“Education is a most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela.
This quote is in our university education building. I personally believe that education is a weapon which used to the best of our abilities as teachers can change a child’s life. Below is my philosophy on how as a teacher I believe education can help children achieve their best potential.
Personally, I believe that education should always be centred around the pupils and not teacher-centred. Teachers have already had their education and now they are in the position where they are here to help each individual pupil achieve their best and reach their full potential, like their teachers’ when they were children did for them: this links to my research on the Montessori philosophy of education. Children are at school to learn different skills, attributes, to gain soft/transferable skills and skills and qualifications to take into their later life, their job or whatever it is they choose to do once they leave education. Each individual pupil will have different things they need to develop, things that interest them and things that will not interest them: these are all important factors that teachers’ need to work into their lessons to help their whole class develop and learn successfully.
Although I believe that teachers have knowledge that they need to pass down to pupils and they are there to teach the children and help them develop. In my view, that children need to work in groups or pairs to fully develop. I think that working in groups or pairs help children to interact, they learn from one another whether it is backing up what they already know or adding to their learning through conflict of opinion. In my opinion, this is may be the best way to include all the pupils as there is usually a big number of children to one teacher and she cannot possibly see every child on every lesson they do.
In my view, I think that children should have a choice (whether it be a small choice, maybe helping to make a decision on what topic they will study for the term, what task they want to try or the subjects they will study for two years) in what they are learning because ultimately they know what is of interest to them, what will engage their learning and what knowledge and skills they are likely to use in jobs or just generally in later life. I do not think that forcing a child to learn a subject such as home economics, geography, history, and chemistry will help them if they are not going to use this in later life. I do believe they will always need to have a basic knowledge of core subjects such as maths and English but otherwise the subjects children are interested in personally will engage their attention more and hopefully they will understand and learn more from this approach.
Personally, I think that the best way to discipline is through positive reinforcement – from the behaviourism learning theory. For example noticing when children are doing a task well, behaving well and praising this behaviour and attitude through stickers, golden time, verbal praise etc. I believe that this will create a better ethos in my classroom and show all the other children what behaviour is expected of them in an encouraging way. On the other hand, it would be quite difficult to remove negative behaviour from the classroom if it is not picked upon and dealt with accordingly through punishment, for example time out – missing out on some golden time – or a response cost, not being allowed to sit next to their friend – from the behaviourism learning theory.
I accept that teachers should be a role model for the behaviour they expect from the children. The teacher should have a degree of morals and ethics that should constantly be on display for the children to view, pick up on and reproduce so that they understand what is expected of them.
In my opinion, exams are at the heart of education too much just now and they are putting an excessive amount of pressure on student to see how much they can remember and reproduce under exam condition. Many people after a few years away from a subject, that they have a good standard of qualification in, cannot recall much or anything that they learnt from the subject. I feel continual assessments and updates on the progress of children is a much more beneficially way to see what they are learning and where the gaps in their knowledge are. In my view, this is when teachers are important. They are there to fill the gaps in children’s knowledge and help them to improve on their weaknesses and build on their strengths.
I do believe to a degree children come to school to effectively take their place in society in later life. However, I do not believe that their place in society or their future is based on their social class, ethic group or any minority factor in a child’s life. Children are not replicas of their parents. Each child has their own potential they can fulfil and now education is much more assessable and affordable for all (particularly in Scotland with free tuition fees), a child can chose any career path they want and if they are determined enough and work for it they can get there with the help from their teachers. School is in my vision a stepping stone to this. School, from a young age, shows similarities to a work place: both have uniforms; both have rules in place (for behaviour, what is expected of employees or pupils); both have lunch breaks and there are more similarities. This is a key consistency especially for children so they know how their day is likely to be and there is no uncertainty.
I think that Montessori introducing ideas like small table and chairs is key to divide the differences between children at school and adults at work. This shows that children are not mini adults and they are at school to learn and develop not to be prepared for working in a factoring or what is expected of them in their social class or ethic group.
I personally think child are able to do anything and go anywhere in their life if they have the right encouragement, determination, support and environment to succeed in.