Coleman's expressions

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Philosophical Reflections

Philosophy is sometimes construed to be negative due to its abstract, indistinct and broad nature. I would not argue with that…and being a very practical and application-oriented person, I often disregard philosophical discussions. But they are important – connected to our core values and beliefs. In education, our philosophy serves as a foundation for our teaching, thus, inextricably tied to the essence of our day-to-day career.

I’ve always been an eclectic one – not sure whether that is because I truly do interconnect the various (and some seemingly opposite) views or because I just can’t commit to one or two!?! My actions and experiences indicate that I’m definitely more in the pragmatism camp than either the idealism or realism. I draw heavily from progressivism for three tenets: 1) learner-centered approach; 2) social issues and action (for me this is reflected in continual growth and change and not as singly aggressive as reconstructionism); and 3) active experiential learning – that of experimentation and practical application. That stated, I’m not a believer that the scientific method and other systematic approaches should be the sole emphasis in schools (though I am a proponent of problem-based learning) nor that the relevance should be limited to work and society’s needs.

Existentialism (though not in our presentation) is another general philosophy from which I draw, primarily because of the elements of social interaction and the humanist concepts of developing the human potential, intuitive personal understanding and responsible choice. In addition, Paulo Freire’s work is intriguing (again I’m not congruent with all of the radical decrees) - I agree with his concept of “banking” as a negative influence on education and with the relationship of teacher-student as well as student-teacher in learning. Constructivism and social constructivist theories fit well with my beliefs, as well.

My post on Curriculum views will follow … Part 2


  • Hi Marie:
    While reading your posting on philosophy the thought came to me. "I wonder if some of our positions on philosophy come from the ages we teach?"

    It seems to me that may have some impact on where we stand. The needs and the skills can be so different if we are looking at K-3 students, 4-5, middle school or high school that it would seem reasonable that it would help shape our educational philosophy.

    By Blogger Linda, at 3/12/2006 10:09 PM  

  • Linda,
    Interesting that you comment on this...I read your post and thought the same thing! My focus is on high school and adult student from which one can pull considerable experiences. The foundation of knowledge has already been established in elementary and middle school. I do think that the the notion of eclectic or as you said, "mutt", is valuable for differentiating situations.

    By Blogger Marie C, at 3/13/2006 3:28 AM  

  • Marie - I like the way you acknowledge the importance of theory within the context of practice. I feel like many times they are unnecessarily separated. I also appreciate the links and additional philosophies you mention. As I write my feedback to Dr. Swain I will certainly include them for her to consider as she redesigns this class. –KD ☺

    By Blogger Kara Dawson, at 3/13/2006 4:55 PM  

  • Eclectic...meaning, as an esteemed colleague once stated, you have both the Beatles and Marty Robbins in your music collection! I am bent that way myself to a certain extent and I feel that a lot of learning can come from the natural comparisons and contrasts that present themselves in so many facets of education. Eclectic people seem to have a firm grasp on this dynamic!

    You and Linda make an interesting observation on personal teaching philosophy and how its development relates to the age group of the learners that predominate our teaching experiences. I would offer that this component is at least as powerful as our own learning styles (which greatly influences not only what we teach but how we teach it) and personality. For me, I am a middle grades teacher still adapting to the high school (energy vs. apathy, one might suppose) and I wonder if I'll ever compeltely transform.

    Thanks for opening this particular can of worms. It makes me look forward to our "catch" by semester's end! Your insight and contributions, as always, are considerable!

    By Blogger James Harris, at 3/13/2006 5:50 PM  

  • Marie,

    I found myself really connecting with your post. The start of not getting into philisophical discussions is so me. Then as you continued about the eclectic approach. Dr. Dawson actually used that description for me after reading my post.
    As I read the dialogue you & Linda have going, I was wowed. I just finished my third posting on curriculum models & stated that the fact I teach so many grade levels (4th-12th) causes me to be so eclectic. What works well for a 10 year old might not be the best for an 18 year old. Although I must say, those senior boys do enjoy the stickers I put on their "A" papers.

    By Blogger kim hanson, at 3/14/2006 12:26 PM  

  • Marie and all- Interesting discussion here. I think in a lot of ways we ,as educators, have to take an eclectic approach in order to reach all of our kids. Or at least (as I discuss in my post) we need to be able to set aside some of our own comforts to focus on what is best for our students.


    By Blogger David, at 3/16/2006 11:03 AM  

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