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A simple educational philosophy that works

My husband and I home schooled our two boys for most of their lives. When they were 13 and 15, I was asked to teach at a local private school. The teacher originally hired found a better paid job just a week before class started and the school needed a new teacher urgently.

As part of my application I wrote this teaching philosophy the night before. We had always used this philosophy intuitively for our own boys and the application gave me reason to write it down.

I used this philosophy to teach a small (12 students) class of teenagers (sixth to twelfth grade) for two years. It worked just as well in a classroom situation as for our own boys at home.

It is based on the assumption that education is not an entitlement. It is a gift that parents and others wish to give to their child that he may or may not accept.

What are your goals as an educator?

My goal is to help children become confident and self motivated young adults that will be able to do many things in their lives, because of a good and healthy attitude.

Describe your educational philosophy.

There are four things a student has to learn, the rest will
work out just fine:

1) The student must agree and understand why it is good to study a particular subject.

  • In general it is important for a student to know that he learns things for his own benefit and not for his teacher’s or his parent’s, but totally for his own benefit. The more he learns, the more he will be able to use this knowledge to do what he wants in life.
  • He must feel that he is in charge of deciding whether he wants to learn or not.
  • Let the student be involved with deciding what subject he wants to study.
  • If the student does not want to study a particular subject, but the teacher and parents think it is good for him, it is the teacher’s job to encourage the student to agree, by means of reasoning. By no means can a teacher use force. The teacher can use examples of why it would be wise to study this subject or maybe suggest learning this subject at a later, more appropriate date.

2) Find a way to make learning as much fun as possible.

  • Once the student agrees to study a subject, try to make the learning as much fun as possible. This can be done by asking the student for any ideas. Yet again, the student needs to feel it is his decision to study and he can have a large input on how. The teacher can make suggestions.

3) Help the student obtain methods and materials for learning.

  • If the teacher spends time on showing the student where to collect information and how to work with it, the student can learn to work independently more easily. If he expects a teacher, parent or other adult to have all the answers for him, he will always depend on another person showing him what to do.
  • It is not a good idea for a teacher to lecture all the time. Maybe sometimes it could be nice, when both parties agree.

4) Help the student set goals, scheduling and self evaluate.

  • It is important the student to set his own goals. If he understands what he is trying to achieve, it makes it easier for him to schedule the work.
  • The teacher can supervise the scheduling of the work. It is important that the student agrees on the dates. It puts the
    responsibility in the student’s hands and it is not the teacher who is bad if he cannot finish in time. Along the way, the teacher is there to encourage him and to remind him in a positive way to stay on target. If he loses interest, it is important to go back to making sure he remembers why he wants to do it and try to wake up his enthusiasm again. Always keep his cooperation.

Sometimes it can be hard to get a student through these stages, but it is important to keep trying, because I believe these are the most important aspects a teacher should hold himself to.

Why are you interested in a private alternative school setting?

I am interested in a private school setting, because:

From what I have seen so far, Government run schools have a strict agenda. The teacher stands in front of the class and lectures what has to be learned for the day. The student does not feel like he is learning out of his own free choice, nor for his own benefit and often not what he has an interest in at that time. If he does not learn what the teacher tells him to, he will not get a good grade, and he will not pass and keep up with the strict agenda. This kind of education, for many students, could perhaps create a good soldier that does what he is told, but he will not learn to think for himself and take responsibility. That might be the Government’s goal, but I believe the world is much better off with humans that can think for themselves. In a private school, it can be up to parents, students and school management how to go about the education. The agenda can be adjusted.

If a class has too many students, there is no easy way for the teacher to communicate with each individual. Young adults need guidance, each one in a different way. Private schools usually have smaller classes.