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Philosophy Of Education: Insights From Key Educational Theorists

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From my first twelve weeks of experience in the education module here at the University of Limerick, I have found myself asking numerous questions with regard to my emerging philosophy of education. Questions like what the role of a teacher is nowadays and what kind of teacher would I like to be once it is my time to re-enter the classroom. Also, I have come across interesting debates in my time like the theory-practice debate when educating teachers and the argument of traditional versus modern education in schools. In this essay, I hope to address these key questions and debates to eventually understand my emerging philosophy of education.

Firstly, when addressing my emerging philosophy of education, I have to tackle the important question, what kind of teacher would I personally like to become. From each of the guest speakers, we have had I have gained more insight into what makes a good educator and I have come to the conclusion that I would like to be a respected teacher who is fair and compassionate. My goal as an educator is to give my students quality education that benefits them inside and outside the classroom. In secondary school, my engineering teacher imposed a powerful philosophy of education on me similar to the philosophy I possess today, and this is why I chose to do engineering teaching here at UL. Simply put Education is not just about gaining knowledge of a chosen subject; it is gaining skills, morals, and values that can be applied anywhere. This profound statement is the basis for my teaching philosophy as I believe by educating my students; I can help shape individuals with strong positive characters and ethics and who are competent in whatever they choose to do. These young people who I shape will then continue in life to mold the future of the planet.

In the present, a teacher has a key role in the development of children all the way to early adulthood. They nurture the cognitive development of a child and are often role models of sorts for their students (O’Brien 2019 LL6,3). Throughout the school week, pupils often see their teachers far more than they see their parents or guardians and as a result, much of the upbringing of the child is left off to the teachers in the school. This can be a difficult aspect of the profession however seeing the student blossom and grow into a functioning capable adult can make it all worthwhile. I hope to look after all of my students and make the classroom an environment where they feel they can learn safely.

In the classroom, I have come to believe that students learn through doing, this philosophy I share with John Dewey. When teaching I will hope to create an exciting classroom environment where students are hands-on in their learning. The traditional education system in my opinion only caters to a certain kind of student (O’Brien 2019 LL8,2), a student that has the capability to sit down and book learn, if a particular pupil does not possess this learning trait they get left behind. That is why when it comes to my turn to teaching in schools, I hope to incorporate every student into the learning experience whenever possible. I especially agree with the quote by John Dewey ‘If we teach today’s students as we thought yesterday’s we rob them of tomorrow’ a certain amount of progressive new age teaching methods are needed in the classroom to allow each student to reach their maximum academic potential however I still believe there is some merit to using the past methods which have been proven constructive. From my recent study on Dewey, I have realized that passion for education should accompany a proper understanding of the assigned subjects. It is pointless to be brimming with passion to educate if you have no knowledge of what you're required to teach. This refers back to the theory-practice debate again.

When discussing the traditional versus progressive education argument John Dewey is not black or white against ‘either-or thinking. He states that “There is always the danger in a new movement that in rejecting the aims and methods of that which it would supplant, it may develop its principles negatively rather than positively and constructively” (Dewey, 1938, 1963, p. 20). Here I believe Dewey is saying that coming with modernizing of teaching comes to a danger that if the modernizing of teaching is to forget about the methods and practices of teaching that came before then it may grow or develop negatively rather than constructively. I agree with this ideology that as the art of educating grows with time it must take into account what has come before and developed on it. I will incorporate this message into my philosophy of education as much as possible

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The woman referred to as the spiritual successor to John Dewey, Maxine Greene, agrees with a number of statements made by John Dewey however she also makes some interesting points of her own. “It is when teachers are together as persons, according to norms and principles they have freely chosen, that interest becomes intensified and commitments are made” (Greene, 1978, Teaching the Question of Personal Reality, p. 34). Personally, I agree wholeheartedly with this statement by Maxine Greene. I think that a teacher must be able to empathize and make the teaching and learning experience more intimate so as to enhance the students’ interest in the classroom activity this is a key aspect of my philosophy of education. Another statement by Greene “It should not be impossible for individual teachers to reflect back upon the ways in which they have constituted what they take to be the realities of their lived worlds.” (Greene, M. 1978. Teaching the Question of Personal Reality. Teachers College Record 80, 1, p. 29), I agree with entirely. Essentially here she is saying that teachers should use their past experiences to add to their teaching. This is further emphasized by the statement to “look back, to remember is to bind the incidents of past experience, to create patterns in the stream of consciousness”

Paulo Freire was another of the educational philosophers we studied during our first semester. “Paulo Freire was one of the most important and influential writers on the theory and practice of critical education in the twentieth century and remains extremely influential today” (Apple et al., 2001, 128). Freire produced many publications during his time such as Daring to Dream, Pedagogy of Hope, and Teachers as Cultural Workers. In another of his books Pedagogy of the Oppressed he makes a number of interesting statements one of which is “Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat”.

When referring to my emerging philosophy of education I must also take into account my personal teaching pedagogical wellbeing. A teacher's pedagogical wellbeing is “in the core processes of teachers’ work that is, carrying out and developing teaching-learning process, including for example planning classroom activities, interacting with students, making evaluations, and choosing and developing instructional tools” (Soini et al., 2010, p. 737). Being well prepared and educated in the topic you are teaching will ensure an overall positive pedagogical wellbeing which is key to a healthy classroom environment.

The theory-practice debate is an interesting topic that we have covered over the last twelve weeks and I feel as though it is a key part of my emerging philosophy of education and my development as a teacher as a whole. It has been stated that ‘to practice without theory is to sail an uncharted sea; theory without practice is to not set sail at all’ (Susser 1968). I firmly agree with this statement as I think that a healthy balance is needed between theory and practice to create a whole capable teacher. So during the next four years, I plan on completely focusing on the theory aspect when in lectures and tutorials then once it comes to my turn to go on work experience I will make full use of my time and gain as much academic teaching experience as possible. If I follow through with this plan and complete my four years in university I feel as though I will enter the workplace as a more than competent teacher.

Over the coming years, my emerging philosophy of education will continue to change and develop, and I am looking forward eagerly to delving deep into the mindset of John Dewey, Maxine Greene, Paulo Freire, and other renowned educational philosophers. With each week passing and each guest speaker, I grow more certain of my outlook of teaching. In conclusion throughout this essay, I have highlighted what I believe to be the key points in my developing philosophy of education, and I have no doubt that with further reflection and study my philosophy will morph and change again.

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Philosophy Of Education: Insights From Key Educational Theorists. (2021, October 03). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Philosophy Of Education: Insights From Key Educational Theorists.” Edubirdie, 03 Oct. 2021,
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