25 July 2006

Walking the Talk

The final segment of my current grad course is focused around developing a more personal sense of leadership: figure out where you are so that you know where to head next. One of the tasks involved a Philosophy of Education Inventory (You can take it, too! Just like a quiz in Cosmo!). Developed by Lorraine Zinn, it's a way of examining where you stand in relation to five major viewpoints of the purpose of education. They are
  • Behavioral Philosophy - “to teach children to comply with certain standards or expectations set by societal leaders or professional experts.
  • Comprehensive Philosophy - “liberal arts…to provide a broad-based, general education rather than a specialized or vocational education.
  • Progressive Philosophy - “educating people to live responsibly and resolve problems cooperatively within a democratic society.
  • Humanistic Philosophy - “education for self-actualization, or self-initiated development of a person’s skills and potential to lead to a fulfilling life of challenge and growth.”
  • Social Change Philosophy - “education as a primary force for achieving social change, or transforming society.
Really, without completing the inventory, you can probably see one or two areas that appeal to you. When I originally did the inventory last year, it was within a larger context: how do you work with other teachers who have a different philosophy than you? I think this is a much better way to view the inventory. My beliefs are one thing---but I don't work in a vacuum.

The other thing about the inventory that is interesting is to look at these philosophies in terms of generations. When you think about your school and the "humanistic" teachers...how old are they? What about the younger set---are all they "behaviorists"? One's philosophy develops and changes depending on what the educational schools value at a particular time and also the stage of life you find yourself in. I bet we all start off a "Social Change" types and then reality smacks us in the face.

Me? I'm equal between "Behavioral" and "Comprehensive," with a good dose of "Progressive" thrown in. I didn't score high enough on any of them to consider it my dominant vision. I think that reflects my change in job and the different hats I have to wear. How I view my role in the classroom (Comprehensive/Progressive) is very different from the role I serve with the district (Behavioral). The important thing here is not necessarily to label people, but rather to use this as a starting point in working with others.

I'm going to have to dig through my files at work. The workshop I attended last year had some great things to share about bringing together these various philosophies when trying to work toward a goal. It will make more sense now that I've done more reading---and perhaps others in my class would appreciate seeing how our current "module" can be applied. It's one thing to talk about these philosophies, but quite another when it comes time to walk with them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I scored as:

Liberal: 87
Behaviorist: 84
Progressive: 78
Humanist: 63
Radical: 61

I'm not strong on any of them. Probably because I thought that most of the answers were pretty good. I don't have a problem with the leanings this shows though. Interesting. I taught adults how to use computers for 13 years in a training situation as well as at a local community college and college extension program. Fascinating to get back into that mindset after time teaching younger ones. :)