As I read through this week’s readings I find myself reflecting on what kind of teacher I would like to be. In Arthur Ellis’ Philosophical Perspectives paper he outlines the different schools of philosophy and educational philosophy. As he mentions, the philosophies are not cut in stone and sometimes are mixed when applicable. I agree with that idea because no one philosophy struck me as my ultimate goal. That being said, I related well with the Progressivism philosophy of education in many ways. Ellis states “Dewey saw no need to focus upon a fixed body of knowledge as did the perennialists and essentialists. Progressivism, instead, places emphasis upon how to think rather than what to think” (p. 7). While I am drawn to philosophies that think along the latter it is the former that troubles me a bit. I like the thought of teaching critical thinking skills, but I also think there is a valid argument for a solid foundation of knowledge. Such as stated by Petrarch in Dr. Sheuerman’s paper “EDU 6918: Foundations Session 5: Christian Humanism through Renaissance and Reformation” in where he states, “virtue and mature knowledge comes through an understanding of three central literary studies: history, philosophy, and poetry” (p. 2). In some ways I think the scholars agree with parts of the Progressivisim philosophy, or that some thoughts transcend different philosophies such as mentioned by Comenius in our excerpt of The Great Didactic, “The Beginning and End of our Didactic will be to seek and find a method by which the teachers teach less and the learners learn more” (p. 7). In other ways there is a definite contrast in philosophy such as when in the same text Comenius states, “Education, which is preparation for life, should be finished before adulthood” (p. 8). Where I as a lifetime learner agree with Ellis’ tenant of Progressivism “Education should be life itself, not a preparation for living” (p. 7).
Finally when thinking of how I will teach, I find I’m more certain of who I will teach. While my future may bring me to different kinds of classrooms my first venture will most likely be in Special Education (inclusive or ILC), and philosophies are hotly debated in that field as well. Once again I am drawn to the words of Comenius from The Great Didactic where he states, “all obstacles ought to be removed from the pupil” (p. 9), which reminds me of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA states that all children regardless of disabilities will have the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), which many educators feel is full inclusion into the general education classroom regardless of disabilities, but I’m not always sure that the GE classroom is the LRE for every student. Maybe Comenius wasn’t thinking about students with disabilities with that statement, but he has given me food for thought.