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Philosophy of Education

To credit David Hawkins, I think that the idea of a triangle of educationthe I,


the Thou, and the Itis a brilliant conception of education through the lens of the
philosopher. The idea of an I, the teacher; a Thou, the student; and the It, the content; is
one that is powerful in its simplicity. It succinctly connects the aspects of teaching that
most often occur: interactions between teacher, student, and content; all of these
interactions flowing in any order.
After only an academic year in the classroom though, I think that Hawkins model
can be modified to more effectively recreate the realities and mutability of teaching.
Instead of a trianglea flat, two-dimensional objectI envision a cone; see the diagram
below. The base of the cone has a central base point that is the I. The teacher is central to
the classroom and the relationship between I, Thou, and It. The ends of the line segments
which radiate from the I are individual students and the number is dependent on the size
of a class. These multiple representations of Thou are a key part of the newness of this
model. It is essential to remind ourselves that teachers enter a myriad of relationships
when they enter the classroom. The multiple points each represent a separate and
individual Thou. Each student interacts with the teacher in a different way, and this
multidimensional relationship is better shown through this model of a cone. Hawkins
triangle submerges individuality for simplicity but this does not serve to better our
understanding of the classroom. The circle the points are inscribed in as the base of the
cone connect each individual Thou to one another in one dimension. Additionally, the
model is completed by the spider web of connections between students across the base of
the cone. Students are connected with each other in a myriad of ways in the classroom,
and a web of their connections again reminds us of that fact. Finally, we come to the It.
Stretching up from the inscribed points, and the central point are line segments reaching
the point of the cone. That point is the It: content that all members of the classroom are
attached to and connected with. Each point around the cones base, and the central point,
afford a different angle of intersection with the It point. This helps us remember the
diversity of approaches and accessibility to content in one classroom.

This three dimensional representation of relationships within the classroom is one
which helps me conceptualize my own view of teaching as a multidimensional endeavor.
There are multiple forms of relationships formed through education, and there are
multiple forms of communications that teachers and students exhibit in the classroom. I
believe that an understanding and acknowledgement of these differences is vital to
teaching. I see my job as teacher as a moderator and modeler of forms of communication
and learning so that all students are best served in their education. This means
recognizing and conceptualizing various access points to the It of content in the
classroomwhether as standard practice, or specifically in terms of thinking about
special education. This means a continuous learning on my part as an educator in how to
teach content, and engage students.
I see teaching as an opportunity to serve a vital community role. This role
involves the giving back of knowledge and experience from one generation to another.
Education also serves as a cultural capital acquisition area where students are inducted
into cultural modes which are not their own. This means education as multicultural for all
students, not only as training in dominant culture for minority cultural groups, or expose
to the exoticized cultures of the other for white students. Instead, education as
multiculturalperhaps pan-culturalis a means to introduce new ideas, forms of
expression, and appreciate for humanity in its many forms. Ideally, I see education as a
vital part of activism for social justice. As Maxine Greene states, [To teach for social
justice] is to teach so that the young may be awakened to the joy of working for
transformation in the smallest places, to that they may become healers and changers in
their worlds.
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The learning and teaching of history specifically is well suited to this pursuit.
History forces us to confront how we as a society have achieved what we take for
granted, and to critically examine the causes of what brought us to the present. I see the
study of the past as a vehicle for understanding our own and others past experiences. The
skills of the historianreading and writing criticallyare important for an educated and
engaged public; however, more important is the ability to place the present into the
context of the past. This conceptualization of how the past has influenced the present, and
how the past has not gone anyway, allows students to search for those transformations in
the smallest places, to again quote Greene.
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Teaching as a locus of social justice, through this model, then comes to the
forefront. It combines the understanding of the multidimensionality of the cone of I,
Thou, and It with the importance of education as a pan-cultural experience where new
identities and realities are introduced to learners. These intersections create teaching as I
see it: a vast curriculum in humanity that brings together teacher, student, and content
into a relationship where students can grow and envision themselves as healers and
changers in their worlds.
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1
Quoted in Linda V. Beardsley, Teacher Education as Civic Engagement: Building
Bridges and Community through Professional Development Schools in Acting Civically:
From Urban Neighborhoods to Higher Education, ed. Susan A. Ostrander and Kent E.
Portney (Medford: Tufts University Press, 2007), 146.
2
Ibid
3
Ibid