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MY PERSONAL PHILOSOPY OF EDUCATION AND ITS

APPLICATION IN TEACHING THE TECHNICAL


SUBJECTS

Conor Jennings-G00323001

Submitted for the name of qualification


to
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterfrack

Module Leader: Pauline Logue

Programme: Bachelor of Science in Education (Design Graphics and


Construction)

Module Title: Education Studies

Date Submitted: 9/12/2016

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ABSTRACT
This teaching philosophy statement allows me to portray my concept of teaching,
demonstrate how I teach and provides a justification of why I use these methods. It is
my aim to explain my values and beliefs in teaching and provide evidence of the
effectiveness of these methods. This statement examines the contribution of Socrates,
his Socratic Method, his student Plato, who laid the foundations of philosophy in the
western world, and applying their theories into the classroom. Both, Skinner and
Pavlovs experiments relating to the behaviourist approach are examined and how the
theories relate to teaching and the rules and routines in the classroom. In this statement,
Vygotskys social constructivist ideas of scaffolding are explained and examples of
ways they can be used in the materials technology wood or technical graphics class are
provided. Comtes explanation of sociology is delved into and the methods of research
teachers can use to apply these methods in the classroom are examined. Martineaus
beliefs of gender inequality are taken into consideration and applied to the subjects we
are teaching and examples are provided how to promote our subjects to create gender
equality. All of this statement is supported with a variety of quality secondary research
sources such as books, articles and journals.

KEY WORDS: P HILOSOPHY S TATEMENT , P SYCHOLOGY , P HILOSOPHY , S TRATEGY .

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT ............................................................................................... 2

TABLE OF CONTENTS3

1 INTRODUCTION4

2 PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION..5
2.1 Socrates (c.470 BC c.399 BC) ................................................................................. 5

2.2 Plato (c.428 BC- 348 BC) ........................................................................................... 5

3 PSYCHOLOGY OF EDUCATION.............................................. 6
3.1 Behaviourist Approach ................................................................................................ 6

3.2 Vygotsky (1896-1934) ................................................................................................ 7

4 SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION..8
4.1 Comte (17981857)8

4.2 Martineau (1802-1876).9

5 CONCLUSIONS...................................................................... 10

6 LIST OF REFRENCES ............................................................ 12

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1 INTRODUCTION
What is a teaching philosophy statement? According to the Cornell University Graduate School
(c.2016), a philosophy statement is a narrative that includes your concept of teaching and
learning, a description of how you teach and a justification of why you teach that way. The
whole purpose of a statement is to convey your teaching values, beliefs and goals to a broader
audience while also providing evidence of your teaching effectiveness. In this philosophy
statement, I explore the beliefs and values of my teaching, the strategies that are used in the
classroom to create a quality learning atmosphere and how I implement these in the classroom
as the teacher.

Two philosophers who have greatly influenced my practice of teaching are Socrates and Plato.
The Socratic method, inspired by Socrates, is a method that I find to be very useful for getting
students to critically think about they are doing when giving practical demonstrations on cutting
joints. I also agree with Platos beliefs, where he believes that students must be taught to their
own individual needs (Noddings, 1995, p10-11) rather than a whole class. This is very
important to know in my opinion as there can be many different types of learners in the
classroom such as visual, aural, logical, verbal and physical which all must be catered for.

This statement examines the work of Vygotsky and also explores the behaviourist approach of
learning. An aspect of Vygotskys work which has greatly influenced my practice is his beliefs
in social constructivism. The jigsaw strategy which takes the basis of social constructivism is
explored and how to implement it in the classroom is explained in this statement. Another
aspect of the psychology of education that has influenced my practice is the behaviourist
approach and the experiments completed by both Skinner and Pavlov on operant and classical
conditioning which I feel relates to the rules and routines of the class.

