Teachers around the world are strikingly different. We come from different backgrounds, speak different languages, believe different subjects are most important, have different strategies for correcting poor behavior; the list goes on. On the other hand, teachers around the world can boil down their goals to one main goal. This goal crosses borders, oceans, and languages. Teachers want their students to succeed. In my opinion, the key to student’s success (my philosophy) revolves around diversity, lifelong learning, and citizenship.
The first value I want to explore is diversity. Diversity is what our nation is built upon. Originally, the people that made up the United States were immigrants from countries around the world. Historically, however, the majority has always controlled the country and therefore controlled what is done to the minority. There is a disgraceful practice that has been taking place in American Schooling for years and it is our job as educators to correct this deculturalization. Deculturalization involves replacing one culture with a culture that is seen as superior. Unfortunately, there will always be a number of people that cannot see past the differences and that is why diversity will always be a value and a complication in our country. The only thing that can change these prejudice beliefs and predeterminations is education. (Spring 1).
In order to understand diversity today, it is important to understand the development of diversity in education. As many people know, schools have not always been integrated, let alone diverse. According to McGinnis, “Prominent among the causes of Ohio’s neglect to make provision for the education of colored children in the early years of statehood were certain sections of the State Constitution and the so-called ‘Black Laws’…” (McGinnis 30). The Black Laws were passed with the purpose of isolating, degrading, and demeaning the recently freed colored population. Aside from the laws themselves, their passing created an anti-black sentiment among the majority of the white population. As McGinnis explains, “The sentiment implied by the passage of these Black laws and the sentiment created by their administration made it difficult for the children of colored parents to obtain education in such schools as were in existence at the time” (McGinnis 31). The educational opportunities for white and colored children were from equal and often occurred in separate locations (if they occurred at all), thus creating a lack of diversity among races in schools.
In my schooling experience, I have seen two very different levels of diversity. Growing up, I went to a school where I was actually in the minority. I now realize that this is unusual as I am a Caucasian female. I am so thankful for this experience because I was able to learn about different cultures and more importantly how to interact respectively with people who are different from myself. I attended a high school where I was very much so part of the majority. It was a private single-sex school so not only was everyone from the middle to upper tax bracket, but we were all the same gender. I would consider the University of Toledo to be a very diverse school community. Some of my friends with different educational backgrounds have had a much harder time adjusting to the variety of cultures, norms, and ideas than I have had. I credit my early education for my success.
This is why I believe education is another value that should be examined. Education does not have to be limited to the institution itself or the picturesque classroom. Additionally, it can be the first step in fostering diversity in the classroom. It is important not only for student’s to learn about a variety of cultures, but to also see their culture represented in the classroom materials and activities. Asante states, “The role of the teacher is to make the student’s world and the classroom congruent” (Asante 3). This statement really stood out to me the first time I read this article. Student’s should be able to relate to classroom material and the only way they can do this is if people who are similar to them are present in the curriculum. This could be as simple as relating the topic being discussed in class to the background of the multicultural students in class. This empowers the students by ensuring they feel respected, important, and relevant to what they are learning. Most of the time, teachers easily use the culture, language, or social norms of the white children and do not even realize they are disassociating an entire group of students.
In my opinion, education truly means the ongoing acquisition of knowledge and experiences. As educators, it is important we instill this value of lifelong learning in our students. Personally, I highly value education and welcome every opportunity to learn about something or a new skill. This consistent drive for education has allowed me to continue developing myself as a well-rounded individual. I believe it is important to instill this value in each student to prevent them from becoming lazy or complacent. The philosophy of education named in the readings that best names my own philosophy of education is a combination of Perennialism and Progressivism (Oakes, Lipton 106-107).
As stated above, I believe the purpose of schooling is to instill a value of lifelong learning in the lives of students. This will allow them to think complexly in solving problems in democratic society. The curriculum should consist of enduring ideas and the classical intellectual achievements which are used examine and analyze problems engaged by society. Students should also be invited to present problems that interest them for the class to examine and analyze together. The role of the teacher is both the authority in the classroom as conveyer of knowledge and the creator of opportunities for student-directed learning or group problem solving. The role of the students consists of receiving knowledge and engaging in their own learning by collaborating with the teacher about the topics of study. Once they value their own personal education, they will be one step closer to becoming an ideal citizen.
Citizenship requires an educated citizen to participate in our government. In order to achieve their dreams, citizens must take an active role in society by participating in their government. Citizenship is an ongoing process. Participating in government allows the government to change for the (hopefully) betterment of our society. Those participating should be a diverse and educated group of individuals, thus my emphasis on all three of those values. Citizens who participate in government are constantly learning and implementing that knowledge into their decisions. It is important for educators to encourage students to be participating from a young age because it truly affects their lives every day. Citizenship initiates the development of two essential elements of democratic schooling.
The first element of democratic schooling I want to explore is the open flow and exchange of ideas. Through the open flow and exchange of ideas is the only way we see change. This relates to student learning, school organization, and how we run our country. Students should be encouraged to develop and share ideas with the teacher or class. If they learn this skill, it will lead to them becoming better citizens by participating in our government. If students feel confident enough to share and exchange ideas in a classroom they can carry this into their adult lives.
The second element of democratic schooling I want to explore is faith in the ability to solve problems. In my experience, when there is a lack of faith there is a lack of drive or motivation. When a student does not believe they can complete a task, they don’t try as hard (if they even try at all). This translates to the real world. People do not want to fail. Without the faith in our ability to solve problems, our problems will never be explored and solutions will not be attempted.
As a stated before, my philosophy for students’ success revolves around diversity, lifelong learning, and citizenship. Not all teachers would agree with me, however, they would agree that education should be centered around what is best for their students. It is no surprise that what children do and learn in school travels with them far beyond classroom. I hope what my students’ do and learn in school will help to shape them into educated citizens who are active in the future of their country. I hope when student’s leave my classroom they are inspired.
Asante, M. (1991). Afrocentric curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
McGinnis, F. (2002). The Education of Negroes in Ohio. Blanchester, OH: Curless Printing Company.
Oakes, J., Lipton, M. (2006). Teaching to change the world. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.
Spring, J. (2016). Deculturalization and the struggle for equality. New York, NY: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.