like to further explore the historical context of these philosophies. When you think about education as a method for passing essential knowledge and skills on to the next generations of citizens, it is easier to understand how the educational philosophies would be justified at historic points in time.

Idealism is an ancient philosophy with its root firmly planted in the writings of Plato during the 5th Century in Athens. This period was known as the “Golden Age’ and Plato’s contemporaries (relatively speaking) included great minds such as Pericles, Socrates, Hippocrates, and coincided with the construction of the Parthenon. As remarkable philosophers, politicians, and writers sought to salvage Athens from widespread ignorance and poverty common of the day, Idealism called for the proliferation of like-minded elite intellectuals who were capable of realizing universal truths of the spiritual world through abstract thought. Idealism also purports that theology and scripture have a place in curriculum, as morality, discipline, and respect for authority are valued. Idealism was a way to drive society forward and beyond the physical parameters of this world to realize the truths of the nonphysical realm.

On the other hand, Realism is attributed to Aristotle (who was one of Plato’s students) and calls for the exploration of this physical world around us. Furthermore, realism rejected the idea that truth could be found through reasoning alone. Instead, one must include perception, observation, and experimentation in the search for truth and knowledge. While Aristotle studied alongside Plato, the student and teacher pair created two opposing fundamental philosophies. It should be noted that both Aristotle and Plato “believed thoughts were superior to the senses. However, whereas Plato believed the senses could fool a person, Aristotle stated that the senses were needed in order to properly determine reality.” (‘Aristotle vs. Plato’).

Existentialism is essentially a fatherless philosophy built in response to the bleak outlook following WWII and the growing societal obsession with objectivity, generalization, and regulation of values. Existentialism focuses on personalizing education to give individuals purpose, choice, and responsibility in character development and self-fulfillment. In a turn away from education for the greater good of society, Existentialism repurposed education to grant individualized and subjective knowledge to students. Existentialist students would use subject matter as a means of developing self-awareness and personal truths and values rather than allowing others to make those decisions for us.

Pragmatism developed in the later 19th century through the work of American philosophers such as Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and John Dewey. At the time, the United States was experiencing fierce industrialization and cities were wrought with problems including an influx immigrants and their respective cultures, urban gridlock, sanitation and health concerns, and integration of new technologies (e.g. first transcontinental railroad, the telephone). Pragmatism called for a redefinition of truth and knowledge as whatever is applicable in problem solving. Educational principles should be applicable in real-life situations and will therefore evolve and change due to variation in time and context. Learning should involve projects, experience, and activity.

During Module 2, I often found myself attempting to resolve the degree to which I agreed with each philosophy. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps it is irrelevant whether I agree or disagree with Idealism, Realism, Existentialism, or Pragmatism. All of these philosophies are valid in their own right, and the circumstances surrounding their development are reflected in their perspectives on metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic. I think it is more beneficial to reflect on what aspects of each philosophy resonate most strongly over time. As a teacher, your career will have more momentum and your teaching more direction if you know what you philosophical perspectives you value and aim to cultivate in students, the beliefs held by your employer, and whether you can negotiate any differences or conflicts of interest.

Sources

‘An Introduction to Liberal Education (Chap 6).’ (n.d.). [PDF] retrieved from http://www.mu.ac.in/myweb_test/MA%20Education-Philosophy/Chapter-6.pdf

‘Aristotle (384—322 B.C.E.).’ (n.d.) Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophers. [Web] http://www.iep.utm.edu/aristotl/

Diffen.  (n.d.)  ‘Aristotle vs. Plato.’ [Web] http://www.diffen.com/difference/Aristotle_vs_Plato

Ekanem, F. E. (2012). ‘Educational Existentialism’ Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(2), 22-27. [PDF] retrieved from http://iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol2-issue2/E0222227.pdf

‘Existentialism (Chapter 7).’ (n.d). [PDF] retrieved from http://www.mu.ac.in/myweb_test/MA%20Education-Philosophy/Chapter-7A%20%20Existentialism.pdf

Hicks, Stephen. (2010). ‘Contrasting Realist to Idealist Philosophy, Clip 1-6.’ [Digital video]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8ED24C083DD5FCAA

Hicks, Stephen. (2010).   ‘Idealist Education, Clips 1-7.’ [Digital video] retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8ZPBuNfAZI&list=PL4B8AB62E3120B14F

Hicks, Stephen. (2010, May 25). ‘Pragmatic Education.’ [Digital video] available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcC1XYJTe9E&list=TLbPVH9P5uvsM

