It is a known fact that the most crucial phase in education is the early years. Students’ outlook with regards to education would be greatly affected by their initial experiences in school, as well as the learning processes that were instilled to them by their teachers (Green, 2010). The importance of introducing education as a fruitful and enjoyable experience is a challenge that is needed to be overcome by the school, as well as the teachers themselves. If the students were able to have positive experiences with regards to taking their first steps in school, then it is a good thing that happened to them because their instinct of absorbing information has been triggered. However, if these students had the unlikely chance of getting a negative first impression in school, it would stay with them all throughout their lives, and could even affect their attitudes toward education, learning, and life as a whole. In a way, schools become institutions that are able to affect and mold the mindset of the young. Learning institutions as well as the people behind them therefore have the overwhelming task of not just providing education to students in general, but also instilling a set of core values into the young ones, as well as jumpstarting their sense of a continuous search for knowledge.
Being the representative of the academic institution to students, teachers play a vital role in how students would be responding to the learning process, as well as to education in general. It is expected from instructors that they are able to deliver the lessons according to the curriculum that they teach, as well as to properly assess as to whether their methods of teaching were effectively absorbed by the students. However, I firmly believe that the job of a teacher goes way beyond teaching things that are written in books. An instructor must be able to establish a connection to the students not just in getting the lessons through their heads, but also to give a glimpse of the world, and life in general. This is better facilitated with the combination of two important characteristics of teachers: personality traits that characterize effective teaching, such as being approachable, accepting and caring; and highly-effective instructional skills, such as providing the students with hands-on activities, getting them involved in classroom discussions, as well as giving clear directions and prompt feedback (Martin & Loomis, 2007). By combining the attributes that are exemplified by excellent teaching personality and instructional skills, this makes a teacher effective both in teaching the academic things as well as building character and instilling values among students. Doing so makes the teachers essential components in the effectiveness of the school as an institution that helps in developing the younger generation.
Aside from the organization of the school and the traits and characteristics of the teachers, the student also plays a vital role in the education process. While the school could select what and how to teach, it is up to the student on retaining the information that was given (Martin & Loomis, 2007). Students shoulder the responsibility of affirming the effectiveness or lack of it when being taught. At the end of the learning process, the success or failure of this process is dictated by the students’ actions towards education as a whole. For example, in elementary school, students are taught the basics of reading and writing. In order for them to fully understand, the students must also be proactive in retaining what they have learned. They could do this by reviewing the lessons taught for the day, asking teachers for things that they wanted further clarification on, or even trying to answer the study questions found at the end of the chapters of their books. Teachers mostly give examinations in order to assess whether the learning process has been effective or not, and the students have the responsibility of doing their best in examinations, not just to get good grades but also to confirm or disprove the success of the teaching methods employed by the teachers concerned. How the students do in the academics as well as in other fields reflects whether the school was able to achieve its goals and mission in providing education to the younger generation, or not, and teachers have the responsibility of doing so under all circumstances.
The concept of constructivist approaches in learning and thinking was started by jean Piaget’s theory that knowledge construction is the process by which knowledge acquisition occurs (Waite-Stupiansky, 1997).The younger students are naturally inquisitive, and their knowledge is mostly fluid and able to grasp changes in previously learned information. By using constructivist approaches in teaching, such as breaking down the lessons into several smaller and much more generalized thoughts, the whole concept of a lesson can be easily grasped and understood by the students, much like how scaffoldings would help support the creation of buildings. And because knowledge itself is never static, younger students are given the chance to be even more proactive in the learning process, such as getting chances of asking questions or speaking their minds. This kind of learning is very effective, even more so with younger children, and would be even more successful when undertaken inside a school or educational institution.
While the school itself is an entity that promotes and houses numerous types of learning processes, ultimately it is dependent on only two sides: the teacher; and the learner, which can be a student or pupil. The effectiveness of the learning process can be seen in the relationship between the learner and the teacher (Martin & Loomis, 2007). For example, a teacher that is able to show greater compassion, empathy, and understanding towards the students is more likely to be able to teach lessons better than say, an indifferent teacher. The students that are comfortable with the teaching styles of an instructor would be expected to be more open with discussions, stimulating learning through the process. In contrast, a teacher that easily dismisses the chance for students to speak their mind would be seen as an ineffective teacher because aside from being seen unapproachable, students are subjected to micro-levels of stress that could interfere with their learning (Green, 2010). In order for the education process to be successful, there must also be effective communications between students and teachers.
