Link to Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash
Okay, let’s get ready to roller disco. Staring October 1, 2018, I’ll be posting a weekly tidbit (25 words or more) about teaching in my Ontario context as part of the Ontario Extend (extend your teaching) challenge. If you would like to join in, here are the details for getting started: Link to the 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge
I want to start with my teaching philosophy, it’s what I believe, and it’s my opinion, not fact. I am not the boss of you. It’s something I think all educators could write. It’s very helpful to me when I want to remember what I believe is important about teaching.
Jenni’s Teaching Philosophy
The purpose of education in the 21st century is to support community members (from the very young to the very old) to be critical thinkers, engaged citizens, and researchers. The problems we are wrestling with today will not be the same problems we face in 10 years, or 20 years. In many places in Canada, and across the globe, there is pervasive poverty, repression, conflict, racism, gender and ability discrimination, and disregard for sustainability. The prime responsibility of any educator right now is to encourage learners to take an active role in research and problem solving, and maintain a healthy, skeptical view of scientific fact – what is promoted as “truth” by those with the power and authority to craft it. Truth is a socially constructed phenomenon in our world, as is all knowledge. Educators must encourage learners to be active participants in the construction of knowledge, relying on personally discovered evidence and practiced reason to manage unreasonable times.
In order to support critical thinking and research skills, teaching and learning needs to be differentiated (when practical), and wholly learner-centered. Teaching skills in math, reading, science, the arts, and the humanities, must center on the interests and motivation of learners. Educators must help learners make connections between what is being learned, and why it matters in the learners’ unique everyday experience. This includes the social connection of sharing among learners, and with a wider community. Digital literacy, discernment, and digital research skills are core to the success of modern learners. Educators must be lifelong learners, honing these skills in order to lead and design immersive experiences for globally connected humans.
Finally, all learning must be designed and delivered in a way that preemptively remediates content and pedagogy, ensuring that physical and neural differences among learners do not lead to a disadvantaged experience. Inclusive design, of physical and digital learning spaces, that improves the teaching and learning environment for everyone, is the spirit and letter of accessibility legislation – and the right thing to do at all times. The realization of inclusive education is the individual responsibility of every educator, administrator, and staff member at every educational institution. This can only happen through informed, authentic partnership with learners.