Hicks, Stephen. (2010). ‘Realist Curriculum: 3R’s, Foundational Knowledge and Methods.’ [Digital video]. Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgPlXXLZpQw&list=PL3ED4A5B0BF91CACD

Hicks, Stephen. (2010). ‘Realist Curriculum: Example 1-3.’ [Digital video]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYiAPEc9EoE&list=PL3ED4A5B0BF91CACD&index=14

Library of Congress. (n.d.) ‘City Life in the Late 19th Century.’ [Web] available at http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/riseind/city/

Mark, Joshua J. (2011, 28 April). ‘Athens.’ Ancient History Encyclopedia. [Web] http://www.ancient.eu/Athens/

Ozmon. (2011). ‘Philosophical Roots of Education,’ (Chapter 1), 19-38. [PDF] retrieved from http://catalogue.pearsoned.co.uk/assets/hip/gb/hip_gb_pearsonhighered/samplechapter/0132540746.pdf

‘Philosophical Roots of Education.’ (n.d.), 388-402. [PDF] retrieved fromhttp://www.wou.edu/~girodm/foundations/philos.pdf

Wikipedia.  (2015).  ‘History of the United States 1865-1918.’  [Web] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_%281865%E2%80%931918%29

EDS 101

The Value of Philosophy in Education

I became interested in teaching in a non-traditional fashion. My first teaching position was at an English school in South Korea, which required a bachelor’s degree in any field. I loved my work as a teacher there, but my main qualifications were that I could speak English and that I had graduated from a four-year university in America. I was a passionate and motivated teacher, but I did not really understand the complexity of my work. Now that I am pursuing teaching as a career, I have greater respect for issues relating to education and how philosophical beliefs influence a school or district’s educational values, curriculum, approach, emphasis areas, and techniques. I had strong reactions to the list of ongoing philosophical issues outlined in ‘Meaning, Scope, & Functions of Philosophy of Education,’ which included:Education as transmission of knowledge vs. fostering of inquiry

In certain subject matters, either approach could be appropriate. Modern education systems claim a greater emphasis on constructivism and inquiry, but are these values reflected in practice?

What knowledge and skills should be included in education [curriculum]?

How much of an understanding of world history is needed to be ‘educated’? Do students need to be taught on desktop computers, or is tablet instruction more appropriate? Should computer coding replace penmanship?

How is learning made possible? What is the meaning of learning?

Is it enough for students to remember skills and knowledge? Why do we learn? What purpose should education serve? Will an educated student find a job or live a more fulfilling life?

Education for personal development or for citizenship? Or both?

Is it possible for a school to have skilled, knowledgeable graduates who also contribute to a better society?

Different content/aims of educational programs for different classes or cultural groups

How does the education program available to a low-income minority (ethnicity/race) student compare to an upper-income majority student in the same community? What should determine differences in education? Geography, income, intelligence, effort? Nothing?

Distinction between educating, teaching, training, and indoctrination

How is quality education defined? Why should students go to school rather than learning at home or through self-study?

Open discourse on these issues is crucial for outlining and directing the future of education on both a local and global scale, but who exactly is having these conversations? My initial reaction is that it must be the various Ministries of Education who discuss and debate how to tailor an education system to meet the present needs and future desires of the community. But is this the case? Whose opinions are heard in such settings? Teachers? Parents? Politicians? I can already imagine 1,000 different schools popping up to meet a thousand different perspectives on how children should be educated. I have never been asked my own personal philosophy regarding education; does my opinion matter as an educator?

Here in Thailand, there are countless schools and programs designed to meet the demands of contemporary parents. In a free market, private schools following a business model compete with public schools receiving government funding. In very few cases are public schools able to compete with the facilities and teacher-student ratios of private schools. Parents who can afford to pay often do send their children to private schools, but many private and public educational institutions are at odds with one another’s philosophies in terms of curriculum, values, and aims. Most international schools seem to harp on about personal development and modern marketable skills, such as ICT, math and sciences, and multilingualism. However, very few private schools are truly addressing education from a social perspective, which might relate more to ideals, character, and values rather than knowledge and skills. Public schools may emphasize citizenship and a sense of nationalism that creates an important bond to one’s community and helps develop a greater sense of character and values, but may not be able to offer students the advanced skills or knowledge that would give a competitive edge in the community.

Should a child’s education be determined by the wealth of his family? How can we ensure that all schools (especially private schools) are capable of shaping the next generation’s knowledge, skills, and values in ways that contribute to both societal and individual growth? Are we cheapening education by ignoring its philosophical underpinnings?