The sociologists that have inspired my practice of teaching are both Comte and Martineau. I
find Comtes methods of research, such as surveying, focus group and observation (Cliffs
Notes, c.2016), to get a background on the students are very beneficial because once you get
the information, you can then plan your lessons to cater the needs of the different types of
students. Martineaus efforts to create gender equality directly relate to gender inclusion in the
class which we must cater for as teachers. This is explored in detail and examples of how to
create a gender neutral atmosphere in the classroom are given.

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2 PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION

2.1 SOCRATES (C.470 BC C.399 BC)


The Socratic method is an informal dialogue between two people. The educator poses a
deceptively simple question and when the student answers the teacher responds with another
question that prompts the student to think more deeply and offer a new answer (Noddings,
1995, p10). The educator leads, questions and guides the listener to think for themselves and
see the errors in their own thinking (Collins English Dictionary,2014). This encourages the
students to critically think for themselves and promotes higher order thinking. This method is
often used in debating or arguments because of the constant questioning until a contradiction
is exposed which weakens the statement, therefore proving the fallacy of the initial
assumption. (University of Chicago. N.D)

According to Maxwell and Melete (2014), to implement this technique correctly in the
classroom, the teacher must be fully committed to the method. This is because it takes a lot of
persistence for the teacher to constantly ask good questions to make the students think for
themselves and to force the student to express that creativity in their thinking. I feel by using
this technique between the teacher and the student during a recap of a lesson would be very
effective. I believe this because, by the teacher forcing the student to critically think about what
they have learned with questioning, the student really thinks about why we do, what we do on
the given topic which creates the students own understanding. I think it would also be an
excellent method to use when showing students demonstrations on the techniques of using
equipment in MTW. For example, instead of just telling the students to cut on the waste side
of the line during a demonstration, use the Socratic method to challenge the students to
critically think about why we cut on the waste side of the line.

I will now move onto another philosopher, Plato, who in fact was a student of Socrates and
documented all Socrates work.

2.2 PLATO (C.428 BC- 348 BC)


Plato who was a student of Socrates is also a philosopher who I find very interesting. Along
with Socrates, Plato laid the foundations of philosophy in the western part of the world
(Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2002). He explained how components of education such as,
literature, mathematics, history and philosophy as being the most basic components for

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education and still, to this day they remain the back bone of education. (Noddings, 1995, p10-
11). Plato believed that students should be taught to their individual needs and capabilities
rather than being taught as a whole class. Personally, I feel that this is so important in todays
classroom as there can be so many students with different learning hindrances which the teacher
must work around.

In the future when I will be teaching I will most certainly have to build lessons by having them
suitable to everyones own capabilities in the classroom. For example, if a student has
dyspraxia and are having trouble using the equipment and are finding it difficult keeping up in
technical graphics, it is up to the teacher to design the lesson so that they can set time aside to
help the student by breaking the topic down into smaller chunks for the student to understand.
The main reason behind this is because students with dyspraxia can be very forgetful and
disorganised (Dyspraxia Foundation, c.2016), so I feel that it is important in MTW to give the
student no more than 2/3 small steps of the process at a time, accompanied with a loop video
of the process being complete on the board so the student can look at it when they are stuck. It
is also the teachers responsibility to seek special equipment for the student such as a sloped
desk and a mounted T-square for technical graphics and a Stabilo S Pen to aid them when
writing in any subject (Dyspraxia Ireland, 2016). This is something every teacher will most
certainly face and must implement the correct equipment.

3 PSYCHOLOGY OF EDUCATION

3.1 BEHAVIOURIST APPROACH


When talking about the behaviourist approach, I find both Skinners operant conditioning and
Pavlovs classical conditioning very interesting. Pavlovs experiment with his dogs involves
learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that already brings about a particular response
(i.e. a reflex) with a new (conditioned) stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same
response (McLeod,2007). This classical conditioning occurs when repeated over and over
again. I feel this directly relates to rules and routines in the classroom.

When implementing rules and routines in a classroom I feel repetition is the key to achieving
this correctly. By having an entrance and exit routine in every class it becomes like second
nature to the students to follow it. This can only be achieved if the teacher demands the correct
standard from day one. Another aspect that the classical conditioning resembles is the drill
reinforcement technique used in the classroom. This strategy "promotes the acquisition of

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knowledge or skill through repetitive practice." (California Luthern University, c.2016) This is
most definitely a technique I will use at the end of my lessons during the recap of my lesson.

From this, Skinner didnt believe that Pavlovs theory of classical conditioning was the
complete explanation of human behaviour as it was far too simplistic. He believed that the
best way to understand behaviour is to look at the causes of an action and its consequences. He
called this approach operant conditioning (McLeod, 2007). From this assumption, Skinner
conducted an experiment with rats in a skinner box. The results of the experiment portrayed
that, behaviours which were reinforced were repeated, while behaviours that were not
reinforced, were extinguished. (Boundless, 2016)

In the classroom, one of the main ways to use positive reinforcement is praising the students
for good behaviour. Skinner has told us by doing this, the students will be more likely to repeat
the good behaviour. A good example of this in the MTW classroom would be if a student puts
a lot of work into a project which is of good standard and is rewarded with praise, the feeling
of pride and self-satisfaction will be something the student will want to emulate again
(Teachnology, c.2016). Another way I like to use operant conditioning is by giving constructive
feedback when correcting students drawings in technical graphics. I feel it is important to
highlight the areas in which the student is doing well in with praise, while also critiquing where
improvement is needed. Simple things like ticks and positive feedback gives the student a self-
satisfactory feeling which they will want to emulate.

3.2 VYGOTSKY (1896-1934)


Lev Vygotsky is a social constructivist whose ideas have greatly influenced my practice of
teaching. I agree with his idea that Every function in the childs cultural development appears
twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people
(interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological) (Vygotsky,1978, p34-41).
I believe that it is essential for students to be socially interactive with each other in a classroom
as the students will find it a lot easier to learn off each other than off a teacher in my opinion.
Therefore, in my classroom I will most certainly be promoting collaborative and co-operative
learning. When implementing collaborative learning to a group, it is most important to show
clarity and assign each person a role in the group. A great strategy I use is the Jigsaw Strategy.
Education World (2013, p22) explains it as:

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Each group member is assigned a different piece of information. Group members
then join with members of other groups assigned the same piece of information,
and research and/or share ideas about the information. Eventually, students return
to their original groups to try to "piece together" a clear picture of the topic at
hand.
The fact that everyone has a roll, it gives the students a sense of accountability and if they dont
research their topic they let everyone down, so they will all have to pull their weight. I find this
strategy very useful when teaching manufactured boards in MTW, as each student can research
one of the manufactured boards and teach it back to their group.

Another aspect of Vygotsky I am interested in is his theory of zonal proximal development.


This is the space between what a learner can achieve unaided and what they cannot do. In this
space the learner must be guided correctly by a more knowledgeable peer, teacher or coach
(Crawford, 1996). When a student is in this development stage, it is a good idea that when
creating a collaborative learning environment to have mixed ability students together who will
learn off each other. Another technique the teacher can use to aid the learner through this stage
is scaffolding. This is where the teacher provides hints and break down tasks into smaller
chunks so the learner can understand better (McLeod,2012). This is a strategy I find very useful
in MTW when giving demonstrations to students on using the tools correctly. I feel by letting
a student do a demonstration, after the teachers demonstration, is a good way of identifying
general mistakes in using the tools. In this period, while the student is giving the rest of the
students the demonstration, the teacher is giving the student support and leading them in the
right direction while giving generic tips to the rest of the students.

4 SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

4.1 COMTE (1798-1857)


August Comte was the first sociologist to create the idea of Sociology. Anthony Giddens
(1989) defines sociology as:

The study of human social life, groups and societies. It is a dazzling and
compelling enterprise, having as its subject matter our own behaviour as social
beings. The scope of sociology is extremely wide, ranging from the analysis of
passing encounters between individuals in the street up to the investigation of
world-wide social processes.

