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History of Education

I think that by learning about and reviewing past purposes of education I will be better suited to respect the act of educating the youth’s of America today.  It is interesting to me how far the history of education has come from early, preliterate societies.  Beginning in preliterate societies, the main purpose of education was for older generations to transmit cultural knowledge to their successors.  Through the process of enculturation, defined as “the process beginning at infancy by which a human being acquires the culture of his or her society” (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, p. 537), preliterate societies passed down the necessary information that was vital to their culture’s survival.  Through oral tradition elders of many preliterate societies were able to transmit their knowledge.   In my opinion, the same concept of “oral tradition” is still used in today’s classrooms to serve a purpose of education. The interaction of speaking and listening are constantly occurring between teacher and student in today’s classroom. Although modern education is not necessarily about teaching students how keep alive their culture and survive physically, they still teach children how to become successful members of society in an ever-connected global world.

In ancient societies, where writing and recording cultural knowledge became a norm, religion became prevalent in societies.  In addition to enculturation, all major ancient societies mentioned in chapter three of the textbook, the Chinese, Egyptians, and Hebrews had another purpose of education: to transmit religious and philosophical ideals.  Throughout other major periods of history ranging from ancient Greece and Rome to the medieval period and the Renaissance, education’s primary goal was to teach people to be productive members of society.  In nearly every major historical period religion played a significant influence in the development of the purposes of education.  It is remarkable to me how the United States came to be such a secular society when it comes to public education, eliminating nearly every reference of religion from the public sphere of education.

It never occurred to me just how significant the Enlightenment was to Thomas Jefferson’s personal values and to today’s public school system.  According to the textbook, the leaders of the American Revolution were influenced by the Enlightenment’s principles of rights to life, liberty, happiness and a democratic government (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, p. 91) in which everyone had the right to an informed opinion.  The Enlightenment period focused on education and learning that would advance the future.  The Enlightenment period philosophers and educators believed in the use of human reasoning and the scientific method to develop ways to better their future.  Thomas Jefferson believed education’s main purpose to “promote a democratic society of literate and well informed citizens…that the state, not the churches, had the primary education role.  (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, 135). These schools would be public, state sponsored, and therefore religion was to no longer play a role in the American public school system.  I do understand Thomas Jefferson’s desire to separate church and state because of his want to have citizens making decisions based on scientific skills and subjects for development of a nation.

For myself, I still see education to some extent still as and act of culture transmission and advancement.  Although one particular cultural idea is specifically transmitted from teacher to student in the modern day American public school, there are still ways to promote respect for other’s cultural heritages regardless of how different students are. I think that education is important to help students become informed members of the society they live in.  I also believe that part of education is to help students appreciate and respect differences in cultures and to be able to find ways to incorporate other traditions into their own lives.  Especially in today’s connected and socialized global community, it is ever more important to consistently teach students the importance of respect for other cultures, both historical and modern.


Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of Education   (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth CengageLearning.

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My Philosophy of Education

My philosophy of education is currently in its early stages of development.  I have yet to be in a classroom as a teacher, so much of my philosophy of education and teaching is based from my personal experiences as a student.  I hold the belief that in order to be a successful teacher, one must have a passion for helping and nurturing people.  As a teacher I will be caring for young children and helping them learn basic academic, social, and intellectual skills to prepare them for later life experiences: going to college, making a career, and general life milestones.

I believe first and foremost that education is the way teachers are able to instruct and guide students to become lifelong learners.  In early education and elementary school, I believe that children learn naturally through their thinking and as a teacher, it will be my responsibility to help students.  I believe that education aids in a student’s intellectual growth, while also contributing greatly to their personal, social, and global growth in order to be adequately prepared for growing older.

After reading chapters 3 and 4 in the Foundations of Education textbook, I have found that my personal beliefs have bits and pieces in common with a few education pioneers.  In general, I believe that learning occurs through experience and hands-on engagement. In order to enforce my beliefs, I need to have a classroom environment and activities that stimulate interest.  Much like the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget who believes that “children construct their concepts about reality by actively exploring their environment” (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, p. 119), I feel that through exploration a child comes to learn on their own.  I feel that while instruction is important to teach children what they should know, the natural curiosity of elementary children should be nurtured so that they may come to their own conclusions about learning.  My ideas about “hands-on” learning also reflect the philosophy of education of American John Dewey. Dewey believed that students learn through experience. The classroom should be set up with activities and concrete objects that the students regularly interact with.  Dewey believed that teachers should use “group activities, collaborative learning, and process-centered strategies in their classroom.” (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, p. 114)  I believe that there should be limits on explicit instruction from teacher to student in the classroom. If all of elementary education consisted of a teacher telling students information and students relaying that information right back through only testing, there is no room for personal development and learning.  As I mentioned above it is also crucial for students to develop their own unique personally academically and socially.  By implementing hands on group activities and hand-on strategies in the classroom as proposed by Dewey, the student will be able to grow in many more ways than just intellectually.