For me, my belief with regard to the philosophy of education is that students have a right to learn not just from us educators, but also to learn things about life in general by themselves. Creativity is the very essence of learning, which is why younger children are easily drawn to activities that challenge their resourcefulness and imagination. By stimulating the creativity that is present in most children, they also get trained to search for answers by themselves, as well as not being afraid to make mistakes (Tobias & Duffy, 2009). This also pushes an effective instructional method for children, wherein their thinking skills are tested along with the lessons that they have previously encountered. I hope that by being the facilitator of materials from where students could not only learn and memorize the lessons, but also understanding the importance, the gist, the objectives and the summary of each topic and chapter.
Another thing that is very important in teaching students is giving them chances to learn things by themselves, as well as sharing this knowledge with others. If they are not taught how to think both creatively and logically, not only would they tend to stick to tried and tested formulas, but also their chance to make a difference would get stifled. Learning through trials and errors is still an effective way in helping children retain what they have learned, as well as making sure that they also remember why the thing was correct or not (Waite-Stupiansky, 1997). This is given even more emphasis where the field of special education is concerned, since aside from the differences in giving lessons to special children, it is rather harder to have them engaged with the lessons due to possible problems such as the lack of sight or hearing, and also those having problems with cognition (Mamlin, 2012). Thus it is important that the teacher is able to instill lessons and values to the students as early as possible, while their minds are still pliable and able to grasp ideas that are new to them.
The role of teachers go as far as telling the younger ones what things are considered right or wrong, and justifying their wrongness or rightness. However, for this to be effective with students, the teacher must have a solid set of principles and values, which may or may not be rooted in religious beliefs or the lack thereof, and these things must be easily explained to students as the need arises (Pearcey, 2008). If the teacher is able to convey the need to be at the right side of things, the students or pupils are expected to learn these values as well because they had the chance to fully understand why things are the way they are (Pring, 2010). In turn, because the students were taught by a person that they trust, they are more likely to remember these kinds of lessons that are not confined inside the classroom.
As a whole, education is not something that is only done by one single entity. It is the result of the interactions between the students and the teachers, as well as how the organization of educational institutions could affect the effectiveness of instructors in teaching the students. Students play a vital role in the education process, wherein their responsibility would be to show whether the educational process has been successful or not. In order for education to succeed in molding the minds of the younger generation in the best way possible, the teachers must also be able to adjust to the needs of the students, especially those that are not in normal situations, like special education students. Lastly, for the academic institution to fulfill its goals of providing basic knowledge to the people that need it the most, it must be sensitive enough not just in providing teachers that are able to create spotless lesson plans, but also to employ those which have capacity to touch the lives of students, as well as instilling them the constant search for knowledge and the truth. As a prospective teacher, my goal is to make education something that students would be able to enjoy as well as to express themselves with, while at the same time teaching them the value of thinking creatively, of not being afraid of getting mistakes, as well as being able to share themselves to others.
- Green, T. (2010). How to be successful in your first year of teaching elementary school. Ocala, FL: Atlantic Publishing Group.
- Mamlin, N. (2012). Preparing effective special education teachers. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
- Martin, D., & Loomis, K. (2007). Building teachers: a constructivist approach to introducing education. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.
- Pearcey, N. (2008). Total truth: liberating christianity from its cultural captivity. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
- Pring, R. (2010). Does education need philosophy? In R. Bailey, The philosophy of education: an introduction (pp. 21-34). London: Continuum International Publishing Group.
- Tobias, S., & Duffy, T. (2009). Constructivist theory applied to instruction: success or failure? Ney York, NY: Routledge.
- Waite-Stupiansky, S. (1997). Building understanding together: a constructivist approach to early childhood education. Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers.