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My Philosophy Statement How often does one ask what the purpose of public education is?

I'd like to perceive the public school system in the United States as an ongoing process of change, adaptability, and growth. However, it appears unlikely and unreasonable to expect everyone to agree on what the purpose of the public schools should, or could, be. Perhaps we could, at least, achieve a consensus regarding the significant impact that schools have on its students. Students who are enrolled in the public school system are likely to spend a significant portion of their developmental years within the confines of the school environment, and I do not think it is unreasonable for the public to dedicate time, effort, and emphasis on the role that public schools have in shaping public consciousness. With this is mind, I do not see many benefits in claiming to know what the role of the public school system should be. I would rather look at many different narratives and begin to select the ones that appear to most closely match up with the apparent needs of our world. As a teacher, I hope to continually seek multiple perspectives from which to learn and develop the skills needed to have a productive and positive impact on the students.

I suspect that there may be initial complications with convincing others to take my philosophies seriously, because I do not claim to know exactly what direction public education should take. However, I am confident that my passion for critical thinking, questioning, and flexibility has the ability to stand up to those who may propose educational narratives in a much more insistent manner. For instance, I feel as if students, through public education, can be given the skills that will enable them to adapt to challenges they many face in the future. The rate of technology and access to information is accelerating at what appears to be close to exponential growth. Society appears to have created a dependence on technology that may become more concrete over time. Generations to come could be faced with rapid changes that may require difficult choices and inevitable hardships that could warrant

a greater need for skills such as: productive thinking, cooperation, and problem solving. In Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, Dr. Richard H. Robbins convincingly argues that our economy's need to perpetually grow by a minimum of 3% every year is an unsustainable system that continues to create problems for the entire planet. It does not appear outlandish to suggest that a worldwide battle for resources and our markets' constant need to create more commodities will almost certainly affect the lives of future generations. With technology continuing to show us how it can grow at a remarkable pace, I am worried that students may not be adequately prepared for the kinds of decisions they may be required to make.

In The End of Education, Neil Postman suggests that a goal or narrative of public schools that could benefit students may be one that explores how language constructs our world-view, communication, and personal belief-systems. If the United States and the rest of the World continues to head towards an increasing number of changes, struggles, and choices; then we cannot afford to get caught up or waste time with petty grievances and arguments that may stem from an established habit of assumptions and beliefs about the way things are. Alfred Korzybski can be credited with the phrase, the map is not the territory, which seems to imply that words can never be equated to the empirical reality that they are meant to represent. In his book, Science and Sanity, Korzybski critiqued the Aristotelian foundations that most Western language and logic appears to be based on. As long as people continue to accept, and fail to challenge, the assumed infallibility of our language structure and subjective perceptions, then we are likely to continue to waste time arguing over the perceived dualities that transcend our conflicts.

For example, it appears to be wasteful and time consuming to argue about whether or not technology provides a negative or positive service for society. Many people may be accustomed to choosing a side that either demonizes technology or places it on a pedestal. However, if multiple perspectives are taken

into consideration and people no longer argued about what should or should not be, then we could skip the nonsensical and polarized arguments; and we could possibly head towards a critical analysis of the advantages and disadvantages that technology may pose and analyze the role it plays in shaping our society and culture. This isn't to say that we would not have arguments or debates, because I think we would greatly benefit, learn, and grow from them, but in a more positive and productive manner that our current public discourse seems to allow. A greater emphasis on exploring both the ineffectiveness and effectiveness of our language could also help improve students' self-esteem, cooperation, sense of belonging, and confidence. By eliminating the assumption that words accurately represent reality, then statements such as he is wrong, she is a loser, I'm better than that person, etc, lose the weight and credibility that make them so powerful and devastating within our community. People may be more likely to consider how their own subjectivity, and the environment plays a role in shaping their thoughts if they develop statements such as, he appears to be wrong today, when it comes to this particular subject, but there is a chance that I may have overlooked one aspect of the problem. With this type of mindset, I do not see how stereotypes, prejudices, biases, and bigotry would not immediately fall apart or be dismissed as nonsensical gibberish.

As a biology teacher who will be expected to educated students about our living environment, I believe that the scientific method may provide a model that can help students understand and critique the benefits and limitations that language has in achieving a greater understanding of the physical world. With science, there is never an absolute truth, because it emphasizes trying to find a model (map, representation, etc) that best matches the empirical data that critical experimentation and research attempts to obtain. If I demonstrate a particular diagram of a cellular component or molecule, I want to emphasize that it merely represents the most accurate model that we have yet to come up with. Science is built upon the ability to continually change and adapt to new evidence and facts, which are part of a process of remains to be flexible but may also contain it's own biases that I would encourage students

to question. I think that it may also be important to demonstrate the fallibility of our own nervous systems and attempt to provide students with a sense of humility by exploring the initial abstractions, such as color, smell, etc., that are created on an unconscious level. However, I do not think that students need to wait until intermediate or commencement level science classes to learn the techniques of critical thinking, questioning, problem solving, etc. I would like to suggest that students could being learning about questioning their word constructed world as early as Kindergarten, and I think it could benefit them in many aspects of their life and across multiple disciplines.

Another reason for emphasis towards a need for greater amounts of skepticism and questioning within our society is that I do not believe it will directly oppose community, family, or personal values. This narrative that I am suggesting does not attempt to answer arguments about right or wrong. It is only supposed to provide the means to provide a clearer understanding that may generate positive and productive thinking, which may be the skills necessary for adaptability. I am most passionate about giving students the skills that can provide them with an equal opportunity to pursue whatever they desire. If a particular student pursues a particular goal and later decides that they would like to head towards another path, then I would like them to have the tools that will allow them to make those decisions and figure out what would be most beneficial for themselves and, possibly, their community. After being provided these skills, it would be up to the individual to decide what community, family, or personal values may be the most positive, but part of having an equal opportunity may be having the option to think for oneself.

My philosophy towards education and teaching may not be a concrete narrative that can be followed with rigorous instruction or guidelines, but I believe that it is a flexible one that can adapt and continue to build upon the progress and achievements that have already been made in the field of public education. I would like to view education as an experiment that attempts to provide students with the

skills and tools that will enable them to find success in the future. I'd like to be able to look forward to a time where students are able to leave public education and be able to question the established depositions of society. In order to conquer future challenges, students will not only need individual skills, but they will also need to set perceived differences aside and learn that cooperation may be the key to overcoming the obstacles that were laid down before them by dominant powers who were not given the opportunity to see past the limitations of their own perceptions, or critique the words they used to separate themselves from one another. It may be far-fetched to attempt to integrate this narrative into the entire public school system, but I would like to continue to research it and look for more potentially productive ways to give my students an education.