I am an educator of Business Studies and I am currently teaching mixed ability students. I strongly believe that a good teacher needs to identify the potential of his/her students to help them develop and learn. I think that students actively construct and transform knowledge based on their past experiences and prior learning. My teaching philosophy is greatly influenced by Dewey and Greene’s concept.
Dewey advocates that education is the process of growth so learning occurs best when theories are developed from experiences. Both Dewey and Greene share the same school of thought concerning the concept that a child learns best through shared experience.
Dewey explains the purpose of education as “the growth through the reconstruction of experience. Learning should be relevant and rewarding – rather than only theoretical.”
The latter emphasises on how learning shows the interconnectedness with subject matter and events. As a teacher, I must ensure that my learners are not passive and are engaged in a transformation which includes using real life situations to explain a topic. Understanding and using students’ experience helps in improving and shaping their learning. Dewey stresses on the fact that students do not all learn in the same way or at the same rate. As a teacher students are at the centre of learning process, so, I make the most of it to include students’ interests and motivation, abilities, prior knowledge and peer interactions during learning process. The dilemma that I actually face is the disparity in the experiences of learner and the kind of concepts imposed upon him. Dewey believes that there is a massive difference in every learner experience and ability. Dewey’s educational concept, sees equality, social participation and democracy. Equality and democracy are seen as inherent values to education which give equal treatment, opportunity and access to all learners. the role of education to transform the world into a more humane, just, and egalitarian society. Democracy in the classroom lies in the fact that teachers must encourage students to participate and take control of their learning. Reflecting on my teaching practice, the notion of democracy and experience helps to induct students in a way of life. Dewey advocates that whenever the occasion is presented, students should be allowed to go outdoor and enter their everyday life to learn from their community instead of being constantly shut in a classroom where each pupil learns at the desks to study a topic. This would help the child learn how to share and communicate with others.
Bearing the above point in mind, Dewey argues that children soak up knowledge and retain it for use when it is relevant to students’ lives. Living together is a necessity and the act of knowing by doing or collaboratively is the expression of the ideal state which is derivative from the social concept. The latter was most for a pragmatic education whereby students were to be invested in what they are learning. The students’ experience is also influenced by preceding practice which will undoubtedly help them later in the construction of knowledge.
Furthermore, in ‘Democracy and Education’ Dewey amalgamates the school with society and the processes of learning with the actual problems of life by through going request of the principle and practices of democracy. He claimed that this type of education would be beneficial for the learners as democracy tends to give equal chance to every student to be engaged in a lifelong process.
Greene has influenced me with her notion of freedom. freedom in terms of learning and how to engage students in the learning process. Greene wants to encourage teacher and students to view learning as an exploration. Learning starts when students ask, discover and experience new things. Students should be fully engaged in their learning process.
Learning is “To help kids shape their identity, we’ve got to awaken them to their own questions and encourage them to shape their identity, we’ve got to awaken them to their own questions and encourage them to create their own projects.” They don’t really learn unless they ask. Students should be free to build their own meaning and shape their own understanding by being able to express themselves in a number of different way. Their freedom comes from their life’s experiences which they translate into words. Students need to come to understand why things are like that on their own. They tend to rethink what they knew to have a better perspective of what they want to learn to know and how they want to learn. Greene encouraged me as a teacher, to lead my students on free form explorations in the classrooms. Greene wanted to describe freedom as the power to include to self-experiences, ideas, imagination and differences to help us think to think critically.
Greene notion of freedom is only subjective. Experiences and learning process vary from individual to individual. It is difficult to have the same clarity and uniformity in meaning. Learning becomes complex when it needs to be assessed. Each person learns at a different pace therefore there will be a different interpretation of what has been learnt.
Greene has developed three levels namely awareness which comes through being alive, awake and curious. Students should be conscious of who they are, what they actually know and their potential to learn further. The next Level is Awakeness where students should reflect on what they know and why they know this. Questioning them will help them build their knowledge as they start to think critically. the last one is Wide Awakeness where students think differently to be challenged. Students are encouraged to cross the boundaries by being confronted to various views to be awake. This is achieved by using various teaching strategies such as group discussion, brainstorming, amongst others. By doing so, this allows learners to think ‘outside the box’, developing the learners’ thinking skills and also prompts the timid students to participate actively thus, sharing their experience with others.
Indeed, the notion of freedom is to make students aware by communicating to them to make them reflect on themselves and their responsibilities in such a way that they are able to find their own solutions to problems. Students should be empowered to create their own meaning to be able to reflect on their lives. The idea of Greene is linked to freedom to wide awakeness. Students should make their own freedom as long as they build their own meaning. As a teacher, there is a need to create a better involvement from the part of student. My teaching focuses on the delivery of knowledge, Greene encourages me to interpret the concept. In order to leave space to interpretation, my class must rather instil and embed a desire to travel in order to discover, create and experience new possibilities. According to Freire, the “Banking Concept” restrict students’ freedom as it is a way of modelling behaviour and learning experiences of students. it kills their quest of knowledge. My way of inculcating knowledge is more forward looking. it is the opposite of the ‘Banking Concept,’ I try to connect their experiences to their lessons. My teaching is diverted towards bringing my learners to make sense and derive their own meaning in such a way, that they will see the world from a different perspective. They need to know why they learn and how expressing their views nurture their intellectual capabilities. Students are given the opportunity to solve problems by making meaningful connections with their lived life and the theories in books When they learn differently, they think differently. Students become active and wide awake. They build their knowledge, as they are empowered to use their experiences to become rounded individuals. They are no more followers as they are able to have opinions, stand up for their convictions and bring democracy.
Greene strongly believes in the notion of freedom which helps people think on their own to have their own interpretations of what is happening around them. She has a deep-seated conviction that education will free people. It can be said that, when teachers know how to develop concepts to bring students to reflect on how to think. They intend to think independently and reject the Banking concept. When learners reject the traditional transmission model it means that have a greater awareness of what is happening in society. Greene encourages every teacher to be fully equipped so as to develop students’ mind. This reflection permits learners to be socially responsible as they are wide awake to societal problems. Through this, they become rational and understand the social and political consequences of their choices. Once they are wide awake, they start to voice out about society and the government. Ultimately, they will be prepared “to struggle for social justice and build a more just and decent society.” For Greene, students are to be raised as individual thinkers in order to address some common realities. Learners are expected to develop their views and experiences, not those of teachers. This process will create of developing students’ critical awareness will help foster social goals. By opening the space for individual reflections, this will compel them to create their own freedom.
Both Dewey and Greene agree on the fact that, teachers’ focus is on inspiring students to make them wide awaken. As a teacher, I strongly believe that learning cannot occur independently. Teaching and learning occur to encourage participation of each and every one where combined experiences help to sharp students’ critical thinking. Learning outcomes can only be reached if there is new knowledge acquired through sharing of experiences. My aim as a teacher is to promote collective attainment, which will foster social goals of living together. In other words, connecting with each other helps to overcome oppression (Blanchard 2010). When combining existentialism and instrumentalism in teaching, we urge students to voice out and have a real engagement in the democratic process. The role of education is to prepare our learners to have their opinions to consciously have a stand to ensure freedom.