Personal Philosophy of Education
There is a close affiliation between schools and society; as a result, social circumstances and patterns in society influence schools (Pai & Adler, 2001, p.127). Originally, schools were a means of attaining social order and sustaining societal values (Tozer, Violas, & Senese, 2002, p. 50). A sensitive equilibrium is present between educational theory and educational practice due to the unequal relationship that exists between politics, society, philosophy, and teaching practices. The educational system in the United States will continue to be the focus of debate, with no one philosophy solving all issues that arise, questions as to what education is and what its purpose is will always exist.
Concept of Perfect Educational System
No one social theory or philosophy can explain every trend or educational reform that has or will develop (Gutek, 1997, p. 3). In spite of this, the strongest points of the social learning theories along with the aspects of the philosophies and the No Child Left Behind Act collectively, will make for an ideal educational system. Functional theory emphasizes the importance of the association between family and society as well as the constant and systematic characteristics of family and society (Laszloffy, 2002). Conflict theory, on the other hand, includes identification of the significant purpose conflict has in producing modifications in family and societal relationships (Laszloffy, 2002). Thus, functional theory and conflict theory contend that the relationship between family and society is important, not only the characteristics of such but the conflicts as well. Functional and conflict theorists essentially are in agreement on the aspects of social life, responsibilities, and rights (Witt, 2005, p. 5). Universalism and specificity are important aspects of functional theory and should be included in an ideal educational system. Universalism necessitates that all students be considered equals. Specificity, in contrast, is the position of handling a particular student with exception to universalism due to certain circumstances (Pai & Adler, 2001, p. 132).
The idea that each individual has a precise function in society, functional theory, and that individuals in society make an effort to maximize their advantage through competition which leads to social change, conflict theory, are also important aspects of an ideal educational system (Wikpedia, 2005). Also, the concept that individuals are aware of, “capitalist exploitation and bureaucratic domination,”(Kirkpatrick, Katisaficas, & Emery, 1978, p. 1) and to also insist on emancipation, critical theory, is also important concepts for an ideal educational system.
In interpretive theory emphasis is on personal relationships among school personnel. Examining and understanding the individuals who contribute to the teaching and learning process gives insight into the procedure of education (Pai & Adler, 2001, p.145). Interpretive theory supports and recognizes the human relationship as the most significant issue for improving and maintaining the educational experience of students (deMarrais & LeCompte, 1999, p. 21). In an ideal educational system postmodernism contributes by the explanation of the social element. Specifically, due to the formation of objective measures, and through competent, impartial administrations, schools can equally serve all students (Pai & Adler, 2001, p. 148).
The teaching philosophies collectively will make an ideal educational system. According to Gutek, “Theory without practice is insufficient; practice unguided by theory is aimless,” (Gutek, 1997, p.1). Teachers who contemplate their function in the learning process switch from a day-to-day process to the theory that drives them. It is the teacher’s comprehension of human nature that determines how they interact with students (Gutek, 1997, p.1). The teacher’s beliefs regarding human nature affect the curriculum, teaching methods, and classroom atmosphere. It is beneficial for teachers to be familiar with diverse philosophies of education and how these philosophies relate to curriculum and methods. This knowledge will make it easier for teachers to have an opinion on educational procedures and programs (Gutek, 1997, p.8).
The idealist philosophy stresses the teacher’s role as essential in assisting students to realize their own individuality (Gutek, 1997, p. 40). The realists’ philosophy deems that the teacher should be an expert, having the knowledge and skill to educate students. The Thomism philosophy distinguishes between education and schooling, outlining the abilities and accountability for teachers. Education develops over time through, “family, church, and community,” (Gutek, 1997, p. 69). Teachers are responsible for the formal education of students; parents need to educate their children in principles, morals, and religion. Teachers and the school rely on parents to do their part in the education process. The teacher in this philosophy conveys his or her knowledge to the student. The student has the dynamic role of acquiring the given knowledge from the teacher. Teachers in this philosophy plan and research lessons; teachers also possess moral standing for students to emulate them (Gutek, 1997, p. 69).
