An Educational Philosophy and Platos view on Teaching

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According to Education Expert International, "education is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one generation to another." Two philosophers have left a great impression on my philosophy of education. The two intelligent philosophers who helped teachers today formulate and implement ideas into the classroom are Socrates and Plato.

There is such a great emphasis on children receiving a good education in society because our children's future is important. Every student has the ability to become anything he/she would like to be. We as teachers are our students guide to a world of possibilities. As John F. Kennedy once said, "We must do all that we can, to give our children the best in education and social upbringing -- for while they are the youth of today, they shall be the leaders of tomorrow." If we really look in to this quote, we can believe that every child has the capability to be the great minds of the future. I believe that early education is crucial to the child's educational path. Early childhood teachers have the power to guide their students, which is the true reward of teaching.

One of my favorite philosophers whose teachings are still used currently in classrooms is Plato. Plato's view on education is based on utopian societies and citizens. This can be achieved through education. Plato felt that children were born to learn. Plato created a school which had a great emphasis on mathematics. People that did not know math were not allowed inside. In the educational system today we also have a great emphasis on students' math scores. Plato explains that people have the desire to discover things in the world. Young children, for instance, like to discover their world around them.

Plato demonstrated that educators have deep care for the well-being and future of their students. I found Plato very influential because he also mentions how necessary differing educational requirements are with various individual stages. Plato mentions that each and every person is different and needs levels of education, understanding, and reasoning. For instance, we have students who have a certain disability and they can receive an Individual Education Program or Differentiated Instruction. We as teachers know that every child can learn differently. Some children have knowledge in some places where others do not and vice versa.

In every classroom there will always be students that are not going to be on the same level as other students. I think that students who are doing poorly in the class or have a certain disability should be placed with students that are excelling in the classroom. In addition, the teacher may want to have the students who are having difficulty to sit in front of the class and pay closer attention to the lesson. The teacher should also have group projects more often, because it may be easier for students who are having difficulties studying to learn and understand better.

I think that group work is very important in children's development. Group work gives children the abilities to socialize and identify themselves as a part of a group. In addition, I think that math should be the foundation of the students school work. My High School Math teacher always used to say, "Math sharpens your mind." Plato was a strong believer in this and so am I. I think that mathematics is a part of everyday life and should be incorporated in everyday lessons.

Another great philosopher is Socrates. He did not believe that education should be taught through writing. He believed the way to teach is to talk rather than writing everything down because children are not really gaining through writing. Socrates loved asking questions. He ventured people's minds by asking them questions. This way the teacher is able to learn from the student as well as the student learns from the teacher because through dialogue one can share opinions and interpretations, which will vary with every person individually. In this manner you can learn so much about one particular subject because every student will have a different opinion or perspective in any given topic.

Socrates invented The Socratic Method, which is where "The teacher asks a series of questions that lead the students to examine the validity of an opinion or belief. This is a powerful teaching method because it actively engages the learner and forces critical thinking, which is just what is needed in examining ethics, values, and other character issues" (Elkind, 1997). A teacher can allow a student to think critically and implant the Socratic Method. The students will learn as the teacher keeps on asking questions. I have tried the Socratic Method with my kindergarten class. The subject was "skip counting" by two's and my students were able to answer all my questions.

In addition, when we teach, we should direct the student into the right answer rather than telling him the right answer. With the Socratic Method the teacher does not tell the student the proper answer; the teacher should draw the student to the probable answer. I believe that students can use their brains and be challenged on an everyday basis. This way then the student learns when he discovers the true generalization through his reasoning processes.

I feel that if learning is enjoyable to children and it is something they want to participate in, the attitude will stick with them throughout their lives and as Plato says learning will be a continuous growth pattern. One other point that Plato made was that of conversation in the classroom. Having a discussion with the students in class with giving and taking going on from both parties will be infinitely more beneficial.

Overall, I felt that both of these philosophers had very interesting things to say about education. The approaches they proposed would give students more of a drive or desire to learn. In today's society school is just a hassle that kids have to put up with. For example, my nephew begs his sister not to go to school. School needs to be a place where children want to have fun and learn. I think that if children were taught in the way that Plato and Socrates said they should, society would be different.

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