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Personal Statement of Philosophy of Education
Learning takes place throughout life, learning through experiences can be a fitting strategy for educators utilize in order to engage students. Experiential learning occurs through observations and inactions. It defines how students will take initiative in their own learning process and the purpose and role of teachers. People usually learn from their own life experiences; therefore, students will be able to gain knowledge by the way learn and apply
it beyond the classroom, all through their lives.
In this paper, I will discuss my views of educational philosophy on Experiential Learning. John Dewy, was a major component of Experiential Learning with his belief that students learn as they do. The education philosophy of John Dewy, Aristotle, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau will be explored and how their views on education set the foundation for learning. I will also discuss strategies that can be used in the classroom to assist learning styles and best practices. Further discussions will refer to the benefits of technology in classrooms and how we can combine experiential learning to the virtual classroom.
The education center of gravity has been too long in the teacher, the textbook, anywhere and everywhere you please, except in the immediate instinct and activities of the child himself.” -John Dewey
Educational philosophy is the goals and achievements as an educator. These philosophies design a guideline to implement teaching methods to meet the requirements of a standard curriculum (Le Fevre et al., 2015). It is what inspires them to decide what should be implemented in a classroom. It is an indication of one’s own beliefs that guides them to carry out a specific teaching strategy. My philosophy of education, has derived from the Experiential Learning theory, it bares comprehensive educational practices; it demonstrates reason with actuality. It is a logical approach that offers lifelong learning as a component for gaining knowledge through daily life interactions. Students, therefore are responsible for their own learning, and expand their skills. Although lifelong learning is important to expand individuals’ capabilities, it is life experiences that contribute to personal growth and development necessary for a successful future. (insert life long)
Through my readings of John Dewey, I have found his educational philosophy best supports theory that is based on Experiential Learning. While John Dewey and Kolb were reputed to be the most famous proponent of this learning design, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau had certain viewpoints that contributed to the theory of Experiential Learning. Experiential Learning emphasizes that we learn through personal actions and observations rather than reading or listening about other’s experiences. It is the process of teacher/student collaboration which extracts experiences and connections it to a specified curriculum. Lifelong learners attain from their personal experiences and comprehend how they learn overall. It is a hands-on method to teaching that upholds an individual to be progressive in their own education. Through Experiential Learning, student’s own observations become the most prevalent facilitator in acquiring knowledge.
A proponent of Experiential Learning Theory, John Dewey (1859- 1952) was recognized as the father of the Progressive Movement in education and Experiential Learning. His work reflected upon the notion that knowledge is solely based upon one’s own experience. He believed that students prosper more in an environment where they are able to connect and interact to foster their own education. Dewey states, “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” Through the process of “doing” students become kinesthetic learners. Dewey felt that the most important aspect of education was whether or not it promoted further learning in the future. Ideas were only valuable if they were able to be applied. If the learning experience did not promote growth, but rather suppressed it, then it was “mis-educative”. While I do not dismiss the role of the teacher as vital to the learning process, I do support Dewey’s beliefs that the responsibility of the teacher was to assist students, rather than just instill their own thoughts and beliefs.
In earlier writings, philosopher Jean- Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) advocated inquiry based learning and the importance of students being an active participant in their own education. He believed that students learn best in an unrestricted environment. While his name was not synonymous with the Experiential Learning Theory, Rousseau believed that teachers should interact with students to create learning experiences that will allow for them to discover new ideas for themselves. Like Dewey, he also believed that the role of a teacher was to act as mentors, rather than instructors. Jean- Jacques Rousseau also held the belief that educators should grant freedom to their students and allows them to contribute to their own achievements. This involvement will motivate them and encourage participation in the classroom. Although mostly famous for his book “Emile”, which focuses on natural education, Rousseau’s views on the importance of learning by experience echoes those of John Dewey’s.
John Locke (1632-1704) believed that the process of experiencing enables us to develop as individuals and attain knowledge. Locke states, “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.” In addition to this principle, Lock also believed that we are all born a blank slate and all the wisdom that we acquire derives from the comforts and misfortunes we encounter in our lives. He felt that it was critical to learn through repeated process. When one attempts to resolve a challenge, the process of repetition aids in uncovering the solution. He also stated that our “association of ideas” is even more vital as a child rather than an adult because they are the foundation of one’s self. What we learn as children shapes who we are and sets the groundwork for how we develop as adults. Although Locke’s central philosophy of education differed than John Dewey’s, he too, implied that learning by experience was essential to the educational process.
