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Philosophy of Teaching

Jose Guilherme Proena Westminster Choir College Princeton, New Jersey

Introduction I have always been a hard working individual since I can remember. There was not a moment in grade school in which I felt as though I did not give it my all. The foundations for my learning styles come from my father. He is the figure that I idolized. Everyone wanted to be an astronaut or the next president; well, I wanted to be like my father. This hard-working attitude actually paid off in elementary school. I was always the kid to raise his hand and offer to be the door-holder for the class or to even clean up after an arts and crafts activity. While most of my characteristics are carbon copies of my father, my elementary school teachers also had a great deal to do with my behavior. The school systems in Brazil are entirely different than in the United States. When completing my Ensino Fundamental or elementary school, I never felt as though I was actually in school, however, I was merely enjoying my time and learning while doing so. All of the activities were student based. While there was an educator in the front of the room, the students were encouraged to learn the material at their own pace. Dewey (as cited in Simpson, Jackson & Aycock, 2005) suggests that we can regularly and consistently promote a series of values that will help nurture an ongoing democratic ethos. By being taught materials through examples which I encountered on a daily basis I learned a great


amount. The Brazilian education system, as well as my father, established the base of my enthusiastic learning attitude. My views on school systems were soon to change as I started my life in the United States. Just to be clear, I am in no way demeaning the education system is set up in the United States. I just feel as though the United States could learn a thing or two about the European school systems and I am merely commenting on my personal experiences throughout high school. Upon moving to the United States, I noticed a change in how students reacted to one another. Fellow students reminded me as to how every grade was a competition and how it was always important to be the number one student. Educators often taught by rote so that their students received an A grade. This is not how educators should be applying educational techniques in school systems. Upon progressing into college, I have since learned that teaching by rote is not empowering, transformative, or conversational. It is a way of teaching to the test which might not teach the students anything except for memorization skills. Education should be a way to convey a point while still stimulating the students mind to think creatively. Model Learning According to Vygotsky (1978), a humans living surroundings affect the way he or she learns. Vygotsky (1978) states that, Human learning presupposes a specific social nature and a process by which children grow into the intellectual life of those around them (p. 88). I call this, model learning. Vygotsky (as cited by McLeod, 2010) states that the zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential

! development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers (p. 86). Interactions with other peers in the classroom serve as an effective way of developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. An example of zone of proximal development would be if a student came into a pottery class not knowing how to work the pottery wheel. The student would begin by working by his or herself trying to figure out how to function the wheel. After time passes by, he or she would start modeling a more knowledgeable individual to help in fulfilling the task. This is a prime example of a higher figure guiding a less knowledgeable individual to success, i.e. model learning. Hein (1991) states that constructivism or the constructivist learning theory is the way that people learn information. By the act of constructivism, students learn by acting upon information presented to them in the classroom either by the educator or by their fellow peers. Constructed on already known information, knowledge keeps on altering as different ideas flourish from the classrooms lessons. When deciding which framework to follow, McLaren (2009) states that, a


category is simply a concept, question, issue, hypothesis, or idea that is central to critical theory. These categories are intended to provide a theoretical framework [] [to] perhaps understand the theories generated by critical educational research (p. 3). By choosing a framework, I was able to generate a concept, model learning, and make these ideas tangible to the reader. Model learning affects not only the students, but the educator as well. The educator, to fulfill the governments Common Core State Standards (CCSS), serves as a model to the students. Teaching through the concept of model learning requires the educator to have a fundamental understanding of the course and how to

! execute it effectively. Marginalization should not inhabit the concept of model learning, however, the educator should teach the students to learn in a way that is complacent to their own styles. Dewey (as cited in Simpson, Jackson & Aycock, 2005) states that the educators must first become proficient in their subject and serve as a guide to the student. Part of his learning, a very important part, consists in becoming master of the methods which experience of others has shown to be more efficient in like cases


of getting knowledge. These general methods are in no way opposed to individual initiative and originality to personal ways of doing things. On the contrary they are reinforcements to them. For there is a radical difference between even the most general method and a prescribed rule. The latter is a direct guide to action; the former operates indirectly through the enlightenment it supplies as to ends and means. It operates, this is to say, through intelligence, and not through conformity to orders eternally imposed. (MW 9: 178) Familiarization of the materials is the educators responsibility. Dewey as cited in (Simpson, Jackson & Aycock, 2005) has similar thoughts with Danielson (2013) towards education. Danielson (2013) states that planning and preparation is key to fulfilling the role of an educator. Effective teachers plan and prepare for lessons using their extensive knowledge of the content area, the relationships among different strands within the content and between the subject and other disciplines, and their students prior understanding of the subject. Instructional outcomes are clear, represent important learning in the subject, and are aligned to the curriculum. The instructional design

