Although I may have been born to teach, every time I do, like Bilbo Baggins, I have an unexpected (but not unknown) party of guests who influence the design, development and delivery of all that I do.
Guests such as
- Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, David Krech, Mark Rosenzweig and Edward Bennett, Marion Diamond and Karl Fischer, Jesse Conel and Peter Huttenlocher, and Arnold Scheibel, Bob Sylwester, Robin Fogarty, John Joseph and Edward de Bono who have taught me so much about how children learn and think.
- Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Marie Clay, Brian Cambourne, Don Holdaway, Ken and Yetta Goodman, and John Holt who have taught me so much about the acquisition of language skills;
- William Glasser and Bill Rogers who showed me how to have a calm, settled class of learners,
- Wiggins and McTighe who gave me a way to plan that would engage them and satisfy the results-collectors;
- Berkowitz, Eisenberg, Kuhlthau and those who developed and documented the information literacy process,
- all those lecturers, now friends, at Charles Sturt University who introduced me to them and continue to teach me and inspire me to keep learning
- the lecturers at Christchurch Teachers College of the 70s who introduced me to the inquiry approach way back then (and insisted we use it for every aspect of the curriculum)
- the handful of visionary and valued principals I’ve worked with over 40 years who have shown me what CAN be not what can’t – those who greeted my zany ideas with “How can I help you do that?; who helped turn obstacles into opportunities
- and all those teachers with whom I’ve worked over the years, who have shown me new ways and new ideas, taken my hand and led me through new philosophies and pedagogies, concepts and curricula
And, of course you cannot teach without learners and every one of the thousands of kids I’ve taught have taught me through every challenge they have ever presented.
The guests at my party are many; they are diverse and different; but they are welcome because without them, there would be no party.
In a post entitled A Teacher’s North Star: What’s Your Teaching Philosophy? http://wonderteacher.com/ Susan Antonelli talks about the importance of identifying who your unexpected guests are. She says “Our teaching philosophy is our compass. It’s the North Star shining on our true path amid the changing landscape of educational fads and “hot” trends. If you have a sound philosophy in your back pocket, you will be able to navigate pedagogical “forks in the road” effortlessly. You will wisely select the lessons and tools that fit into your philosophical toolbox no matter what new textbook adoption may come!”
Maybe over these long hot days when it’s too unpleasant to be outside, it’s a topic you can contemplate.
I wouldn’t say long-winded but detailed, certainly! So much here to reflect on and mull over.
Two thoughts prompted by reading your philosophies:
1. Sadly, many of the structures and mandates (e.g. grades, tests) seem to be diametrically opposed to what is best for the young learner, almost ham-stringing teachers and librarians.
2. With the library the only safe haven for some kids, what will become of them with libraries closed and TLs forced to other duties?