2015 Philosophy of Education Statement

“He walks with his students, never pushing and always present. The enormous hulking blob that drips ideas onto the sidewalk as his steps echo through the quaint town called enlightenment. As he drips his ideas, he absorbs new ones. Adding the new to his already growing form is never far from his mind, and he knows that no matter how much he adds – he can always add more.”

I wrote this as the introduction to my philosophy of education  statement for my graduate work at Plymouth State University in the spring of 2008. This vision, this goal, of how I wish to see myself as an educator hasn’t changed all that much in the subsequent years. I still am a lifelong learner with an itch to teach everyone as I meander through life.

Much has changed since 2008. In the time since I have had to shed many layers of expectation and ego in my pursuit of truly changing the students around me. When I first started teaching I believed that standards of mastery were able to be achieved by all students. In many ways, I still believe that.What I didn’t understand, at the time, was what mastery actually looked like and how it is achieved.

Each student, each human, is on their own path. Ray Trinidad, the dean of High Tech High Chula Vista, once did this exercise where he asked our entire staff to count to ten in their head and clap. Inevitably everyone clapped at different times. We hadn’t followed the instructions poorly, he had just not given us the supports we needed to clap in unison – therefore the sound of the clap could not be together with our peers. Because we all count to ten differently.

Much like Ray’s exercise, I have learned that each and every life I encounter is on a different path towards the ten count. We all have the ability to do amazing things in our lives. Our supports, as educators, can help point students in the direction of the amazing things they wish to achieve. What we can’t do is choose what the wants and desires of our students are, nor can we determine how long it will take them to master their goal. The role of educator is to point the students in the direction of their goals. We give them brief glimpses of what they are able to achieve. Much like planting seeds we are hoping that they will be so inspired by this glimpse that the seed will take and grow.