Secular Teaching Philosophy

As a young teacher, I find my educational philosophy constantly changing; however, the central belief to which I teach from always stays constant: to the highest of my ability I aim to to teach truth and also impart both the knowledge and the skills to make use of that knowledge, so as to better prepare my students for the realities of the ever changing modern world.  That being said, I find that my educational philosophy then rests on four major pillars that are central to everything I do in the classroom.

  1. Objectivity

“Change is inevitable, which means that we can stand by and watch, or we can intervene, engage, innovate, create, transform.  Yes, change is inevitable, and there, we all have a role to play in ensuring that those changes reflect our vision and our values.  Too often, the problems seem overwhelming, and the barriers insurmountable.  But our responsibility to our children and our next generation, as members of our communities, as participants in our democracy, is to refuse to lie complacent and complicit.”
~ Kevin Kumashiro

As educators, we are teaching students how to be members of society, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they’re successful, kind, and understanding in becoming just that.  Objectivity plays a huge role in this, because it allows one to take a step back from the situation, and view what is happening in another way, helping people see things as they really are or from a different viewpoint.  This is a really important skill for everyone to obtain because it allows us to be unemotional and neutral, not getting agitated and understanding multiple points of view.  In my classroom, I want my students to see things as they really are, and not from a personal biased viewpoint.  In our ever changing and evolving world, it’s incredibly important to have an open mind and to be kind and understanding towards every person we may come across.

  1. Critical Thought

“The most important attribute that education can bring to anyone is the ability to think critically.  In an era where information and knowledge is universally available, it is the power to comprehend, assess and analyze which makes the difference – those are the critical thinking skills.”
~Charles Clarke

I believe it is important for educators to understand that the only way we can engage students in critical thinking, is to act as facilitators, allowing discussions and encouraging an open-ended thought process.  Many educators I have came across encourage discussion, but has a limited or subjective answer to the discussion; it is okay for thinking critically to have a resolution of only more questions.  My role as an educator, and facilitator, is to encourage my students to constantly be analyzing information, obtaining a peer review process, and learning appropriate responses to conflicting evaluations and opinions.

  1. Application of Knowledge

“Make your education valuable.  Apply what you learned.  Refuse to take the back seat and watch things happen.  Join the change and be part of the change.”
~Israelmore Ayivor

It matters less to me what students know, than what they do with that knowledge.  I want my students to be able to apply the knowledge and skills they learn in my classroom to other challenges both inside and outside of a school setting.  As an English teacher, my goal is not to have my students pass their essays and exams, but to be competent and critical life-long writers and readers.  Many people assume that children can easily transfer and apply the knowledge they have learned to their every day life, but unless we as educators concentrate on ensuring that children understand what they’re learning and why they’re learning it, I think it’s ignorant to assume.  Self-explanation, deliberate practice, referring to prior knowledge – these are all steps educators can take to positively and successfully assist students in the application of their knowledge.

  1. Practical Assessments

“The teacher’s job is not to transmit knowledge, nor to facilitate learning.  It is to engineer effective learning environment for the students.  The key features of effective learning environments are that they create student engagement and allow teachers, learners, and their peers to ensure that the learning is proceeding in the intended direction.  The only way we can do this is through assessment.  That is why assessment is, indeed, the bridge between teaching and learning.”
~ Dylan William

Practical assessments is a way for not only the teacher to observe that the students are understanding the concepts, but a way for the students to actually apply what they’re learning in a hands-on approach.  It allows me, as the educator, properly articulate to students why I’m assessing them and the evidence I want them to demonstrate, rather than have them apply their knowledge in an outdated way (ex. Exams).  As the quote above states, assessment is the bridge between teaching and learning, and it’s my job to prepare my students for their future with whatever their future endeavours may be, and I can assist them by assuring they can cross that bridge outstandingly.