My Philosophy of Education by Michael DeNobile
In this blogpost, Michael DeNobile shares his philosophy of education and what inspired him to become a teacher.
Starting the Journey
As his inaugural post for "FollowTheTeach," Michael DeNobile thought it would be essential to start with the basics: one's pedagogy begins with their philosophy of education. As we continue along this journey of learning--because learning is the journey--you may want to know if this site is even worth following. We don't necessarily have to be on the same philosophical page--in fact, if we come from contrasting educational philosophies, that may be even better, as we can both learn from each other. Nonetheless, let's get down to the basics.
The essence of education...
The essence of education is to create an environment where adult and child learners discover and affirm their individual selves through real world experiences and authentic freedom. In the end, education is about the journey not the destination. It's about the paths you choose, the people you meet, and how you change along the way. Like an 80s cult classic film, it's about experiential discovery, self-fulfillment and affirmation, knowledge acquisition, and passionate encounters with the realities of life.
Developing teachers who can effectively lead teams of students is the essential role of the school leader. In everyday school life, the effective leader cultivates the relationships with each stakeholder group and provides an atmosphere and environment where each group can develop relationships amongst themselves; fostering a safe-environment that strives to deter bullying, violence, and intolerance through social-emotional learning.
The Role of Curriculum
Therefore, the curriculum becomes one of the leader's most effective tools to cultivate these relationships while developing the higher-level critical and creative thinking skills of students. Group communication is key and is developed through open discussion and debate. Developing the skills of acceptance of different opinions and agreeing to disagree to rise above inevitable squabbles in academic discourse is achieved by creating a culture where diversity does not have to mean divisiveness. With the rich nature of the American culture, the educator of the twenty-first century must employ some use of comprehensive multicultural education. In addition to incorporating cultural elements into curriculum, such as literary choices and learning about cultural holidays and heroes, curriculum should also provide instances where students can engage in thoughtful, open, and culturally sensitive dialogue. This will hopefully breed acceptance, awareness, and appreciation, and thereby enrich the diversity of American culture. In addition, curriculum must also be culturally responsive to the needs of the whole child, whether that culture is ethic/racial, generational, gender, religious/philosophical, social, etc. Understanding the whole child down to the different forms of culture they identify with can make or break the learning of both teacher and student; it could be the difference of a student being left behind in a statistics class or that same student rising to the head of the class because they realize that they've been doing stats their whole childhood when studying the back of their favorite sports cards.
To be a learner, students must become students. This is more than simply learning a discipline. There are certain features they must develop in their individual character and values. Character development and values education is a major part while also being one of the most sensitive aspects of education. Dignity, honor, self-worth, having and supporting an opinion, self-regulation, relationship with self and others, group cooperation, cultural awareness, stewardship of the environment, and proper (unbiased) knowledge of current events are key aspects of character and values that can and should be fostered in the classroom.
The Purpose of Education
Michael DeNobile believes that in a democratic republic, education should foster six overarching goals: knowledge, acquisition, freedom of thought, independence, freedom, and trust. To quote Reverend Moore from the 1984 film Footloose, "If we don't trust our children, how will they ever become trustworthy?" Ultimately, like parents watching their children move out, we hope that our students will take what we have taught them and use their education productively and (in the words of Coach Korn from the television series Big Shot) to help raise "a child who is caring enough, smart enough, who is compassionate enough, and who is loving enough to be a better echo of you" as an educator and human being. I want to guide teachers and young people (both within a school setting and through this blog) by helping them navigate through life armed with the experience of encountering and crafting their educational practice equipped with the skills necessary to "suck the marrow out of life"--to quote Henry David Thoreau and John Keating--and become leaders of a new generation.
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