“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats.
“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” – Conrad Hall.
Everyone who is involved in education should have a personal philosophy of education. This philosophy should, of course, be compatible with the mission, vision, values, and goals of your particular school or office. Administration, teaching, and learning cannot flourish in a vacuum; they need a clearly defined conceptual context.
I believe that each child is important. As stated in the white paper on education reform for Barbados (1995), “Each one matters – Quality education for all.” This document was produced by the Ministry of Education in Barbados. The same view was echoed by another document: “Curriculum 2000, Barbados,” which also emanated from the same Ministry of Education. No child should be written off as hopeless. We have to help them understand and solve their learning problems.
The highly controversial “No Child Left Behind Act,” which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 was also an effort to ensure that all students in schools in the USA would get a good education regardless of race or socio-economic status.
The school must create an educational climate and organization in which the maximum potential of each student is developed to the fullest. In some students this potential will be academic, in others it may be technical, artistic, musical, athletic, or something else. It is the business of the school to identify it and foster it. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences can be very useful in this regard. Teachers also need to understand the different learning styles of their students.
Teachers must be professionally trained to use various methodologies to facilitate maximum learning for each student. Students must be encouraged to strive for excellence in all school activities, academic and extra-curricular, and to behave in an orderly, respectful and caring way.
I align myself with those experts who opine that students must be taught the foundations of learning: listening, speaking, reading, writing and mathematics. They can then use the basic knowledge and skills learned in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and technology, to communicate, calculate, reason, and solve problems. These are philosophical views that I share.
In short, the child is at the centre of the school. Teachers exist because there are students. All decisions in schools should be made with the best interests of the students foremost in mind. Political considerations are of lesser importance.