Educational Philosophy

I believe most strongly in an education based on experience. This experience needs to be based on creation and interaction. Like Dewey’s model, the classroom of my model would look unrecognizable compared to most classrooms today – more like a playground than a stale classroom. Papert is insistent that this education must be relevant to real life and I couldn’t agree more. Why learn the quadratic formula when we will never use it in real life? I also believe strongly in the ideas presented on expertise in Surpassing Ourselves by Bereiter and Scardamalia. I see my classroom as a community of learners working towards one goal - the furthering of knowledge within the class. This model allows for "legitimate peripheral participation" as well and I have seen it first-hand in the classroom. It has been most advantageous working in a classroom with kids at different levels so that knowledge becomes distributed and the learning takes place within the community. The notion of expertise being separate from the person has really helped me justify this model of teaching as well because it allows each student to be working towards expertise rather than earning expert status after X years of study (most say 10 years minimum).

I agree with Pink’s idea of not teaching anything that can be looked up on Google. We should teach children how to create. In order to do this, children need to grow up in creative environments where freedom is reinforced daily. McCain’s model of problem solving is also relevant within this discussion and situates my theory of learning more on the constructivist side of the scale. This also fits in nicely with the notion of "progressive problem solving" most explicitly discussed by Bereiter and Scardamalia, inexplicitly through Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences and his book Five Minds for the Future. Technology has clearly influenced many teachers’ approaches recently and Papert seems to be most verbal in his discussion of using the computer for the proper reasons - we have always had the ability to "look things up." Thus, it is important to consider using the computer in different ways, such as programming in Logo. I think this also ties in with Frank Smith's The Book of Learning and Forgetting and his idea of teaching within constructive models so that students are able to retain and construct pertinent knowledge.

Within my model of education, testing is not required. Dewey talks most notably about gauging student's success by "looking at them." This parallels quite nicely with Montessori schools as well. The experience and development of communities will stir an interest in learning that far surpasses anything we are currently teaching in school via a more objectivist model. As a result, students will be able to work toward expertise in a community that is supported by experience and progressive problem solving.