Category Archives: My educational philosophy

My Story Box Experience

While on placement within a primary 4 class last year, I created a story box bWorst_witch_book1002ased on the book ‘The Worst Witch’. When I was a child, I wasn’t a big fan of reading but instead read only when I was forced too by my teacher or parents. However, ‘The Worst Witch’ was one book I never had to be persuaded to read. Although I chose books for myself from the school library, they were often never looked at or even touched until it was time to return them. ‘The Worst Witch’ was different though. I found the book to be extremely enjoyable as a child and read it from beginning too end within a few nights – not something that I was seen to do. Due to my experience of the book, I chose it to base my story box around it for the class as I believed they’d love it too.

I started off by re-reading the book in order to help inspire me with ideas for activities that I wanted to have within the box. I also focused my attention on the topics the children were studying within each subject such as maths and literacy. I then started searching the internet for worksheets or activities which were linked to magic or witches. As they were learning about coordinates in maths, I managed to find a few different witch styled activates for varied abilities images (1)based on that topic. I also managed to find a witch’s position poem along with the lyrics to the school song that the girls sing within the book. As I was finding all these worksheets on the internet, I edited them with pictures of ‘The Worst Witch’ characters and even changed the text to make them look a lot more interesting in order to engage the children. As I had read through the book once, I read through it once again and found phrases or words the children would maybe not understand and created flash cards with the meanings on the other side – the side with the words or phrases were all coloured purple as I believed this colour linked to witches. Creating the box itself was a fun task for me as I wanted the children to be able to look at it and know that the contents were related to the book. For this I found some black wrapping paper which had gold speckles on it and wrapped the box with it. I then printed and cut out photos of the characters and the name of the book in order to arrange them on the box as well.

When working through the story box with the class, I always began the lesson by reading part of the book then moved on to an activity from the box. Throughout the reading process, I would ask the children questions to make sure they’re understanding the story before moving onto the next part. I would also often recap before starting the next

Reflecting back on my experience delivering my story box, I found the creating part the most enjoyable as I’m a very creative person and enjoyed editing the worksheets to fit in with ‘The Worst Witch’ theme. I believe I need to work on my confidence when reading out loud to a class as I felt nervous doing this and occasionally stuttered and lost my place. However, I did recover well and reread from the beginning on the sentence in order to make sure the children weren’t getting confused with my mistakes.

If I was to do the story box/sack with younger children such as primary ones or twos, I would most likely chose a fairy tale picture book. I would make sure that I would be able to use props with the particular book in order to use whilst telling the story. For example, Goldie Locks and images (2)the Three Bears would be a good story to tell as I would be able to pull bowls, teddy bears etc. out of the box/sack. Another good way to tell a story would be to use finger puppets and get the children to act as the certain characters while I read through the story. This process would help with the younger children’s understanding of the story overall.

Overall, a story box or sack is a great way to get the children engaged and interested in the book or story that is being read. The different activates which link to the book are great ways to continue the children’s learning within different subject areas while constantly connecting back to the book.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

I enjoyed giving feedback on my peers’ posts about being an enquiring practitioner as reading other people’s thoughts helped with my own understanding. I found writing feedback for them to be a good experience, however, sometimes found it difficult to find areas that I thought they could improve on. On the other hand, I liked being able to tell the person what I thought was good about their post as it helps with confidence and feeling positive about their own work.

When I saw that my own post was gaining replies, I was eager to read what my peers thought about my own post, ‘What it means to be an enquiring practitioner’. It was great to see that people had interest in my work and took the time to write me some feedback. The feedback I received was extremely positive and allowed me to understand where I went right with my post and what they enjoyed about it when reading. It also let me see areas I could improve on which I found helpful and will take the time to amend my post based on the feedback I received.

Language Acquisition – Skinner and Chomsky

B.F Skinner’s theory was based on his beliefs of how behavior and actions could be controlled by their consequences. He believed that positive reinforcement was successful within children’s education as it encouraged them to try their best and complete work to their best potential. Reinforcement can be positive or negative, whether it be praise with a sticker or threatened with punishment such as detention, it can help children choose their actions and behavior correctly. Within his early stages of experimenting with this theory, Skinner studied animals such as rats and pigeons. During his experiments, he created the ‘Skinner Box’ which was a simple cage like box which the animal was placed within. This box allowed Skinner to prove the success of positive reinforcement as the animal learned that they would receive food with the press of a button within the box. Later, this method was proven to work on humans, especially children. It has become obvious that the use of positive reinforcement, such as praise, with children, encourages them to learn and develop. Skinner believed this was effective with prompting a baby during the process of learning to talk. He believed that when a parent praises the child when a random babble sounds close to an English word, it encourages them to repeat the sounds. On the other hand, when irrelevant sounds of a baby are ignored, it’s extinguished and forgotten about.

