MY PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves: and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is, not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.”
Thomas Jefferson was a pioneer in education, advocating for enlightenment principles that promoted education as the best method to create intelligent and informed citizens. I agree with Jefferson, but I would take it further than he; I think that education is the best method to create a global citizenry, and that the best education is one where teachers and students journey together in a process of learning from the diversity within our own ranks. Too often, the differences that spring from diversity are viewed suspiciously and treated as a problem that must be corrected instead of a strength that should be embraced. When this happens in a classroom, I think it hinders true learning. By embracing diversity, we embrace the process of learning from one other.
I think the best way to create global citizens through the classroom is to encourage a love of learning so that education becomes an inner drive. In order to love learning, a person must embrace being wrong, must embrace the state of not having all the answers. If the aim of the student is the pursuit of knowledge, then the aim of the teacher is the creation of a safe space where criticism of ideas never becomes criticism of people and where not knowing is never shamed, so she can effectively guide students in the process of finding answers together. By imbuing students with desire for knowledge and respect for others, she impacts the community at large, as those students influence the world in the large and small ways we all do.
In order to embrace the diversity in my own classroom, I model respect for the different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences my students bring with them each day, offering them chances to share their own perspectives. I also refuse to lower my expectations for my students. Instead, I trust in the capabilities of each one, while utilizing multiple teaching styles and tools to scaffold instruction and meet their individual learning needs.
I view my classroom as a community of travelers for whom I am a guide. For a short time, we pursue knowledge together. We all learn best when we are presented with material we are asked to engage with, and with knowledge that impacts our own lives. For the journey to be successful, I must inspire the pursuit by sharing material in captivating and passionate ways whilst simultaneously drawing comparisons and links to the lives of my fellow travelers.
Giving respect is the only way to get respect. I think that the best way to manage a classroom is to respect the capabilities of my students by maintaining unfalteringly high standards and modeling those expectations through the act of holding myself to those same standards.
I shape my curriculum around the interests of my students. We read classic literature in conjunction with thematically similar young adult books and diverse texts from across the globe, in an effort to showcase how the issues that resonate with them now also resonated across generations and cultures. I view learning as broader than simply memorization. I assess student success by evaluating student willingness to both share with and learn from others, and it is my goal that they leave my classroom with an understanding of big concepts.
A successful traveler is one who experienced growth. A successful journey is one that offered a wider perspective. A successful guide is one that left an indelible mark on the traveler.
- Thomas Jefferson