Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voices Reflection

Upon reading The History and Philosophy of Education: Voices of Educational Pioneers, I found myself connecting to a number of different philosophers. In some cases, I agreed with parts of it and disagreed with other parts of it. But throughout the entire packet, the five philosophers that I connected with the most are Comenius, Pestalozzi, Dewey, Tyler and Piaget.

I agreed with Comenius’ ideas about how education should be universal for all, regardless of social background, religion, sex or intellectual ability. A person should never be denied an education. I liked how he was willing to teach everyone and believed that “all could be educated to some degree.” He also had the right idea with teaching students according to the developmental level of the child. Students go through stages as they get older and won’t always be learning in the same ways. As they get older, students can handle more abstract ideas. I also believe in the importance of teaching to the different intelligences, while also bringing in student interest whenever possible. Like Comenius, I believe that students should feel comfortable, but also challenged in the classroom.

I fond Pestalozzi’s philosophy to be quite similar to Comenius’ in the sense that, as teachers, we are teaching the whole child. He also put a lot focus on the developmental issues and the importance of emotional and social needs. These needs will change from week to week and it is important to embrace them in the classroom. I liked his idea of completing one stage of learning before moving onto the next. We can’t expect students to understand a certain concept, if they didn’t understand the concept that precedes it. I also agree that education should not be denied to anyone, no matter how poor or disabled.

I think Dewey is spot on with the use of hands-on activities in the classroom. I’ve always been the type of person that learns better by doing and I know that I will have students similar to me in my classroom. Cooperative learning is also a big part of keeping students engaged. Meaningful interactions with peers can be more beneficial than lecture by the teacher. I also agree that students should have some say in their education. Choice is a very powerful motivator. If students enjoy what they are doing in school, they will be more likely to learn and retain the information.

I think Tyler might be the philosopher that I connected with the most. I agree with Tyler’s ideas about the purpose of life and school. Learning shouldn’t be limited to one’s time in school. Learning should be a lifelong process that is constantly challenged and adapted. School should teach students how to learn through the development of problem-solving skills that they can carry with them into life after school. I really like the idea of educational programs that interest the students, meet their needs and prepare them for college. His life philosophy was also very interesting: “Before I go to sleep I always ask myself three things: one, what did I learn; two, what did it mean; and three, how can I use it?”

I love Piaget’s theories about cognitive development and the importance of them within education. I agree that each student is going to be at a different stage of development and as a teacher, I will need to individualize instruction to meet the needs of my students. Although I like the idea of learning centers, I’m not sure this would be appropriate in all classrooms. It would work very well in an elementary classroom, but might be more of a distraction at the middle or high school level. I also believe in Piaget’s purpose of schooling as “helping children to learn to think, to discover, and create.” Collaboration among students is a great way to foster this purpose in the classroom. It is important for students to discuss abstract ideas and learn together.

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