The book we are reading for the summer for the Teacher Leadership Academy is Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Helping Teachers Develop as Leaders by Marilyn Katzenmeyer and Gayle Moller. I’m blogging chapter by chapter my thoughts and impressions.
The book includes this Inventory by Lorraine M. Zinn.* It starts off with a discussion of an issue I’ve mentioned on this blog before – we can’t seem to agree as a society about the purpose of education. It gets into some details of specific philosophies and how different philosophies can create very different looking schools, as well as why teacher leaders should develop their philosophy.
I went into the actual inventory not expecting much. I’ve had to explain my philosophy of education so many times at this point that I figured there wasn’t much to learn about what I believe. I was surprised. It focuses not just on what you believe but what you do. According to my scores, my philosophy mostly aligns with Progressivism but includes aspects of Social Justice, Comprehensive and Behaviorism. This is if not impossible, considered by the authors to be highly unlikely since they see some of these as opposite philosophies. Also, the inventory doesn’t mention constructivism at all!
I looked at the descriptions to see how I might show up as holding supposedly opposite points of view. It’s complicated. A lot of it has to do with how I have certain beliefs or theories that I feel pressured to ignore in real life teaching situations. Some of it is also because of how I was educated to teach – while emphasizing constructivism in many ways, Gettysburg still used certain behaviorist ideas, especially related to objectives and lesson planning. Those are some of the ideas I’ve least questioned or even thought about since becoming a teacher. Of course I come up with an objective and then figure out how to teach to it, what else would you do?
Looking at the descriptions of the different philosophies and student and teacher roles, I see valid ideas in behavioral and comprehensive education. School should promote skill development AND the intellectual powers of the mind, students do need to practice to get things right AND should gain conceptual and theoretical understandings. Meanwhile, looking at the characteristics of Progressive education as described I agree with all of it. I don’t really see this as nearly as oppositional as described – responsible participation in society and problem-solving skills can be developed along with a “well-rounded” education, and indeed should be.
If I needed to sum up my educational philosophy in as short a phrase as possible, the answer would be “preparing citizens of a democracy/republic.”
*The book info on finding copies included a defunct email, but I did find this example of it online.