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Danielle Howell

ENG 6020
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
William Butler Yeats said education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
This saying does a great job of summarizing my educational beliefs because I believe instructors
need to give students a basic and fundamental knowledge base in order to light the fire, but then
give students the opportunity to learn on their own and take responsibility for their understanding
and learning, which equates to the flame that grows on its own. My educational philosophy
resembles that of John Deweys Pragmatism incorporated with a bit of the philosophy of
Idealism, and focuses on teaching writing as a process. By integrating these approaches into my
classroom, I believe I can create a successful and nurturing classroom.
My teaching philosophy aligns with the Pragmatist philosophy associated with John
Dewey, while incorporating Idealist tendencies because I see it as vital that students work with
each other and have the opportunity to experience co-operative learning. That being said, I also
think the instructor should have control over the classroom and be in charge of teaching a solid
foundation and understanding of the content. As composition instructor, I want my students to
work in groups and explore their own interests. In order for them to be able to pursue their own
goals, however, I need to have the opportunity to lecture and teach about clear and effective
writing so they can learn how to understand and approach the topic at hand. I tried to incorporate
this philosophy while teaching the various essays in GSW 1110. I wanted my students to work
with each other while also integrating their interests. To do this, I would lecture about how to
approach writing the essays and show examples of what successful and unsuccessful essays
looked liked to ensure my students fully understood the essay assignment and purpose, and while

they were working I checked their progress to ensure they were properly completing the task.
Next, I allowed students time to work on their own in order to come up with essay topics and
complete the required research. Then I would have them get into small groups to discuss their
ideas and get feedback from each other.
Including the philosophy of Idealism is also important, and I therefore believe discussion
to be vital tool in learning about writing. In order to include this philosophy, I try to incorporate
class discussion (both small and large group) as often as possible. In GSW 1110, I have found
discussions to be particularly beneficial for Essay Four, Analyzing a Visual Argument, because
students were able to share their ideas of the analysis and receive immediate feedback from me
and their peers. This helped to clarify the purpose of the assignment because it allowed my
students the opportunity to ensure they were not only analyzing visual arguments correctly, but
were able to expand their analysis based on peer response. By exploring ideas in this manner,
students had a better grasp on the different concepts and were able to write with more authority,
detail, and development on topics. Drawing from both of these philosophies allows my students
to approach learning in a variety of methods, which gives students different ways to learn and
excel in the classroom.
The most important concept for student writers to learn is that while the final product is
important, writing is a process that should be approached as a learning opportunity. All
classrooms contain students with varying writing abilities, and in order for all students to learn in
a classroom, it is the process of writing that must be the focus. No matter how experienced a
student is, every students goal should be to improve his or her writing throughout the course of
the semester. One vital aspect of looking at writing in this manner is to focus on revision.
Students need to have the opportunity to receive feedback from both their teacher and peers, and

they need to learn how to incorporate this advice to improve whatever paper they are working on
and their overall writing ability. Giving my students feedback on rough drafts, final drafts, and
possible revisions, allowed them the chance to hone their skills and really work on fixing the
errors in their writing. With a focus on writing as a process and not a product, students will
improve how they approach writing a paper, which is more beneficial over time because they
will be able to use the skills they learn in future papers and classes.
By implementing these different philosophies and approaches in my classroom, I will be
able to instill my students with knowledge that they will be able to use throughout their
educational careers. It is important that every student be taken into account and I believe that my
teaching philosophy will allow me to do so. By giving my students a foundation in the basic and
fundamental aspects of composition, I will be giving them the opportunity to grow and learn both
on their own and in groups. With a combination of these theories and experiences, I hope to help
my students learn and succeed in both school and life.