Monday, May 4, 2009

Educational Philosophy

I’ve been banging out a new version of my educational philosophy in preparation for interviews and any potential consulting gigs. For the uninitiated, an educator should be able to concisely and concretely summarize what they believe is most important in teaching and learning. Their statement should be theory based and reference classroom practices.

It can be expanded upon in detail in other sections of a professional’s portfolio, but this is the meat, the center of what you do in the classroom. It should be only the best stuff; all the fat trimmed from the meat.

I’d like some feedback from you, if you don’t mind offering it. I’ll paste the first draft of mine below and if you’d offer suggestions and critiques in the comments it would be much appreciated. As a reward, I’ll insert a surreal clip from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, where Pink is reminded of his father’s death, mocked for writing poetry, and then fantasizes about how educational institutions destroy the souls and minds of children, by design.


Social studies classrooms are supremely situated to study culture, society, history, its leaders and peoples, and the controversial moments of time. As a social studies educator it is my duty to help students ethically and morally apply the lessons of the past to the challenges of today, empowering them to participate fully in America’s democratic society.

As such, I believe:

Ø In critical pedagogy

- that as a participant in the democratic process I am a teacher as learner and my students are learners as teachers, necessitating student centered instruction, assessment, and classroom management

- that schools are not neutral environments, but subject to political and social pressures and expectations, so I must help students gain critical consciousness about the impact on society of their, and others’, decisions

Ø In the inherent, individual nature of each student

- that learning requires assent, desire, action; it is characterized by discovery and surprise (Ayers, 6)

- that differentiated instruction and aligned assessment is the best way to meet not simply academic needs, but the specific needs, demands, hopes, desires, and potential of my students (Ayers, 2)

- that there is no substitute for authentic instruction and assessment to meet the varied learning styles and intelligences of each student

- that arts-based integration motivates students and increases comprehension and understanding regardless of cultural or economic background

Ø In the power of reflection to improve teaching and learning opportunities

- that reflection allows everyone to consciously choose who they are becoming, whether a teacher or a learner

- that the time to take control of my instruction, and my students of their learning, is now; that our growth and development is in our hands

- that I need reflection to best inform and guide my theory based practice