Before last week, I had never been asked to define my philosophy of education. I have experience in creating and revising my professional philosophy in relation to athletic training, but never really put my thoughts into so many words regarding education. Upon reflection, here are some of the things that I believe should be valued and guide the education system.
• Education should be available to all
• Students should be able to learn in a variety of ways that will match individual learning styles
• Education should be student-centered, address the student as a whole person, and provide the student with life skills
• Material should be foundational as well as provide practical experience
• The education system should be built in a way that requires, challenges, and supports hard work, critical thinking, and initiative
• Educational material should be relevant and prepare students for workplace/ job placement
With these points in mind, I closely relate with some of the beliefs of many philosophers in regards to education. Johann Pestalozzi believed that every individual has the ability to learn, the right to an education, and believed in the importance of personal liberty. He emphasized that this is true not only for those who could afford access to education in the 18th and 19th centuries, but also for those of lower socioeconomic status. All students have the ability to learn, succeed, and grow, however not all receive or take advantage of the same opportunities to do so. This parallels my philosophy because I believe that all Americans should have access to education. And not only through grade-school, but higher and continuing education. I believe that education can be correlated with pay grade (among other factors); the more education you complete, the greater the opportunity to earn a greater paycheck. And while money is not a necessarily a measure of success, it does bring comfort, personal freedom, influence, and greater opportunity. Being able to attend and graduate from college is a great accomplishment, but not one enjoyed by all young, American adults. Often those who need the opportunity to rise from a lower socioeconomic status are those who cannot afford to go to college. I believe that those individuals who are hard working and motivated to learn should be able to be educated in a way that will improve their lifestyle and well-being. For this reason, community colleges and trade schools continue to be an important avenue of education. They provide students with easier access to practical knowledge and experience that can be applied to the workplace.
Pestalozzi influenced many of the principles of modern pedagogy, such as the ideas of active student learning. This involves methods of teaching such as hands on learning, practical experience, and learning by doing. This can be invaluable to students with different learning styles as well as challenge them to practical apply what they have been taught. It can truly be the bridge between reciting knowledge and using it. From my own experience, the most valuable learning environments that I have been a part of have been those that challenged me outside of the classroom. Additionally, I have found that those students who participated in internships or other participatory settings outside of the classroom were better prepared for jobs after graduation. Again, I believe that students who are given the opportunity to learn in this environment receive an advantage that other students do not. As a closing thought, perhaps the bar for higher education degrees would not keep being raised if institutions were doing a better job of teaching from experience rather than textbooks and for tests. Perhaps a bachelor’s degree with practical knowledge and experience would be enough to prepare anyone for an entry-level job in their chosen profession.
There is no doubt that each of us points a different finger at current problems in the education system, however I find it fascinating that words of philosophers from hundreds of years ago still speak to our ideals that we hold for education.