After publishing about the significance of education and how important a conscious, acknowledged philosophy is to that, I pulled up my philosophy that I wrote some years ago. Sometimes, I amaze myself when I see the consistency of what I have been developing and practicing for years — probably wouldn’t excite anyone except me.
However, I will share with you that which I have shared with others: let me observe you for awhile, and I will be able to a large extent to tell you your philosophy, whether you are consciously aware of it or not, whether you are a learner or a teacher.
Being conscious of your foundational beliefs, especially when it comes to your daily work, can eliminate so many internal conflicts for you. Either you find out why you’re unhappy and change your belief, your cognitive model, or you start molding your activities and labors in accordance with what you believe, or you get the hell out and do something that allows you to live yourself.
Oh, yeah, I should have mentioned that your philosophy should be a direct reflection of who that core Self is and provide a way for you to express that Self in the world — while you earn a living!
Here’s what I lived by for 17 years. I will share with you — humble boast — that on some Open House nights, I would read this to parents along with a letter that I will probably share tomorrow. People intuitively know that the current system is not very effective, because I always received applause, and several times parents, some of whom taught elsewhere in the district, and school board members actually gave me a standing ovation.
What Is Your Educational Philosophy, Michael DePung?
Wow? Really?! Someone wants to know my philosophy of education, the beliefs that drive how I act, interact, and react with students? That’s great!
Some of my most basic foundational beliefs have been not only backed by brain-based research but also borne out in my experiences. When I realize that no one, especially pre-pubescent and adolescent children, can learn from me unless they like me, I am amazed. If they don’t like me, their perceptual register is closed and no information can even hit short-term memory. What great relief, then, that establishing an honest, mutually-caring relationship comprises my first goal in dealing with learners rather than establishing that I am the authority who contains all the knowledge that must be dumped into their poor, empty little heads. Beginning with that mindset, I can jump into the meat of educating: drawing forth — (< L., educere, to lead or bring forth) — all the energy, knowledge, and potential bound up in them via providing skills and exposing them to materials that induce wonder. Then, we become co-discoverers of greater knowledge, knowledge that we construct together.
Of course this implies that the students, the major stakeholders in all this, must have genuine, meaningful, and significant input into the curriculum development process. In my ideal world an emergent curriculum would be the norm, but until then I know that learners respond positively to any overtures offered in this direction. They love to be led in developing areas of interest that can be experienced without content boundaries — a true integrated curriculum. I have successfully employed this philosophy with students from elementary grades through high school, observing the more concrete experiential mindset of younger students being expressed in their various learning products and the more abstract, society-targeted projects of the older learners.
I will say something about the importance and emphasis of grades and standardized tests: grades aren’t really that important and standardized tests shouldn’t be emphasized. Oh, they can be useful, but I believe they don’t indicate much about true learning, an overall education, which can be framed in the context of asking questions, making connections, framing problems, and presenting solutions. Many concepts are implied in this, but the primary point I make is that grades, test scores, and achievement as defined by these criteria have driven education for too long and in a wrong, destructive direction.
Ultimately all parties should have their input in constructing the learning community, which may vary considerably from place to place. Teachers and educational professionals provide the relationship foundations that allow them to effectively communicate and nurture skills that students need, which meet legal requirements. Students eagerly direct the development of curriculum in the context of their interests and honest quests. Parents and community lend their emotional, financial, and real-life experiences to support the learning process. To me we all lose if we don’t engage all, or we all win, as young people are prepared to think, innovate, create, contribute, and share in governing and engendering our unique form of democracy and humanity at large.
Peace, Baby, Peace!
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!