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Defining Your Own Educational Philosophy

This 10-hour course (5 sessions, 2 hours each) is designed to enable educators, administrators, parents, and other members of the school community or local councils to define their own philosophical beliefs in clear and coherent terms.

Participants will discuss the coherence (or lack thereof) between their educational philosophies and curricula, teaching practices, and evaluation procedures. Participants will also work in small groups to define a common philosophy that represents a consensus. Principles of socratic inquiry will guide participants towards the construction of solid educational philosophies that stand firmly as the foundation for pedagogical decisions and practices in their own schools and classrooms. A written personal philosophy as well as a group philosophy will be created.

Too many of our schools and classrooms today are still built on outmoded factory models of education designed to produce similar products based on an input of homogeneous raw materials. As we approach the 21st century, however, we realize that new technology is forcing us to think and act in ways never experienced before, that the nature of jobs is changing, and that the problems which we face will require an ever-increasing understanding of multiple belief systems, cultures, and reasons for our behavior. By learning to articulate one's own set of beliefs about how children should learn in both formal and informal settings, we advance the process of communication necessary for building a successful and peaceful society.

Four basic educational philosophies are examined: humanistic, social reconstructionist, mechanistic, and academic. As these are studied and experienced firsthand in classroom demonstrations reflecting each philosophy, participants will learn to define their own beliefs, and understand in greater depth decisions regarding choices of instructional settings, materials, learning activities, grouping of students, assessment timing and procedures, etc. Participants must be open to new ideas, and they must identify the sources of conflicting opinions, sometimes letting go of ingrained practices and/or beliefs, in order to begin constructing a coherent educational system in which to better teach, to learn, and to raise children.

Excerpted readings:
Gutek, G. (1997). Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education (2nd. ed.) NJ: Merrill.
McNeil, J.D. (1990). Curriculum. A Comprehensive Introduction

Articulating Educational Philosophy
Course Outline

Session 1:
    * Opening Assignment: Write down your beliefs about how you think people should be educated.
    * Opening discussion about what happens when one's philosophy or beliefs are inconsistent with one's actions.

Session 2:
    * Demonstrations of philosophies
    * Debriefings.

Session 3:
    * Demonstrations of philosophies
    * Debriefings.

Session 4:
    * Articulating individual philosophies.
    * How to take the beliefs you have and mold them into a coherent philosophy.
    * One-on-one debriefings.

Session 5
    * Articulating a group philosophy.
    * Managing the multiple belief systems of a school or community, coming to consensus, writing a coherent educational philosophy that addresses the needs of the students.




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