EDS 101

eJournal Introduction

I would like to refer to my earlier reflections about myself as a learner.

For the most part I feel my learning and studying habits are tailored well for my personal preferences. My study skills have been developed and honed over 20 years and are now second nature to me.

I am good at managing my time in terms of studying at optimum times of day, prioritizing, and planning adequate time for note taking, absorption, and assignments. I have a strong understanding of my own needs as a learner, such as the ideal setting (at home where I can spread out comfortably, focus without noisy distractions, as well as control lighting, temperature, and tidiness) and method (hand-written notes). I make an effort to study thoughtfully as I find I can understand and remember new ideas readily when I am fully engaged in and make personal connections to the material. My self-regulation helps me achieve my academic and work goals.

But no matter how successful one is as a learner, there is always room for improvement. I admittedly struggle to seek out help from classmates or teachers unless absolutely necessary. I prefer to learn independently and work through any confusion by conducting my own research. I work harmoniously in groups at work and consider myself a team player, but I don’t like to study with others. I can also improve my engagement while reading textbook materials by deliberately asking myself more questions and pushing myself to work though possible answers before reading. My pledge for this course is to interact with the texts more thoughtfully and critically.

I am willing to adjust my study habits as necessary to complete specific assignments, explore alternative perspectives, and meet academic expectations. However, I am happy with the outcomes achieved by my own study processes. Being self-aware and metacognitive allows me to streamline my learning in a way that is most impactful for me.

Overall, I believe my study skills and abilities of self-regulation and time management are constant. The Study Skills Inventory indicates I need to give more attention to how I am reading and utilizing textbooks and notes.

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However, feedback in the form of teacher comments, peer responses, assignment grades, test scores, and my own sense of confidence and competence reinforce that the study skills I already employ are effective in achieving my academic goals. I enjoy learning and the sense of accomplishment that comes from truly understanding a new idea or mastering a skill. I always look for ways to study that will help me feel successful as a student. This term I will make a greater effort to make predictions and reflect upon the greater meaning of information presented in textbooks. I will also give special attention to summarizing and connection key ideas in my notes.

 

My results for the Inventory of Philosophies of Education are not remarkably varied. My highest score was for Perennialism, followed closely by Essentialism. Progressivism and Social Reconstructionism were tied for third. Existentialism was the philosophy that least represented my own beliefs.

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When I saw my results, I recalled Pratt’s TPI and wondered if my scores will so similar because my understanding of Educational Philosophies is so minimal. I predict that after learning more extensively about these philosophies, my scores will indicate stronger agreement with one or two and disagreement with the others. I would expect that high scores in all or most categories are too idealistic and such diverse aims could not be realistically met by a single school curriculum. Sacrifices would have to be made for some values at the expense of others.

For example, a teacher trying to ‘teach from the classics, because important insights related to many of today’s challenges and concerns are found in these Great Books’ likely would not have sufficient time to ‘identify a new list of Great Books more appropriate for today’s world, and prepare students to create a better society than their ancestors did.’ Personally, I think it would be ideal for students to have a foundation in the great classics that provide insight into common human history as well as discover contemporary works that more nearly relate to current societal and global issues. In practice, however, priorities need to be way and non-vital educational principles must be pruned.

My educational philosophy and values are that students should learn the knowledge and skills to help them be competent and respected members of society. A teacher’s role is to allow students to explore what it means to be one part of a whole and identify key events in human history that have led us to this very moment in time. A proper education should foster not only academics, but also moral, character, social, and creative development. I believe teaching should be holistic and shape quality people, not efficient workers.

I grew up in the U.S. and attended public schools all my life. I was encouraged by my family to study hard and take advantage of education from an early age to get into a good university and ultimately find a well-paying job. The messages and instruction I received in my hometown were uniform from kindergarten up through high school. I attended a large public university where I was encouraged to try new things, explore the world, and develop a greater sense of self and independence.

My understanding of how education differs based on schools, communities, and cultures grew after I spent time teaching in South Korea and Thailand. Nearly anyone can open a school and design a curriculum to shape young minds as they see fit. I have worked at a private school whose founders follow their native national curriculum. Their emphasis on diligence, respect for authority, rules and obedience, and a near-obsession with extra curriculars such as chess, ITC, drama, and speech seem extreme. Despite the school’s intentions, I believe the curriculum is ineffective in shaping students who are internationally minded or hoping to pursue work in the Western world, as is their claim.

