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Educating children profoundly affects their lives and influences the life of anyone who comes into contact with those children. Education provides a foundation for a child to base the rest of his or her life on. Without a solid education, it becomes impossible for an individual to provide for themselves and their family. Also, well-educated people can make decisions that benefit both their own interests and the interests of society as a whole. In this paper, I will address my personal opinions and philosophy about education. First, I will address the nature of the student. Next, I will examine the nature of knowledge, followed by the purpose of public education, and method. Finally, my paper will conclude with a discussion of the curriculum areas that are most important in elementary school. Additionally, I will relate my views to pragmatism and progressivism, and to Plato?s teaching, three valuable theories regarding education.
No two students are exactly alike. Nevertheless, they do share one fundamental characteristic -- every student has the ability to learn. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato believed that a student?s learning ability is determined entirely by genetics. According to Plato, people are either golds, silvers, or bronzes. The golds are the smartest and the bronzes are the slower learners. I don?t really agree with this philosophy. Yes, some children are naturally intelligent and others are not. But natural ability is not the only factor to consider. Students differ on their level of motivation regarding learning. Some students will settle for a ?C? while others push themselves to get an ?A.? Others are perfectly happy with failing grades. Motivation, or lack of it, can be blamed on one of two causes: environment and genetics. Some feel that a child?s desire to learn is most influenced by their home environment. Genes have also been blamed for a child?s longing to learn. I feel that both factors play a role in how a child approaches education. In a home where education is strongly emphasized, a child is probably going to want to learn. However, this is not always true.
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Education is the process by which knowledge is transmitted from teacher to student. When discussing education one must consider the nature of knowledge. Is knowledge absolute, meaning it is true forever, or is it relative, meaning that knowledge will change as times and people change? I believe that knowledge is absolute. When something is proven true, it is true for everyone, no matter what location they inhabit. For example, it is true everywhere that a bowling ball weighs more than a feather. It does not matter if the student learning this lives in Japan or if they live in Scotland. Unlike relative knowledge, which can differ from person to person, absolute knowledge is true for everyone.
Public education is designed to broaden the minds of students. Pragmatism is a philosophy which states that education should be used to help create a better society by producing educated people who become responsible citizens. These citizens become the tax payers and voters that benefit everyone. I agree with this philosophy. Educated people can improve society by creating new policies that help everyone. People who are not educated have a harder time making knowledgeable decisions that affect themselves and others. Education is important because it betters the life of the student. With an education, a person can get a better job. They also have better decision making skills. As a teacher, I hope to make a good impression on the lives of my students. I want to help them learn and grow. I hope that through my teaching, students feel that they have gained something valuable. In my classroom, I want the children to feel safe and happy. I hope to see each child improve in their schoolwork and in their social development.
In education, one must work with other people. Whenever a job involves more than one person, ethics become an issue. A teacher must always consider what behaviors are appropriate. I do not believe that teachers should be held to an unattainably high moral standard. Teachers should be allowed to date and go to the occasional social event. I think that a teacher?s private life becomes an issue when it affects their performance at school. It is acceptable for an educator to have a beer at home, but if they drink in the students? presence it becomes completely improper.
Ethics are also an issue concerning the other teachers with whom an educator works with. It is wrong to gossip about colleagues, especially, if one hopes to earn as better job, or a pay raise by cutting down their fellow workers. It is also unethical to discuss things a student may have confided in you as a teacher. Unless, of course, the student is suffering abuse or plans to commit suicide, then it is crucial to provide information about the child?s situation. I think it is acceptable for a teacher to accept gifts from children, especially around the holidays. However, this cannot affect the way the teacher treats that child. The same is true for gifts from parents. A related problem has to do with preferential treatment for athletes. Athletes are students too, and so should be treated just the same as the rest of the class.
There are several different teaching methods including discussion and lecture. Socrates and Plato encouraged using discussion to teach children. I agree with this, because many young children do not have the listening skills and attention spans to sit through a lecture. Additionally, if the children get to talk and offer their ideas, they will be more likely to learn. Group activities work in a similar way because the children are actively involved in the learning process.
In order to have a successful classroom, the children must be disciplined. Many times, this can be accomplished by using lots of positive reinforcement, so that the child knows what is expected of them. Sometimes, by just saying a child?s name, they realize what they are doing wrong. And it may become necessary to send the child out of the classroom so that they can no longer disrupt everyone?s learning. Children should be told the rules on the first day of school, so that they will know what is expected of them. It is crucial for the teacher to be consistent and fair when disciplining students. If two children are screaming, they should both be reprimanded. I want to become an elementary educator. I believe that two major subject areas are important in elementary education. The first is reading because it is the basis for all other subjects. A child cannot learn about science, if they cannot read a book about science. Even when learning mathematics, a child still has to know how to read because they have to read and understand the directions. Art and music are also important, and are built upon reading skills. Social skills are the second most important area. These are not traditional subject areas, but they are crucial to a child?s development. Children who do not learn how to share in elementary school will grow up to be selfish and inconsiderate adults. In school, a child learns how to work with others. These social skills are essential because they will profoundly affect the rest of the child?s life. Children who possess strong social skills can deal better with problems and will eventually become better workers and be happier than adults who never learned social lessons.
In conclusion, I believe that education is the foundation of society. All students can learn, although some will be more excited about it than others. Unlike Plato, I believe that most students, with a few exceptions, are on equal footing when it comes to learning. Each student will gain valuable knowledge that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Knowledge is an absolute concept that is true for every student. Pragmatism states that public education exists to better society, and I agree with that. Education produces stronger citizens, who are willing to work and provide tax dollars. As a teacher, I hope to help my students learn more about the world around them, and to help them recognize their own potential. I hope my students learn, grow, and develop both academically and socially. As a teacher, I will behave ethically by obeying moral standards of right and wrong. In my classroom, my students will learn reading and social skills helping them to become successful, strong adults. Education benefits both the student and the community at large because the children in my class will go on to become the doctors, lawyers, and leaders of the future. Educated people will become strong and productive members if society who are more likely to succeed than to be troublemakers. By becoming a teacher, I want to help my individual students, the community, and the world.