Philosophy of Education

As a college student aspiring to become a teacher, one of the most common questions asked of us was, “What is the purpose of education?” This obtuse question lacks a single, all-encompassing answer, and is instead a lens that allows educators to examine multiple facets of a dense concept. There is a rich tapestry of methods, rationales, and ideals surrounding the education of the citizenry.

    In a broad sense, it is my firm belief that it is the duty of the state to provide a free and public education to its citizens. Education is a right that applies to all, regardless of any restricting factors. Without a free and public education, the state cannot support its continuance. Under this ideal, the broadest purpose of education is to create a citizenry capable of maintaining the government. In a more localized sense, I believe that education is a partnership between school, family, and community where each of these institutions play a crucial role in shaping youth into literate, well-rounded global citizens. Each institution must do what it can to support the others in this goal.

    I view my role in furthering this goal as threefold. The teacher must first be a guide. All learning in the classroom, while directed through the teacher, must originate and finish with the student. Therefore, the teacher’s role is to navigate the waters of thought and discourse with the students, where the goal is to provide context and a platform for higher level thought. The teacher should guide students through this information not as a leader, but as a facilitator; students must be willing to go it alone when necessary, and the teacher must be willing to let them, with the understanding that to do so is the true assessment of knowledge. Secondly, the teacher must be a learner, just as the student is. The teacher is not the authoritarian, omnipotent god of the classroom – but is instead someone who is as actively engaged in studying the material as the students. Each student brings unique experiences, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs to the classroom, ensuring that no curriculum is experienced the same each time it is taught. The teacher must not only be receptive to this concept, he or she must be eager for it. The most important purpose in life is the expansion of knowledge, and the teacher must never be shut off from this goal. Finally, the teacher must be the creator of an environment that fosters safety, intellectual honesty, and provides the opportunity to take risks. This environment is what allows learning to take place. An environment that is not comfortable and safe is no better than a classroom on the street. All previous roles simply cannot be accomplished with the teacher and students establishing and reinforcing rules regarding classroom conduct. When dealing with students in this safe, caring environment, the teacher must be firm in dealing with issues, friendly in dealing with students, and fair in enforcing the rules.