Philosophy of Practice
We are all learners together. We teach each other, every day and in everything we do.
We are beings of habit and convention. Our language is one of words and actions that develop, change, and evolve.
There is always someone who looks at a situation differently. They build from their own understanding and act in a new and creative way. If they are successful we all learn from them, if they are not successful, we all learn from them.
Our understanding is grounded in who we are, our self-perceptions, where we are, our social-perceptions, and how we perceive ourselves in that environment, our personal-social-perceptions.
Our creative and novel actions help us develop structures of understanding or paradigms. Something, somewhere, affects us, and our paradigms shift, our understanding of the world reaches a new height, we innovate by applying this new understanding to the world.
Society values knowledge and understanding. Understanding has elevated our species to a new paradigm. By learning and teaching each other, which we accomplish through sharing, we create new understandings and constantly innovate.
Society has created a place called a school, this is where early learning takes place. At school we are given roles, educator and student. Young people are shown what social success means, sometimes it can mean personal success, sometimes it can mean collaboration.
Schools are organized, they can repress and reinforce dominant groups. They can confront barriers of oppression and promote new ways of being, new concepts for society. They often do both of these simultaneously.
I am an educator, and I have done all the above. I have learned, and I have taught, I have found creativity and brought new innovations to my habits. I have consciously upheld habits I believe are right, I have consciously fought against injustices I have perceived. I have erred, I have faltered, I have stopped to reflect. Why did I do this, and was it the right choice?
I have learned to take a step back, when I can, and try to look at the situation objectively. Who am I? What are my goals? What do I know, and what do I not?
I am a learner, I have learned with others, classmates, teachers, parents, friends, giants of history (through books, video and text). I have challenged, I have lost my way, I have found a new path, I have never stood still.
I am not perfect, but I realize that is ok. My classroom is a part of my journey, it is a place for me to lead, but also to follow. I have selfishly reflected on who I am and what I do. I am a member of a community, my understanding brings me forward. Acting creatively requires an understanding of the situation. I try to understand, to create new paths that address past faults and stumbles.
I am who I am, and will be who I will be. We are all growing, every day, the first step is to accept that.
If there is one big idea I hold at the center of my philosophy, students are valid, valued and unique. You can grow, challenge and shape the world, but first you must know who you are, second where you are, finally, and most importantly, you must believe.
The world is full of injustice, separation and division are the fault lines of power that shape our society. The world might not be fair, but the classroom can. Let us make an environment that accepts. A teacher is given authority to guide and lead. To ask questions that help students define who they are.
Teachers don’t build potential, they create the pathways for that potential to arise.
Our prejudices devalue certain pathways, and champion others.
By social convention, our students spend their youths with us. They learn habits, they learn conventions, they learn who they are, and what their world is. They learn who they are in this world of theirs and ours.
Prejudice and oppression are walls that separate communities, that keep the difficulty at bay for some, and on the doorsteps of others.
Let’s walk together to these walls, find a hole, and look through. See that those on the other side, and ourselves, are more the same than different. Our strength and power exists in contrast to their lack. But like a narrow tower, built up to the sky, with narrow base it tumbles faster than a mountain that stretches across the land.
Let’s establish as broad a foundation as we can, inclusive, accepting, and wide. With more minds, more souls, we will share more broadly, more creativity validated, more innovation possible.
This is not grounded in the reality of my practice, the routines, the conventions, the work and projects. It is grounded in a metaphor, it is grounded in a dream.
My classroom is a place to dream what society could be. We keep our youth out of the “day to day” by putting them in schools, day after day. What is learned, both intentionally and “un,” will shape their understanding of what society is and can become.
Let us learn to dream big, together. Let us look at when we say “we can’t” and imagine how “we can.”
Let us dream together, let us share. Let us do what we can to imagine society better, believe ourselves, and dare to make it come true.