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Essay on Philosophy of Education

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 Philosophy of Education

Introduction

Philosophy runs even in the veins of a layperson who seeks after wisdom, truth, ideals, and reality. Without philosophy (such as of education) or of any sorts, life is just a void. It will simply make people’s existence adrift with the world. Individuals may never ask relevant questions concerning the nature of things (such as why do people exist, how do they come to know reality, what is knowledge and so forth). Without philosophy, people would just be like any other animate objects (e.g., animals) who cannot reason out why they do things the way they should. They will just continue living with their desires because life will cease anyway. Having said so, I will argue from an educational philosophical standpoint that living a Christian life offers the most adequate answers to most, if not all, claims about my view of the world, philosophy of life, philosophy of schools and learning, instructional practices and methodology, teacher-learner relationships, diversity, and parents’ roles and their relationship with teachers.


I know that humanity exists for various reasons and for diverse purposes. The world is viewed by different people differently depending on their natural propensity, upbringing, way of life (e.g., culture, mores, tradition), religious affiliation, and so on. I believe that the world is such because it is evident from various parts of the world. People differ in many aspects. Some individuals living in the West may have a different perception on how to run their lives. On the other hand, some people living in the East may be too superstitious because it is part of their culture. For my part, although there is diversity in the world, there are also similarities.

I believe that majority of people in the world value what life is. They care for their families, friends, and even with their enemies. They sometimes laugh at problems in life. They simply know how to handle what everyday life has to offer them – good or bad . In similar ways, the Christian faith is precisely like that. Those who learned biblical truth and apply them to themselves and other people learn to respect and care for each other.

As a Christian, I believe that everything that I see originated from things not seen. Although this is hard to prove, the proofs, tautologically, are the things that I see (Hebrew 11:3; Romans 1:20). If this seems a circular reasoning to some people, it is just similar to mathematics where you have to check your answer using a reverse technique (e.g., addition to subtraction, vice versa). Hence, for me, what I behold is real and what I do not see is beyond reality. So, what then is the ultimate reality?

The ultimate reality, for my part, is none other than me, you, us, and the surrounding world and the heavens above. People see things using their eyes. However, human beings have limited vision and it fails them sometimes (such as in optical illusions). Hence, if my sensory perceptions do not precisely provide me what reality should be, the more I should believe in the bible. The bible offers a faith and rational basis for believing even the things that are previously unknown to people due to the proliferation of scientific, archaeological and other proofs.

If I limit myself to things that I only see with my eyes, I am just like a any rational or scientific human being. Nevertheless, I do believe in the Spirit World because I am also a spiritual person. Again, I cannot provide a direct evidence to this idea except mine, yours and anybody else existence. Whenever individuals (or even animals) die, what remain is their physical bodies as if a battery (spirit) loss its power. That is just exactly what I believe in that there exist both physical or spiritual worlds. Without the spirit, the body is dead (James 2:26). If people ask me to provide support to my claim, there they are – the living and the dead.

The next question: What gives life purpose or meaning? Afresh, as a Christian, I believe in a loving God, harmonious living, and philanthropic works. For me, life has its purpose if people have in them belief in the Highest Power, Love and Charity. For people who do not believe God or have different ‘religious affiliations,’ it is up to them. They may be living presently their lives in a reality that was offered to them by their environment the reason they have such perceptions. In terms of harmonious living, tolerance or letting people exercise their own freedom without impinging on the rights of other individuals is the key . People ought to live and then let others live. They should form consensus on important matter relevant to human rights despite their differences in religion, culture, tradition, etc. Concerning my ethical/moral perspectives, I value most my belief in God and His Word. I know it guides me whenever I make decisions and actions in my life. Whenever I think of the value of the Word of God, I see how people learn to love one another. Even when they are not related to others by consanguinity, because of God’s Word, they learn to understand other peoples’ infirmities. In times of needs, troubles and calamities, people who have belief in God believe in their goodness helping people who are not even of their own kind (e.g., being a relative).