The role of the teacher according to naturalists is one that assists in the natural flow, and is attentive to the “stages of development,” (Gutek, 1997, p. 86). Teachers in this philosophy are accommodating and serene, rather than instructing, teachers allow students to come across knowledge themselves by guiding not telling.
Consequently, in an ideal educational setting, teachers guide students to be individuals, teachers are experts, are accountable and know their abilities. Also, the teachers in this setting, are peaceful, and are helpful in guiding a student to knowledge rather than lecturing straight to them. According to Dewey (as cited in Gutek, 1997), it is essential for students to have an open atmosphere, one where the teacher channels learning and does not control it. The teacher plays more of an indirect role in the student’s learning process, allowing students to make their own mistakes and learn from them (Gutek, 1997, p. 110).
The concept of an ideal educational system includes the concepts of the No Child Left Behind Act. The main objective of the No Child Left Behind Act is to, “close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind,” (No Child Left Behind Act, 2001). The No Child Left Behind Act foresees a world where students have access to the education they need in order to be successful (Petersen & Young, 2004). The No Child Left Behind Act deems that it is imperative to have qualified teachers in our education system to aid in achieving student success. There are standards in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, namely, necessitating that teachers of fundamental subjects be highly qualified. It is essential that teachers are have a bachelor’s degree, are proficient in the subject matter and/or grade level they teach, are licensed in the state they teach, and exhibit knowledge and teaching ability of the subject matter (Public Education Network, 2002, p. 35).
One of the main principles of the No Child Left Behind Act is to put accountability for educating children properly on the states and schools. The standards set forth by this law are to ensure that children of all racial and ethnic groups as well as economically destitute, special needs, and those who speak incomplete English ,receive the education they deserve. Progress reports, assessments, and penalties for substandard performance will assess these standards (Corwin, 2003).
Various aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act will probably work and have positive influences on students, and schools. There will be criticisms concerning the testing mandate, however, the achievement measures could be helpful to expand parental knowledge of school effectiveness, help educators run schools better, and promote sensible decisions among educators. Conversely, the No Child Left Behind Act’s most difficult aspect is the solution for substandard schools (Finn & Hess, 2004, p. 7).
All in all, attitudes toward the No Child Left Behind Act are more positive than protests propose. Americans favor the right to choose and be a part of their child’s education, and the responsibility that schools should hold in this goal. Nonetheless, Americans are wary of federal involvement. As a result, people give diverse responses, wanting to support the Act’s objectives while being apprehensive about its resources to complete the objective (Finn & Hess, 2004, p.13). The law has flaws, for the time being it is a work in progress; information is being composed on what works, what needs to be altered ,and what should be eliminated, (Long, 2005). The No Child Left Behind Act is a step in the right direction toward an ideal educational system.
Addressing the Issues
The changes to implement the ideal educational setting will have to be gradual since it interrupts the current view of normal (deMarrais & LeCompte, 1999, p. 6). Also, no matter what educational system is in place teachers need to challenge students to excel and increase their capabilities. It is important for an education system to explore and implement curriculum improvements.
Ideal School and Reflection of Personal Philosophy
The optimal way to reflect this ideal educational system into a school is to start with a plan. Individuals who agree with the philosophies of the plan will acquire key positions in the educational system, which will aid in filtering the plan into place. An assessment plan will also be in place to ensure that the implementation of the philosophy is effective. The assessment will occur within the first month to ensure that the school is on the right track with the philosophy. Every week, teachers will meet to identify students that require assistance. This plan will be proactive in identifying issues relating to the students, school, and the philosophy. The educational philosophy will also reflect compliance with regulatory statutes such as the No Child Left Behind Act, and requirements for federal funding. Essentially, the school will reflect this ideal educational system by putting the right people in the right place.
The implementation of a school uniform policy will be one of the first steps in reflecting this philosophy of an ideal educational setting. As noted by Caruso (as cited in Isaacson, 1998) uniforms improve, “self-concepts, classroom behavior, and academic performance,” (Isaacson, 1998, p.1) of the students. Uniforms also aid in peer pressure, enhance attendance and educational accomplishments (Lopez, 2003, p. 396).
