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Learning at its Best

Personal Creeds and Philosophies of the Right Kind of Education.

This week we are asking the question “How can teachers have a bigger influence on education reformation?” During the week we have seen different ways this question can be answered.

Casey on Wednesday reminded us we need to “Promote Reform and Yourself Without Censorship…” I agree whole heartily to Casey’s statement. I want to add, you should not just promote reform, but you should put your ideals and ideas for the right kind of education down on paper “without censorship”. When your ideals and thoughts are down on paper you can read them as a whole, you can reflect on what they really mean and why you believe in them.

I strive for a day when the very act of putting down on paper your ideals of education is normal. I strive for a day when all teachers approach teaching as an art, as a reflective practice of growth. Crafting your own ideals and philosophies of education can be the first step in creating real and meaningful transformation in the world. I strive for a day when teachers see themselves as philosophers and look within to find truth. I strive for a day when learning how to teach is not learned from textbooks and college courses, but is an active practice of reflection and sharing of one’s life.

When this day comes we must remember that having strong personal ideals is merely the a first step. They mean nothing if they remain on the page or inside your head. They must be put into practice, they must be alive and actively expanded on and continued to be redefined. They must be held onto like one hold on to sand, the tighter you hold on the easier they will fall. They must be allowed to fall if they do not work or are useful. They must be consistently assess for their pragmatic usefulness. They should be there to help you and your students grow and learn.

They should never be fought for with violence or anger. We must embody the power of these words, but let go of the authority or need to use them to change someones mind. Let you actions prove their usefulness and worth. Learn these words, remember them, but enter the classroom with new eyes every day for you never know what you might miss if your eyes are clouded by ideals. Do not let them be gimmicks. They are not tag-lines or designed for neat placement on a poster. They should not be followed blindly. They should become a way of life and your life will become the way of change and the real reform. The first step in being proactive in a revolution is to craft a personal creed.

Hopefully my words can spark a few of your own. Today I would like to offer my philosophy and creed in progress, these are words I hold dear. Thank you and please go forth and do as Casey said “Promote reform and Yourself without censorship”

A Teacher-in-Progress:

Constructing My Own Meaning.

Teaching is the art of process and progress. As a teacher, I see my role as helping student to construction their own meaning of the world both as a living learning community and an individual. The elementary grades formed the foundation of this building of meaningful construction. During these important years of development my students and I will explore the world and the ways in which society currently and in the past have dealt with the process of constructing and communicating their meaning.

We will investigate and explore the excellence and genius that manifest itself in the multicultural disciplines of the world. We will ask questions about the essence of the disciplines and reflect upon our understanding of them. We will participate and uncover the holistic ways in which these disciplines have informed and given meaning to our world and ourselves.

We will be a democratic learning cooperative, who meet in a classroom, but understand that learning happens in all places and at all times.

We will understand that the process of learning is not linear, nor does it fit inside a box.

We will respect and trust the different ways in which each other learn.

We will look to primary sources for our knowledge and seek understanding over coverage.

We will trust and respect the understanding that comes from within ourselves.

I will continue to actively promote the formations of the right kind of education and life. I will promote the formations of teachers of change and learners of life.

I will do and I will be the be.

You can read my much longer and continuing to grow creed on my blog http://myadventuresinlearning.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/the-formations-of-the-right-kind-of-education-and-life/

David Loitz

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Discussion

12 thoughts on “Personal Creeds and Philosophies of the Right Kind of Education.

  1. David, this is labyrinth of reflection in which I will spend more time as I re-read.

    I’m drawn to the idiosyncrasies (food-dehydrator, brilliant) and multiple ways of discovering, sharing, and celebrating knowing and doing.

    I’m curious and eager to watch how these beliefs take shape in your classroom and encourage you to find a way to share these beliefs that students can grasp your philosophy and attitudes toward them easily and intuitively.

    How do we help kids explore ideas? How do we bring students to the point of having such understandings and beliefs, even if they’re different from our own? How do we negotiate the belief-space in a classroom so students feel like there is room for their beliefs in complement and opposition to our own?

    How do we model inquiry in finding beliefs and avoid the danger of delivering them to students like so much content?

    I like this book, but am eager to learn more.

