Preferred Philosophy & Approach to Teaching
One can define his or her own philosophies and approaches to learning/teaching based on how they conceptualize learning. In this case, teaching in a modern school characterized by diversity and technological advancement would require an educator to reshape his or her approaches to offer the students what works best for them. Additionally, many emerging social and environmental themes necessitate teachers to educate students on how best to approach them. In this case, my teaching philosophy would be a blend between progressivism and social reconstructivism.
Progressivism is a philosophy in education that focuses on humanizing education through using student-centered approaches. Additionally, the primary goal of the education approaches is to promote such values as democracy and social responsibility. According to Aslan (2018), progressivism is founded on pragmatism; it is student-centered, requires the use of student-centered methods, and holds the belief that school is life as opposed to preparation for life. These tenets of progressivism can be critiqued on several grounds. For example, Aslan (2018) argues that progressivism tends to fall into a double bind. In other words, educators promote the idea of students being in control of their learning while, at the same time, dictating in advance what matters to the learners. A modern educator needs to understand the learning needs of the students and help them to acquire knowledge through their efforts. Progressive ideals achieved through instrumentalism and manipulation sound more like a paradox. The argument is that if learners are in control, then they decide what works for them. During earlier years, the level of control was minimal, and as they progressed, they increasingly became responsible for their learning.
In addition to helping students pursue their learning, my philosophy also seeks to prepare them to face the world and the global challenges they will encounter. The purpose of this philosophy is to convert students into agents of change since human activity has been responsible for many of the problems. These are the basic tenets of a social reconstructivism philosophy, which holds that the primary purpose of schools is to prepare students to become critical analysts of global issues. As explained by McGregor (2019), social reconstructivism emerged alongside progressivism, which means that there might be some similarities in both. For example, progressivism is based on the belief that education helps students solve problems to implement social change while still providing democracy and freedom. Social reconstructivism is founded on the idea that schools, and especially the teachers, should be agents of social reform. This goal is achieved by inculcating the beliefs of social change in the students. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge that social reconstructivism is also founded on the principle of pragmatism.
The blend of progressivism and social reconstructivism means that my concept of learning is helping students engage in critical and analytical thinking. Additionally, the learners will need to b innovative and creative since many of the issues they need to address are novel. It can be seen as a paradigm shift from existentialism, which supports uniform shared knowledge. Uniformity, in my philosophy, could only be necessitated by the curriculum requirements and other national standards. The application of the instruction concepts and materials will depend on what the students can handle and the learning environment. Critical and analytical thinking may have a hint to perennials, an education philosophy concerned with exposing students to the great thinkers of the world, including scientists, philosophers, and artists. My philosophy will hardly expose learners to such activities since the primary idea is that they will have to engage in their thinking and develop novel ideas from the knowledge gathered. Lessons from great thinkers might prove to be crucial learning tools, but the theoretical frameworks will not form the basis of progressive and reconstructivist learning.
With the concept of learning having been established, it is important to clarify the concept of teaching and what role an educator will play under my philosophy. From the progressivism perspective, hands-on activities, group work, and personalized support are emphasized. The rationale is that the students have to participate in the learning process, where the teachers offer guidance and tailor support to students depending on their needs. Group work is a common learning method where learners can engage in discussions with their peers and draw lessons from individual reasoning within a group. It is also a means of sharing knowledge among peers. Teaching through inquiry means that the teacher selects the subjects or a problem and guides the learners through an inquiry process in an attempt to find solutions and alternatives.
From the reconstructivist social perspective, educator teaching is developed in both local and global contexts. The teacher is keen to help students understand emerging issues and engage them in critical and analytical thinking based on the knowledge acquired. The term reconstruction means to repair, fix, reparation, or mend (McGregor, 2019). Therefore, the social reconstructivist approach will seek to help students explore the elements of change or revision to human behavior and activity needed to make the repairs a success.
The goal for the students is to become problem solvers as they build their competence in findings solutions to global problems. Today, the theoretical ideas of sustainability have been explored extensively as the world start to feel the effects of global warming and pollution. Additionally, theorists have placed much responsibility on the consumers themselves as they have a critical role to play. According to McGregor (2019), a curriculum developed on the social reconstructivist philosophy can be described as “an antidote to the easy virtue of materialism” (p. 752). The antidote works by supporting the ideas of sustainable consumption, which is a starting point for the pursuit of sustainability. This is an example of how students’ goals will be set through the reconstructivist approach. In other words, since the current global issue is sustainability, then related themes will be infused into the instruction material where learners can explore real-life case studies and engage in a critical exploration of alternative solutions. Novel ideas will be encouraged as part of creativity and innovativeness.
