This I believe: while education keeps changing throughout time according to the needs of our society, values such as equality, diversity, and opportunity are important values to teach to students. I believe such values are important because they can help students learn how to become good democratic citizens, how to be tolerant, and be understanding individuals in this country. In a democratic society the purpose of education should ensure values such as fairness, cooperation and equality into students’ learning experiences. I believe these are important values that are essential to improve a functioning democratic society in our country. Therefore, to me the purpose of education is to prepare students for higher education and help them learn and navigate social interactions with not only individuals like them but with individuals from different backgrounds.
Democratic education begins with the belief that everyone learns in different ways and helps students learn about themselves, how to be engage with the world around them, and be positive contributor members of society. It provides a learning process with many fundamental values of society. It does not see students as passive recipients of knowledge but rather as active creators of their own learning. Democratic education is a philosophical approach similar to Social Reconstructionism. The purpose of Social Reconstructionism is “solving critical problems to promote equality, justice, and democracy in the social environment” (Oakes & Lipton, 2006). My philosophy of education is very similar to Social Reconstructionism. I believe my role as a future educator is to challenge students and watch them grow to their full potential. In order to help students become effective contributors to a democratic society, I need to provide them an education that is engaging, relevant, multicultural and appealing to different learning styles and diversity of modalities. Also, to provide them with the tools for social critique and social action they will need in society.
Education has always been important in my life. My family has had an impact on my education and how essential it is in my life. My parents left their home country to come to America to provide a brighter future for my siblings and me. They came in search of opportunities for their children to have all the resources available to help us succeed in life and accomplish many goals. They have always stressed how important it is to be educated. Growing up as a Latina and as a bilingual student I had a rough childhood experience in school. I was always behind with class work because I wouldn’t understand the English language and my parents couldn’t help me at home with my homework due to not knowing English. In high school I never had the opportunity to join any afterschool programs or student organizations because I had to go home and help my siblings with homework and my mother with chores. I never joined any sports because my father was always working late, and he couldn’t provide any rides. I took two buses every day to make it to my high school. It was an hour away from home, but it was a great International Baccalaureate and college prep high school. I chose to attend that high school because I couldn’t miss out on all the help it provided for me to be able to attend college. My determination to attend college was something that pushed me every day to attend high school and work hard. I applied to all the resources available to assist me with college because my parents had never attended college nor had the money to pay for my education. I have learned from my parents that hard work and dedication helps you grow and mature as a person.
Beane & Apple (2007) believed that democracy through education is a central concern of democratic schools among essential values and principles. They also asserted that democratic schools “must involve all decision making & must adhere to democratic values and principles” (Beane & Apple, 2007, p.10). I believe the importance of schooling is to ensure a place in which students have a voice that is heard, and they can act on issues they relate too or care about. Many believe that democracy is nothing more than a form of federal government and that it does not apply to schools. I believe that it does apply to schools because schools provide effective involvement and develops structures that stimulate a sense of responsibilities and leadership in students. It also provides students a real experience to influence and make decisions in matters which affect their lives inside and outside schools. It is important that students are provided with opportunities that allow them to explore actively issues through school and community involvement. Like Dewey stated, “Failure is instructive. The person, who really thinks, learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes” (Dewey, 1916). As a future educator I believe I have an obligation to help students seek out all their ideas and learn to voice their own ideas. As well as be active participants in their own learning to help them experience a wider social world and shape them in to leaders. I want to shape young minds who will build a more democratic society in the future.
A big takeaway I got from the film American Creed was Condoleezza Rice’s quote, “It doesn’t matter where you came from it only matters where you’re going” (American Creed, 2018). After hearing this quote, I believe that I need to creatively engage students in their learning and provide them with a chance to have choice in their learning to build more relevant and engaging experiences that connect to students’ lives. I want to teach by using a curriculum that can be molded to tie in each student’s learning style. I want to teach students in a way that has some straightforward instruction, but that also gives students room to grow and expand on their own. Class means a lot to students when they are being respected, they have opportunities, and are treated equal. I believe that providing a curriculum that employs self-directing learning, shared-decision-making, individualized project-based work, and student chosen activities can help me implement democratic education on a day to day basis. I want to teach with different lenses because not all students learn the same way. I want students to have freedom that allows for expression and creativity. I want to see all my future students succeed by working with others to accomplish shared goals and dreams.
I believe all these values and beliefs that I have are what make my philosophy of education align with a philosophical approach like Social Reconstructionism. My philosophy as a future educator is to help students work with others to accomplish shared goals and dreams, and be aware of the diversity around them. I truly believe that students working together by “solving critical problems to promote equality, justice, and democracy in the social environment” (Oakes & Lipton, 2006) can ultimately build a better democratic society.
Ball, S. (Producer and Director). (2018). American Creed [online film]. United States: Public Broadcasting System (PBS)
Beane, J., & Apple, M. (2007). The case for democratic schools. In Michael Apple and James Beane (eds.), Democratic education: Lesson in powerful education, 2nd ed. (pp.1-12). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. Retrieved from Blackboard Readings. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/852/852-h/852-h.htm
Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (2006). Teaching to change the world. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill. Pp 105-109, Chapter 4.