Philosophy of Education
Once upon a time there was a little girl who hated school. It was okay until this year, but nothing was okay now. She was forced to sit in rows and listen to a big, overbearing and self-important man spew out facts and relate all of his lectures to baseball. She was bored, behind and frustrated. She wanted to move, touch, explore, talk and discover. Day after day she was berated by the teacher for talking and other off-task behaviour. One day the teacher decided that the way to fix this young lady would be to put her in the front corner of the room (he lovingly called this area Siberia). He seemed delighted by the laughter of her peers when she would bang her head on the cupboard handles that stuck out where her head should be. “That’s using your head Pashko,” he would laugh.
It would take many years before she rediscovered her love of learning and decided to become a teacher. That man taught her a valuable lesson she realized years later. He taught her the kind of teacher she never wanted to be.
The role of the teacher in a classroom is that of facilitator. The onus is on them to create a positive learning environment for all students. Differentiated instruction ensures that all children are not only involved in their own learning, but that they retain the information much longer than they would otherwise. Education should mirror the real world. In the real world we learn through discovery. We learn from our family and our community about how to communicate and how to conform to social norms. No one sits us down and says, “This is how you walk.” We learn how to walk by watching others and through months of moving and strengthening our muscles. That is how education should be. The teacher should not tell the children how to walk, but give them the tools to walk, model how to walk, and then sit back and watch as they rise to their feet and discover that they can do it!
Every child can learn. It is up to the teacher to discover what methods work best for each child. It is up to the teacher to offer a mutually respectful environment that fosters hands-on discovery. The ideal classroom is a community where the students and teacher discuss and discover together. Each child is safe to be their own person and learn in their own way. The teacher is a caring and enthusiastic member of the group who directs learning in a way that keeps students on-task and involved. Only when the teacher takes pains to ensure that the classroom is a caring and safe environment that teaches to every child can they stand up and rejoice when their students take their first steps.