Noam Chomsky, however, disagrees with Skinner’s theory relating to children’s learning and development as he believes that humans are born with a basic knowledge of language and don’t have to learn it from fresh. Chomsky believes that language is biologically inherited whereas Skinner’s theory is based on how a child learns how to talk through the use of positive reinforcement from adults who already speak a language fluently. This also goes against Skinner’s belief of how the use of praise and reward with children in fact does not help them learn. Chomsky’s theory disagrees with Skinner’s method of positive reinforcement as Chomsky believes that the use of praise and rewards doesn’t assist a child’s development nor encourage them to learn. He, however, considers that each child is born with a language template which is developed throughout their education. This goes against Skinner’s theory as he believes that a baby’s random babbles don’t have any links to a language until they are encouraged through positive reinforcement by adults to form noises which sound like proper words.

In my opinion I believe that both theories have different aspects which are true. I believe that Skinner could have been correct in saying that if children are praised for making babbling noises that sound like words, it definitely encourages the child to making the sound again. Through the child repeating the sound it will develop until it becomes a recognisable word. On the other hand, I also believe that what Chomsky’s theory says about a human being born with the capacity in the brain for language to also be a good thought, however, I’m not sure whether I think this is true. I do believe that if a child isn’t exposed to language before a certain age that they will no longer be able to learn how to talk. This is due to my research on Genie, the feral child, which I spoke about in a previous post which you can read here.


What it means to be an enquiring practitioner.

An enquiring practitioner is someone who works collaboratively with others. This includes them bringing their own thoughts and ideas to the table to achieve a goal they share with the other group members. As a student teacher, co-operative working can include working alongside other teachers, support teachers or even parents in order to improve education. This can be done through team teaching, staff meetings, parent’s evenings, school events etc.

Benefits of being an enquiring practitioner

An important benefit of collaborative working includes the fact that everyone’s knowledge varies and what individuals could bring into group discussions may be something others aren’t aware of. This is helpful as the group members are learning from one another. As for being a student teacher, this is a great benefit as it will help me learn interesting ways of teaching different subjects or even different behaviour management methods. Another advantage of being an enquiring practitioner is that the more knowledgeable members can help fill in the gaps of others understanding. If someone is struggling with an area, someone who has a better understanding will be able to step in and help explain it to them. As a student, having a peer explain can sometimes be more effective than the explanation giving by a lecturer. I personally feel more comfortable being able to discuss areas I don’t understand with other class members as it’s comforting knowing when others are in the same position as me.

Disadvantages of being an enquiring practitioner

There are many disadvantages to co-operative working. One of these disadvantages is if members are not contributing to the work load. This can be very frustrating and will impact on the group as whole including falling behind on work load. Another big issue within groups can also be know-all behaviour from different members. This can lead to the individual not listening to others opinions or making others feel like they do not have a value within the group. This attitude can lead to the individual dominating the group as they believe they know better than everyone else and therefor might scare others from speaking up against them.

Changing Education

While listening to a podcast titled ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ by Sir Ken Robinson, I found his views on today’s education to be very interesting and thought provoking. During his talk he expresses his opinion on the drugs children are given for ADHD. He believes that these drugs to be an anaesthetic which shuts the children’s senses off and deadens them to what is going on around them. The world is full of amazing things, i.e. computers and game consoles, and they are now being penalised for being distracted from boring subjects. Robinson believes that instead of leading children through education anaesthetised, we should be doing the complete opposite and waking the children up to what is inside them. I find this opinion very interesting as I’ve never really thought of what the drugs are truly doing to the child. Although the drugs are said to be ‘calming the child down’ they are really making the child into a zombie. Children should be encouraged to be themselves and act like children. Children are supposed to run around outside and climb things, we should not be coming to the conclusion that they have a disorder just because they have a lot of energy. If children were running around and exercising more often at school, the excess energy will burn out.

