Philosophy of Education
To fully grasp the concept of philosophy, one must be familiar with its beginnings. Socrates, the man believed to be the greatest of the Ancient Thinkers, describes philosophy as "Knowledge of Self", or at least the search thereof. Knowing one's own limits, as well as strengths to be used to one's advantage, and a strong base of education is paramount to reaching this level of existence. Though education is just as important to us as it was to Socrates, today's schools and educational frameworks are quire different than those of the ancient world.
Unlike the schools of ancient Greece and Sparta, American schools are diverse and wrought from the idea that each student deserved the same opportunity as the next. With that said, the roles of the school systems go beyond teaching children their ABC's. Teachers are now required to focus their pupil's attention not only on individual subject matter, but also on ethical behavior as well as sociological interaction amongst the student population. Preparing their students to enter the "real world", a diverse environment comprised of many different people from many different cultural, socioeconomic and religious background, is the goal. And within this goal, Unity is the underlying motive. But unity should not mean cultural submergence, any loss of persona or group identity. The philosopher Harry Broudy offers a perspective: "The heart, liver and brain differ from each other, but, by their differences, strengthen the unity of the organism" (Broudy, 1988, p.226). In saying this, the role of the teacher must be broadened significantly.
In the beginning of education in this country, the role of the teacher inside the classroom was one of a strict disciplinarian, but outside the classroom the teacher was required to maintain a persona of religious piety. Today, much of the same applies but with less austere guidelines. The present-day teacher, the same as in the past, is obligated to uphold a high moral standing in the community keeping a clean nose and clear record, but in the classroom setting, as well as in the school as a whole, there should be less focus on the art of discipline and greater focus on the art of effective instruction. According to Don Kauchak, "Personal teaching efficacy, modeling, enthusiasm and teacher expectation are the attributes that describe effective teaching and effective teacher characteristics" (2002, p. 343). Also, when assessing a teacher's effectiveness, evaluating the progress of the students throughout the course is helpful; if the students are not succeeding then the teacher is not fulfilling their end of the bargain.
When evaluating student progress it is important to know how the children are leaning and it is my belief that they do this best through association, be from previous teaching or extracurricular experiences. From this point, what the student learns early in his or her education directly influences how they will learn later on in their scholastic careers. Desmond Lee better illustrates this point by saying, "Since the minds of the young are very impressionable, we must, if we are to educate them properly, make sure that the poetry on which they are brought up is suitable for the purpose" (Lee translation, Plato, The Republic, p.70). From this idea spawns the ideal classroom setting.