Saturday, January 3, 2009

The first step...

I've been told that journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step.

I guess that's where I am now. At the suggestion (nagging) of a few friends, I have decided to experiment with a blog.

The theme of my blog is based on my journey toward my education degree. I guess the best place to start is with my philosophy of education. The following is my original philosophy I was required to write for one of my first year courses. I agonized over the content for weeks before submitting it. The grade I received was quite a surprise to me. I will reveal my grade at a later date.

{edit 01/04/09 My professor awarded me with an A+ on my philosophy statement. She said my paper was the first one she ever bestowed with such an honor. }

How would you grade my philosophy of education if you were my professor?

ED109
05/17/07
Philosophy of Education
My philosophy of education is a mixture of several influences and is difficult to label as one of the classic styles. My years in the workforce, my formal education, and my time in the elementary classroom have helped me form a unique perspective on education. I think my philosophy is best described as a mixture of old-school, high-tech, and holistic; with a bit of ethics and civics. My personal philosophy is that schools should not only teach strong academic skills, but should also provide instruction to help mold and develop the whole person, especially at the K-6 level.
The first objective of the school is to teach basic academics. Arithmetic, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and rhetoric are as important today as they ever were. Students need to be able to perform the fundamentals of these subjects. Although being able to utilize a calculator, spread-sheet, or a spell checker are great skills, students need to be fluent in the basics. I have seen people fail in the workforce because they were ineffective without their electronic crutch. I have seen entry-level managers at a fortune 500 company that were incapable of writing a hand-written memo above a third grade level. I have seen engineers that could not make simple estimations. I have seen salesmen that could not calculate 25 percent off with a paper and pencil. In some ways academics are like sports; there is no substitute for being proficient in the fundamentals. We must ensure that our young students have the foundation they need for their futures.
Children learn in different ways. Some do better as passive listeners, some do best as active participants. Some are aural learners, some are visual learners, and some are hands-on learners. We must present the information in many different ways to have the best chance at reaching as many students as possible.
It is our duty as educators to light the fire of passion in our students. We must do our best to make every child excited about coming to school. We should try every day to guide our students to become life-long learners. Every child should be able to say they had a fun day at school every day. It is our job to provide the motivation to instill this attitude in our students. An old friend once gave me some advice that he said applied to almost anything. His advice was, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong”. I think this applies to teachers and students as well.
We should ensure that every child is has a continual challenge with frequent success. Success should be rewarded with things such as special classroom privileges, a new book, or points toward a field trip; not with trinkets or candy. We must teach our students that learning is something that is more valuable than a candy bar or a super-hero eraser. We must also teach them how to deal with occasional failures and how to learn from their mistakes.
Students should never find the school environment boring. Lesson plans need variety to keep young children excited. My ideal classroom would utilize a mixture of individual work, partner work, and group work. Students should have a blend of daily in-class work, daily homework, short-term projects, and long-term projects. There should be programs to supplement the standard curriculum. I believe that elementary schools should have a science club, math club, ham radio club, gardening club, art club etc. similar to middle and high schools. Technology should be utilized as not only as a teaching aide but also as a creative outlet. Today’s elementary students are capable making podcasts, vidcasts, blogs, and many other creative works if given the tools to work with.
Many of the children that will pass through our schools come from unconventional families. Our students often spend more time with us than they do with their primary caregivers. Many of these children do not have strong role models in their lives. It is the duty of the school faculty and staff to be outstanding role models for all of the students. We need to be of good moral character to show the children right from wrong. It is not enough to just say it; we have to live it. Good ethics and morals are not something that can be faked. Children have the ability to see through the facades we try to erect and see us for what we really are. We must be good people in order to teach them how to be good people.
Elementary students should be introduced to the basic fundamentals of a democratic society. The classroom environment should function as an age-appropriate model of the democratic process. We should also try to instill a sense of pride and patriotism in our students. My ideal classroom would start the day with the pledge of allegiance, national anthem, and a patriotic themed ‘this day in history’ fact. Children need to know that it is acceptable to have an opinion and to be passionate about it. Our students need to be taught that there are right and wrong ways to effect changes in their society.
The goal of elementary education is not to teach ‘the three R’s’, pass the standardized tests, and push them out the door to the next grade. We need to teach our students strong academic skills, strong social skills, and a solid moral foundation. We must take every opportunity to instill the love of learning into our students. They need to be kept excited and motivated. We need to help them want to succeed in school and in life. We must give them every opportunity to succeed by helping them become the best moral, ethical, inspired, and educated person they can become.

As I have progressed down the path of my journey I have learned new things and made edits to my philosophy statement. If this blog grows and develops as I think it will, my philosophy statement will become a living document. Maybe I'll make it a wiki or a Google document so I can go back and see all of the revisions I've made.

Well, I think this enough for my fist blog post. I originally planned to just dip my toes in to test the water.


I think I might have got more than a toe wet....... Photo by Kim Marius Flakstad

Please leave me a comment or suggestion...

