The Pragmatic Curriculum
My personal philosophy of education is hedged on the premises of pragmatic ideologies. This philosophy holds the view that the world is constantly changing, and new knowledge is emerging on daily basis. As such, there is need to continually evaluate the curriculum and align it to learner needs. Learner-centered approaches should be used in delivering content to learners. The curriculum itself should reflect the current needs of the learners, and should help address any pressing questions or concerns of the learners. The school experience should not serve to prepare learners for life, but rather should be considered as part of life itself.
Since the early days of education, much thought has been given regarding the main purpose of education. Throughout history, philosophers have outlined different reasons to justify the need for education in society. Early philosophers such as Rousseau, Aristotle, John Locke, Confucius, Plato, and others wrote extensively about the role played by education in society. Although majority of the early education thinkers shared similar ideas about what the schools should essentially do, each of them had divergent thoughts on the purposes of education to individuals and the society at large. Perhaps the divergent opinions about the purposes of education are reflective of the structural changes that have been witnessed in societies throughout history. As the societies progressed over time, the role played by education underwent changes to match the evolving culture. In the modern period, education serves three main purposes which include: intellectual development, economic purposes, and social purposes.
Worldview & Philosophy of Life
The most prudent view of life relates to pragmatism. This is the belief that it is only those things that human beings experience or observe that are true and meaningful in life. The pragmatic view of life is that reality is not static, but rather evolving with time (Jewell, 2012). As such, the only way that human beings can become masters in understanding of reality is by learning through experiences and solving problems as they arise. Proponents of the pragmatic school of thought such as Charles Peirce assert that it is only when thoughts produce action that benefits (from the thoughts) can be derived (Jewell, 2012). Thoughts that linger much in the mind are of little value and furthermore can lead to indecisiveness and confusion. The pragmatic school of thought recognizes the fact that the environment is constantly evolving. Learners must be able to adapt to new changes in the environment of face stagnation.
With reference to my general view of life, schools should adopt a more practical and realistic approach in teaching students, rather than focusing on passing down knowledge from one generation to the other. Learning should be hedged on the context of time, place, and the prevailing circumstances. Realists take a metaphysical view of the world, arguing that the truth lies in what can be observed (Jewell, 2012). Pragmatism can enable learners to know reality and realize their meaning in life. It encourages learners to apply knowledge to practical situations through experimentation. This can help learners realize their true potentials and hence succeed in their careers. Pragmatism influences educators by emphasizing on use of projects as opposed to lectures during content delivery. Additionally, learning through experimentation is encouraged meaning that the educator must give learners time to test ideas.
The Bible makes a number of references to pragmatic view of the world. In Revelations 1:1-20, the Bible talks about the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the meaning to the world. According to the verse, God sent an angel to John, bearing a message about the messiah. The angel created the experience of divinity to John, which led him to believe about Mary’s pregnancy.
Philosophy of Schools & Learning
In the modern world, schools are significant in facilitating various kinds of teachings. Learners acquire diverse knowledge and skills from schools, ranging from technical knowledge to moral lessons. The method in which learning takes place greatly determines the learning outcomes. In line with this, the learner-centered instruction method would be the most appropriate in passing knowledge and skills to students and especially those in higher education. Learner-centered instruction employs a variety of teaching methods. In this approach, the instructor is not merely an information giver, but a facilitator in the learning process (Cornelius, 2007). The constructivism theory and social cognitive theory can best be applied in facilitating learning in the modern day classroom.
The constructivist school of thought arose to counter behavioral theories that saw learning as a function of behavioral responses to external stimuli. Constructivism asserts that learning is an active process that involves knowledge construction rather than knowledge acquisition (Henson, 2015). Knowledge construction is hedged upon the personal experiences of the learner as well as the environment. The learners continually evaluate and test hypotheses in the learning process. Constructivism acknowledges individual differences in the learning process. The learner is supposed to construct knowledge from previous lessons or lectures and projects. The social cognitive theory holds the view that learning is a social process that mainly occurs through observation. This theory asserts that various factors such as behavioral factors, personal factors, and environmental factors greatly influence the learning process (Kincheloe & Horn, 2006).
The primary role of education is to enhance intellectual development. Education aims at instilling various basic skills such as reading, computations, comprehension skills, and among learners. Countries emphasize on educating their citizens for economic purposes. Various researches provide evidence on the correlation between education and improved standards of living. The higher the level of education among individuals the more productive they are compared to those with lower standards. Education is also important for social purposes. Through formal education, learners are able to develop moral and social responsibility. A number of trends have impacted education in the recent times. The evolution of modern technology has greatly impacted the education sector in terms of communication. Today, educators are able to choose from different instruction methods including online learning. ICT has greatly influenced communication by bridging the physical gap between teachers and learners who may be physically separated.