Although education still shadows many philosophies of the past, it has unquestionably transformed. A new era of thinking has now transpired due to the development of technology. The use of computers and other technological advances have played a critical role in today’s education. Since computers have provided a means for students to experience situations in and out of the classroom, students can now obtain the same learning experience despite their setting. For example, virtual classrooms are an effective tool to encourage collaborative and combined learning techniques. The usefulness of search engines has given individuals the opportunity to receive data in its simplest form. Students are also able to participate in group discussions, receive class assignments and grades, and respond to teacher inquiries via Blackboard. Smart Boards and PowerPoint presentations have also become a ubiquitous technique to learning. The use of these visual aids may enhance the learning of those students who respond better to illustrations. Audio aids can also help those students who respond to the spoken word as opposed to reading from a textbook.
Since Technology plays such an important role in today’s classrooms, we are now able to blend experiential learning to the virtual environment. Students can experience technology as they partake in learning activities which will allow them to create their own understanding. In this way, learning is not only limited to a formal classroom setting, but rather through one’s interactions. The Experiential education philosophy can also be exercised while applying for a job, beginning internships, performing volunteer services and participating in classroom activities since it fosters academic as well as social experiences. This philosophy will be appropriate to provide the skills and proficiencies needed to become successful in the present day.
One’s success as a student or lack thereof, is contingent upon higher education. In order for higher education to occur, students need to be challenged and stimulated. Learning should be fun. Conventional learning styles may not be effective. Therefore, my philosophy of education which supports experiential learning will actively engage students with information and ideas and provide high interest. As an educator using this design for learning, I will be able to observe learning firsthand, discern how my students learn, correct problems and clear up misinterpretations as they occur, and encourage reflective meaning of their experience. Students will then be prompted to use the information that was discovered from their learning experience for future use. Using this design for learning, students will become better problem solvers and develop practical skills. They will be able to understand complex concepts and develop new ideas from their experience. As students take the initiative in their own learning, they are embodying the practice of Experiential learning in its true sense.
In order to incorporate my ideal educational philosophy into my classroom, I will need to provide my students with the freedom to “experience.” While Experiential Learning does encourage student independence, it does not disqualify a semi-structured approach. As an educator, I will plan suitable educational practices where my students are required to reflect upon their experience, using critical thinking skills. This can be accomplished via group discussions, individually, journal entries, or written assignments. I will then have students conceptualize the experience and apply cognitive thinking skills to interpret events and the relationship between them. This could be accomplished via lectures, papers, projects or films. Active experimentation is the last principle in this learning design as students plan how they will put into practice what they have learned, make necessary revisions and to predict future outcomes. This can be supported via homework, fieldwork, and projects.
Learning is a perpetual task. Our education begins at birth and continues throughout one’s life. As children, we learn by experience and we as adults preserve this never ending cycle. Since one never ceases to live and learn, the concept of lifelong learning is validated. As educators, we can build upon this notion by providing our students with the freedom to “experience.” In this way students become actively engaged in their own learning. They don’t merely just have to listen. Dating back to Aristotle, who perhaps set the tone for modern educational theories, supported this philosophy when he was quoted as saying, “Anything that we have to learn to do we learn by the actual doing of it… We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate ones, brave by doing brave ones.’ (Aristotle Niconachean Ethics, Book II, p.91). Moreover, through my philosophy of education which supports lifelong learning and the theory of experiential learning, I will endeavor to enrich my students and become acknowledged not only as an instructor but a mentor as well. I will bestow upon my students a legacy following in the footsteps of the great Aristotle, John Dewy and others who contributed to the potential thinkers and learners of the future.
- Amezquita, A. (1992, December 4). Rousseau and Locke: The General Will. Retrieved from http://philosophy.eserver.org/rousseau-and-locke.txt
- Gentry, J. (1990). What is Experiential Learning. Retrieved from http://www.wmich.edu/casp/servicelearning/files/What is Experiential Learning.pdf
- Kolb, A., & Kolb, D. (2002). Experiential Learning Theory. Retrieved from http://weatherhead.case.edu/departments/organizational-behavior/workingPapers/WP-07-02.pdf
- Lumm, W. F. (n.d.). A Christian Philosophy of Education and John Dewey . Retrieved from http://www.bjupress.com/resources/articles/t2t/a-christian-perspective-on-john-dewey.php
- Mays, E. (2011). New Foundations. Retrieved from http://www.newfoundations.com/GALLERY/Aristotle.html
- Raleigh, J. (2001, April 17). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/locke
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