18 comments:

Skipz said...

Hi Scott-
Great first post!!!!
I subscribed.
-Skip

academicbiz said...

Welcome to blogdom.

Christine Southard said...

Welcome to the blogosphere Scott.

I'm interested in what type of education degree you're pursuing and how that relates to your philosophy of education. If you could focus more on your major in education, then you could probably narrow down your piece a bit.

BTW, you've reminded me that I need to finish my homework for my assistive technology certification which is to write my philosophy on assistive tech. However, I'm also going to see if I can find my original philosophy of ed from when I was going to college for inclusion and I'll post it on my blog.

Scott Shelhart said...

Hi Christine. Thanks for stopping by.

My major is Elementary Education. I will finish with an Indiana K-6 license.

My preference is first grade or full-day kindergarten.

gail said...

I have always enjoyed your comments and reflections on Twitter as well as the help you are quick to offer. I'll enjoy adding your blog to my reader.
Gail

kevinessdack said...

Nice start! You will be a great additional to the bloggerverse!

fafrench said...

Great first post! I, too, am new to blogging so I am happy to know I'm not the last person on the planet with a blog. :)

I am also a Career Switcher. I think it offers a unique perspective to come into teaching as an "adult" and with a wealth of other experiences. Best of luck.

stacie said...

Your experience in the "real world" will be a great benefit to your students. Additionally, your experiences will help students understand that technology is a tool, not a comprehensive alternative to good-old-fashioned-hard-work! Best of luck in your journey and welcome to the ed tech world :-)

Shelley said...

Dear Scott, welcome to the blogosphere!

I like this statement, w/ the following suggestions...

I'd like to hear a little more specifics about the "morals" piece of this. (Having sometimes been the victim of others' judgments on the basis of morality, I am somewhat skittish on the topic.)

And, just a minor grammar quibble, consider going through and using "who" rather than "that" when referring to students or other people.

I wouldn't presume to "grade" the work of someone I've just "met," but I hope you're getting lots of positive feedback and support from others more familiar with your journey!

jeanette tranberg said...

Great shot Scott!
As if I should have written it myself (I hope the grade is good :).

I also educated myself to be a teacher as an adult (have been practicing for three years now). I started blogging in my last year of teachers ed (which is the fourth in Norway), and still do. The blog is my PLE platform. I've learned so much from my blogosphere (which grows every day). I wish you the best of luck in both!

Linda704 said...

That's a pretty meaty first post. I know I did not write such a comprehensive philosophy as an undergrad student. I'm sure some of it has to do with you being a career-changer with more life experience. I just followed you on Twitter, and subscribed in my reader.

Congerjan said...

Pretty impressive for a first post. I think I said "hi" in my first post. The blogosphere can use your voice! But as you say, the most important thing is to have fun doing it!

Beck81140 said...

Sounds like you will be a great teacher, one that really cares about the learner getting it.

eduguy101 said...

Great first post!

I find you philosophy refreshing. In reading it one can see how your classroom may look and sound. It is a realistic view of education and is devoid of the buzz words that so many people just toss around without meaning.

Congratulations....I will enjoy the rest of your journey as a reader.

kellyhines said...

Welcome to the blogosphere! Excellent first post. I enjoyed reading it very much. I look forward to what you have to say in the future.

nsteacher said...

Now that you've got your toe wet ..l watch out blog world. Great first post. Kindergarten & first grade - that is where I did my student teaching 34 years ago. Now I teach middle school, not much different.

Ernie Easter as nsteacher

Amanda said...

As someone else said 'a meaty first post'. If I had to narrow my own philosophy to one phrase it would be to 'have fun'. Your classroom sounds like it will be that way.

Scott Shelhart said...

Shelley said "I'd like to hear a little more specifics about the "morals" piece of this. (Having sometimes been the victim of others' judgments on the basis of morality, I am somewhat skittish on the topic."

I'll assume she is referring to this passage from the original post.

"Many of the children that will pass through our schools come from unconventional families. Our students often spend more time with us than they do with their primary caregivers. Many of these children do not have strong role models in their lives. It is the duty of the school faculty and staff to be outstanding role models for all of the students. We need to be of good moral character to show the children right from wrong. It is not enough to just say it; we have to live it. Good ethics and morals are not something that can be faked. Children have the ability to see through the facades we try to erect and see us for what we really are. We must be good people in order to teach them how to be good people."


What do I mean by morals? The simple things. Don't hit, steal, lie, or cheat. Be nice to your neighbor. Treat others like you want to be treated. Remember that you are your brother's keeper. Be tolerant of other religious views. Be accepting of people in situations different than you. Help those that are unable to help themselves.

People of all ages should learn that it is fine to have a strong opinion. Differences of opinion are one of the spices of life. It's how you react to your feelings that makes the difference.

When I said that we need to be of good moral character, I meant to imply that we need to model things like honesty, integrity, fairness, tolerance, and kindness. If we do not naturally display these traits in our daily lives, perhaps teaching is not the profession for us.