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I believe that this is very relevant to education, because if we get to know where our
students come from, we can consider this when teaching and teach more effectively. As
we are constantly trying to accommodate everyones differences and capabilities when
planning lessons. I feel it is essential that teachers use sociological methods of research
to get a background on their class before planning the lesson to teach more effectively.
Three common methods of research in education, that are derived from Comtes
principles, are direct observation, surveying and focus groups (Cliffs Notes, c.2016). A
method I find extremely useful is using a variety of exit cards and questionnaires to get
an understanding of the different approaches students have to education and to get an
insight to their background. By using exit cards, I feel it is also a great routine at the end
of the class as students must hand their exit card to the teacher so they can then leave,
which leaves accountability on the student to fill the card/questionnaire out correctly. For
example, as a materials technology wood teacher, which is mainly male dominated, the
teacher can accommodate gender inclusion by getting ideas and good formative feedback
from the questionnaires if the questions are correctly structured.

Another method I find very useful is a focus group. This is where the students are all in
a circle and are asked on their perceptions, beliefs and backgrounds on different topics
(Office of Assessment Trinity College, 2005). This can be extremely useful when first
meeting a class to use as an ice breaker. By using it as an ice breaker, you immediately
get a background on the different backgrounds students are coming from and their
interests or hobbies which you can tailor your lessons around to engage the students more
effectively. As a DCG and MTW teacher, the design briefs for the projects for both of
these subjects are always designed for the students to design their own projects around
their interests or beliefs. I feel that if the teacher has an idea of the students background,
he then has a huge advantage in helping the student to come up with a project which will
relate to the students beliefs and interests. For example, if a student from the African
region is in the class, the teacher can get a background on where they come from and
help the student to get the student create a unique project which would be inspired by
their African culture.

4.2 MARTINEAU (1802-1876)


Ritzer (1996, p52-55) tells us how Harriet Martineau is known to be the Founding Mother
of sociology. He explains how Martineau was a strong believer that human happiness was the
most important law of social life and had a massive concern with gender inequality. Through

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her writings, she expressed her feelings on gender equality and the roles women have in todays
society. While society has evolved a huge amount since Martineaus time in the 19th century, I
feel our subjects of Material Wood Technology and Construction are still most definitely male
dominant. This was portrayed in the STEM report of 2016 as in the leaving cert of 2014, 92.7%
of students who sat construction studies in the leaving cert were male while only 7.3% were
females (Department of Education and Skills, 2016).

I feel this reflects badly on the way construction studies is promoted in schools. I feel that as
teachers it is our responsibility to promote our subjects of MTW and construction studies
equally to both male and females. I believe by giving students gender neutral projects, when
students are on subject tasters in first year, and then giving the students a wide scope to add
their own unique element of design to either suit a male or a female would most definitely draw
more females into the subject than making them make the stereotypical car, aeroplane and
tractor projects which are completely aimed at males.

5 CONCLUSIONS
To conclude, the philosophers who have greatly influenced my practice of teaching are
Socrates and Plato. I believe the Socratic Method is an excellent way for getting students to
critically think for themselves. It is a method where the teacher uses constant structured
questioning to guide the student to see their errors in thinking and to correct them (Collins
English Dictionary,2014). It takes persistence to use the method but excellent when executed
correctly. Platos belief that all children must be thought individually rather than as a whole
really strikes a chord with me (Noddings, 1995, p10-11). The fact that students are at all
different levels of abilities, I feel it is just not possible to treat all students the same. For students
with disabilities, there are some excellent equipment which can aid the student and its
important that they get this equipment to enhance their development.

On the psychology side of things, both Skinner and Pavlovs operant and classical conditioning
is very interesting as I feel it really relates to events in the classroom such as the rules and
routines. When the students hear the bell, they enter the classroom. The bell being the stimulus
and the students entering is the reaction. Very alike Pavlovs Dogs. As well as Pavlov, I found
Vygotskys theory of zonal proximal development very interesting. This is the space between a
student being able to achieve something unaided and a student not being able to achieve
something (Crawford, 1996). It is in this space where the student develops as a learner with

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assistance from a guide. The best use of this would be to have mixed ability students in a
collaborative learning exercise as the stronger students will aid the weaker students naturally.

