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Custom Educational Philosophy Essay

1. Discuss the educational belief system(s)/philosophy which most closely aligns with your own.

After carefully reading The Hutchings and Sadovnik text on the different educational philosophies and belief systems and their role in a traditional classroom I have come to the conclusion that my own personal educational beliefs and values most closely parallel that of  Perrenialism (Hutchins, Sadovnik). Initially I had  thought of myself as an existentialist with some progressive tendencies.  I've always enjoyed the idea of modern ideas and choice in the classroom, however while reading this text and then researching further the world of 'Great Works', rational thinking, Socratic questioning and philosophical pondering I have come to realize that I am a Perrenialist .

Perrenialism has opened my eyes to a different form of education, presenting different options and methods that I had not thoroughly explored.  Despite the initial rigidity that I saw in this philosophy I see now that this is a philosophy of self- realization that is committed to the pursuit of some of the 'great truths'.  It is open in its willingness to inquire, to debate, and to question. Though it seems limited  to its reliance on authentic literature for the provision of theories, knowledge, and concepts one could also say that these pieces of literature provide a vast supply of profound and thought-provoking material supplied by history’s great thinkers.

2. Explain how you will implement and support your educational belief system(s)/philosophy by providing at least three specific classroom policies and/or practices you will adopt as a classroom teacher that will be based on your beliefs about education. Explain how the policies/practices reflect your educational ideology/belief system.

In my classroom I plan to implement and support my educational belief system on a number of different fronts. Though I'm sure I'll delve into some of the other philosophies during my teaching career I intend to make my focus Perrenialism. Within my walls I would love to have a small class library containing the works of Plato, Shakespeare, Homer, and Milton. I'd like to have small laminate cards filled with questions,  interesting facts, and thought provoking hypotheses. Students would be able to go to the shelf and pick up some of these cards that would reach out to them on a modern day level yet capture their interest in some of the old 'Great Works'. For example I may have a  modern day love story from the New York Times and some an interesting fact cards relating this to Shakespeare's story of Romeo and Juliet.  Or I may leave a simple thought on a card to go along with 'The Odyssey' and open it up for philosophical discussion later on.

I also intend to have photos of some of the great authors, artists, and thinkers in my classroom. I'd like to stir interest within my students my giving them visuals to spark conversation.  I will designate a certain period of our daily schedule to set aside for discussion. Within the discussion period I will have set rules and policies that reflect my Perrenialist philosophy. I will encourage students to speak freely and let them know that each comment that they contribute is valuable and can take us to an entirely new path of thinking. I will embrace their comments yet push them to go further with their thoughts. I will question these thoughts and teach them to be creative, strong, and intellectual with their responses.

I believe by giving the students access to some of the great works, providing visually stimulating materials, and providing the opportunity for intellectually stimulating discussion my Perrenialist philosophy will prosper in my classroom.

1. Are schools prepared to handle the complex issues of gender identity and sexual preference?

I believe teachers and administrative staff would identify bullying and harassment as a serious problem in every school throughout our nation. Though the majority of schools have made strong initiatives to crack down on the issues that surround hateful and ignorant acts accompanying bullying I think there tends to be a lack of focus on the discrimination that the young gay and lesbian students face on a daily basis (Newsweek). I do not believe that schools are doing enough to eliminate discriminatory acts towards gay and lesbian students nor do I believe the majority of  schools can say that they are prepared to start doing so. (Friend)

Though it is often frowned upon it is not uncommon to hear a student in the hallway use the sentence, 'That is so gay', when talking negatively about an item or action. This type of negative talk is often overlooked. But hearing 'what you are' being used with negative connotations, so nonchalantly, every single day and rarely seeing it addressed must take its tole. This is just one of many and one of the less obvious acts of ignorance these students face on a daily basis. As we have read in the article, “Young, Gay and Murdered” by Ramin Satoodeh, gay, lesbian, and transgendered students can become victims of blatant sexual teasing, sexual remarks,  threats, violence, and even murder solely based of their own sexual identity. (Newsweek)

