A simple educational philosophy that works

My husband and I home schooled our two boys for most of their lives. When they were 13 and 15, I was asked to teach at a local private school. The teacher originally hired found a better paid job just a week before class started and the school needed a new teacher urgently.

As part of my application I wrote this teaching philosophy the night before. We had always used this philosophy intuitively for our own boys and the application gave me reason to write it down.

I used this philosophy to teach a small (12 students) class of teenagers (sixth to twelfth grade) for two years. It worked just as well in a classroom situation as for our own boys at home.

It is based on the assumption that education is not an entitlement. It is a gift that parents and others wish to give to their child that he may or may not accept.

What are your goals as an educator?

My goal is to help children become confident and self motivated young adults that will be able to do many things in their lives, because of a good and healthy attitude.

Describe your educational philosophy.

There are four things a student has to learn, the rest will
work out just fine:

1) The student must agree and understand why it is good to study a particular subject.

  • In general it is important for a student to know that he learns things for his own benefit and not for his teacher’s or his parent’s, but totally for his own benefit. The more he learns, the more he will be able to use this knowledge to do what he wants in life.
  • He must feel that he is in charge of deciding whether he wants to learn or not.
  • Let the student be involved with deciding what subject he wants to study.
  • If the student does not want to study a particular subject, but the teacher and parents think it is good for him, it is the teacher’s job to encourage the student to agree, by means of reasoning. By no means can a teacher use force. The teacher can use examples of why it would be wise to study this subject or maybe suggest learning this subject at a later, more appropriate date.

2) Find a way to make learning as much fun as possible.

  • Once the student agrees to study a subject, try to make the learning as much fun as possible. This can be done by asking the student for any ideas. Yet again, the student needs to feel it is his decision to study and he can have a large input on how. The teacher can make suggestions.

3) Help the student obtain methods and materials for learning.

  • If the teacher spends time on showing the student where to collect information and how to work with it, the student can learn to work independently more easily. If he expects a teacher, parent or other adult to have all the answers for him, he will always depend on another person showing him what to do.
  • It is not a good idea for a teacher to lecture all the time. Maybe sometimes it could be nice, when both parties agree.

4) Help the student set goals, scheduling and self evaluate.

  • It is important the student to set his own goals. If he understands what he is trying to achieve, it makes it easier for him to schedule the work.
  • The teacher can supervise the scheduling of the work. It is important that the student agrees on the dates. It puts the
    responsibility in the student’s hands and it is not the teacher who is bad if he cannot finish in time. Along the way, the teacher is there to encourage him and to remind him in a positive way to stay on target. If he loses interest, it is important to go back to making sure he remembers why he wants to do it and try to wake up his enthusiasm again. Always keep his cooperation.

Sometimes it can be hard to get a student through these stages, but it is important to keep trying, because I believe these are the most important aspects a teacher should hold himself to.

Why are you interested in a private alternative school setting?

I am interested in a private school setting, because:

From what I have seen so far, Government run schools have a strict agenda. The teacher stands in front of the class and lectures what has to be learned for the day. The student does not feel like he is learning out of his own free choice, nor for his own benefit and often not what he has an interest in at that time. If he does not learn what the teacher tells him to, he will not get a good grade, and he will not pass and keep up with the strict agenda. This kind of education, for many students, could perhaps create a good soldier that does what he is told, but he will not learn to think for himself and take responsibility. That might be the Government’s goal, but I believe the world is much better off with humans that can think for themselves. In a private school, it can be up to parents, students and school management how to go about the education. The agenda can be adjusted.

If a class has too many students, there is no easy way for the teacher to communicate with each individual. Young adults need guidance, each one in a different way. Private schools usually have smaller classes.

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Thanks for posting this.

It's how I think schools should be run.

Sounds good

Very well said. I've attended both public and private schools, and the class sizes were roughly similar. An important factor is the student body. Private schools can keep out the students with behavioral problems, along with those who refuse to learn, thereby ensuring a peaceful, cooperative environment.

Choice important in education

I've seen parents and children who couldn't cope with an educational philosophy like Odette's--sometimes parents are too focused on public school metrics, and sometimes parents just don't seem to get the idea that they and their children are buying a service instead of demanding an entitlement.

In these cases, a private school has a lot more options than a government school. The private school can simply say, "if you don't like our philosophy, please try somewhere else." A public school doesn't have that option. This is the slippery slope where public schools descend into juvenile detention centers.

Class and open-minded education

Working class parents are typically more interested in a guaranteed curriculum that "imposes" itself on students in order to prepare them for getting a job.

Upper class parents are more likely to value "self expression" and personal fulfillment.

Personally I prefer the type of schooling supported in this post.

I think private schools tend

I think private schools tend to be elitist, both academically and socially. It places learners of a certain level of intelligence and certain class together. It does not reflect the social reality outside, and so does not prepare the child for integration into a pluralist society.

Social reality ???

First of all, "duh" : only some form of elit can afford to pay for public schooling AND private schooling, private schooling respond to the needs of their customers.

Now would you please care to define what "social reality" is.

I went to a public school (in France) where I was beaten by bullies and frequently insulted. I suffered from incompetent teachers who kept me back from learning more faster, from leftist egalitarian teachers who believed academic success above peers was a bad thing. I guess this is "social reality". Fortunately, I now live among people who respect me, who value knowledge and this "knowledge of social reality" is completely useless to me, I'd rather have learned more mathematics.

As mostly an autodidact, I cannot praise enough the teaching philosophy presented in this blog entry. A teacher able to tell me where to find information and whom to ask for explanations would have been the most useful thing to me, instead of rotting in a "socially real school".

So children can only be

So children can only be integrated into a pluralist society if they receive an identical, one-size-fits-all education? That sounds a little contradictory...

"integration into a pluralist society"

"I think private schools tend to be elitist"

Perhaps the learner's parents seek exactly that?

"It does not reflect the social reality outside"

Does it not?

"does not prepare the child for integration into a pluralist society"


I have a dream...

I agree with this posting. I went through 13 years of HELL in school. I am now a maladjusted adult who is socially retarded. I let my children be rebelious in school because I had an axe to grind with the schools that I had attended, and the administration that did nothing while children were made to suffer by the "popular" kids, or the bullies. I didn't have the money to send my own kids to private schools, but I did manage to teach them to THINK for themselves, and they are productive adults who have sane friends that I am proud of. I resent that people must send their children to a place every day to interact with juvinile delinquents whom we (as good parents) might not allow our children to otherwise associate with, let alone be attacked by for 12 years of their lives. Every parent should have the option to send their child to the school of their choice. If you don't care, send them to Government schools, if you do care you would be able to seek out the one that fits your values for how your child should be educated. The Arabs are doing it in NY right now, they aren't messing around with the liberal arts school of tire retreading, they started their own school to raise up a whole new group of home grown terrorists for our children to bow down to. We need to wake up and smell the caca, it stinks around here.

A Teacher has to Care -Great Teachers Do

Teaching is caring with understanding -great teachers do ~this may interest: