Statement of Educational Philosophy

The purpose of education, and the role of the educator

In my mind, I compare education to a stone wall.  Each brick is unique in shape, size, and complexity.  Each stone is dependent on the others to maintain strength, height, and stability.  In my mind, these stones are skills and dispositions molded and shaped by the child’s personality, environment, biology, family, relationships, and motivations.  

I believe overall, education is to develop independence, but looks differently at various levels and contexts.  In early childhood, the purpose of education is to help the child learn how to work with others, one-on-one, in small groups, and in large groups.  It is meant to help young children develop the ability to communicate in various contexts through oral and nonverbal language.  It is also meant to help the child develop a positive self-concept and celebrate the differences that exist between people in the classroom, the community, and the world.  Later, education is meant to help children utilize specific back ground knowledge and experiences to think critically about one’s self and the world around them.  Education is meant to help children build on previous social skills and to develop higher level abilities to identify relationships in mathematics, science, and social studies.  Overall, I believe education is meant to develop citizens of our society that participate thoughtfully and reflectively.  It is also meant to help develop individuals to become life-long learners, those who seek more knowledge for the sake of knowing and for the sake of refining society.   

Early childhood education is essentially laying the foundation for each child’s stone wall.  Like a tall building, the foundation must be stable and secure.  If a tower has a weak structure, the building will encounter problems later in construction.  If children do not develop a stable and secure foundation for learning and life, problems will occur later.  For example, if a child never learns how to utilize emotional vocabulary to articulate feelings, needs, and wants, and only knows to use hands in aggressive ways to communicate, he may later become isolated in social situations and develop a negative self-concept.  

In education, the role of the educator is to identify the uniqueness and strengths in each child, and use those elements to drive the child through progress and development.  Again, this looks different at various levels, but it is key.  In early childhood education, the educator needs to be aware of child development, he needs to know content areas and how this content can be integrated and connected to children’s lives through authentic experiences.  He should also know when particular strategies such as one-on-one, small group, or whole group  experiences are developmentally appropriate.  Early childhood educators need to be able to nurture young children through providing experiences to share and learn about their families.  Early childhood educators also need to provide experiences where families can develop stronger relationships.  It is important for early childhood educators to help children learn the components of a positive community and how to contribute and maintain this community through exploring social problem solving skills. 

Dissecting beliefs: curriculum and management

I believe children learn best when educators utilize children’s interests to guide curriculum content, while at the same time imbedding essential understandings.  This can be done thoughtfully with inquiry-based approaches such as the project approach.  One of the goals I have for young children is to help them develop a positive disposition for learning in all areas, which occurs naturally with inquiry-based approaches.  

A positive classroom community is the heart of a high quality management system.  Teachers need to help children find ways to invest in relationships and bonds with the individuals in the classroom.  When these relationships are in place, the foundation for a solid community is in place.  Building on that, teachers need to implement meaningful practices within routines and transitions that support this community.  Teachers also need to implement core practices such as class meetings, cool down spaces, and opportunities to develop an emotional vocabulary to articulate feelings and emotions.  When children begin to utilize emotional vocabulary, they can better take other’s perspectives.  This ability allows the children they to begin to brainstorm solutions to issues and problems which the class experiences.  Empowering children to recognize problems and develop solutions creates an environment in which the children feel they contribute to and feel they belong to.  

Connecting educational philosophy to adult learning

Teachers or educators of students, from birth to any age, need to consider the back ground knowledge, experiences, cultures, and beliefs which their students possess.  These elements guide instruction at any age.  Moreover, educators need to find ways to bridge these elements with the goals of the project, workshop, or course.  This can be done when the educators provides opportunities for students or participants to discuss these elements and how they relate to the goals and objectives being discussed.  Students learn not only from the educator but also from their peers.  This also goes for the educators, they always learn from their students as well.