    Best,
    C

    Posted by Chad Sansing | May 7, 2010, 6:27 pm
  2. Hey Chad,

    It is a collage of all my reading and thinking over the last year and beyond. I believe children are not only open, but quite able to be part of a thinking community. Too many examples to share, but I can point to some more famous cases IE Summerhill and Studbury Valley School.

    I am very aware of not delivering my ideas traditionally…. I think a community of trust and respect is a start. Part of being a adult is having the natural authority of having more experience, but I am a questioner of authority and hope to always be the type of parent, teacher and adult who is open and flexible to see different view points. I think children see this. When I feel strongly about something I will voice my option, but try my best to allow others including children to make their own choices….not always easy….but that is that tension that keeps us alive.

    For example, the little girl I babysit is allowed and loves to drink Chocolate milk all day. I have strong feeling about chocolate milk and children. I will let her know every once and a while how i feel about it, and offer alternatives…but in the end I often make the choice for her, but often I don’t. I think AS Neill and some of the freedom humanistic thinkers of the 20 century had a lot of good ideas, but I think it should always come back to a personal level when approaching theory.

    In a relationship as a teacher you have to reflect on your actions and continue to questions them even when they work. You have to look at your reasons and the pragmatism of their use. You have be honest with yourself and the children. Sometimes that means taking a stand and not allowing something you think is wrong from happening. No one is ever perfect nor is any ideal. It is a journey. Mistakes happen for a reason.

    I strive to these ideals….and will reflect upon them often and continue to make them useful for me and the children I work with.

    I plan to be very honest with the children mean I would say my thoughts….even if that means simplifying them…to the basics…..

    be active,
    question,
    find meaning,
    respect
    trust both yourselves and each other….
    learn all the time and everywhere.

    I will look at that book and continue to ponder your question.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my longer post.

    David

    Posted by dloitz | May 7, 2010, 6:54 pm
  3. Thanks David! I absolutely agree that teachers need to see themselves as philosophers and base their practice on deeply thought-out and ever-developing values. Unfortunately, I think most teachers are never even exposed to different philosophies of school and learning. Instead, they’re measured by their ability to adapt to the traditional system (or at least pretend to adapt until they get tenure).

    Sure, teachers in training will read about different theories, but it’s impossible to really understand how real, alternative schools like Big Picture, Montessori, Democratic, Jena-Plan, Waldorf and the bunch really work without seeing them with one’s own eyes (that means in person, not on a video).

    I really think if all future teachers spent time observing and serving in a variety of school systems and were strongly encouraged to identify and continuously reflect on their own core values (perhaps with the help of Stephen Covey’s works), a synthesized education revolution would inevitably follow in just a few years.

    Posted by Chris Fritz | May 9, 2010, 9:33 pm
    • Chris, I agree with you about this (hey, I’m not sure Stephen Covey is my god, but I get you…)

      “I really think if all future teachers spent time observing and serving in a variety of school systems and were strongly encouraged to identify and continuously reflect on their own core values (perhaps with the help of Stephen Covey’s works), a synthesized education revolution would inevitably follow in just a few years.”

      So why, in your view, doesn’t this happen? What are the structural and cultural barriers to achieving your vision?

      Posted by Kirsten | May 14, 2010, 11:45 am
  4. Hi David, Like Chad, I am really eager to learn how your ideas take shape in the classroom as you continue to grow and evolve as a teacher. One of the things that I think can be perplexing and complicating to educators who want to co-construct meaning in the classroom with kids is:

    1. What if the kids do not “consent” to be co-constructors? Students who have been acculturated to be very passive and rule following (punch their ticket of school, hold their noses and get it over with) will not be very eager to rise to the invitations of even the most seductive and Summerhillian educator. Have you experienced this? What do you intend to do about this? What might it call up for you?

    2. Not all learners respond well to very open-ended, Waldorfian learning situations. For instance, I have often thought that soon when trying to learn Chinese as an adult, I will not do very well in a whole-languagy situation where the educator wants me to read and think and converse without any direct instruction, lecturing, worksheets, or drill and kill. Or likewise, that some of the kids I work with in very undercapitalized schools here in Boston JUST WANT TO LEARN TO PASS THE MCAS. (They are overage and underskilled, in the parlance.) They don’t want to write reflective dialogs or talk about that essay, and they are very uncertain about sharing their feelings about learning.
    As teachers, how do we develop a range of practices that respond to what a student needs and wants?

