Saturday, 5 November 2011

An Educational Philosophy?

On Tuesday 1st November I was set the challenge by @jwputt of writing my educational philosophy during the #addcym discussion on twitter.

In the past, when writing job applications I have split the personal statement/supporting letter into sections with sub-titles. One of those sections was entitled "philosophy". I would write:
I believe that learning is an invaluable skill for anyone to have. I actively encourage students to enquire about their subject matter; striving to make my classroom to be an atmosphere of “how?” and “why?”
I have worked tirelessly to promote a learning environment where students take responsibility for their own learning. This improved attitude has shown itself in the respect students' show to their class work and homework. I have used high expectations so that the students in my classes have a strong impression of what is expected of them both academically and behaviourally.
A major challenge obstructing achievement at the school I currently work at is low-self esteem. In order to combat this I make the students in my class feel valued and positively encouraged through the use of praise and impressing my unwavering belief in what the children can achieve.
In order to effectively learn, students require a solid foundation in numeracy, literacy and ICT. I plan lessons to involve opportunities to develop and build on these skills. The learning of key words is a main focus my teaching. I use ICT regularly within my teaching to help the students appreciate the applications of ICT beyond playing games.

I don't think that I ever considered why I taught science specifically, or the particular importance of my subject when I chose to become a teacher; I wanted to work with young people and not work in a profit motivated organisation. However, my main motivators have changed during my career: most recently I read James Williams' book called "How Science Works" and it changed my slant on teaching from seeing it only about helping young people but also recognising the importance of learning about science specifically. In between I have been inspired by learning to learn and teaching thinking skills and they skill colour what I do.

My current educational philosophy is to help young people understand the world around them. To do that I believe they should find things out for themselves, and experience the nature of scientific exploration. Teaching young people about the nature of what science is seem to me to be vital in an increasingly technological world. Solving the problems that humans have created for themselves is going to take people who can understand the science behind claims being made and their validity as well as people who have thinking skills necessary to solve problems in creative ways.

At the back of my mind when planning my lessons is how what I am doing helps my students understand the nature of science a little bit more. By doing this I hope I can build into them a natural curiosity that will help in more contexts than purely science.

What I learn from this reflection is that as I continue to teach my ideas and opinions grow and evolve. My next practical task is to understand STEM: how can maths, science and technology really work together to effectively, and more to the point, do they need to?

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