Axiologically, I want my students to value in their lives love for God. When they have Christianity in their lives, they learn to be tolerant of other peoples and respectful (that is, the distinguishing mark of being a Christian and being of good character) . In addition, they are kind not only to human beings but also to animals and the environment. They have self-respect, respect for other individuals, and care for each other . Because belief in God is the one that I could impart to my students, I know they would be able to live fruitful lives – materially and spiritually.

The ethical principles that guide me are the ethical principles written in the bible. It is stated there that people should love God more than anything else and to love their fellow human beings as themselves. If people do not want themselves to be hurt, they should not hurt others, too. If people want to be treated fairly, they have to do the same. If other individuals violated other people’s right, there is justice. If it will not be obtain here on earth, it will be in God’s proper time. Hence, ethical principles grounded in biblical truth are, I believe, the best that God offers.

Since biblical truth is appropriate for whatever content area one has, the principles of beauty that I hope to instill in my students is to judge people not because of their external appearance (e.g., color, race, riches, etc.), but also based on the goodness people have within them. I do believe that beauty is in the eye of a beholder who is unbiased or nondiscriminatory (I Samuel 16:7). People should learn to base their judgments not only from what they see; but more importantly, out of the motives behind an action. This means that an action is not enough; people should also try to understand the underlying reasons why people did the things they supposedly should not have done or been doing.


Philosophy of Schools and Learning

For me, the purpose of learning is to live a life worth living. Students should not only learn within the four walls of the classroom and then apply what they learn in their everyday lives, they should also learn why they ought to learn things in novel ways. If learners learn, only the things taught to them in a school that is not enough because eventually, they will also forget most of what they learned. What is most important for me is for students to contribute new ideas, concepts, projects, etc. . Briefly stated, students should be independently minded (in the positive side of the word), critical thinkers and lovers of virtues.

Epistemologically, learners come to know the truth when they are able to apply what they learned in their lives. For example, if a student claim that he/she knows that lying is wrong and yet keep on doing it, then I believe that he/she may have an erroneous conception of what honesty really is (other than the external circumstance beyond his/her control). Although people should also consider surrounding circumstance why people sometimes prevaricate, prevarication should not be the exception but the rule. Hence, for learning to occur, learners should be able to differentiate truth from falsehood, fact from opinion, and so on.

Even in this Information Age, I know and believe that traditional schools continue to exert much greater influence on the acquisition of knowledge, learning of new skills, and impartation of values. My Christian faith tells me that my views are correct because I learned to live with them. I know the difference between virtue and vice. I know how to deal with other people (e.g., parents, teachers, students, community, etc.) accordingly. In line with the various learning theories in educational philosophy and educational psychology, I prefer the ideas of Plato, John Dewey, and Paulo Freire. They believe in the significance of critical thinking in the lives of learners. In educational psychology, I am particularly inclined to the ideas of Lev Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural View of Development, Erik Erikson’s Pyschosocial Development Theory, and Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model .

My professional knowledge will guide my practice, using the theories just mentioned, because they were already proven to be meaningful and effective for classroom teaching. In addition, there are already (and counting) research findings about the impact of those theories on the teaching-learning process.


Instructional Practice/Methodology

I would implement in my classroom critical thinking based on the philosophies of Plato, Dewey and Freire. According to Plato, people should explore their strengths and use their talents in their field of interest. Learners should discover for themselves the truth and not only those things that flatter their desires . Likewise, for Dewey, learning should focus more on critical thinking and not just in the transmission of pre-configured knowledge. Learning should aim for contents towards positive direction as children grow . For Paulo Freire, people should change oppressive status quo via problem posing. Whether in schools or the workplace, students should be active participants and have authentic contributions to their society. Students should not simply be passive depositories of knowledge through patient memorization and repetition of facts, figures and other forms of knowledge .

Using the theories of Vygotsky, Erikson and Bronfenbrenner for my instructional practice, I will focus on Vygotsky’s use of scaffolding and zone of proximal development. I believe that students will learn best when there is a supportive environment where they could collaboratively engage with capable peers. In addition, I will consider learners cultural backgrounds and interactions as they influence tremendously their cognitive development.