Sir Ken Robinson then goes on to compare schools to working factories. He talks about how they have bells signalling break times, separate facilities and even having areas of the school for individual subjects. I believe this a great point and is very important. Children go to school in uniforms just like workers in a factory and even have different ties to indicate what year group they belong to. The bells that ring for break time emphasise how there is designated time slots for the children to take a break from class or eat their lunch – just like in a factory they can’t take a break when they individually choose to. Robinson questions why children are educated in age groups and states that schools find a child’s manufacture date to be the most important thing about them. I believe that this is a great point that needs to be addressed. Why are children assigned to classes with their own age group? All children have different abilities and it can often be found that many work at higher or lower levels for their age group. Shouldn’t schools be assigning them into classes where the children can be working on the same level as one another? I believe this to be a good idea as it would be effective for the children because teachers often focus their attention on children who struggle rather than those who work on higher levelled work or even the other way around. However, would this cause the children who are ‘less capable’ to be left behind? I think not. As long as the system was thought about and worked with correctly.

Within the podcast, Robinson talks about divergent thinking – when people see multiple answers rather than one or different ways to interpret the question. He gives the example of asking people how many uses there are for a paper clip. A divergent thinker would question the size the paper clip could be or even the material it’s made of – It’s still a paperclip but not as we know it. He goes on to talk about how a test was given to 1500 kindergarten children and that if they scored above a certain level, they were seen as a genius at divergent thinking. Robinson revealed that 98% of the children scored genius level. However, these children were tested over the years between different age groups. The results of the test showed that the older the children were getting, their scores deteriorated. Robinson believes this to because the children have been getting educated. I can understand Sir Ken Robinson’s theory as at school, children are taught for there to be only one correct answer rather than multiple. For an example, during math lessons, you’re taught to complete an equation and that it only has one correct answer. If you don’t have the answer that’s in the back of the text book, you’re automatically told you’re wrong and must fix it.

I believe Sir Ken Robinson has some excellent views on today’s education. Is it time for a change in our education system and how we are teaching children? As Robinson states, we are no longer living in the time that the current education system was designed and structured for.

The Platonic Notion of Learning

If I’m understanding correctly, the Platonic Notion of Learning is a theory formulated by an ancient philosopher, Plato by writing and narrating his teacher, Socrates, dialogues.

The Greeks believed the soul to have existed long before the body was born and for there to have been nothing it didn’t know about this world and the underworld. Once the soul entered the body, it forgot everything it knew – The immortal soul was believed to be very knowledgably, however, the mortal body was forgetful. Through the use of these beliefs, Plato formed ideas education based that were not thought of before. Plato expressed that as the soul knew everything before entering the body, perhaps the brain was now to try remember what the soul forgot. As the soul was part of the ideal world, we as humans were now to recollect the truth of the knowledge it maintained.

When a teacher is educating a child within school, the child is not learning new things but is remembering what their soul knew before. Plato argues that learning is a form of anamnesis or recollection which is a difficult process and cannot happen without assistance. Plato believes that for the child to remember what their soul has forgotten by entering their body, the teacher must put the child in situations where they will question their assumptions. We also build on the basics of what the child already knows until they have a greater understanding of the subject.

Overall, I found this area I learned through attending philosophy lectures interesting and I hope that my understanding of the Platonic Notion of Learning is correct and clear to understand.

Why Do I Want to Become a Teacher?

Why teaching? Well, if i’m being completely honest, i left school undecided about what i wanted to do in the future. I was never the person who knew exactly what job they wanted as a career from a very young age. I always changed my mind. It wasn’t until i went to college after leaving school that i finally made up my mind and knew i wanted to become a primary teacher. I have always been told that i had a good nature with children and i always found myself enjoying being within their company but it wasn’t until i attended placement in a primary school for two days a week that i knew that teaching was for me. I want to become a primary teacher because i look forward to seeing the children develop cognitively knowing that i had an input to this and help them learn new things to help them move successfully through their primary education. I also look forward to being able to support children with different needs and abilities along with learning about each individuals personality.

I want and hope to become a teacher who the children feel comfortable with in order to tell me when things are bothering them – whether it’s issues at home or at school. I want to be able to support the children in anyway i can and keep them safe. I also want to be able to use my creative skills within art lessons and decorate my classroom depending on a topic the class are learning about. I also want to become a teacher who makes the lessons a little more fun for the children to enjoy. I want the children to enjoy being in my class, however, i will be firm with them when they are breaking school rules. Overall, i want to be a teacher who is successful with educating her pupils the things they need for future education and will help children with different abilities to develop to their full potential.