I think it is natural to find greater value in education systems that reflect philosophies and values that are similar to the ones I grew up. However, I look forward to learning about the strengths, weaknesses, differences, and similarities of key schools of thought in philosophy and education. It is important to remember that the validity one finds in a philosophy rests heavily upon his vantage point.

 

EDS 111

Final Thoughts on EDS 111

ejournal 10 / final requirement

Prompt: Go back to the questions for the Introductory Forum in Module 0. Disregarding your prior answers to these questions, respond to these again. After which, compare your current answers to your former responses. Were there any difference? What could be the reasons for the changes (or lack thereof) in your responses?

  • What denotes effective teaching for you?  Provide justification/s for your answer.
  • What do you think are the characteristics and skills that teachers should possess in order to become effective teachers?  Why?
  • What is the role of teachers for you?

Effective teaching is the optimization of classroom atmosphere, strategies, relationships, and approach to create the best possible opportunities to learn, in terms of both quantity and quality. Effective teaching comes from the evolution classroom skills, strategies, and approaches driven by experience and active reflection. Participating in professional development, collaborative learning communities, and ongoing education can be powerful sources for gaining experiential wisdom and relevant new skills. Reflection is a necessary process for assessing strengths, weaknesses, missed opportunities, and successful approaches that will help teachers better prepare for meeting learning goals, and overcome shortcomings in the future.  Necessary knowledge for effective teaching includes content/subject area, pedagogical techniques, and relevant technology. Effective teaching must be founded on sound instructional skills, but also requires skills of classroom management, motivation, working with diverse learners, and interpersonal skills.

An effective teacher must be able to develop learning outcomes, structure and plan suitable lessons and activities, monitor pacing, design appropriate assessments, and reflect upon and modify weak course areas. However, these instructional skills are not enough to denote effective teaching. The ability to relate to and connect with students is a powerful force in effective teaching. Students who elect to engage and want to succeed (whether to please a teacher, satisfy intrinsic motivation, or feel included in the group dynamic) will be better learners. Effective teachers demonstrate reliability and interest in student wellbeing through open discussions with students, approachability, humor, and appropriate challenging of beliefs and ideas. The teacher-student relationship must be cultivated so that both parties feel responsible to one another.

A teacher’s first role is develop a plan for instruction and prepare appropriate materials and learning experiences. A teacher must have a clear idea of the educational journey she expects to guide her students through. A teacher’s next duty is to create a safe space (mentally and physically) for learners to engage with new ideas and knowledge earnestly and authentically. Students who are fearful of making mistakes, expect ridicule from peers or teachers, or do not feel capable of succeeding will not be able to overcome these barriers without support and encouragement from their teacher.

My original response to the above questions:

Effective teaching involves engaging students in a way that appeals to their innate curiosity and addresses and challenges their preconceived thoughts. Effective teaching requires one to be completely present and absorbed in the practice of evoking responses from and interaction with students. Delivery of instructional material is certainly a part of teaching, but to be truly effective, a teacher must inspire students to reach and surpass their potential.

An effective teacher should play to the ability of her students and encourage authentic exploration and discovery of new meaning. For example, a teacher conducting the exact same lesson taught to two different classes would perform and interact with the each group differently because each group of students has unique needs, ideas, and questions.

A teacher’s role is to stimulate the mind and guide students through the discovery process, not just in the academic sense, but holistically – in terms of morality, self-awareness and identity, and the interconnectedness of nature, society, and self. I think teachers play an important role in shaping young community members and have a responsibility to mentor children emotionally, socially, academically, and spiritually.

I think my first response to the Introductory Forum questions were appropriate but focused too heavily on the philosophical role of teachers. I originally emphasized a teacher’s role as a role model and motivator, but I didn’t address the more concrete principles necessary for effective teaching. In both responses, I noted that teaching is more than ‘delivery of instructional material’ and includes an ability to connect with learners on a more personal, human level. Overall, I think this course allowed my to better understand that effective teaching draws from technical skills as well as interpersonal skills relating to how to engage and inspire students.

My first response also failed to acknowledge the ‘collaborative’ component of teaching and the importance of ongoing learning and reflection for improving one’s work year after year. But I can now realize and relate new terminology to my original response. For example, in January I stated that Effective teaching requires one to be completely present and absorbed in the practice of evoking responses from and interaction with students.’ I now recognize this as a description of ‘flow.’

While my original response had some valid points about the importance of appealing to student interest and curiosity, I think my final response was more cohesive and complete. I can refer to this reflection in the future to help keep me focused on creating impactful instruction, a motivating and positive atmosphere, and engaging in meaningful reflection and learning experiences to keep my work sharp, relevant, and effective.


