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Beyond Curriculums and Agendas, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 819

Essay

Early childhood education provides the foundation which greatly affects how each student responds to the challenges of adolescence and adulthood. Although the public frequently generalizes this study as a series of finger paintings, crayon art, story times, and simple math, the complexities of each age present opportunities and challenges regardless of the grade specialization of the teacher. Each class of students will be different but will share certain qualities; they will expect a teacher to be consistent and professional and, paradoxically, flexible. They deserve no less. Coming up with a plan to successfully balance this paradox is one of my personal weaknesses as a teacher. For this reason, the following philosophy targets these areas.

Admittedly, experienced teachers often manage classes more efficiently. However, I have frequently heard seasoned teachers equate the number of years worked with their level of competency—often imperiously mentioned when new teachers threatened to upset their accustomed balance. Jones (2000) sobers both groups simply, writing that efficient teachers have “no technology of management. They had good instincts” (p. 5). The friction between experience and innovation is a thematic point of both observation and theory. Rubinstein’s The Reluctant Disciplinarian remarks that even an innovative wunderkind begins a successful year by establishing themselves as a ‘real’ teacher and conforms to initial expectations of the students (1999). Namely, he advises that teachers “dress the part”, have the rules and procedures talk, be decisive, use textbooks, and communicate clearly and directly. Johnson agrees (2005). After initial credibility is established, the teacher enjoys more freedom. Thus, one of the principle obligations of the teacher is to establish credibility with- and an understanding of- the students prior to initializing lesson work in the vein of their personal academic philosophies. Regardless of personal beliefs and prospective agendas, the teacher’s job is to educate the students, and they cannot create a foundation without consistency; the students come before the teacher’s ideology. Flexibility matters.

There are many, many theories, and teachers are often too quick to pick up the novelty approach which may work for another teacher and not for them. Every success creates a personal case study which includes the interrelated dynamics of the administration, teacher, and students. Thus, knowing when to persevere and when to surrender an approach may be one of those instinctual facets which experienced teachers develop over time. Teachers commonly rely upon such educational theories as Bloom’s taxonomy, research on learning styles and Gardner’s intelligences, learning stations, visualizations, diagrams, etc. Social learning always occurs in the classroom—the undecided factor is whether the teacher carefully manages social learning between peers or whether they learn what they will. Each approach informs various stages of lesson planning and implementation, and they may require adaptation to the skill set of the teacher and students. Experimentation and the use of common sense provide a thorough understanding of the limitations and uses of different theories.

The bottom line entails the same thing: students develop deeper learning through personal connection with the material. They relate it to their views, their experiences, their lives, and even their dreams; a teacher creates a philosophy of expectation. Much as a business plan requires a mission statement, a teacher needs to know what ethical implications are most important to them. Personally, I favor objectives of establishing universal respect for human life, striving to reach dreams and practically planning ways to make these dreams attainable, taking personal responsibility for choices missed and taken, and remembering that even long-term adversity is short-term in relation to the lifespan. It is perhaps for these reasons that I favor both non-fiction and fiction examples which feature heroes in the midst of tragedies. This underlying objective of ethical education, according to LouAnne Johnson, forms an ‘optional’ agenda which teaches children to believe in themselves (2005). Johnson writes that content learning resembles reverse engineering in which students simply take apart different components and reassemble them in ways which are meaningful in a personal manner, but the ‘optional’ agenda forms its own intangible arsenal of philosophies which will have a more dramatic impact upon students’ long-term goals and objectives (pp. 18-20).

Some students won’t like even the best teacher. That is fine. Did they learn anything—even about who they are and who they want to be? The most troubled students may enjoy the consistency of school in contrast to an unstable home life; others may be bored; still others may devour every word. This education does not ignore the consistency of discipline that so many crave, nor is it crippled by a lack of creativity. The best teacher’s message implicitly states that “I care enough to teach beyond the curriculum”. The students’ foundations begin at home and in the class room, and successful educators control one of those two critical environments.

References

Johnson, L. (2005). Teaching Outside the Box. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA. Print.

Jones, F. (2000). Tools for Teaching. Fredric H. Jones & Associates, Inc. Print.

Rubinstein, G. (1999). Reluctant Disciplinarian. Cottonwood Press, Inc. Print.

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