On Teaching Philosophies

No two teachers are alike. Even if they are from the same race and culture and graduated from the same university, don’t expect them to embrace the same educational philosophies and to develop the same set of beliefs and values. You won’t see them apply the same methods and strategies in the classroom, approach teaching and learning with the same degree of passion, and treat the learners in the same manner.

Teachers are different in many ways.

Teachers decide which perspectives they would use when looking at their role as mentors and when looking at their students. Such perspective depends on either the philosophical foundations upon which they are grounded or their personal set of beliefs… or maybe both.

Teachers may have read too much of Hegel,  Kant, and Plato that they may have developed idealistic tendencies indoctrinating their students into believing that they do not exist for themselves but for others and for a higher purpose. Or like Aristotle, Locke, or Rousseau (who all tried to debunk the ideas established by Plato and company) the teachers maybe slowly training their students to subscribe to rational thinking, that the latter need to think critically and scientifically. They could be pragmatists like Dewey and Kilpatrick, guiding students to keep themselves in touch with reality for they believe that there is no other world aside from what can be perceived by the senses.

Whatever values and beliefs teachers have doesn’t really matter for as long as nothing they say and do in the class is inimical to the interests of the students. What is important is that everything that they say and do in the classroom is intended to lead  the students to the attainment of their full potentials, help them acquire and develop the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values,  and prepare them to live a meaningful and productive life. Teachers should  not forget Descartes’ view of formal education – “It is the process of acquiring and developing quality or skill.”

So, for as long as the end is to make the students the best they can be, the philosophy upon which the teachers grounded their teaching doesn’t matter.

So be it if  the teachers are like Satre, leaning towards Existentialism in guiding the students to take responsibility in deciding who they are in order to make themselves authentic individuals.

Nobody can claim that this or that philosophical perspective in education is superior to the other. It’s fine if the teachers wish to embrace all the philosophies and combine their best features to serve and guide them in shaping their set of values and in choosing their methods and strategies.

Combining the philosophies is not, by the way, a novel idea. In Scholasticism, St. Thomas Aquinas, harmonized Idealism and Realism. What about coming out with a philosophical perspective combining the four major philosophies in Education?

The philosophies aforementioned have shaped the teachers into the kind of educators that they are today. Whatever they knowingly and unknowingly say and do in the classrooms are offshoots of their set of values and beliefs. And this set of values and beliefs constitute their philosophy of education.

Teachers may have also accumulated  through the years a personal system of values that govern every decision they make in the classrooms. Thus we see them approach their teaching (and deal with their students) in different ways. We see them display different degrees of enthusiasm in teaching. Some display no enthusiasm at all.

There are teachers who are “sages on the stage” who believe, the way the realists and idealists do, that knowledge emanates from them being the authorities. So, the students should be spoonfed. Conversely, there are teachers, who, like the existentialists and pragmatists, act like “guides on the side” painstakingly guiding the students to self-discovery.

There are teachers who would choose specific methods and strategies without considering the specific needs of their students. But there are also those who would be conscientious enough to take into consideration the heterogeneity in the class before deciding what learning system they would put into effect.

There are teachers whose mere mention of their names would either disgust the students or send shivers down their spine. Conversely, there are teachers who try to make learning fun making the students enjoy, and not fear, the classroom.

There are teachers who consider the classroom a workplace, while others consider it a playground. They work playfully or playfully work happy doing what they are doing in the classroom thereby rubbing off to the students their joyful spirit and make learning fun.

There are teachers who have seemingly forgotten that the students are not just empty sheets waiting to be filled out as in Locke’s Tabula Rasa. The kids in the classrooms are not wax figures with empty minds which the teachers need to stuff with all the knowledge that the curriculum requires. These students are not just intellectual beings, they have emotions. They have needs beyond knowledge and skills. They also need respect, love, and understanding. They should be treated the way parents would treat their children. What for that we call the school the second home? What for that we call the teachers the second parents?

Whatever the teachers decide to be… whatever system they implement… whatever method and strategies they apply… however they view learning… however they treat their students… would depend on their perspectives as dictated by their educational philosophy and their set of values and beliefs.

The way  teachers conduct themselves as professionals and the way they treat their students depend on whether they treat teaching as means of livelihood or a way of life.

About M.A.D. LIGAYA

Teacher-Writer-Lifelong Learner M, A, and D are the initials of my two first names (Massuline and Antonio) and my mother's family name (Dupaya). Ligaya (a Filipino word which means happiness in English) is my family name. MAD is actually one of my nicknames aside from Tony and Ching. My full name is Massuline Antonio Dupaya Ligaya. Many times I was asked the question "Why do you write?" I don't write for material rewards nor adulation. When I write poems, stories, and essays, when I do research, the process of creating them gives me immense joy and seeing them completed brings me great satisfaction. I don't write for cash incentives, "likes," and "praises." I would be thankful should I get those but the happiness and sense of fulfillment I get while doing them and completing my works are my real rewards. Is teaching difficult? No! When I teach, I don't work but I play. My educational philosophy - "The classroom is my playground, the students are my playmates, and the subject is our toy." I am a lifelong learner too. My daily goal is to be better than I was yesterday. It's difficult, but it's worth the try. It's not for what I get from doing it but for what I become. Proud to be me! Proud to be a FILIPINO! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Posted on October 18, 2021, in Education, Educational Philosophy, Personal Philosophy of Education, Philosophy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. From one perspective, you’ll get followers, but you’re not really saying anything other than people are different and we should send our kids to be taught by them, never mind the differences. That’s very new agish and thinking without much experience. Couldn’t disagree more. No parent should have their children taught by someone they strongly disagree with, and more, one who would say such things. No parent should have their children taught to not listen to their parents, hold to their values, and such. It sounds nice in theory, but wrong in practice. *You can, within certain grounds, within certain parameters, encourage flexibility. But there has to be some “underpinnings”, “ground rules,” and understanding, and as I see it, morals and a strong adherence to the U.S. Constitution. Good article to bring up viewpoints. **However, I think the day of public schools has long passed. No longer can we reel in the bats that have gotten into the belfry. Home schooling, perhaps private, is the only way today, with tutors that are watched.

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  2. Noted! I do respect your opinion. It’s okay that you disagree with the points I presented. I really don’t expect that all those who would care to read what I post here would embrace my views. At least you said that mine is a “good article to bring up viewpoints” and “from one perspective, [I’ll] get followers.” Thanks for taking the time to comment. When I have time, I’ll go back to your comments and try to dissect your disagreement.

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    • Don’t think too much about it. From you’re writing, I detected motivation, but not from much experience. That takes time. The difficulty is growing up in times of mass disinformation, feel good awards, and a political climate designed to separate the youth from their elders, so they won’t learn the wisdom of years. Part of the problem is many older people have also been duped and given up their wisdom and understanding, so they don’t appear respectable, but that’s their fault. They must hold to morals and understanding based upon real experiences. But don’t fall into that. Be patient, but not try to be popular.

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