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.