A consideration for pluralism characterizes an educational system in which cultural diversity is valued and preserved (Tozer, Violas, & Senese, 2002, p. 190). Educators should make certain that students are taught with methods that are responsive to cultural groups without being biased (Tozer, Violas, & Senese, 2002, p. 420). The classroom methodology to cultural pluralism will be successful if teachers are insightful to cultural origins. Berry (as cited in Tozer, Violas, & Senese, 2002, p. 421) notes that students have a, “moral responsibility to learn, understand, and respect values inherent in other races and religions, and to practice behaviors that will ensure dignity and civil rights to males and females of cultural groups different from [his or her] own.”
The current educational system fails to recognize values and practices of culturally diverse students. It is imperative for today’s educators to consider the relationship between the student and the school as opposed to measuring the performance of the student with traditional standards. A comprehension of cultural pluralism that shows consideration for other cultures is key for the success of students with different cultural backgrounds (Tozer, Violas, & Senese, 2002, p. 397). Bernstein (as cited in Pai & Adler, 2001, p.147) suggests that schools eliminate class biases within curriculum and teaching practices, as a result, establishing a fair and objective educational process. Teaching methods and curriculum should encompass multicultural education. Nieto (as cited in deMarrais & LeCompte, 1999, p. 251) also expresses seven characteristics of multicultural education, these include: “Multicultural education is anti-racist, is basic education, is important for all students, is pervasive, is education for social justice, is a process, is critical pedagogy.”
Curriculum design and development is not easy undertaking. In this personal philosophy of education ,the students are first and foremost. Teachers will have academic autonomy and the flexibility to teach the subject content to students in any manner possible as long as the students understand the content. It is essential that teachers work together to choose the best methods for the students in their classroom and match the necessary curriculum to the students. Ultimately, a system that improves teaching and learning guarantees that all students have an opportunity to learn. Academic administrators, principally the Board of Education, who are elected officials, design the curriculum including concepts to meet state requirements. However, parents, teachers, business leaders, and politicians all influence the curriculum.
Functions of Schooling
The main function of the schools in society is to educate the children, to increase their knowledge, skills, and abilities on core subjects. Schools have a duty and are accountable to communicate cultural, political, social, and economic standards of society (Pai & Adler, 2001, p136). Dreeben (as cited in Pai & Adler, 2001, p. 133) notes that students learn more of the essential social standards of universalism, specificity, autonomy, and accomplishment in school than from their family. Students also learn to fit in and relate to others on the basis of individual actions by impartial measures (Pai & Adler, 2001, p. 133). Many organizations in society expect individuals to be independent, to take responsibility for their own actions, and have self-control. Through universalism and specificity, students learn to cope with what is just and unjust and the measure to justify such treatment (Pai & Adler, 2001, p. 133). Schools should focus on the well-being of society and are essential for socializing students into these qualities (Henry, 2001). Parson (as cited in Pai & Adler, 2001, p. 132) notes that schools allow students to detach from the family emotionally and become capable of incorporating cultural values and customs outside of their own. Students also learn to be productive members of society.
The educational system of the United States will always have problems that individuals will question and evaluate. It is inevitable that issues will arise due to changes and attitudes in society. Nevertheless, this is not something that an educational trend, teaching technique, or curriculum change can fix. However, the objective will remain positive and attainable as long as educators strive with respect to the purpose of educating all students in the most equitable way possible.
Herber Kleibard (as cited in Apple, 2004, p. 229) notes that educational concerns involve key disagreements and compromises with opposing visions of knowledge, what is acceptable teaching and knowledge, and what is a virtuous society. These disagreements have had roots in the contradictory observations of, ” race, class, and gender,” (Apple, 2004, p. 229). As a result, no examination of education can by completely profound without have an understanding of the continuing efforts that continuously outline the premise on which education functions (Apple, 2004, p. 229). In spite of viewpoints, the general school environment influences what students learn, the methods of the administration, the quality of the teacher-student relationship, and the teaching techniques being used to support or discourage students (Pai & Adler, 2001, p. 135).
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