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Educational Philosophy

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Education has always been of a great value, it is an invisible “crown” that makes a person special, different from others. Apart from shaping one’s personality and individuality, education gives a great number of possibilities to reach success in life. “The history of educational theory is marked by opposition between the ideas that education is development from within and that it is formation from without” (Dewey 1).

I consider that the two theories of education can exist, but the way of Mr. Keating’s thinking is more familiar to me. At first, it is worth noting that there are no facts, only interpretations, therefore, it is difficult enough to teach only with facts. Education is available for everybody, but it is necessary to find the own way of teaching, since no one can show the right one, and the teacher should learn it by himself. The matter is that it is not sufficient to learn. If a person wants to be individuality, he should have own thoughts, ideas regarding different facts. Perceiving only definitions of words, things, and notions means to know and remember them. In order to understand these characteristics from within, one has to realize and to fill them with personal reflection.

Considering these words, I can summarize that my educational philosophy is to teach how not to think, but not what to think. However, I support both progressive and traditional education due to the fact that I believe there should be a “golden mean”. The mix of progressive and traditional education will result in success. Traditional education is also very effective regardless of any disadvantages. To be an educated person means not only to be able to think, but also to have deep knowledge. Traditional education can give a basis while in progressive education this foundation can be applied. It is exactly what any person needs to become a strong and self-confident individuality.

Progressive Philosophy of Education

Progressive form of education has a great number of definitions and they cannot be considered as “right” or “wrong”. For someone, the idea of progressive education lies in specific activities and practices. For others, “it is simply the rejection of any traditionally held notions of what school is supposed to do, or the rejection of anything concerning the concepts of the common school” (Nadler 1998). Some people consider it is a multifaceted movement aimed at changing school practices. None of these ideas, however, reflects the genuine sense of progressive education. It is necessary to review deeper the word “progressive”, which means moving forward, ongoing, advancing. The term “progressive” appeared and was used during the period 1890 to 1920 and changed the traditional way of education by replacing curriculum-centered education for a student-centered approach (Kaplan and Owings 174).

Briefly, the main principle of progressive philosophy is to consider students as education’s focus but not the concepts. It prepares students to be lifelong learners in a society that is constantly changing. In addition, there are some other key ideas: first, teachers should motivate learning while schools should try to meet students’ needs; second, teachers should respect diversity, namely they should recognize talents, passions and capacities of each single student, who can become creative thinkers. Moreover, all of those principles are directed not only to shape individuality but also to teach how to live in a democratic society. In other words, the education involves critical, socially engaged intelligence for students who realize and take part in the affairs of the community.

During the classes, a teacher, first of all, shows students how to observe, describe, classify, assess, and eventually generalize the surrounding environment. Students learn from each another while working in cooperative learning groups. They are similar according to mutual interests and abilities. Therefore it is not common that the group members are of different age. A teacher is a person who serves as a source of information, and students have to acquire knowledge and continuously develop it with the help of the teacher.

Traditional Philosophy of Education

The traditional education cannot be defined without realizing the purposes of this form of education and its philosophy. “Education is how information becomes knowledge” - it is a motto of traditional education. Therefore, traditional education bases on some “essentials” that need to be learnt by students. “They should be taught to master the tools of power and authority - the ability to read, write, and communicate” (Hirsch 8). It is definitely effective due to the fact that students learn all they need to know in order to become adults who act correctly. The essentials of traditional education include all subjects everyone has at school: mathematics, literacy, physics, music, physical education, etc. A student may become highly educated personality if he has knowledge which may be applied to many areas, not just the one he is interested in. For this reason, traditional education provides students with this important information. Similarly to progressive philosophy of education, the traditional one also has its main ideas. “Learning is subject-centered, schools’ purpose is to transmit and preserve common cultural knowledge. Educators and teachers select knowledge and skills most important to help students to be successful” (Kaplan and Owings 169). The final goal of traditional education is to prepare students for further education and work, resulting in a formation of individuality. The process of education is simple and stable: there is a teacher in front of the class, where students sit at their desks and write what the teacher says. On the one hand, students need freedom, however, this style of teaching, results in success. Students usually receive and memorize the most interesting information, and it turns into knowledge, eventually. The groups are formed by age, and all students are taught the same material. In traditional education knowledge of students depends on the teacher and his ability to teach.

Education generally is an extremely complex process. The interesting fact about education is that it is a “two-way street”. Not only the teacher should be highly qualified, but the students should be interested in learning. However, the work of students is more important due to the fact that lessons cannot be taught but they must be learnt. As a rule, the learning starts from teachers who provide “enlightenment”, which further results in “education”. Teachers are students’ guides, who help to discover everything connected with life, world, society and many other aspects. In order to teach the students, teachers should remember that a student is not a “vessel to be filled, but a torch to be lit”. It is essential to impart to the students desire to study and get knowledge. Therefore, there is a great number of educational methods. They are completely different, but there is something that unites them. It is the desire to educate children, to make strong personalities and individualities. It is worth noting that none teacher strives for making the students know some essentials, such as literacy, mathematics, etc. The ultimate purpose is to inspire students. Only inspiration can make a student prosper in society.

Considering all these points, the following conclusion can be made. Nowadays, everything is changing very fast. However, “time brings all things to pass, except for knowledge”. Education is eternal; people always need it to exist. The question is: what educational philosophy is better? The answer is evident: both of them are the best. Maybe, it is better not to separate traditional education from progressive one, since they can be the components of one great philosophy of education. Power lies in a unity; therefore, I appreciate both traditional and progressive education.

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