As an educator we all struggle with philosophy and where to go from there once we decide what our set of beliefs are. Once we put our philosophy in place, we then struggle with changing our philosophy. I believe that philosophies can be always changing any given situation and in order for growth as an educator we have to be aware to the situations that can change our philosophy, as well as being true to our core beliefs. However, in order for this to happen we must understand what philosophy is, and what it is not and how it fall in line with ideology and theories. For this assignment, I will compare and contrast philosophy, ideology, and theory.
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Philosophy is the most beliefs about what is true or real according to individual values (Gutek, 2009). Philosophy is our beliefs that will determine what we do professionally and personally. Not having a philosophy set in place, it will be difficult to make decisions within the classroom, creating curriculums and evaluate progress. Although a person can set goals without having a philosophy implemented, not having the foundation of a set philosophy (core set of beliefs) achieving the goals can be a very difficult challenge.
Educators need a starting point to understand why we think and act the way we do in our classrooms. Having a philosophy allows an educator to reflect on how to make classroom actions consistent with our beliefs related to learning. However, before we list our “beliefs” we need to delve deeper into what makes up our philosophy. There are four major components to philosophy – Metaphysics, Epistemology, Axiology, and Logic (Gutek, 2009). In order to be able to understand philosophy we need to be able to understand its components.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality (Gutek, 2009). In metaphysics, one asks themselves what is really real; what is the nature between being and reality; what is the origin of the universe; these questions lead to more questions that lie beyond physics, more of the what if’s, does it really exist. Invariably, each answer to the questions we ask ourselves in the realm of metaphysics is going to vary from person to person because there is NO right answer.
How does metaphysics play a part in education? Well, again, it is about foundation. Every educational program needs to be based upon reality and facts, not imagination or illusion. Having differing metaphysical beliefs can lead to varying different educational approaches – methods can be dramatically different as whether the universe was created by the big boom, or created by God, or if mankind evolved from apes. Metaphysics can be a huge underlying factor of everything we do within the classroom.
Another component of philosophy is epistemology. Epistemology seeks vary simplistic answers, but can be considered to be closely related to metaphysics (Gutek, 2009). Epistemology allows us to ask questions such as how do we know what we know; what is the truth; how do we learn; for this component, we deal with issues of dependability of the knowledge and the validity of the sources of the knowledge (Gutek, 2009).
In regards education, epistemology deals with the knowledge process and in understanding this, educators are engaged in this undertaking. It has a direct impact upon the assumptions of the sources of knowledge and how it is reflected in teaching methodologies. In referring back to metaphysics, and determining on what truth we believe in factors in how we choose curriculums for our classroom. For example, if we believe that God created the universe, our curriculum may have more of a faith base versus a more “worldly” view as most public school districts may have. However, the factor of epistemology is that our beliefs and truths about the knowledge and its sources will have a persuasion on how we implement our classroom curriculum.
The third component of philosophy is axiology. Axiology deals with the questions of value (Gutek, 2009). We ask ourselves what is of value; are people of value; what values are essential; what is morality-is morality defines by our thoughts or actions. Axiology deals with values that are defined what society or people view as good (Gutek, 2009). Metaphysics and epistemology views help build the value system of axiology. As educators, we use axiology in our thinking about what the student/teacher relationship should be and how we should behave towards our students. There also will be disagreements about various issues within the classroom based on individuals varying values and diversity. Axiology can contain vary explosive human issues, varying on the depth of belief.
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The fourth component of philosophy is logic. Logic is the study of principles that are used in determining what is correct or incorrect in our reasoning (Gutek, 2009). Logic allows a solution to be based on reasoning and problems may be carefully based on known facts. Questioning for the truth will ensue arguments, observation, hypothesis formulation, and further experimentation. With logic, there is an argument for a solution as well as a counter argument until a resolution or solution is obtained. Logic by nature of philosophy is a subdivision of epistemology (Gutek, 2009).
How does Ideology fall into terms of philosophy? Ideology holds that our ideology is the only true reality (Gutek, 2009). Ideology seeks to discover the true knowledge instead of creating it and it aims to search not only for the truth, but also for the character development of learners. In education, ideology serves as a guide for teachers to teach students, and model appropriate behavior. With ideology, rather than philosophy, it is not specific skill centered but rather more broad based on universal truths and values (Gutek, 2009).
Theories try to explain the existence of the world or rather our own observations of the world. Educational theories aim to describe the nature of the process of learning and may offer insight on how teaching can be improved. Educational theories offer answers on how, who, what, when and why we learn. Traditionally theories provide rules that describe how the subjects are related to each other. As an educator, we must figure out how the theory fits into which category – constructivist, behavioral or cognitivist. All of theories can coexist because the attempt to explain the differing methods of learning. All answer differing questions and provide a broader understanding of learning.
In determining our “teaching” philosophy, all of the above components do play a significant part in determining what our full statements of beliefs are about teaching and learning. Each step that educators take in formulating a philosophy is self-reflective and formative. As educators generate ideas about what their teaching philosophy may be, all of the above are taken into consideration in determining attitudes, values, and beliefs about learning and teaching. A set of guidelines need to be implemented, and these guidelines will be worked and reworked as time and experiences happen. Educational philosophies are foundations of everything that we do as teachers. They are based upon our assumptions, definitions of learning, purpose of education and the nature of instructional process. It is an ever-changing process throughout our teaching career. What may be our philosophy today may not be our philosophy tomorrow.
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