In the case of Erikson’s theory, I will employ his stages (pairings) of development (e.g., conflict versus resolution, trust versus mistrust, etc.). Starting with a learner’s ego identity (self-consciousness), I will explore how their social interactions and experiences will influence their life during a particular period they are with me.

With Bronfenbrenner’s theory, I will be able to underscore the complexity of their development using various contexts under varied systems (that is, from micro- to chrono-system). As a teacher, I will attempt to find out for myself how cultural and environmental factors play a principal role in their personal development.

Using the above philosophies and theories, specifically on critical thinking and social interactions, I will teach students to decide and act for themselves. In relation to the Christian faith, students should be able to think at a higher level. When discussing creationism, for example students should use higher order thinking such as making comparison between the number of hours within an earthly day compared with the number of hours in other planets (e.g., Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, etc.). If they can connect how a planet’s size makes its number of hours in a day differ with the rest, they should then realize that since God started with naught, then they should ask themselves where is He then? Then, they could infer that the number of hours in God’s day could mean millions or even billions. Hence, although polemical, learners would realize that somehow scientific facts are aligned with the biblical truth.

At the core of my pedagogical/instructional practices, methods and strategies, I will use critical thinking and social interactions. Learners should be able to come up with their own answers to problems, especially when it comes to open-ended questions. The same holds true for the exact sciences because there are always various methods in arriving at the resolution to a problem. To make it easy and enjoyable on their part, I will use multimedia, games, and other educational technologies. I hope that since students come from various social, cultural, demographical, etc. backgrounds, using the most appropriate strategy will facilitate their learning and success on my part.

As a Christian, I will provide a leeway for individual differences considering that some are fast and others are slow learners. I should try other methods in order for me to achieve my daily lesson objectives. I will facilitate the learning process for them to achieve the standard competencies. They should be given freedom to express themselves such as during brainstorming where there is no right or wrong answer. I will also teach them how to use various note-taking techniques, concept mapping, role playing, and so forth. Through these techniques, they should learn not only from the lesson, from their teacher, and classmates, but most importantly, in themselves. The role of the learners in my class is to be actively involved in classroom discussions, individual and group projects, and so on. Teachers should direct their learners and then letting them work in self-regulated manner whenever that is required of them . In groups, they should learn to cooperate and collaborate with members. As a teacher, my role is to serve as their friend, guide and facilitator. I should provide the resources needed for them to learn from the lesson. In case they want clarification, I should be able to use the art of questioning until such time that they interact with one another and arrive at the solutions to questions, challenges, and issues.

In order for them to relate effectively to each other, there should be individual and collective tasks. If the lesson requires competition for them to become more productive and creative, such would also be employed. The reason for this tactic is for them to continue to be actively engaged despite the fact that there are cases where they work as a heterogeneous group.

All these explanations concerning teacher-learner relationships are related to the different learning theories mentioned previously. Plato, Dewey, and Freire emphasized the important part that critical thinking plays on students’ learning. Likewise, the theorists Erikson, Vygotsky, and Bronfenbrenner underscore the significance of culture and/or environment in the normal growth and development of the learners.


Diversity

The beauty of life is in its variety. To make up for students’ diversity (e.g., familial, social, intellectual, etc.), I should be able to teach the Christian way. Although some are not as good and bright as other students, it should not be a reason for dismay. They should be able to discover their own strengths and weaknesses. Students should follow their inclination, that is, their preferences where they are particularly good at . Since no person possesses all the best qualities one could possibly imagine, putting his/her efforts, energy and time to succeed on a specific area will prove more beneficial in the long run. An expert is an expert because he/she is a ‘jack-/jane-of-all-trades in his/her own special way.