Educational outcomes are mainly determined by the manner in which content delivery takes place. The constructivist theory is based on the idea that learners gain knowledge through experiencing things and later reflecting on the experiences gained. In order to put the constructivism theory in practice, the educator must facilitate learning through experimentation and solving problems in the real world (Henson, 2015). In this case, the most effective pedagogical techniques to use are case-based learning techniques, inquiry-based learning, and project-based learning. These methods will mainly be used because they are learner-centered and promote learning through discovery. The social cognitive theory can be put into practice by modeling the expected behaviors or skills for students to learn (Kincheloe & Horn, 2006). The appropriate instructional strategies that can support the aforementioned theories are lectures, discussions, case studies, and use of labs or studios. Use of these strategies can help learners develop practical skills concerning a particular area of interest.
My educational experiences have taught me that learning through observation and discovery is the best way to help learners retain knowledge and gain practical skills. The educator facilitates the acquisition of knowledge rather than being a mere transmitter of information. This type of learning encourages learners to be actively involved in the learning process and to realize their interest and potentials early in life. Thus as a teacher who believes in constructivism and social cognitive theory, my main role will be to create the optimal conditions for learning and concentrating on specific learner needs.
The teacher-learner relationships are critical in determining the learning outcomes. Ove the years, the role of the teacher has changed from being a transmitter of information to a facilitator of learning. In constructivist learning environments, the teacher has several key roles. The first role is modeling. Modeling may take the form of cognitive modeling or behavioral modeling (Naidu, 2003). Behavioral modeling involves the teacher demonstrating to learners the specific concepts or activities. Cognitive modeling involves helping learners develop high critical reflection skills. The second important role is coaching. A teacher should coach students with regard to their performance, provide feedback to the learners, provide motivation, explains ways of improving performance, and evokes in learners reflection of what have been taught. The third role of the teacher is scaffolding or providing support to learners. The teacher acts as a scaffold by providing a framework that enables students to realize their potentials (Naidu, 2003).
The student plays a number of crucial roles in the learning process. The student is supposed to actively participate in the learning process. The student is expected to be intrinsically motivated and ready to learn. Learners are supposed to assimilate new knowledge or information with regard to their present knowledge. The learner should reflect on their own learning experiences in order to gain a better understanding of what was taught. Learners should also develop ways of testing their skills or ideas through engaging in relevant activities. The teacher and learners should maintain close interpersonal relationships that lead to positive outcomes. The teacher should closely monitor the students and learn their specific weaknesses and strengths. In this way, the teacher can be able to develop instruction methods that are learner-centered to cater for individual weaknesses or strengths (Naidu, 2003). The Bible teaches that students are not above their teachers, and hence should respect their teachers. This can be found in Matthew 10:24.
The world is becoming increasingly diverse due to such factors as globalization. The teacher should be able handle learners from different cultural backgrounds and with different levels of understanding. As such, a teacher should be able to express emotional intelligence in the teaching-learning process. The teacher needs to consider a number of factors involving diversity. First, learner differences significantly affect how a teacher delivers instruction to students (Suzanne & Penelope, 2006). In normal classroom situation, there are gifted students who can easily master what was taught, while others may take some time to understand what is taught. The teacher should understand that learners understand concepts and different pace and thus adjust his or her teaching methods to suit all learners. The other major source of diversity relates cultural differences. Students come from different cultures which impact the way they perceive things. Teachers are also expected to handle learners with disabilities, either physical or mental disabilities.
The Bible teachings that one should love others irrespective of their cultural differences or their physical appearances. The Bible teaches that the kingdom of heaven belongs to all, which shows inclusivity. Through the Bible, the teacher can learn a few things regarding diversity. The most important teaching is that human beings should love one another irrespective of the differences that they may harbor.
To conclude, education serves important function in the modern society. Education enables individuals to develop intellectual skills such as reading and mathematics. These are fundamental skills that are needed in the modern world. Education is also identified as a major driver of economic growth and development. Education also plays a major role in social role in the society. Education has undergone radical transformation since the early period. The radical changes reflect the changing societal trends and emergence of new knowledge. The pragmatic curriculum enables learners to manage these changes and to adapt successfully.
Cornelius, J. (2007). Learner-centered teacher-student relationships are effective: A meta- analysis. Review of Educational Research, 77(1): 113-143.
Henson, K. T. (2015). Curriculum planning: Integrating multiculturalism, constructivism, and education reform. (5th Ed.). Illinois, NY: Waveland Press.
Jewell, R. (2012). Experiencing the Humanities. Retrieved from http://www.tc.umn.edu/~jewel001/humanities/book/0contents
Kincheloe, J. L., & Horn, R. A. (2006). The Praeger handbook of education and psychology. Westport, Conn: Praeger.
Naidu, S. (2003). Learning and teaching with technology: principles and practices. New York, NY: Routledge.
Suzanne, M. W., & Penelope, L. P. (2006). Theories of learning and teaching: What do they mean for educators? Retrieved from National Education Association http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED495823.pdf