In studying curricula and educational philosophers, I began to think about what my teaching philosophy might look like. It is something that I will develop continuously throughout my teaching career. As I gain more experience and education, my philosophy will grow further. My three-week internship added a lot to this development. During the various courses I attended during my three years of university, I studied several educational philosophers. Although there are many educational philosophers I admire, the works of Jean Piaget and John Dewey align best with what my teaching philosophy is right now in my education.
To explain my philosophy, we must first start by identifying what it is to learn and to teach. Learning is an internal and continuous process of building knowledge and skills. Teaching is the set of functions performed to enable and promote this learning. I believe that education should be student-centred. In my opinion, students who are able to apply their personal experiences in the classroom can develop skills and knowledge that can help with self-understanding and course materials. The role of the teacher is then to guide and animate student learning by drawing on their fields of interest as well as their realities. One way to do this, which I was able to explore during my three-week internship is the use of student names in the examples and assignments I give them. I found that students are much more engaged in activities when I do this.
My educational philosophy seems to fall into the category of constructivism. As stated in an article by L. David on constructivism, “Constructivism assumes that all knowledge is constructed from the learner’s prior knowledge, regardless of the method of instruction used. Thus, even listening to a lecture involves active attempts to build new knowledge “(David, 2015). For example, when giving a lesson on plant growth, students who help on the farm or in the home garden will have prior knowledge of the subject to bring to class. By establishing this link, these students can deepen their knowledge. The connections these students bring to class can then be passed on to other students and a sense of cooperation and independent learning can be encouraged. My vision of constructivism is consistent with that of Jean Piaget, one of the founders of constructivism. According to Piaget, “children are born with a very basic mental structure on which all subsequent learning and knowledge are based. Young children think very differently to adults. (McLeod 2015) This theory best illustrates my reflections on elementary education. As a student studying to be an elementary teacher, I find it important to understand that every child experiences different stages of cognitive development. For a child to understand the content, they must first be able to create some kind of connection to what they are learning. One of the best ways for students to connect is to ask questions and then actively participate in finding answers to these questions. With this concept in mind, I like to start my lessons by putting the words or concepts that the lesson will cover on the board and then ask questions and let the students discuss and share their ideas. This theory is related to my belief that the content must be of interest to the students in order to achieve a meaningful result.
My thoughts about the environment in which our students learn are that it should not simply be a place of information acquisition, but a place of treatment and application of this information in a useful and meaningful way. Dewey’s approach, which reflects my evolving theory, is best explained by Ward when he says, “Learning is more than assimilating; it is the development of habits that enables the person in growth to manage his environment efficiently and intelligently. (Ward 2005) Reading about Dewey and Piaget and practising various classroom strategies during my three-week internship, I discovered that my personal philosophy is strongly based on the connection of education to life.
As a second language teacher, French is a very important aspect to include in my teaching philosophy. I come from a francophone school and my experiences are a little different than those of immersion students with whom I work with during internships. I find that there is a lot more English in immersion schools than I would have thought. It is very important to me that my future students have quality French for the rest of their lives. I chose to become a French language teacher because I want to work to acquire the necessary tools that will allow students to have this quality of language. I am very passionate about French and it is my goal to pass on this passion to my future students.
In exploring my philosophical thoughts about education, I learned that what I think to be my teaching philosophy does not fit the way I learned as a primary student. I realized that I have a lot of learning and practice to do before I can become a teacher with a clear and concrete philosophy. It is with more reflections, studies and experiences that my complete philosophy will be revealed.