Prompt: Do the same thing (refer to #1) for the TPI.

  • What do your results on the TPI say about your perspectives on teaching?
  • What are their implications on your beliefs, intentions, and actions on teaching?

My TPI results indicate that my dominant perspective is Nurturing, followed closely by Apprenticeship and Developmental. I agree with Pratt that over time and with more experience, my understanding of myself as a teacher will be greater and my dominant perspective will be more readily observable. Pratt commented that experienced teachers know what they are and what they want to be, as well as what they aren’t and don’t want to be. Over the years and with greater reflection and experience, I imagine my beliefs about teaching and my choices in the classroom will be more clearly defined.

My result of a dominant Nurturing perspective stems from my belief that each learner can succeed academically with effort, motivation, and emotional support. I would like to note, however, that my action score was highest in Apprenticeship. This perspective is probably manifested in my use of zones of development. By modifying my instruction and guidance based on learner competence and development, I encourage greater independence as learners grow.

My original response to the above questions:

My results from the TPI show that nurturing is my dominant teaching view, followed closely by apprenticeship.  I feel well represented by these two perspectives and can think of classroom examples in which I demonstrated the values associated with each. 

As a kindergarten teacher, it is difficult to be anything but nurturing. I must provide a of balance academic and emotional support for students in order to make them feel comfortable in the classroom and to trust me as their teacher.  Much of my day-to-day work centers on this nurturing perspective and promoting self-esteem, motivating from a place of unconditional acceptance and support, and valuing sincere effort and personal development.  I’m interested in how each student is progressing individually in terms of confidence, self-assuredness, and effort, as well as how his/her achievement compares to other students and my own expectations.  At the beginning of the school year, I must first develop personal relationships with the students through listening, bonding activities, and a caring demeanor.  Once students begin to feel safe and more expressive in the classroom, they can be directed to more academic goals.  A child who feels threatened, harassed, or stressed (whether from school or home) cannot learn.  A nurturing perspective can be an exhausting physical and emotional commitment for the teacher, but students are given the opportunity to explore the limits of their own ability and effort without fear of failure. (Pratt)

Apprenticeship is another perspective that plays significantly into my teaching.  Even at the kindergarten level, I approach the learning objectives as expressed expectations for the group.  For example, the whole class understands that phonics and basic reading and writing ability are the ultimate academic goals.  I teach to the group as a whole then ask students to practice simple tasks, such as identifying sounds.  Scaffolding is essential, and I think it ties back into building confidence.  Some students need more teacher guidance to practice complex skills before they gain the competence to work independently.  Each student works at a different pace, but they are all working on similar tasks toward the same goal. The students express a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of identity as they learn crucial skills and gain knowledge.  They clearly identify the academic work they do with their own kindergarten class and motivate each other to emulate the skills and work ethic of the community. 

The first time I took the TPI, I think I struggled a bit to focus on one content area and one group of learners. I hemmed and hawed over what response to give because I appreciated the significance of the ideas represented in each statement. Even though I may find validity in many of the statements, they don’t all manifest in my own classroom actions and values. I felt more confident in my answers taking the inventory the second time around. Still, my results were the same and I feel my response was well justified in the first forum discussion.


Prompt: Reflect deeply on how this course has:

  • changed/enhanced/influenced the way you think about the teaching process and the profession of teaching in general; and
  • impacted you as a teacher/pre-service teacher.

This course has influenced the way I think about and define a professional teacher. The fundamental question is who is qualified to be a teacher and what skills and knowledge must they employ to be considered effective? There are many different kinds of teachers, educators, instructors, and tutors, but not all are professional or effective. Considering the knowledge base, principles, skill sets, and values attributed to effective teachers helps me reflect on whether I am meeting the same standards and how I can improve my professional status.  The role of a teacher is complex and multifaceted.  Effective teaching is a craft that takes active reflection, deliberate actions, and open discourse to perfect.

I think this course has helped me be more reflective and intentional in my own teaching. It has also inspired me to pursue further professional development and learning opportunities. Before I had always kind of thought I would be ‘done’ with formal schooling after completing the PTC program. I know realize that seeking out ways to further my professional development and strengthen my skills and strategies as a teacher is an exciting prospect. There is no shame in admitting there is more to learn, and my teaching will be more effective as a result of expanding my knowledge base and learning about emerging issues and techniques.  Professional development, collaboration with peers and mentors, and lifelong learning are signs of strength, not weakness.