The mere fact that all of the major circumstances that surrounded  Larry King were known and brought to peoples attention but not resolved shows that today's schools are not yet equipped to handle these types of situations. Several times throughout the article teachers and principals were made aware of what was occurring and the end result of each situation was that Larry was removed from the scene in order to ensure his safety. When the principal discovered the 'Burn Book' it mentions that the issue was addressed and Larry transferred to a new school in fear of his safety. When the gym teacher at  E.O. Green realizes that there is 'clashing' between the boys in physical education Larry is transferred to another class.  The fact that Larry was removed from a school or a classroom where he should have equal rights to a safe education doesn't seem just.  What I believe should have happened in these instances is that the school in each case should  have instituted a gay and lesbian awareness group that opened up a dialogue and helped dissolve the ignorance that seemed to be circulating within the school. All members that had participated in the 'Burn Book' at the first school mentioned or were caught harassing Larry should have been required to go (Newsweek). Had some of these acts happened in a work place environment they could have been considered  hate crimes and serious harassment and could have lead to some pretty hefty penalties.  Larry himself seemed to have issues with his own identity as many young gay (Newsweek). Lesbian, and transgendered students do. It seemed that at times he was pushing the bar with Brandon and at other times he was still figuring himself out. An opportunity for the students to have guided open instruction as in the video of the grade 4 students could have helped. As we saw in the video many young people , even at the age of 9-10, are filled with impressions and stereotypes that have been filtered down through certain religious attitudes, parental advice, and the media. If these issues aren't open for discussion within the school walls these impressions, attitudes, and negative behaviours towards gay, lesbian, and transgendered students will continue. Are the schools prepared? I don't believe they are (Newsweek). Are they starting to try and address the issue? Yes.

3. How will you ensure that you are not being insensitive and/or biased in your views of what is “appropriate?”

I personally think it is my obligation to ensure that I am not biased in my views of what is and what is not appropriate when it comes to my students identity. I think a good teacher should know before entering a classroom that any views they may have on what they consider appropriate or innapropriate when it comes to this issue should be left at home. I also personally believe a really good teacher would not have any negative views when it came to this issue in the first place. Students today face enough judgement. This is the last thing they should ever sense from their teacher. Being a young person is hard enough (Goodman, Lesnick)

I will always be cautious of the daily language I use with my students. For example, I will make sure that I use language such as, 'mail carrier' instead of 'mail man' to ensure that I am not leaving any sex out unintentionally. I  also intend to have a very open classroom. I will I will be sure to be proactive and open the room up to discussion should any question arise on the topic of sexual identity. I believe this can occur at a young age as in the video as sex and identity are two seperate topics. I want my students to feel comfortable in my classroom I want them to be aware of the fact that we are all different and just because our peers may not be an exact replica of us that doesn't mean that their identity or their way of living should be any less valued than our own. Every student is entitled to a safe classroom, free of harrassment, judgement, and prejudice (Friend). I will let me students know early on that I will not tolerate any such negative behaviour. I will also be sure not to punish students who are simply inquisitive and looking for answers. Again, as we saw in the video students don't always know what different terms mean. They also are not always aware of why they think a certain way. Schools and families help to mold young students minds but sometimes families may have strong opinions on homosexuality. I think providing the students with knowledge is the only way to rid their minds of any kind of ignorance associated with the issue of gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals. This is an important social and culture question that many people these days around the world are facing. It is often a very difficult to process to face up to your various prejudices, especially if they are culturally engrained and have existed for a long time.

In my classroom I try to impose discipline by posting rules on the walls the must be obeyed by all. I also inform students that I am always willing to talk to them about any problems that they may be suffering either at home or on an interpersonal level. This is very important for young people: they need to know that there is someone who will listen to them and take them seriously. Without this it is hard for them to be confident and even more difficult for them to grow into upstanding young citizens.

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