Why Do I Want To Be A Teacher

In order to give a full understanding of my philosophy of education I must first explain why I set out to become a teacher. I did not embark on this journey as a wide-eyed and bushy tailed 18-year-old undergrad with notions about changing the world.

I love science. I am unfortunately the person that didn’t discover this early in life. I am the person that scoffed at my high school teachers with “I’ll never use this stuff.” I then took on a 20 plus year career in the United States Air Force, using math and science every day I went to work. I never had a person in my life that encouraged me to take an interest in math and science. I am determined to be that person in as many young people’s lives as possible.

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I am embarking on career number two. Career number one was spent physically engaged in rescue operations, in combat and in hostile territory. Career number two will be an intellectual rescue operation, in a more affable environment. Not every child will end up being a Nobel Laureate or pursue a STEM related career, but every child should have a basic understanding of the universe they live in and its processes. I expect to be scoffed at; I expect “I’ll never use this stuff.” I intend to dispel that myth.

I also have selfish reasons for wanting to encourage kids to be interested in pursuing science. The numbers of jobs that require post-secondary education in a STEM degree are increasing every day. The pipeline of students pursuing STEM degrees is not keeping pace. Without a steady supply of fresh young hands and minds to design, develop, and construct new processes and materials everything from food production to medical care will stagnate. That is not a world I want to grow old in or a future I want for my descendants.

Basic science education and basic knowledge leads to technology innovation, which in turn leads to even more knowledge. It is a circle of cause and effect that we cannot allow to be broken, or the result will be… the end. The question is not why I want to become an educator, the true question is; why is education critical. With the answer to that question the interest and motivations become evident.

Educational Philosophy

I do not have an educational philosophy. I have no interest in education. I have no interest in educational philosophies, or educational theories. I have no interest in educational academia or educational “goodthink”. My concern and focus is learning.

Education is a word displayed on buildings. Education is a piece of paper received from an institution. Education is what some use as a credential to cement their social position. Education produces titles in front of a name and letters after a name. Education has become a checkbox. It is the thing that must be done for validation, to move on to the next phase, to meet the right people, to get the right job. Education is an industry, unrelated to learning.

The Oxford English Dictionary is considered by many to be the leading authority on English words and their meanings. The Online Oxford English Dictionary entry for the word education, and its variants, contains 3054 words defining and describing the word education. There are a total of four instances of the word learn and variants of learn. None of these four instances are included in the definition of education; they merely coincide with the word education in selected quotations. Education is not about learning.

I will absorb the “goodthink”, get my paper and credentials. I will put M.A.T. on my business cards. I will check the box, I will be validated, and I will make the contacts. The one thing I will never do, the one thing I will never allow, is to be called an educat-or, never. You may call me a teacher, I would prefer to be known as a learn-or.

Students

As a teacher I tend to be a constructivist (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). I believe that students have the responsibility to take part in their own learning. It is incumbent upon them to be an active part of the learning environment. In the classroom they should interact with their peers, the teacher, and the materials. Each student is responsible for constructing their own understanding of the world around them, with the guidance of teachers, leaders, and mentors.

Students must be motivated. Motivation comes in many flavors and should not consist of only the desire to get good grades. The students that are motivated to discover new ideas, concepts, and ways of thinking will learn far more than the student that is only grade focused. Whether students are motivated by grades or the need to learn and discover, if it does not result in their ability to think, to reason, and to form new questions based on their experience.

Teachers

Again, as my beliefs tend towards that of a constructivist, I believe that the role of the teacher is to guide, to act as a facilitator. No teacher can force a student to learn. As the saying goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” it is the same with students. That leaves it to the teacher to lead the student to the knowledge, make it interesting and enticing, encouraging the student to drink from the fountain of learning.

The constructivist teacher should be prepared to lead. While some portions of teaching will always have pouring buckets of information out, the remainder should begin with modeling. Show the students in words and action what it is you want them learn and do. Humans tend to learn as they always have; listen, watch, try. The modern classroom is no different than that of the cave 50,000 years ago.

The teacher is also a coach. A coach motivates, guides, advises, and provides feedback. The good coach never just gives the answer; the good coach leads the student down a path where they will discover the answer on their own. In the role of the coach the teacher monitors the learning process and diagnoses problems that arise so that the student can be guided back onto the correct patch. The coach is also constantly assessing how the activities, methods, and resources are affecting the learning process, adjusting accordingly in real time.

The constructivist teacher must also be adept at scaffolding. The teacher must support the learner with the proper framework and basis for the learning that is taking place. The teacher should provide the logical steps for students to build upon their previous knowledge. The scaffolding must not be a comfortable crutch to lean upon though. It must be just enough to give the student the confidence and skills to reach out beyond their comfort zone just a little bit further than before.

Curriculum

As a science teacher I believe the curriculum should be rigorous, very rigorous. Even with a constructivist mindset it must be acknowledge that while teaching students to think on their own is the goal, science does have specific right and wrong answers, procedures, and methods. The student that wants to discover and learn may be very adept at applying logic and lessons from prior experience. Sometimes in science logic and experience do not necessarily explain how the universe actually works.

Logic says that the speed of light plus the speed of light equal twice the speed of light. In reality the speed of light plus the speed of light equals the speed of light; A + A = A, not 2A. While the constructivist in me say let them explore and figure it out on their own, the traditionalist in me says that much of science needs to be taught in a giver/receiver style. Some concepts cannot be simply thought out to the correct answer, nature is can be very strange.

Science does not stand alone. The hard sciences, chemistry, physics, physical science, mechanics etc.… are all based in math. Students that do not previously have a strong foundation in math will find it difficult to succeed in the sciences. Curriculums should be design with this in mind. A high school freshman should not begin with physics or chemistry. The student should be exposed to and demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in the math arena before being allowed to step a single foot into the science classroom.

Although this idea is many steps beyond my pay grade and position, I also believe that not every student should be required to take science W, X, Y, and Z in order to graduate. Many students would be well served to complete sciences W and X, then moving on to vocational studies. Not everyone needs to go to college, is equipped to go to college, or should go to college. The curriculum should stop assuming that everyone is on the same track. Leave sciences Y and Z for those students that have the necessary intellect and skills to be successful and that may be on a path towards higher education.

Conclusion

My overall philosophy may seem to be a bit eclectic, because it is. I tend towards constructivism, yet my chosen area of expertise requires that insert a healthy dose of traditionalism. Students have to want to learn; it can’t and shouldn’t be forced. Teachers have to want to guide as much as they want to teach, it can’t be all recitation. The curriculum must be logically structured for success; it must not be a haphazard series of check boxes. Most importantly the curriculum must be designed with the needs of the student in the forefront, not the desires of the bureaucrat.

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Why Do I Want To Be A Teacher. (2022, Aug 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/why-do-i-want-to-be-a-teacher/