Let's Begin at the BeginningAn educational philosophy is a very personal thing. It is influenced by beliefs, ideals, and life experiences. A strong philosophy provides a solid direction in pursuing one's place within the field of education. It helps maintain a center when the day-to-day grind tries to wear you down. It offers a tangible touchstone to remind you why you chose to enter the world of education in the first place.
I believe that many educators compose their philosophies during their pre-service years filled with hope, passion, and idealism. Unfortunately, after a few years, many have forgotten these feelings. The truth behind the bureaucracy of the system, the pressure to achieve high test scores above all else, and the battle against poor public perception simply erodes their beliefs and ideals.
According to an article by Claudia Graziano on edutopia, "Every year, U.S. schools hire more than 200,000 new teachers for that first day of class. By the time summer rolls around, at least 22,000 have quit. Even those who make it beyond the trying first year aren't likely to stay long: about 30 percent of new teachers flee the profession after just three years, and more than 45 percent leave after five."
|Credit Mark Wagoner|
Now, we can argue about what is causing this crisis in teacher retention from now until the end of time. Teachers are under-paid and over-worked. They are disrespected, blamed for everything by everyone, and expected to work miracles in classes that are too large with little support, poor resources, and few materials. These are all valid points; however, short of massive reform and a miraculous change in funding and public opinion, these are things that will not change overnight, if at all. Is it tragic? Yes, of course it is, but why spend time and energy lamenting situations that we have no control over? And before I get jumped all over, I am not advocating we give up on working for change in education. In fact, I believe it is the duty of every educator to stand up and do everything in their power to influence those in power to reform our system of education and to put our students first for a change.
What I am saying is this - when we begin to feel that we have no power left, we should remember that we always have power over ourselves, our attitudes, and our beliefs.
This is where our personal educational philosophies come in. While being an idealist can lead to great disappointment when the reality doesn't match the dream, I believe that keeping a certain amount of idealism alive is necessary to successfully remaining an effective educator. So, go dig out your philosophy, remember why you chose the field, re-energize your psyche, and get out there and keep trying to change lives!