My personal philosophy on education both mirrors John Dewey’s belief that “school is primarily a social institution” yet opposes his view that “education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” (Dewey, 77).
To be a successful educator in today’s Digital Age, one needs to have a set of tenets or beliefs that drive their instruction, and be willing to modify these beliefs to keep up with the fast pace of our constantly changing world.
I believe that the classroom should prepare students for the future. Maybe it is the Career and Technical Education teacher in me, but that is how I view my first tenet of education. John Dewey would disagree with this notion of preparing for the future, but I feel strongly that students need to learn the importance of citizenship, coming to class prepared, how to study for a test, and working within a group for when they reach the next level of education, or for when they enter into a career.
If we are not preparing our students for the future while they are learning now, then what are we doing? Education should be authentic, and should mirror the same expectations that are demanded in society and within the community. Now, of course you would not treat a fourth grade English student like they are a writer for the Wall Street Journal, but you should hold them accountable for using proper punctuation and spelling before submitting an assignment. By learning this, they will spend extra time before submitting their assignments and understand how important it is to take pride in their work. Learning from these experiences in school will help prepare them for the rigors of the real world as they approach adulthood.
This leads to my second tenet of education, where everyone is treated and taught differently, and has a choice and voice in how they learn. In my classes I provide students with several different resources that they can use to best help them grasp the content. In Business class, I have used Edmodo as our social learning community to post class resources. It is within this community where students can access the link for the vocabulary terms from Quizlet, the study tools from the book companion site, take notes using the PowerPoint from class, and other class assignments.
Students should have the choice on how they learn, and it is up to the teacher to provide students with as many quality avenues to learn as possible. This takes time to adopt, but once it is implemented into the class structure it is amazing to see how the class ends up operating as a machine. We are in an age where there are unlimited resources at our disposal; why not share them with our students?
Alison King coined the phrase “from sage on the stage to guide on the side” in her 1993 article of the same name. She believed that students learn more effectively in less directive ways, such as the teacher lecture at the front of the room.
To contrast this viewpoint in the modern day of education, teachers need to be both the sage on the stage and a guide on the side to present content and facilitate the class through discussion, both in person and online. Students can now have this content, and essentially their teacher, available to them at any time. A perfect example of this is in the flipped classroom model where the teacher creates the videos for the class (sage on the stage) that they watch and takes notes on for homework. When the students come to class the next day, they can build on this knowledge via class projects, where the teacher becomes the “guide on the side.”
My third tenet of education is the teacher should hold him/herself to a higher standard, just as is expected of the students. It is my belief that educators should take advantage of professional development opportunities within the school district that align with what you are doing in your classroom, or something new that you are interested in learning more about.
This year I attended several workshops, most notably a professional development workshop on the flipped classroom by Jon Bergmann. At first I had no interest in implementing this form of teaching into my classes, but when I left I realized that I am creating a disservice to my students by not making videos available to my students. It was this kind of thinking that led me to move my classes from Edmodo to Moodle for next school year. Students performed better on the digital assessments using Moodle than they did on the traditional paper/pen assessments when I made the move at the end of the year.
Our students bring so many different qualities and learning styles to our classroom. It is on us to learn as many effective teaching practices so that we can reach every student and give them the best and most authentic learning experience possible.
A classroom in 2015 looks a lot different from when I was a high school student in 2003. Chalkboards are now SmartBoards, notebooks and Trapperkeepers are now Chromebooks and tablets, calculators are now used on cell phones, in-class instruction is now available outside of class, and the list goes on.
Education, at the rate it is going, is going to look drastically different in 2040 than it does now. We have just scratched the surface on how to tap into student interest using social media, video conferencing, and flipped/blended learning. In the next twenty five years I see education becoming even more personalized in how students want to learn. In the near future I see high schools offering online courses, both during the year and the summer. I see them offering these courses for students who need to recover credits to get back on track for graduation. In twenty five years I see just about every district offering 1:1 devices in their schools.
On the flip side, I see an obstacle in education that can be difficult to overcome with all this technology usage: screen addiction. In her study on screen addiction Jane Brody explains that older children should not use their electronic media more than 1-2 hours a day. I can attest to this in my school as it is a constant battle to get students to communicate with each other face to face, rather than screen to screen. If this trend continues, interpersonal skills could become obsolete as they lose to impersonal interaction such as social media and non-directed online discussion. I can see students becoming too dependent on their devices that they can not think without them. How are they going to perform in a job interview without their device? I see this becoming a big issue, one that could frustrate teachers, to the point of even leaving the educational field altogether due to high levels of frustration and increased work hours without an increase in pay.
The obstacles that I just mentioned can be overcome if we stick to the three tenets that I mentioned earlier. If we educators can develop and promote citizenship at an early age, then students can be best prepared and learn more effectively when they have their voice in how they choose to learn as the times change in the next twenty five years. This can all be done as teachers continue to hone their craft and create new, intriguing ways for students to learn.
Our students want to know that we care. In education, you must first win the students’ hearts if you want to capture their minds.
Dewey, John (1897) ‘My pedagogic creed’, The School Journal, Volume LIV, Number 3 (January 16, 1897), pages 77-80.
King, A. (1993). “From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side.” College Teaching:
Brody, J. (2015, July 6). Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/screen-addiction-is-taking-a-toll-on-children/