Thursday, July 10, 2014

ED 7714 Philosophy Statement

My philosphy of education has changed over time. This is what I currently believe.

We learn best when we feel safe. As a librarian, I work to keep students in my area busy, on-task, and safe. I keep student behavior expectations clear, student supplies handy, and conversation among staff and among students friendly and respectful. I want students to understand than I am a resource, and also a trusted person in the building. At Abbott Tech, safety is a priority. Staff is strongly encouraged to build positive professional relationships with parents, students, and colleagues. These relationships create a safe envioronment for learning.

We do our best thinking when we have time to reflect. Time is precious. Teenagers spend the bulk of their time socializing, and the rest of it catching up on what they should have been doing while they were socializing. I do not teach every day at my job, but when I do, I build in time for reflection to force students to think about what I have been trying to teach them.

We learn best when we are excited about our learning. Some students can be extrinsically motivated, but most students, especially the digital natives of today, will learn best when we can activate what motivates them internally. As a specialist, I have the luxury of teaching students library and research skills "just in time." They are able to practice and use these skills as they complete work for subject-area teachers. Many of the skills I teach: search skills, documentation, and copyright, are life skills, and sometimes I can hook them that way.

Behaviorsist B.F. Skinner argued that students learn by conditioning. We use conditioning all the time to encourage our children or our students to do what we want them to do. I remember contemplating the irony of telling my 3-year-old to put on his coat nicely like his best friend was doing, and admonishing my 13-year-old step-daughter not to cave in to peer pressure. External conditioning is limited. Although I understand that, I still habitually say, "Thank you for signing in." Getting the same trophy as everyone else only works for a select few.

Teenagers often ask the question, "When will I ever need that?" I think it is important for schools to expose children to many different subjects, even if they are not initially excited about the topic. A student who does not like Biology may have an experience that draws them to Nursing as a profession. That Biology class then becomes important.

I read some of John Holt's book, "Why Children Fail," a couple of years ago. He is not a philosopher or psychologist, but I want to mention him anyway. He and another teacher observed that children do not do well at school due to "fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed... and being forced to study things that they are not necessarily interested in" (Wikipedia.) Holt is a huge proponent of homeschooling. I was exposed to many homeschooling families as a public librarian. Most of these children were well-adjusted and well-read. While I don't disagree with everything Holt espouses, I cannot agree that homeshooling is always the best way for children to learn. Their parents must be wholly engaged in the process and be willing to take themselves and their homeschooled children out of their comfort zones, and not all parents are able or willing to do that. Although we have a bigger class of students than a homeschool parent, we have more tools at our disposal to engage children in subjects they are not necessarily interested in.

My philosophy is a work in progress, and it changes as I acquire new tools and knowledge in this program.

Wikipedia contributors. "John Holt (educator)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Jun. 2014. Web. 11 Jul. 2014.

(I just used Wikipedia as a resource for the FIRST TIME!)

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