! includes learning activities that are well sequenced and require all students to think, problem solve, inquire, and defend conjectures and opinions. Effective teachers design formative assessments to monitor learning, and they provide the


information needed to differentiate instruction. Measures of student learning align with the curriculum, enabling students to demonstrate their understanding in more than one way. (2013) Educators must have a solid understanding of the content and pedagogy brought by the subject. The educator must be able to apply the knowledge and pedagogy to large, but specific goals. While writing lesson plans it is essential to keep up with current events and always keep the material different in a way that is easy for the student to relate to. By doing all the above, the students with a develop a way of understanding the content in more than one manner. The concept of model learning achieves both Danielsons (2013) and Deweys (2005) philosophies. Critical Thinking Skills Abrahams (2004) suggests that the philosophy called critical pedagogy centers around the students more than the educator. Critical Pedagogy is a post-modern teaching model that views teaching and learning as a conversation among teachers and their students. It advocates a shift in the power structure of classrooms by acknowledging that students come to the class with information gleaned from their own life experiences. The goal of critical pedagogy is to use that knowledge as a bridge to new learning. This results in a change of perception for both the students and their teacher. (p.1)

! I think that critical pedagogy attributes to the students thinking critically through eliminating unnecessary dialogue between educator and students. By no means should students be a part of a hegemonic environment, but one that they can work together to


achieve a common goal. Abrahams (2014) states that educators should see nothing wrong with students enjoying and having fun with the materials presented to them. By putting the students in this position of confidence and power, Wink (2000) suggests that conscientization occurs. Wink (2000) wrote, In schools and communities, conscientization is knowing what we know, and it is more. It means that we have voice and the courage to question ourselves and the role we are playing in maintaining educational processes that we do not value (p. 37). Students should have a solid grasp on the lesson as well be able to critically apply what they have learned to events outside of the classroom. A lesson plan template, such as the one designed by Abrahams (2014), focuses on the behavioral, cognitive, experimental, and constructivist aspects of the students education. By evaluating these aspects of the students in-class learning skills, we get a better understand as to how effective the lesson has proven to be. I also think that technology serves as an important tool when discussing the students world. Freire (1970) mainly states that students are constantly changing as time goes by. With the twenty-first century having more technological advances than ever, it is important for the educator to keep up with their students in all aspects of their lives, including technology. Kincheloe (2008) states highly skilled scholarly teachers research their students and their communities and analyze the curricular topics they are expected to cover (p.118). By doing so, these educators are aware of the demographics they are dealing with in order to better adjust the way they are educating their classroom. Greene (as cited by

! Xydas, 2012) suggests that students need to express what they feel is meaningful and


have informed engagement with the art. Xydas (2012) states that technology, specifically iPads, helps bridge school music with the students music. By doing so, this causes the students to relate to their lessons and apply these skills to their everyday lives. Conclusion By exposure to the concept of model learning, students are educated to work with one another rather than against each other. While this might be only one opinion of a concept, it is through different thought processes that educators can find the best teaching methods for the students of tomorrow. While I cannot change the education system that I had in the past, I can hope for a change in systems for the future. Freire (1970) suggests that all humans are currently changing. Freire (1970) states that, [] aspirations, the motives, and the objectives implicit in the meaningful thematics are human aspirations, motive and objectives. They do not exist out there somewhere, as static entities; they are occurring (p.107). At the rate that humans are changing, the educator must keep updating his or her toolbox of educational techniques and frameworks in order to adapt to each individual student. No human is the same, which means no student is the same. Each student will learn by his or her tempo, the educator does not decide this. Teaching should inspire students to think critically and effectively by allowing them to apply what they learned in the classroom to everyday life activities. Whether it is through model learning, (Vygotsky 1978) description of zone of proximal development, or (Hein 1991) description of the constructivist theory, most if not all students should be the center of attention in a classroom environment. The portrayal of gaining knowledge is not a form of competition, however, as a way to enrich yourself and those around you.

! References


Abrahams, F. (2004, January 1). Critical Pedagogy for Music Education: A Best Practice to Prepare Future Music Educators. . Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://wwwusr.rider.edu/~vrme/v7n1/visions/Abrahams%20CPME%20Best%20Practices.pdf Abrahams, F. (2014). Music education department. Lesson plan format [Template]. Abrahams F. (2014). Critical Pedagogy for Music Education. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Canvas. Daniels, H. (2001). Vygotsky and pedagogy. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Danielson Group The Framework. (2013, January 1). Danielson Group The Framework Comments. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://danielsongroup.org/framework/ Darder, A., Baltodano, M., Torres, R., & McLaren, P. (2009). The Critical Pedagogy Reader. New York: Routledge. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Hein, G. (1991, January 1). Constructivist Learning Theory. Exploratorium: the museum of science, art and human perception. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://www.exploratorium.edu/ifi/resources/constructivistlearning.html Kincheloe, J. L. (2008). Critical Pedagogy ( ed.). New York: P. Lang. McLeod, S. (2010, January 1). Zone of Proximal Development. - Scaffolding. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/Zone-of-ProximalDevelopment.html Simpson, D. J., & Jackson, M. J. (2005). John Dewey and the art of teaching: toward reflective and imaginative practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

! Wink, J. (2000). Critical pedagogy: notes from the real world (2nd ed.). New York: Longman.


Xydas, S. (2012, January 1). ISME Presentation. prezi.com. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://prezi.com/zcuxugzp8big/isme-presentation/