Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Educational Philosophy

I first had to write my educational philosophy during my student teaching. At the time, my philosophy centered around the cliche├ęd phrase, "all children can learn" Amazingly enough, ten years later, my philosophy still rests firmly on that phrase. However, my understanding of it has changed quite a bit.
Since I first wrote my philosophy, I have logged seven years of teaching, worked with a variety of colleagues, read a lot of professional books and articles, and participated in this program. As a result, all of my thinking about teaching and education has changed.
I have had the opportunity over the past seven years to teach students with a variety of labels: gifted and talented, learning disabled, mentally retarded, students with Asperger's Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and many students who are still learning English. However, I have learned that these labels are only a small part of the picture. I can get a clue about each student here, but that is all. I have found over the years that some of my quickest, brightest students have had learning disabilities labels. This has helped me see that it is my responsibility to be sure that all students do learn. Instead of simply believing that all children can learn, I have come to understand that I have a responsibility to be sure that they do.
Finally, throughout my time in this program, I have come to the conclusion that the responsibility is larger than simply me. The responsibility belongs to all of us, as a society. We must do whatever it takes to ensure that all children are able and have the opportunities to learn. If students are not learning, we must reconsider what we need to do to help them. And we must be willing to challenge all of our assumptions, not to simply accept that how we have always done things is best or that new ideas will be quickly accepted. It is a communal responsibility. The next step, for me, is to determine how best to actively live this philosophy.

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