Education is inevitable. It is all around us because we can learn from virtually anything. When you are cooking, dancing, talking or any other activity you have actually had to learn several things to be able to do them. In the educational perspective, I am a pragmatist and I tend to follow after Dewey’s footsteps. The concept of Pragmatism is one that developed in the 20th century. My philosophy is based on the idea that learning should involve real-life situations. Learning becomes more concrete to a student when they apply it to real-life situations, as where learning things that do not connect to them has more of an abstract sense.
Personally, I would have to agree with Dewey when he said, “I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. ” (Dewey 22) Education is a process of living. I want children to learn to be able to think for themselves and be problem solvers that will be able to use these skills in real life situations. My philosophy can be explained throughout the definition of a pragmatist, how I would relate it into practice in the curriculum and …… A Pragmatist is one of the four philosophies of education.
In this situation, a teacher would be considered a facilitator; one who guides the students into their curriculum. The teacher in this philosophy must use all of their skills and introduce subjects to the children in ways that are intriguing to the students. The reason being is because in a Pragmatist model the curriculum is child-centered; it revolves around the child’s interest. Therefore, the teacher’s role is to bring that child into a certain subject by arousing their interest. The methodology a pragmatist teacher uses is hands-on. The students need those hands-on activities to help them relate to the lesson.
Hands-on experiences are authentic experiences that the child will carry with them longer than a lesson out of a book. Dewey sums it up for me in saying, “I believe that education which does not occur through forms of life, or that are worth living for their own sake is always a poor substitute for the genuine reality and tends to cramp and to deaden. ” (Dewey 23) In my opinion, it is truly pointless to teach children without letting them experiment and become a part of the lesson. My philosophy was quite encouraged by the underlying branches of philosophy that are found in a Pragmatist.
I strongly believe that we are here to educate the children, if we are not attending to their needs then we are truly not teaching. Therefore, I bring up the three branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology and axiology according to a pragmatist point of view. The metaphysics believes that the truth is within the child, the individual. The epistemology finds reality within the child’s construction of knowledge. The axiology finds value in the child becoming self-actualized; where the child reaches the highest level that they can.
It is clearly seen that Pragmatist view goes side by side with my idea of education being all about the child. In practice of this philosophy there are many ways in which it can be done. In my classroom the subjects would be brought about in a unique way that would attract those children. First of all, I see teaching as an art. You need to grab that paintbrush and captivate an idea in a unique way that will intrigue the students’ curious minds and use their curiosity to bring them into that lesson. In other words, you have to be creative with your lessons and the way you teach.
There have been to many teachers throughout my educational experience that sounded like tape recorders reading a lesson. Their attitudes projected discontent and boredom in their cause. They lacked the creativity necessary to capture students’ minds. I strongly believe that when you’re a teacher you have to enjoy doing what you’re doing because if you don’t the students will have a negative attitude as well. It is imperative that we get into what we are doing so we can guide are children into those lessons that they might not have found interesting otherwise.
One format will not suffice for students because everyone has different ways of learning. I firmly believe that everyone can learn, it’s just a matter of the way we teach our students. That is why I find it is so important that we learn to be creative and use all of our skills to develop ways that students will be able to understand and process different types of information. I believe that the hands-on technique of a Pragmatist is essential to the students learning. Students need to be able to see what they are learning along with the teacher’s instruction.
In my classroom I would do my best to include examples that back up what the students are learning. As a student, I remember those teachers who used examples with their lessons had great feedback from their students. I personally enjoyed them, specifically in science because at times the language can make it difficult to imagine such abstract concepts. Those teachers that brought those abstract concepts into examples that I could visualize helped me to fully understand concepts that were very difficult for me to picture on my own.
In my classroom, all the subjects would definitely be hands-on. In mathematics, I would build games illustrating math problems. My classroom would be a daily store in which students would be able to buy items from the store. The students would have the opportunity to earn the money through good behavior and reaching their goals by being the best they could be. This would be a way of incorporating math into a daily habit. In social studies, I would have maps that would quiz students by putting different types of culture pictures in the area and having them guess what area they were looking at.
In science, students would be able to look at a 3-dimensional model of the human anatomy and learn where the parts of the body are located. Even have the students play a game of Simon-says that would connect that learning to their own bodies. In language arts and reading, I would have my students make ice cream in different flavors by reading the directions. Then I would have them write directions for something they know how to make. These are only a few of the practices that I would incorporate in my classroom.
Group work is also essential in my classroom. In the case of the students, it helps them develop socialization skills that will follow them throughout their life. Mann stated this when he referred to the common school, “It is on this common platform, that a general acquaintanceship should be formed between the children of the same neighborhood. (Mann 32) I find group work to be beneficial to students because they can find learning more stimulating when they are working with others and they can learn from one another.
Groups allow teachers to have different levels of students interact and work together to make each other understand lessons and activities that are being done. I feel that in this atmosphere it will encourage communication and foster questions that the students might want answers to. Communication is actually very important, and I do not support trying to eliminate it from the learning process. There are times when students should not talk, but there are many times when it is a learning tool.
That is what I believe I would be there to do for the students, help them learn, and I cannot conduct my classroom in a military style. Many and even all subjects can be taught in groups at one time or another. Science investigations can be done in groups, where they are to come up with a question and research and investigate it by doing hands-on on the computer, outside or on fieldtrips. Group work also helps facilitate the hands-on projects and activities because in groups the students tend to help each other with what they do not know how to do.
I also feel that motivation helps students believe in themselves and excel in their learning. Horace Mann points this out in The Republic and the School when he says; “Knowledge cannot be poured into a child’s mind, like fluid from one vessel into another. ”(Mann 37) Children learn when they are motivated. Along with motivation there are students who do not have a high self-esteem, and as a teacher it would be my goal to help bring that self-esteem up. Encouraging words and praise to the students takes merely seconds, but to the students it can go a long way.
I can never forget those teachers who always told me that I was doing a good job and to keep up the good work, it meant a lot to me. It’s also been a motivational tool that helped me want to do my best to show them that I really was good and that I know I can do it. I am a student and I know that’s how students will feel. The satisfaction they get from hearing their teacher tell them they did a great job cannot be expressed on paper. In conclusion, the philosophy that I follow revolves around the child. If we are to be educators of children, we must cater to those children’s interests and needs.
The Pragmatist philosophy is one that truly meets those ideas and philosophy of what education should be and how we should go about it. Closing with Dewey who exemplifies the Pragmatist view and the need to focus on the child’s need, he says, “Moreover subject-matter never can be got into the child from without. Learning is active. It involves organic assimilation starting from within. Literally, we must take our stand with the child and our departure from him. It is he and not the subject-matter which determines both quality and quantity of learning. ” (Dewey 95)