VIGNETTES SERIES 18: ‘PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY’ and ‘VALUE OF SHORT EXCURSIONS’
DEVELOP A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY
When they begin their training, preservice teachers are often asked to think about a philosophy, that is a personal belief position, underpinning why it is they have decided teaching is for them. Some people think that it’s a waste of time to develop a philosophy and that such reflection is not very important. They could not be more wrong.
Personal philosophy is the essence upon which a career builds. It’s really a foundation stone, THE foundation stone, where it all starts and from which one’s training and career evolve. It is the starting point to the teaching journey. It is therefore important for preservice teachers and those starting out to spend time developing a belief statement upon which their future bills.
That statement may be short and pertinent or somewhat longer. One of the best and most meaningful philosophies I ever read was that of a teacher from 30 years ago. Her philosophy, the first page of her work program, was simple yet significant. It was five words long, “Teaching is a kind of loving”. That summed up her attitude and her desire to be a person who was there for others. Most certainly others came before herself.
Others might have a statement that embraces a sense of mission. It’s not unusual for statements are philosophy to be defined as “mission statements”.
Many years ago when a relatively young principal, I was invited to attend a leadership development program. We were asked to develop a mission statement of 25 words or less. Until then i knew where i wanted to go but had never defined that in terms of ‘mission’.
I spent considerable time thinking and reflecting on my priorities as an educator, as a family man, and as a person in this world.
My mission statement, from 1983, has been with me since that time. I have it on the back of my card.
“To fulfil and be fulfilled in organisational mode – family, work, recreation.
To acquit my responsibilities with integrity.
To work with a smile in my heart.”
This precept has been my guiding philosophy for the past 32 years and something I regularly reflect upon.
Please consider the importance of a defining philosophy or sense of purpose and mission.
Excursions can play a very important part in extending educational understandings for children. To study in classrooms and to learn in the traditional way and also through online all library extension is fine. If children can be taken out on visits to places being studied, that really helps. To “see” what one is being taught and to observe things as they happen in action reinforces and cements learning. Excursions can help make learning live.
There is a need to prepare children for excursions. Ideally, excursions should be the middle segment of the lesson or learning sequence. The initial elements of lessons lead into the excursion, with follow up after the excursion tying the venture into learning outcomes. All excursions should be relevant. There is at times a tendency for excursions to be stand alone affairs with disconnection from teaching.
Binding excursions into the text of learning is part of the warp and weft of the learning fabric. These activities have a meaningful part to play in teaching and learning. They can enrich the program and add value to educational outcomes.