A closer examination of my teaching philosophy and approach to teaching reveals that the focus is on helping students become agents of change. In an age where the industrial revolution is no longer perceived as the ultimate key to economic, social, and political success, sustainability has emerged to form a new discourse with a revisionist perspective. Progressivism alone does not fully express the desire to make the world a better place, but it offers a starting point where students are coached to become better human beings. Therefore, the core principles of social reconstructivism are borrowed and embedded into the ideas of progressivism to form a philosophy that is built on the need to rebuild the planet and make it more humane and conducive for all forms of life.
Implementation of Philosophy
As an educator, implementing my philosophy requires the development of relevant instruction materials as the starting point. For example, teaching economics classes will require instructional materials to integrate real-life economic issues. For instance, such challenges as shale mining, the economics of energy consumption, and the application of sustainability principles. In the classroom setting, the educators will be handling students from different grades. The classroom can be highly diverse, which means that teachers will need to develop the necessary skills to handle them. Most important, interpersonal skills and intercultural competence will be emphasized. In other words, the teachers will need to be knowledgeable of the various cultures and develop mechanisms to address the learning needs of each.
The teaching philosophy does not focus on the development of new classroom management rules and routines. However, emphasis on group work and practical instrumentation will be made. Problem-solving skills will be developed by presenting learners with real-life issues that are both recent and unresolved. For example, the energy gap is a major challenge facing the planet, especially with the growing pressure for businesses and countries to become more sustainable. Solutions are under review and development, which makes it a perfect subject in an economics class to engage students’ critical thinking, innovativeness, and creativity.
Lesson planning is critical in my philosophy, especially since novel concepts will need to be introduced in each lesson. Objectives for each lesson will be identified, from which the specific learning activities are outlined. The basic framework will be an introduction to the lesson, an overview of the new concepts, engaging students’ reasoning in discussions of ideas, and an assessment of students’ understanding. The primary resource to be consulted with the curriculum since it dictates what needs to be taught. However, the internet, including news and social media, is to become a critical resource considering that is where emerging debates and new concepts can be found. Real-life issues can also be found on these platforms, where the views of experts and writers are compared and contrasted with the imagination and reasoning of the students through relevant assessments.
As highlighted in the earlier section, the educators offer instructions in a manner that engages the students. In this case, all instructions are offered through cooperative learning or interactive instruction. The students learn through their interaction with the educators and their peers through the class and group work activities. The use of technology will be highly recommended since it is part of the modern trends in education. Real-life issues will be visualized using the relevant tools, including pictures and videos, and other forms of presentation. The last aspect of the implementation is assessment, which seeks to gauge the learner’s progress and understanding of the lesson materials. From a progressivist perspective, group discussions will be used to compare views and ideas. Formative assessments will comprise formal procedures for gathering student feedback, which will be an ongoing process. However, the end of every instructional unit will be marked by a summative assessment that seeks to evaluate the learning progress against a set benchmark or standard of comprehension.
Summary of Philosophy
My philosophy and approach to teaching are founded on revisionist principles where the focus is on resolving real-life issues that endanger life on the planet. The philosophy has been described as a blend of progressivism and social reconstructivism, where students are encouraged to take control of their learning and are coached to become agents of social change. Therefore, it can be seen that my philosophy guides students to think and reason critically about emerging issues and engage in a thought process geared towards finding solutions. Both progressivism and social reconstructivism are based on the ideals of pragmatism. My philosophy is also founded on the same because pragmatic approaches to issues work best. In essence, the instruction materials will not focus too much on the theories as the practical considerations will be emphasized.
Implementing this philosophy may require a redesign of the curriculum to make it focus more on emerging issues. Even where a school follows a predetermined curriculum, the instruction materials can be developed to focus more on practical approaches to real-life problems. This is why the internet, in the form of social and new media, has been preferred as a vital resource in the development of instructional materials. They provide critical information on what is happening in the world, the problems being faced, and the solutions that are currently proposed. Additionally, they can be an effective starting place where the views of other people are explored and critiqued, and the knowledge gained is used to help the learners think and reason critically. Most importantly, the philosophy makes sure that each lesson introduces and examines new concepts to be explored by the learners.
Aslan, S. (2018). Investigating the relation between educational philosophies adopted by prospective teachers and their teaching-learning conceptions. Pegem Journal of Education and Instruction, 8(2), 307-326. Web.
McGregor, S. (2019). Education for sustainable consumption: A social reconstructivism model. Canadian Journal of Education, 42(3), 745-766.