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Philosophy of Teaching

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Here is my Philosophy of Teaching which is a collection my beliefs and thoughts about education and, specifically, music education.

PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING

The education of our nation's children is a very important job that should be taken very seriously. A child's schooling's first and most important objective is to prepare them to become effective and productive adult citizens. The school can do this by imparting skills and virtues that are important for today's work environment such as cooperation, discipline, responsibility, and work ethic. Cooperation is obviously essential because almost all occupations require work with other people. Discipline and responsibility are universally accepted as required characteristics of employees. Work ethic and perseverance are important in the school, the work place, and in life.

A child's education should prepare him/her for life in a diverse democratic society where tolerance, equality, civic participation, and social responsibility are expected. It has become the school's responsibility for infusing society's youth with these ideals. The classroom is a place where young-adults and children try out social behaviors in a monitored environment and are taught the mores and pathways of society.

A teacher can help prepare students for adult life by being a moral, model-citizen and adult. This modeling will also demonstrate to the students how they should relate to one another through how the teacher behaves towards his/her peers, superiors, and students. The students take in and observe every action of their leader, and it is the behavior of this leader that is integral for socializing conduct, protocol, and morals. This means that the teacher is always being scrutinized both in and out of the classroom. A teacher must always be of good moral character, and must treat everyone with care and respect.

A teacher should cater to the students learning needs. Children with learning disabilities may need tailored instructional methods and assessments. I also feel that it is the teacher's obligation to instill, in the students, enthusiasm and the value of learning. Learning and education is important for everyone's personal development and is an essential step in maximizing one's potential.

I believe that learning is not a spectator's sport. Learning is an active process that requires participation. Simply listening to lectures is not enough. Projects, group work, and hands-on activities actively involve students in their learning objective. Music does this very nicely in that a small portion of time is spent on prolonged lecture. Higher level thinking skills such as analytical skills and problem-solving skills prepare students for situations and scenarios in the work place and in society. Part of learning is building on prior knowledge and reassessing old preceptions and conceptions.

As a teacher, I need to have an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter if I am to teach it effectively. Knowing my content matter extremely well will allow me to better teach, inspire, and motivate my students to higher levels of understanding. Knowledge of content matter is not enough though; being able to present the information in a way that is accessible to the students is an important aspect of teaching. All of the teacher's enthusiasm is not transferred to the student if the presentation of the subject matter is garbled and unorganized. Knowledge of assessment techniques is also imperative for accurately testing students over specific learning objectives. A challenging aspect of teaching is classroom management. Classroom management is especially difficult for music educators because of large class sizes and most of the musical activities require making loud sounds with instruments or voices (noisemakers). Many practical organizational skills should be mastered to maintain an effective classroom environment.

An important aspect of a child's education that is frequently left unused and neglected is the cooperation of teachers, administrators, parents, and the community. With the lines of communication open between these different groups, the adults can better educate the student on all fronts: at home, at school, and out of school. This also helps drive home the idea that learning is something that should be continued at all stages of life.

It is my firm belief that all of the above mentioned aspects of education and learning are essential to an effective and inspiring education. More importantly, music fulfills and allows for most of the previously mentioned criteria for a meaningful and effective education. Music instills employable characteristics such as cooperation, discipline, responsibility, leadership, and work ethic. Music teaches teamwork skills and group responsibility. Performing prepares students for situations such as public speaking and leadership responsibilities. Aside from the applications to employability, music can contribute to the development of a child in every way--emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically, and physically. I am confident that I can provide a meaningful and effective education to my students through music study. I belive Zoltan Kodaly said it the best:

"It is the richness of both the musical experiences themselves and the memory of them that makes a good musician. Individual singing plus listening to music" ... "develops the ear to such an extent that one understands music one has heard with as much clarity as though one were looking at a score; if necessary--and if time permits--one should be able to reproduce such a score. This, and certainly no less, is what we expect from a student of a language; and music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to language. Its great men have conveyed to mankind things unutterable in any other language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets."

From Preface to Erzsebet Szony, Musical Reading and Writing (New York: Boosey and Hawkes, 1954), p. 8