Determining Your Educational Philosophy Part II: Philosophy of Students

In this article various philosophies will be examined in an effort to assist with developing an educational philosophy. As an Educator it is essential to possess a philosophy which will be applied in the classroom.

Educational philosophies are as unique as each individual educator, although each philosophy shares common components: a philosophy of the learning process, a philosophy of students, a philosophy concerning knowledge, and a philosophy of essential skills and information. Examining each of these components will help you form your educational philosophy. This articles highlights the philosophy of students.

Educators may have either a negative or a positive opinion of students. Educators with a negative view believe that students are inherently unwilling and unmotivated to learn and may foster a teacher–student relationship of fear and intimidation. These educators view their role as that of a disciplinarian, bringing order into an otherwise chaotic environment. Educators with a positive view of students believe that students are inherently good, with positive internal motivation that may simply require uncovering. These educators view themselves as promoters of knowledge and facilitators of learning, although they may be deficient in expectations and structure. Regardless of his or her view of students, an effective teacher must have the belief that all students can learn.

For example, Mr. Bridge is a veteran fifth-grade science teacher. He has been teaching for 34 years, in a rural, lower-class school district where education is not particularly valued. He is 2 years from retirement. As he began his teaching career, he had a fairly optimistic view of students and teaching. But after teaching the same lesson year after year, Mr. Bridge has learned to expect the same result from his class and has a more negative outlook on students and on teaching in general. The negative outlook keeps him from venturing off the beaten path. He thinks all students can learn, but he does not think that it is his job to motivate them. If a student misbehaves, he shows absolutely no tolerance for the misbehavior. Mr. Bridge has a negative philosophy of students.

Down the hall, in another fifth-grade science class, Mr. Cason is a second-year teacher with ample energy that he applies to his teaching. He believes that all students are typically good, that all students can learn, and that it is his job to figure out how to best teach them and maximize their learning potential. He handles misbehavior as it arises, believing that there may be factors other than the student’s desire to cause trouble that are causing them to misbehave. He may reason with the students to encourage better behavior in the future. He has a positive view of students. Both of these teachers are effective teachers; however, their outlook, or philosophy, of students differs drastically. Students respond to each teacher differently, and learn from each in a different way.

What is your opinion about your students? Do you have a positive or negative opinion? Does this transpire when you teach?

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