Unity Of The Diverse: Is that a real thing?

I found it!! I actually found my very first Educational Philosophy Statement written in graduate school! I remember drafting countless versions and finally narrowed it down to include two paragraphs. As I read it, I was inspired by the words I had written years ago. Reflecting on core values and beliefs regarding my role as an educator, clinician, professional and speech-language pathologist prompted me to print a copy to display on my desk! After all, sometimes all you need is a splash of color and words of encouragement to completely change your day! 🙂

All children have the right to an education that inspires independent cognitive and behavioral growth, supports academic achievement, and encourages successful engagement with the environment. I believe all children; although unique, have the ability to achieve their maximum potential given a stimulating environment, professionally trained staff and academic as well as emotional-behavioral supports. It is vital to treat each student as an individual with specific needs and challenges. Education involves working with a team of educational professionals in order to create comprehensive, individualized treatment plans that will foster competence in all areas.

Students will exhibit a wide range of cultural and linguistic diversity and it is important to promote self-esteem and respect for self and others as well as instill a sense of equality within the students’ peer group. Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) should serve as mentors to guide students through the maze of academic skill acquisition and social development. Collaboration with the teachers and other related service professionals is imperative to detect struggling students and share areas of expertise and knowledge. It is important to help students meet the increasing demands of the curriculum. Compassion and dedication are qualities needed to motivate all students to perform at an optimal level. Ultimately, it is my job to ensure students not only learn adequate communication skills but engage in the world around them, delight in friendship and feel a sense of satisfaction in successfully achieving goals. ~Jenn Saliba

Old School or Not?

According to current research in educational psychology, four trends have changed what teachers do and how they prepare to teach (educational philosophy):

  • increased diversity:  There appears to be a greater diversity in the student population (greater language diversity and within special education). The trends of different models of inclusion are definitely new compared to educational models a decade ago. The challenges include planning instruction (how is a teacher to find time to plan for individualization and differentiation for all SPED students?), and philosophical  questions regarding the nature of education (what in the curriculum is truly important and functional?).
  • increased instructional technology: Technology has created new engaging and exciting ways for students to learn. It has also altered how teachers can teach most effectively, and even raised issues about what constitutes “true” teaching and learning.
  • greater accountability in education: Both the public and educators focus on the importance of quality, innovative teaching.
  • increased professionalism of teachers: Now more than ever, teachers are able to assess the quality of their own work as well as that of colleagues.

Current literature suggests the educational philosophy pillars have been erased from our high-tech classrooms of the modern day academic institutions. “In particular, faculties are “losing control over [their] curriculum” due to “performance-based certification standards,” and faculty are expected to “compete for funding dollars,” which will eventually “seal” the fate of foundations. Overall, he finds a “dumbing down” of teacher education through a narrow emphasis upon technical pedagogical knowledge.” Swain finds this process, the “slow and steady elimination” of the philosophical foundations once the pillars of education.

I am definitely not an expert in educational philosophy; however, I believe, on some simplified level, it is the unity of the diverse. In my opinion, we haven’t abandoned this doctrine, only broadened and strengthened it. A teaching philosophy or “mission statement” helps an educator stay true to core values and beliefs while leading to positive changes within our education systems. I’m curious to know if your philosophy has changed over the years?

Swain, A. 2013. The problem with “nuts and bolts:” How the emphasis on “highly qualified professionals” is undermining education. Educational Studies, 49(2), 119–133.

Keehn, G. 2016. The need for roots redux: On the supposed disciplinary right to a nonideal theory. Philosophical Studies in Education, 47, 98–107.

Duarte, E. M. 2012. Retrieving immortal questions, initiating immortal conversations. Philosophical Studies in Education, 43, 43–61.

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