As a novice teacher I have given much thought as to what my educational philosophy would be. Perhaps the Orstein and Levive described me the best. I am an existentialist. “an existentialist education encourages deep personal reflection on one’s identity, commitments and choices.” (Orstein & Levine, 2006) Recently I interviewed four individuals two were teachers; one male, one female. Both teachers had at least 10 years teaching experience. The other two people interviewed were a female junior in high school and a forty something year old mother. The reason I chose these four was to contrast what experienced teachers would say versus what a parent thought and what a high school student thought. These interviews helped solidify my philosophy
I believe my questions were pretty straight forward, but took a little thought from the subject. My questions were:
What is the most important lesson a teacher can give his or her students?
What do you believe are the qualities of a teacher?
Who is responsible for the student’s social growth? Teacher or Parent
Do you think teachers are given their due as a major influence in today’s society?
The answers for the definition of teacher were fairly consistent--the role of educator, instructor and a master of the topic teaching. Another terms used was mentor. As I pondered these definitions I thought of the phrase “facilitator of learning.” One reason I thought of this was in my mind an instructor is just one who gives a lesson but does not count on feedback to see if the audience received it or understood it. MY definition--facilitator of learning implies interaction, reflection and commitment to learning. Most importantly the student can make a choice to learn—the teacher gives information and the student responds by showing understanding and can repeat the lesson to a measured standard.
As an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Candidate instructor (their term not mine, I prefer teacher) a parent asked me to help straighten out her son. I suppose she thought I had a magic wand. I responded by saying Ma’am all I can do is help bring out the inner person. He is who he is and will follow the choices he makes, nothing I can do will change that. What I can do is help him chose the best option to reach his goals.
When I asked the second question: What is the most important question a teacher can give his or her students the answers were more varied. The female teacher answered “teach them to accept responsibility.” When I asked her isn’t that the parent’s responsibility, she answered yes but if teachers do not show that there are consequences for all actions the kids will not learn to accept responsibility and accountability. The parent and male teacher had answers that were pretty close. They expected teachers to be positive role models and teach them how to accomplish goals. Once again I see the reference to commitment and choices. The answer from the high school student really surprised me. Her answer was to “teach life lessons” she thought it was more important for teachers to give accounts of what life after high school would be like rather than stick only to the school subject. “In 10 years student will never remember how to find the inverse sin of a 45 degree angel.”
When I asked the question on social growth the adults agreed that it was shared between the parent and the teacher. The process started at home but the teacher had to reinforce social standards at the school. When asked what if the student does not get the proper teaching at home again the adults said that it is up to the teachers to fill the void. I believe this is where personal reflection takes over; do the lesson learned at home coincide with what is learned in school. The student must learn to make the right choice for success The teenager again surprised me with her answer: The “parents hands down” when asked the same follow up question her answer was: “teachers are responsible for teaching a subject; the parents must take care of the social growth when they can’t or don’t then the student is responsible for his or her own social growth.”
Finally when I asked the last question each seem to put monetary value to the question. All agreed that teachers are underpaid and society as a whole does not truly understand the time and money it takes to become a teacher. They all agreed that teachers are appreciated for what they do. With this appreciation there is respect for them but the pay is what makes them all feel like teachers are not given their due.
After reviewing the results of the interview I conclude that my philosophy and personal mantra al deal with choices the individual makes. . An existentialist outlook is based on commitment, reflection and choices. My mantra is life is about options--choose the one that best helps you reach your goal
Orstein, A. C., & Levine, D. U. (2006). Foundations of Education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
8 years ago