Frederick W. Robertson
Since I started my journey to become an educator, I have changed my views of what education should be. However some have remained the same; I have always believed that children are our future. As a society, we need to prepare and guide children so that they can become prosperous and successful in their adult lives. Children of today will be in the position to guide and change society in the future. As educators and adults of today, we need to foster critical thinking and problem solving so that children will be able to bare the responsibility of shaping society. While obtaining my degree, I thought my role as a teacher was to lecture students, and I needed to know more than my students. Although, I have found that not only do adults teach children, but children also have the ability to teach adults. Every day I go to work, as an educator, I learn a different way to view something or learn something new from my students. I believe it is important to have a learning environment where there is an exchange of thoughts and solutions between adults and children, instead of an authoritarian approach to education. Another idea that I have learned is there is not one absolute right answer or one correct way to solve a problem. I find that people learn and acquire knowledge in different ways, and most of my time is spent helping my students discover what works best for them. This idea of multiple perspectives helps encourage an understanding of differences and allows children to become less inhibited.
It is clear that I view society, as a whole, an important factor in education. I do not think it is only a teacher who teaches children. As the African proverb states, “it takes a tribe to raise a child”. Even though I work in a school, which uses a behaviorist method of student management, my teaching philosophy mirrors the Cognitivism Philosophy of Education. I always activate my students’ prior knowledge before we start a topic or lesson. I agree that people learn by building on their prior experiences to develop new understandings. Vygotsky and Piaget theories on learning have helped me provide a stimulating learning environment for my students. I work with students with learning difficulties and behavioral disorders. It is very important for me to understand what level my students’ cognitive abilities are performing on. Piaget’s stages of development have helped me determine how my students differ in learning styles. I use scaffolding in my classroom everyday. This technique gives my students confidence to try tasks, and gradually I give them more independence until they can problem solve without my help. Since my students have low frustration tolerance, this technique works well. They have many opportunities to work in collaborative groups, since most careers and jobs require the skill of collaboration and problem solving. I try to limit my role in the classroom as a facilitator to promote student independence and critical thinking. I also use authentic materials so they can relate to the information, and understand that the material is important to them. I allow them to express themselves in a variety of ways, including: oral, visual, written, and technological presentations. While I let my students express themselves in modalities, which are comfortable, I encourage them to use ways they are uncomfortable with also. This promotes my students to be versatile, which will make them more marketable in the career world. My classroom is a safe learning environment, where students are able to express their opinions. I promote my students to listen to others’ ideas without criticizing, and then they can make their own judgments about the views expressed. I believe it is very important for people to have the ability to see others’ perspectives, but not necessarily agree with everything someone tells them.
My hope for my students, after they leave my class, is that they will become successful and prosperous adults. I know they come to me with knowledge beforehand, which is why I help them build on what they already know. My hope is not that my students just make a substantial amount of money when they are older. Hopefully, as an educator, I guide my students to show understanding to people different from them, have the ability to problem solve, work collaboratively, and make good judgments based on facts, as opposed to propaganda. I want to show them how to use various modalities to express themselves and show their knowledge, so they can achieve the goals they have. Education as a whole has changed so much over the years, just as philosophies of education has changed. Curriculum has also drastically changed over the years. There is so much information; it is impossible to teach students everything. Presently, I believe that showing students how to acquire information, and work with other people is most important for educators today. Although, I have seen how much my views of education have changed, with the more experience I have in the field I know my philosophy of education will be a work in progress.