Educational Philosophy

Having taught in a professional educational environment for over ten years now, I feel that my values, goals, and beliefs in regards to pedagogy have surprisingly remained the same.  These principles, however, have become more calibrated and attenuated as my skills as an educator have improved and as I have began teaching individuals of a higher cognitive level.  Beginning as a peer writing tutor for the UHV Academic Center, then as a secondary English teacher, and now as a university instructor, these principles have proven to be both effective for my students and clients and essential to my instructional abilities.  This work is a statement of my personal educational philosophy, a statement that provides insight into the values, goals, and beliefs that have become quintessential to my role as an educator.

Education

I would like to begin here with my views on education and its purpose.  Considering my own educational history has made me realize that my understanding of education has altered greatly over the years.  Having been raised in a family of educators, the abiding maxim within my family was that education is the key to a successful life.  Now, being able to remove myself from the educational system and look upon it from a more objective standpoint, I feel that though this family dictum does speak some truth on the surface, the true purpose of education maintains a more epistemological function, a function that begins with personal self discovery and ends with utilizing that self discovery within a social environment.

The purpose of education is threefold: to help individuals discover a truer sense of themselves, gain a greater understanding of their potential, and acquire a more cosmopolitan view of social life and disparate cultures.  Education allows for people to gain a greater sense of themselves not only by providing valuable knowledge needed to become productive participants in society, but also by allowing them to understand their highest potential.  As more knowledge is gained, we are able to better interpret the world around us, and this interpretation leads to a better understanding of ourselves and our environment.  It is with education that we begin to break the myopic and more or less personal view of ourselves and our surroundings to acquire a worldlier view, or as I stated above, a more cosmopolitan view of the world.  In this manner of thinking, the purpose of education is for individuals to realize principles within themselves that are already there, to understand their own sense of being and placement within our diverse social frameworks.

Values

In continuing with my view that the purpose of education is to allow us to discover a greater sense of ourselves, which in turn leads to a greater understanding of our social spheres, I will state here the elements of teaching of which I value.  In instructing students and clients in gaining a greater understanding of what already lies within them, I value the act of facilitating, rather than informing.  What I mean by this is that I believe that people already possess most of the tools within them to understand, assess, and critique.  With this preconceived understanding, I, as an instructor, facilitate by way of allowing those who I teach to discover new and needed knowledge, the knowledge that I wish for them to attain for the course or lesson, by way of their own personal endeavor.  I provide my students and clients with all the necessities they need in order for them to take a step forward and gain an a greater understanding on their own.  As a facilitator, I find myself discussing the techniques and skills dealing with both our lesson and everyday life rather than lecturing to them on facts and the like.

In my years of teaching, I have found that the greatest means of achieving this form of assisted self-learning is through dialogue, through a dialectical method in which I play the part of the antithesis.  Valuing this conversational form of teaching has shown me that learners gain a greater sense of ownership in their newly acquired knowledge and understanding.  This mode of instruction also provides a chance for students and clients to interpret the information under discussion by way of their own terms and examples, drawing from their own experiences and personal networks.  Knowledge thus becomes not only personal but useful outside the setting of learning.  Furthermore, this dialogue allows for me to gain a greater sense of my students and clients in order to better facilitate them with the appropriate techniques needed for them to grasp the knowledge for themselves.

Goals

I began my career as a professional educator with one primary objective in mind: I wanted my students to gain the greatest appreciation for the humanities by showing them how the material relates to them, their world, and their language.  Though this was my initial intention, it seemed that I followed through on this in a rather unconscious fashion, as one of my former students once remarked in a discussion that I taught not so much the material directly, but that I taught life through the material.  Before this student mentioned this, I honestly did not realize that I was indeed instructing them on how to better understand themselves and their surroundings, teaching them, as he remarked, about life.

It was then that I understood my overall goal in education:  no matter the material, curriculum, or objective, I will teach life above all other things.  Through the material, I will teach aspects of life that reach beyond the walls of our educational environment and into their ever expanding world.  Reaching through and past the material, I draw from multiple spheres of our everyday world using my instructional method of dialogue and conversation.

Beliefs

As stated above, education and its purpose allow for people to gain a greater sense of themselves and the social web in which they reside.  With that said, it is my belief that education begins with the personal, i.e. endowing the learner with a greater sense of self, but that the personal quickly moves into the social as the he or she uses his or her acquired knowledge as a means of contribution to the greater whole.

It is my belief that every individual is capable of achieving this greater sense of self and contributing to society.  It is because of this belief that I maintain the highest expectations for those I teach.  This seems to be reasonable, being that just as my expectations as an educator are high, I believe that I should view my students and clients as maintaining the same level of expectation for themselves as learners and for myself as their instructor.

Conclusion

We are now into the twenty-first century, and we must acknowledge that new ideas and concepts are emerging at an astounding rate.  As educators of such a diverse culture, who hail from a wide variety of backgrounds, I believe that it is my duty to facilitate my students and clients with a means in which to understand, assess, and make change for the betterment of their own lives on a personal level and their environment on a social level.

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