    How do we know what students want and need?

    Posted by Kirsten | May 14, 2010, 11:59 am
  5. I think that is the challenge right Kristen. I think finding a range of ways to teach is my goal. Whole Language is one tool and one I believe strongly in. However I believe strongly that adaptability and flexibility is the most important skill a teacher can have.

    I also believe that the best way to help children not tune out is to reach them before they have a chance to. That is one of the reasons I want to teach elementary grades. 1-3 grade is my hope. I feel there is a strong chance that you can help children be open minded to this type of education. If the child has to return to a more traditional school they hopefully will have gained the tools to adapt to the situation and make it work for them or have the ability to voice their need for another way.

    Also in terms of your example of learning a language…. as adult….I would refer to John Holt’s It never to late…… not that I have read it….but I am guessing what he would say…. that is not truly the method of the teaching….but the student “want” to learn…..if you know that direct instruction will teach you best….then by all means you should be taught that way.

    I think whole language is just one of ways I believe help students begin the journey to find out how they learn best. I believe like I said you should hold on to your ideals like sand…. if you hold to tight they will just fall. You must be willing to be pragmatic….if they work for you and your students then keep doing them and if not try something different….

    I have not had a chance to have my own classroom, which causes me to adapt to the needs of the current teacher, even if I would do something different.

    My hope is to open my own school. I would try to practice what I believe…. but I also strongly believe in Krishnamurti’s ideas about school…. and his idea for the right kind of education….and his practice of never telling how to do this but to just figuring out the why….. and going about making it work for the students.

    These are my whys and hopefully I will be fully opened minded when it comes to the how….and wiling to change based on the needs and make up of my students and the community that we create.

    Thanks for the questions….I am ready for more…. i feed off of this……

    David

    Posted by dloitz | May 14, 2010, 12:18 pm
  6. Would love to get people to give me an idea of the parts of this creed that rings true to them…. what lines, sections or parts would draw you in if they were part of a mission statement on a school’s web site…. Part of my thesis is to create a web site for my future school or idea for a school. Love to have feedback on this…. to start to edit down this creed.

    Thanks in advance for any help that is given!

    David Loitz

    Posted by dloitz | September 18, 2010, 2:47 pm
  7. For myself, the process of reform, real reform comes through peeling back the layers of our current educational regime. Why do we do what we do?

    That teachers should think of themselves as philosophers is brilliant….but also we should also allow ouselves to be learners, it’s silly to enter a class thinking we have all the answers and society shouldn’t expect us to either. Real learning happens when both parties (students and teacher) trust each other on the journey. (Diane Ravitch has some interesting ideas on the deprofessionalisation of teaching)…

    You’re absolutely right that we need to put our ideal system down on paper… then we should talk about it ….shout about it and in the end model it.

    Posted by Amy O'Hara | April 5, 2011, 12:03 pm
    • Amy, I love all you have to say here!

      “Real learning happens when both parties (students and teacher) trust each other on the journey.”

      True that! This is true in all relationships, learning together is an act of love and we can’t love when don’t trust, respect or use our relationships to control.

      What have you been Shouting lately?

      David

      Posted by dloitz | August 22, 2011, 7:49 pm
  8. “I strive for a day when learning how to teach is not learned from textbooks and college courses, but an active practice of reflection and sharing of ones life.” YES.

    So many potent quotable here, David. But quoting them is not enough; as you said, we must live them! Thank you for this.

    Posted by sarajschmidt | August 22, 2011, 7:25 pm
    • Thanks Sara,

      I have been recently inspired by Linda Stout and her work with Collective Visioning… I have been doing this type of process for years, as it is the default of my over active imagination…but I love how she takes the personal visioning practice and moves it to collective visioning… this was my first attempt, and now I am trying with my work with IDEA and the Cooperative to move it to a larger collective goal for education and consciousness transformation.

      I hope you share your own creed with me and the larger world. Each positive statement of our vision is a step in the right direction!

      thanks for dreaming and acting with me!

      David

      Posted by dloitz | August 22, 2011, 7:45 pm

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  1. Pingback: » Personal Creeds and Philosophies of the Right Kind of Education. « Cooperative Catalyst - May 7, 2010

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