Personal Philosophy of Education and Mission Statement for an Inclusive School District Essay

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Personal philosophy of education statement



Although the settings that are used to deliver educational services today differ markedly from those used a century ago, the fundament purpose of education has remained essentially the same: to provide young learners with the academic background and experiences they need to become contributing citizens to American society (Stone, 2014). The introduction of numerous technological innovations in recent years, though, has also resulted in growing numbers of educators questioning the efficacy of conventional pedagogy that ignores the ability of students to locate information instantaneously online about the 50 state capitals, the names of all the presidents, how far it is to Jupiter, or any of the other countless facts that were once widely regarded as indicators of learning. As Trybus (2013) emphasizes, “The future of education may seem daunting and challenging if educators lack a vision of what matters most for students to be prepared for the 21st century” (p. 11). Taken together, it is becoming increasingly apparent that even the notion of what constitutes an education has changed in the minds of the general public, but it is also clear that far too many educators have ignored these trends and have remained mired in teaching practices that are no longer effective simply because these practices are familiar and comfortable.

These significant trends have resulted in the need for educators to reassess how best to provide students with what matters most and there is a growing consensus that traditional educational approaches will no longer suffice. In this regard, Trybus concludes that, “What educators know and practice in teaching now will not be adequate for the future with the changing roles of curriculum, instruction, and assessment” (2013, p. 11). Consequently, although the basic purpose of education has remains essentially the same over the years, the nature of the educational process itself have changed in substantive ways. Indeed, the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act have made it clear that a high quality education must provided to all young learners irrespective their unique learning needs and that teachers can play an important role as advocates for students and by becoming civic leaders in their community, a role that is facilitated by a clearly articulated personal philosophy of education (Rodd, 2006).

Notwithstanding these trends and given the dramatic changes in American demographics in recent years, the theoretical educational perspectives of John Dewey remain salient today with respect to creating and promoting inclusive public schools in the United States (Benson & Harkavy, 2009). Indeed, as early as 1916, Dewey’s text, Democracy and Education, highlighted the importance of education in democratic societies and the importance of providing inclusive schools to inculcate American citizenship values and to provide all students with the academic background and critical thinking experiences they need to succeed in a democratic society (Benson & Harkavy, 2009). For example, according to Sherman and Webb (2001), “Dewey says his endeavor is to detect and state the ideas implied in a democratic society and to apply these ideas to the problems of the enterprise of education” (p. 37).

From Dewey’s perspective, formalizing a personal philosophy of education is also an essential step for teachers because it serves to codify and articulate how this philosophy is transformed into teaching practices in the classroom (Dickey, 2009).

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According to Dewey, “Philosophy is a civic enterprise whose aim is to clarify men's ideas as to the social and moral strifes of their own day. Its aim is to become so far as is humanly possible an organ for dealing with these conflicts” (cited in Sherman & Webb, 2001, p. 36). Likewise, Soltis (1983) suggests that “a personal philosophy of education refers to a set of personal beliefs or a personal philosophy of life” (cited in Sherman & Webb, 2001, p. 36).

This type of personal philosophy is highly consistent with the common school approach to the provision of high quality education, a concept that has become engrained as a fundamental American value. For example, Aske and Conally (2013) point out that, “The idea that all children in the United States have the right to a publicly supported education regardless of race, social class or religious beliefs is an American value. [A]ccess to a public education [and] the expectations of a common educational experience [are] part of the American culture” (p. 107). This conceptualization of the purpose of education in the United States also includes the objective of preparing students for their role as meaningfully employed citizens in a free society. In this regard, Aske and Connally add that, “This common school idea is based on the view that education should be an equitable, assimilative, and inclusive institution designed to prepare students to be future productive citizens” (2013, p. 107).

One of the more important aspects of developing and maintaining inclusive schools that grounds my personal philosophy concerning education is the need for educators to assume a personal advocacy role within their professional communities of interest as well as the communities in which they work. This objective is congruent with the School of Education’s conceptual framework with respect to the importance of developing and sustaining diverse, equitable, and democratic learning communities. This is a seriously important role for educations because far too many parents assume that “the schools” will take care of everything and they have no substantive role to play in shaping their children’s educational future. Research has shown time and again that the more active parents are in their children’s education, the better the academic outcomes that are achieved, but such involvement rates remain dismally low, especially among low-income and minority families in the United States today (Smith, 2009). This means that creating more inclusive schools and improving academic outcomes also requires more active involvement on the part of parents and teachers can help recruit their efforts by reaching out to them.

In some cases, parents may not know how to help their children with their schoolwork while in others there may be misperceptions….....

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References

Aske, D. R. & Connolly, L. S. (2013, September 1). Accessibility or accountability? The rhetoric and reality of No Child Left Behind. Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research, 14(3), 107-109.

Benson, L. & Harkavy, I. (2009). Dewey's dream: Universities and democracies in an age of education reform: Civil society, public schools, and democratic citizenship. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Dickey, A. (2009, Fall). Differentiating instruction: Collaborative planning and teaching for universally designed learning. American Secondary Education, 36(1), 99-102.

Gabriel, J. G. & Farmer, P. C. (2009). How to help your school thrive without breaking the bank. New York: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

Killoran, I. & Panaroni, M. (2004, Spring). Rethink, revise, react: Using an anti-bias curriculum to move beyond the usual. Childhood Education, 80(3), 149-153.

Kohout, J. & Gavigan, K. (2015, December). The years of our learning commons: A school district's perspective. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 18-21.

Lefevere, P. (2013, November 8). Men make their entrance at Georgian Court. National Catholic Reporter, 50(3), 8-9.

O’Hanley, H. (2015, May). Creating a mission statement. Arts & Activities, 157(4), 12.

Rodd, J. (2006). Leadership in early childhood. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Sherman, R. R. & Webb, R. R. (2001). Qualitative research in education: Focus and methods. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Smith, J. G. (2009, Spring). Parental involvement in education among low-income families: A case study. School Community Journal, 16(1), 43-46.

Soltis, J. F. (1983, Summer). Perspectives on philosophy of education. Journal of Thought, 18, 14-21.

Stone, J. R. (2014, May/June). Experiential learning in the 21st century: The role, purpose and value of work-based learning. The Agricultural Education Magazine, 86(6), 24-26.

Toronto district school board. (2000). Equity foundation statement and commitments to equity policy implementation. Toronto: Author.

Trybus, M. (2013, Fall). Preparing for the future of education -- equipping students with 21st century skills: An interview with Dr. Robin Fogarty. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 80(1), 10-13.

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