I haven’t had a slightest hint of becoming an educator. But when I discovered that I’ve got knack for it, it didn’t surprise me anymore and thoughts of shifting career (or vocation) were shelved back in the closet.
For one, I was born to a bloodline of educators. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and few more relatives raised their families as public school teachers. There were just two professions during those times, teaching and others. And they opted to teach in far flung government-run schools. So I guess, the passion for learning and sharing what I learned is already embedded in my DNA.
I liked it that way! Although the past four years of my teaching didn’t render itself as a fairytale, it did lead me towards discovery of my purpose and calling. I honestly struggled at first, because I have high regards of what I can do and must do. I dreamt of becoming a lawyer once that’s why I took an arts program in Political Science. Then, I wanted to do Organizational Psychology as I loved thinking about systems and structures. I’ve traded all of those to what I call now, my passion.
As an educator, I live by principles from what I have read, learnt, and observed. I didn’t finish with a degree in education that is why I have to make up for what I don’t have. I took additional education units where the subject called educational philosophy grounded my views on education. My arts degree on the other hand trained me to work on theories and models to apply into action. Compared to myself four years ago, I can say that I am better now in handling my craft, because eventually, I have learned to teach purposively grounded on novel ideas on learning.
I hold on to a constructivist philosophy about the learner, the educator, the task, and the learning process:
1. The learner is a unique, complex and multi-dimensional individual (Wertsch 1997). I believe that learning is more than just regurgitation of facts and mere cognition. It involves development in physical, emotional, social and even spiritual dimensions that work hand in hand. Each dimension must have a particular goal to achieve. My role is to guide the learners in recognizing his or her uniqueness and set particular goals in those five dimensions. Individuality rests above uniformity.
2. The learner carries a unique set of experience and culture (Werstch 1997). Learners comes from different background that determine their thoughts, words and actions. Those background serve as baseline that prompt where learning should start from. They aid to shape the knowledge that learner created, discovers, and eventually attains. These unique experiences and background influence the learners’ style and preference which are important tools to frame an individualized learning plan.
3. The learner plays an active role in the learning process. The educator and the learner are partners in the learning process, but the learner holds responsibility over his own learning. The teacher’s role is to design tasks that shall facilitate understanding and to guide the learner in every step in the learning process. Learners, after all, construct their own understanding and that they do not simply mirror and reflect what they read (Glasersfeld, 1989).
4. The learner’s motivation heightens up as they accomplish a task. The key to learning is building on the learner’s confidence as he or she accomplishes a task. This happens when the learner is introduced to a task, pushed to accomplish that task until he or she is able to take in more complex tasks (Vygotsy 1968). Confidence is built on task upon task while motivation is sustained as the learner maximizes his or her potential for learning.
5. Learning is an active and social process. I believe that the school is not a discrete unit of society that leaves the child in a prison-like school only because the parents go for work. The community is a place to learn and every unit can contribute to the provide a real-life learning experience for the child. As the old Chinese maxim put is, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Individuals who are engaged in social activities are more likely to have meaningful learning McMahon (1997).
6. Learning is a dynamic process among the task, learner, and teacher. I believe that my role is true to that of a coach or a mentor. My task is to design tasks, to feedforward and to feedback. Learning is a dynamic dialogue between me and the learner. Hence, we shape meaning at the same time. They view my culture, values, and background as a source of knowledge and I derive from them new ideas based from their viewpoints.
7. Collaboration among learners makes the learning more meaningful. I believe in collaborative or team learning. Based from the notion that each learner is unique and each learner puts forward his or her subjective view of things, a whole group of students can have a bigger picture of things. The learning process becomes an active interplay of the learners’ different skills and backgrounds (Duffy and Jonassen 1992).
8. Context is important. I believe in contextualized teaching and learning. As a teacher, I have to consider that tasks are similar to real-life setting or situation. It is my duty to enculturate students into authentic practices through activity and social interaction similar to life. assessment as a continuous and interactive process that measures the achievement of the learner, the quality of the learning experience and courseware. The feedback created by the assessment process serves as a direct foundation for further development.
9. Learning hops from general to specific. I believe in telling the learners about orienting the learners about the big picture of what to learn during a particular period. It is possible to blur the lines among subjects or academic discipline in favor of multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.
Duffy, T.M. & Jonassen, D. (Eds.), (1992).Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Glasersfeld, E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching. Synthese, 80(1), 121-140.
Vygotskii, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
Wertsch, J.V (1997) “Vygotsky and the formation of the mind” Cambridge.