An Educational Philosophy
I am required to write my educational philosophy for the administrative program I am currently enrolled in. This exercise has proved itself quite a bit more challenging than I anticipated. I’ve done this before, years ago, when I completed both my undergraduate and first graduate programs. Things have changed since then. I’ve changed since then.
What follows is my first iteration of my philosophy as it presently stands. This will be revisited at the end of my program, and I’d imagine I will, as I have already done, make changes.
Feel free to poke at it, push it around, and outright tear it to pieces as you deem fit. I know I have.
I believe the purpose of education is learning. It is both that simple and that complex. While there are many ancillary benefits derived from an educational experience, if the process occurs devoid of learning, it is simply not education.
While learning is paramount to education, the process of learning is framed in a myriad of constructs. I believe the most imperative construct is the democratization of information. Learning takes place in a manner that allows all people the right to access and potentially understand all available information. Information is no longer held exclusive for the privileged, but rather, it is available for all who desire it.
This democratization comes at a great price, for the responsibility of understanding can be overwhelming. The enlightenment of understanding that there is more than that which I have, or choices other than that which I choose, or even needs greater than that which I can give, requires a democratic education to teach not only understanding information but also empathy.
If we are to bring the learning and understanding of available information to all, regardless of one’s station in life, we must also teach that each is going to approach and consume the information uniquely. We do not all live identical lives, therefore, we do not all learn and malleate information identically, but rather quite individually. Our individuality causes each of us to bring our own bias, experiences, culture, values, strengths and weaknesses into our learning and understanding of the world, and acknowledging that every other person does not learn, experience and see the world the same as I do helps fight repressive, oppressive assumptions about the way others should behave and act upon information.
If I had but one line to use to build my philosophy of education upon, it would be, education is making learning available to all who desire it; teaching them that through the learning, we can achieve both understanding and empathy that will move every individual who seeks to be moved.
dave cormierJanuary 4, 2010
Information eh? I wonder if you would break down what you mean by this. In my mind, the current educational system is primarily normative, we instill ‘right ways’ of interacting with our society, and hope that these ways will spill out into the workforce and social space beyond the walls of the school. The actual ‘information’ is, for the most part, just a vehicle for this normativization. No one really needs to know how to derive an equation, or the date of the boston massacre or whether a feather or a bowling ball fall faster off the leaning tower of pisa… we just need to know that such things can be known, and how one would go about knowing them if an emergency feather situation comes up.
The power of a ‘good’ education, lies in the quality of that ‘knowing how’, and, maybe more importantly, ‘knowing that you are allowed’ or that ‘a thing is possible’. But the information itself? meh. Not super important.
Ben GreyJanuary 4, 2010
First, and most importantly, I just like it that you started your comment with, “Hey. Information eh?” So wonderfully Canadian and Cormierian.
Do you think it would be more effective/accurate/meaningful to say, “the democratization of knowledge” instead of information? I believe, as you have stated, that anyone who now wants to know, can. I believe that’s significant.
dave cormierJanuary 4, 2010
Hey… no. Sorry… writing quickly at work. (and i promised to be clearer in 2010. doh!)
The switch to knowledge is significant, but for me, it goes further. Anyone who knows ‘how’ to know, can know what they want. If you know that it is possible to learn how to run a political campaign, you can run for office, but this requires class literacies that are currently not taught in the public schools…
Good education, for me, teaches the literacies needed to acquire knowledge normally protected (or, at least, not consciously offered) by those current in positions of power.
monika hardyJanuary 4, 2010
I love how Erica McWilliams words all this. She calls it being “usefully ignorant – knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.”
I really feel the info is meh – ed is more the learning how to find out whatever you want to find out – and like you said Ben – realizing you can.
So – whenever I share this – I’m met with – “a foundation of info is needed in order for people to connect to further info – to conversations.”
I’ve finally reconciled with getting the “boxed math (fixed content for standards tests)” to kids in the most efficient way possible – just so it’s not an issue.
I’m wondering.. will we ever see the day in public ed that info is meh?
Am currently longing for that…
Things I learned this week – #2 | dougbelshaw.com/blogJanuary 10, 2010
[…] Grey, in a post which I’m more than likely to take inspiration from and emulate, has made explicit his educational philosophy. Much to agree with […]
Vicki DavisFebruary 1, 2010
“Education is making learning available to those who desire it.”
Ask a child if he/she wants to be educated or come to school and the answer would be No! What about encouraging and fostering the desire to learn? How about being able to teach and motivate even when the student isn’t initially interest in the subject matter?
To me, part of being well educated is knowing that hard work produces results and also that sometimes we may not enjoy the process but must learn to work at things in order to reap the rewards of the process and learn to develop an intrinsic reward in the process itself, eventually.
Perhaps here, this is just talking about a philosophy of educating older students? Would you apply this to younger students?
Again, many of us have to teach on a daily basis those who may not find our subject first on their list of things to do that day! Looking forward to your insight.
Ben GreyFebruary 1, 2010
Dave- I’ve thought more about it. The purpose of education, in my opinion, is not normalization. Nor is it content. I believe it is closer to what you said about knowing. I think it’s teaching our kids that they are allowed to know how to know. That they can, if they so desire, learn to learn.
Monika- Finite information is meh, but the power of information itself is much more. Because finding out how to find out is, in itself, information. I’m not as interested in the boxed math type of information. I’m interested in the final destination that math might get students to. It’s the learning, and the learning how to do the learning that is so important. And, even, the fact that anyone who wants to can now do that. That is a significant change in culture over the past 1000 years. Perhaps the most significant.
Vicki- One point, your expression that if we ask a child if he/she wants to be educated at school assumes that we need school for learning. Kids are learning more about how to learn outside school than they are inside in many cases. It’s us building an environment that leaves them wanting, yearning, desiring to come and learn more. It’s creating within them an indelible thirst for learning that can’t be quenched. And that thirst is present when our youngest students enter our buildings. We seem to have managed a way to quench the thirst in a few short years, and we’ve left them without an appetite whatsoever only a few years after.
Do I believe it’s making education available for those who desire it? Absolutely. And I believe it’s part of our call to help them yearn for it.
eaOctober 12, 2010
The following educational philosophy site on the philosphy of education may be informative and of interest: http://www.orhanseyfiari.com/ariphilosophyeducation.html