As a teacher, some of the diversity factors that I should take into account are students’ individual uniqueness, preferences, inclinations, proficiencies, aptitudes, talents, to mention a few. Whenever individualized educational learning is required, I should be able to prepare materials and lessons in advance suited to the individual abilities of my students. My primary objective is for students to apply what they learned – individually, physically, intellectually, spirituality, etc. Having stated so, although such students’ factors would impact on instruction, one way or the other, I should also ensure that authentic assessment are given to students so that I can gauge completely whether learning took place or not. If not, I should also give remedial classes, not to mention enrichment exercises for fast learners.


Parent Role and Relationship with Teacher

The role of parents in their children’s education is to teach them values mentioned in the bible. This should be done while their children are still young so that when they become grownups, they will not depart from the truth (Proverbs 22:6). Still, they have to teach their children to use critical thinking so that they can decide for themselves. Because they are guided by biblical knowledge, they should have children wise enough to differentiate what is true and those that are only social conventions. In view of the relationship of parents with teachers, they should work together to achieve their goal for the best interest of children – whenever and wherever necessary .


Concluding Remarks

Every individual has its own philosophy, philosophy of education, philosophy of life, and so forth. Philosophy guides someone to search for wisdom, truth, knowledge, and good. Although some people are not aware of their own philosophy, it is hard to tell that there is a person who does not have one. For my part, I have argued that Christianity offers answers to my problems in life and education.

With the Christian philosophy that I have, I learn to value people and the knowledge that I have about life in general. Although there are people who do not share the same Christian faith that I have, I learned how to live harmoniously with them. I know I have to respect their freedom to choose their own religion, because I see how they respect mine too. Thus, I can say that because of Christianity, I become tolerant with other people. I also realized that, with the kind of religious faith that I have, I see how significant religion is for other people also (e.g., parents, students). Although, I do not indoctrinate them in whatever form, I simply live by the Christian values that I have. I believe that through good works and examples, people will become more respectful of my faith. I do not have to encourage them to join in my religion faction because my works will speak for themselves to them.

Finally, whenever I think of education, schooling, and learning, I observe how learners are eager to learn from the teacher who knows how to manage his/her class effectively. A teacher who knows a variety of teaching strategies, methods, approaches, techniques, and so forth becomes a more efficient teacher. Therefore, as much as I could, I try to combine educational theories and practice appropriate for a particular teaching-learning process.


References

British Broadcasting Corporation. (2013). Religious Studies: Christianity. Retrieved from BBC GCSE Bitesze: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/rs/sanctity/chabortionrev1.shtml

Crenshaw, P., Hale, E., & Harper, S. (2011). Producing Intellectual Labor in the Classroom: The Utilization of a Critical Thinking Model to Help Students Take Command of Their Thinking. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 8(7), 13-26.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education . New York: Collier Books. Retrieved from http://ruby.fgcu.edu/courses/ndemers/colloquium/ExperiencEducationDewey.pdf

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. (M. Ramos, Trans.) New York: Continuum International Pub. Group, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.msu.ac.zw/elearning/material/1335344125freire_pedagogy_of_the_oppresed.pdf

Lauria, J. (2010). Differentiation through Learning-Style Responsive Strategies. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(1), 24-29.

McCaulay, S. (1984). For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School. Illinois: Crossway Books.

Pike, M. (2010). Christianity and character education: faith in core values? Journal of Beliefs & Values: Studies In Religion & Education, 31(3), 311-321. doi:10.1080/13617672.2010.521008

Plato. (360 BCE). The Republic (Vol. Book VII). (B. Jowett, Trans.) Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.8.vii.html

Sullivan, L. (Ed.). (2009). Educational Psychology: The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. California: Sage Reference.

Svinicki, M. (2010). Student Learning: From Teacher-Directed to Self-Regulation. New Directions for Teaching and Learning(123), 73-83.

Torstenson, T. (2007). Children's Life Paths through Preschool and School: Letting Youths Talk about Their Own Childhood--Theoretical and Methodological Conclusions. Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, 14(1), 47-66.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. (1948, December 10). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from UNESCO: Building Peace in the Minds of People: http://www.unesco.org/education/information/50y/nfsunesco/doc/hum-rights.htm


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