As a teacher my goal for students is to help them develop their own intellectual ability.  My purpose is not to tell students how to do things, but to show them through modeling how to do things for themselves.  It is my aim to make students engaged in the learning process; I want them to be emotionally invested in their education and strive to learn for themselves, not because a teacher told them they should learn. I want students to desire to learn for themselves.  As a teacher, I believe that it is just as important to develop my own education throughout my career.  In my opinion, education is an on-going process that does not stop the moment someone graduates high school or college, or even retiring from a career.  Every day we are constantly analyzing our surroundings and using past experiences to shape our understanding with the world around us.  The classroom, especially the elementary classroom, needs to be a fun, safe, and stimulating environment.  I feel that it is necessary for a student to have a personal connection with a lesson in order to fully grasp the main idea.  In the classroom and throughout developing lesson plans, my goal is to ensure that I am creating fun and engaging lessons.

I am still a student myself in the MEd program at UMW.  In my opinion, education is an ongoing and lifelong process and I am still learning many things everyday.  My philosophy of education is a work in progress, however once I continue taking classes at the university level to prepare me to become a teacher my ideas will develop further.  Once I am actively engaged in the classroom environment I look forward to implementing my philosophy in the classroom and take part in helping young students learn find their own beliefs and knowledge in a safe and intellectual environment.


Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of Education   (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth CengageLearning.




Does Good Teaching Matter? Week 1 Reflection

When asked to reflect upon the question “Does good teaching matter?” I immediately come to the most obvious conclusion “Well, of course it does!”  For the purpose of the reflection, however, I wanted to take a step back and analyze why I felt so compelled to answer the question that way.  What inspires people to become teachers, and more personally importantly, what was my inspiration? What does it take to become considered a good teacher? What does “good teaching” consist of and why is it so important?   There are many reasons for choosing teaching as a profession: the love of children, desire to instill knowledge upon students, performing a valuable service to society, or for the various job benefits associated with the profession. (Ornstein, Levine, Gutter. 2001)  Personally, I have always wanted to become a teacher, and from a young age was interested in expanding what I know. My passion for learning has evolved into a desire to teach at the elementary level, where students are most impressionable—I want to instill the foundation upon which students will thrive to learn new things both academically and in life.  A good teacher “understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues.” (The InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, April 2011, At A Glance) Good teachers encourage academic, personal, and comprehensive development of students, and at the elementary level this is extremely important for the growing mind. The first step to good teaching is inward reflection of the profession.  A good teacher who has strong convictions about being a teacher matters because that enthusiasm for learning will naturally be passed from teacher to student.  A good teacher must be fully committed to their job in order to be effective.

There are concrete steps aspiring teachers must take in order to become a good teacher, the first meeting the qualifications of teaching.  To become an elementary school teacher, qualification differs from state to state. However all qualifications usually involve endorsement courses, rigorous courses in education, and active participation at local elementary schools, and teacher certification and exams.   After initial teacher licensure is completed, a good teacher should continue to take courses and perform assessments in so that teaching is an ongoing learning experience, for both the student and the educator.  Attaining proper levels of education to become a good teacher matters because it allows for teachers to be confident in the classroom.  According to the Education Trust Report, to become a “good” elementary teachers there are six common sense steps each state must take to improve teacher quality, among those steps universities recruiting quality students of education, and investing in quality professional development for already certified and employed teachers. (Brennan)


Good teaching also involves what is known as reflective teaching. “Reflective teachers frequently observe and think about the results of their teaching and adjust their methods accordingly” (Ornstein, Levine, Gutter, 2001). Reflective teaching allows room for adaptation, which is necessary for the organic learning environment of the classroom.  According to the video case study about teacher accountability, it is important to collect data about teaching methods and student records found through assessment of individual lessons.  Analyzing data is part of the reflective teaching process because it encourages teachers to look at how students responded to the lesson, and enhance the learning experience for students.  As a good teacher, there is always room for improvement and another chance at the lesson, an idea vital to good teaching. (“Teacher Accountability: A Student Teacher’s Perspective.”)

Good teaching matters because at the very basic level it helps students become learners.  Good teacher preparation has many benefits, among them higher testing scores, better educated lower income and minority youth, and instilment of overall satisfaction of leaning in a child.  Children at the elementary level are so vulnerable that good teaching is of up most importance so that they may one day grow into an active member of the society.  Good teaching includes the willingness to impart knowledge on young minds, as well as the willingness of teachers to learn and develop themselves throughout their career.



Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of Education   (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth CengageLearning.

Brennan, Jeanne. (1998, August 10). Education Trust Report: Good Teaching Matters..a lot. Retrieved from <http://www.edtrust.org/dc/press-room/press-release/education-trust-report-good-teaching-mattersa-lot>.

Video Case Study. “Teacher Accountability: A Student Teacher’s Perspective.”

The InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, At A Glance. April 2011

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