The sociologists who have aided my practice of teaching are both Comte and Martineau. Comte
believed that if we can get to know where our students come from, we can take this into
consideration and tailor our lesson around this to teach more effectively. Martineau then was a
human activist who believed in gender equality. I feel this directly relates to the MTW subject
as it is completely male dominant and has to be changed.

As a teaching philosophy statement, I feel I have conveyed my strongest beliefs, strategies and
values that I have for in the classroom. I have also justified these with reference to many quality
secondary research sources such as articles, journals and books.

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6 LIST OF REFERENCES
Cornell University Graduate School. (c.2016). Teaching Philosophy Statement at
http://gradschool.cornell.edu/career-services/teaching-philosophy-statement, retrieved
on the 9/10/2016.
McLeod, S. (2007) Pavlovs Dogs at http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html,
retrieved on 9/10/2016.
Collins English Dictionary, 2014. 12th Edition, available at
http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/socratic-method, on 27/11/16.
The University of Chicago, The Law School. (N.D) The Socratic Method at
http://www.law.uchicago.edu/prospectives/lifeofthemind/socraticmethod, retrieved on
the 9/10/2016
Maxwell, M. and Melete. (2014.) How to Use the Socratic Method at
http://www.socraticmethod.net/how_to_use_the_socratic_method/using_the_socratic_
method.html, retrieved on 9/10/2016
Encyclopaedia Brittanica (2012). Plato retrieved at
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Plato, retrieved on 9/10/2016.
Dyspraxia Ireland. (2016) Dyspraxia Secondary School Strategies at
http://www.dyspraxia.ie/userfiles/files/Secondary_Classroom_Strategies.pdf,
retrieved on the 10/10/2016.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. Readings on the
development of children, 23(3), 34-41.
Crawford, K. (1996). Vygotskian approaches in human development in the information
era. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 31(1-2), 43-62
McLeod,S. (2012). Zone of Proximal Development at
http://www.simplypsychology.org/Zone-of-Proximal-Development.html, retrieved on
11/10/16.
California Lutheran University (c.2016). Drill and Practice at
http://public.callutheran.edu/~mccamb/drillpractice.htm, retrieved on 13/10/2016.
Noddings, N. (1995). Philosophy of Education. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press,
p10-11.
Dyspraxia Foundation, (c.2016). Dyspraxia in Adults retrieved at
https://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-adults/, accessed on 27/11/16.

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McLeod, S. (2007). Skinner-Operant Conditioning retrieved at
http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html, accessed on 27/11/16.
Boundless, (2016). Basic Principles of Operant Conditioning: Skinner retrieved at
https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-
textbook/learning-7/operant-conditioning-47/basic-principles-of-operant-
conditioning-skinner-197-12732/, accessed on 27/11/16.
Teachnology, (c.2016). How to Use Operant Conditioning In the Classroom, retrieved
at http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/teaching/operantcond.html, accessed on
27/11/16.
Education World, (2013). The Jigsaw Strategy, retrieved at
http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/strategy/strategy036.shtml, accesed on
28/11/16.
Giddens, A. (1989). Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press. pg 22.
Cliffs Notes, (c.2016). Sociological Research: Designs, Methods, retrieved at
https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/sociology/sociological-research-
methods/sociological-research-designs-methods, accessed on 8/12/2016.
Office of Assessment, Trinity College. (2005). Guidelines On How to
Conduct a Focus group, retrieved at
https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf,
accessed on 8/12/16.
Ritzer, G. (1996). Classical Sociological Theory. New York: The McGraw Hill
Companies. pg 52-55.
Department of Education and Skills, (2016).STEM Report of the Irish Educational
System, retrieved on http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-
Reports/STEM-Education-in-the-Irish-School-System.pdf, accessed on 8/12/16.

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