My Philosophical Teaching Approach
Pragmatism in philosophy, the system of belief that the truth of an idea is determined by its practical consequences. Pragmatism is a method of solving scientific and philosophical problems by looking forward to results instead of backward to causes. In the research for truth the pragmatist asks the same question he would ask in looking for an efficient tool: “Will it work?” He searches for truths that will make a real difference in the practical affairs of life.
Pragmatism is opposed to metaphysical speculation and to the assumption that the truth can be discovered by deductive reasoning from first principles revealed by intuition. There is a strong preference for what is concrete and particular rather than abstract and general. Pragmatism is an outgrowth of empiricism, which insists that the sole source of knowledge is experience derived from the senses. The latest scientific findings are welcomed and the methods of science are adopted as far as possible.
Since pragmatism has adopted the experimental attitude of science, truth is regarded as tentative and relative, rather than final and absolute. Truth is relative to time and place and purpose (Perry, 2001).
Some ideas of pragmatism are as old as Greek philosophy. But the philosophical system was an outgrowth of modern science. Pragmatism developed in the United States. Charles S. Pierce founded the system and suggested the name. William James developed pragmatism but differed somewhat from Pierce. John Dewey expounded other lines of thought in pragmatism.
The purpose of this present study is to understand the philosophical teaching approach in pragmatist school.
A. Pragmatism—the Basis of Modern Concepts of Education
Modern education is identified to a large extent with the pragmatic educational philosophy and with the social doctrine of democracy. It has appeared under various names, such as pragmatism, instrumentalism, and experimentalism. The term pragmatism comes from the Greek word “pragma,” meaning a thing done, a fact that is practical. Pragmatism uses the practical consequences of ideas and beliefs as standards for determining their value and worth. The word pragmatic is used by Kant to apply to rules and standards based on experience as distinct from those he thought were above or beyond experience. According to the Dictionary of Education, pragmatism has grown out of certain aspects of contemporary living. John Dewey thought not the originator of the movement, is largely responsible for the philosophy of education on the basis of which the movement has grown. He discovered that knowledge, skills, and value define maturity in the modern world and are most effectively learned when related to the previous experience and present needs of the individual. For him the word experience is central, and that it includes both the natural and the human or social totality in which life finds itself. Modern education places emphasis upon the interest and desires of the individual, upon freedom, and upon the learner rather than upon the subject-matter. Emphasis is placed also upon democracy and cooperative living in a social group. Hence, prominence is given to activity programs and projects (Perry, 2001).
Modern education is the application if scientific method of the process of learning, particularly of learning how to become intelligent and responsible citizens of a democratic community. This type of education emphasizes learning by doing, learning through purposeful activity on the part of the pupils, with considerable regard for individual differences in interest and capacity and for the freedom necessary to accomplish the ends pursued. Thus, projects and activities are stressed. It is based on the practices of adopting significantly successful new procedures in place of less successful traditional procedures.
The followers of modern education are opposed to an education which by passive rote memorizations would impose standardized subject-matter on students. They are opposed to a uniform program of activities which tend to retard the development of true individuality. They wish to give individual attention to each pupil and to encourage an active community life within the school. To them education is life; education is a continuous process of growth; education is child-centered; education is a social process; and education is guidance. They also assert that initiative and independent thinking should be encouraged and cultivated (Perry, 2001).
B. Aesthetic Education
To reinforce values education, aesthetic education should move from its peripheral position to a well-deserved place in the curriculum. It adherents claim that the aesthetic component is “quite capable of enriching educational aims, making them better understood and increasing the potentiality of deliberately choosing them.” Also, “questions of aesthetics are intricately intertwined with cognitive, ethical and moral ones.” The arts are the chief avenues for enhancing appreciation and fixing standards of values so they conform to the true, the good, and the beautiful. The true refers to intellectual education; the good, to religious and moral education and the beautiful, to aesthetic education. Altogether they constitute total education which everyone should aspire for (Demiashkevich, 2003).
Ethics is the reflective study of value—where value is any goal worthy to be striven after by man with all his resources, without reservation or ulterior motive. This would mean that the ethical life should have both “personal originality”; that is. The ability to think creatively and act effectively and “objective accountability”; that is, being under obligation to give an account of his conduct. This integration of the subjective and objective aspects of ethics emphasizes strongly that for man to be truly human he needs to engage himself actively in the pursuit of the human ideal which is to never be self-satisfied, but should always strive to reach an objective beyond himself (Peterson, 2002).
A. What is the meaning of quality education?
Quality education is related to good teaching. Quality education involves skill in guiding learning. Good teaching consists primarily of guiding and directing the pupil and encouraging him toward effort in learning. This guidance is done by suggestions rather than commanding and by creation of situations which naturally lead to the desired type of activity. Quality education opens up fields of investigations, it introduces new materials, it suggests methods of procedures, and it aids the individual to estimate his progress.
In addition, quality education cannot take place in a situation that lacks kindness and sympathy with the interests and needs of the pupils. The good teacher is well disposed toward pupils, the backward as well as the brilliant. He knows that they are immature and that they need his sympathy and help. He avoids scolding and haggling. Therefore, he attempts to create an atmosphere in his school which will seem homelike and pleasant. He attempts to have his organization run by virtues of its own intrinsic soundness and meaning for children (Livingston, 2003).
Moreover, quality education diagnoses difficulties. Good teachers have always had a wary eye for the learning difficulties of children. In recent years the development of measuring instruments has made possible better diagnoses of children’s difficulties. There is much hope for increasing skill on the part of the teachers in discovering and remedying the learning difficulties of children. On the other hand, it also follows from the preceding principle that good teaching must provide remedies for individual as well as group difficulties. Skill in remedial work demands not only a broad general view of the problems of learning involved in a teaching situation, but acquaintance with a variety of devices and techniques for remedial work in the different school subjects.
Furthermore, quality education liberates the learners. The ideal of good teaching is to develop initiative, independence in thought and method of procedure, self-reliance and confidence among pupils so that eventually they will be able to attack their problems independently and work out solutions. Independent habit of study and achievements in work among pupils testify to quality education (Demiashkevich, 2003). That type of teaching which dictates the child’s every move and which makes no provision for gradual diminishing of guidance is not desirable, for good teaching liberates the mind through the development of sound habits of thought and action and the perfection of skills and abilities needed in effective work. The ideal of quality education is to liberate the child from teaching.
B. What is the role of the teacher? Are the needs of a diverse population of students addressed by this role? Why or why not?
The teaching profession is one of the oldest of all the learned professions known in civilization. The life of the teacher everywhere is full of responsibility. The other roles and duties of the teacher besides teaching, guiding, and testing are the following:
a.) To the Pupils—The teacher should recognize that the welfare and interest of the child is the principal objective of his profession. The school is for the children and the teacher’s first thought should be for them. At least during the time the pupils are in school, the teacher stands for the parents. The teacher should guard the health, moral, and well-being of the pupils with intelligent care. He should also be alert to discover physical defects of his pupils, and prompt to inform and interest the parents so that relief may be offered.
In order to help his pupils, the teacher must study them. The teacher must respect the individuality of each pupil and must be willing and ready to accept and try to understand their differences and strengths, as well as their problems. Likewise, the teacher should have an abiding tolerance for the cultural backgrounds for his pupils and constantly remember not to expect unreasonable academic achievements beyond their capacity or development. It can be said that the services of the teachers are vital for the welfare of every pupil. It is for the pupils that the school exists. It is important for the teacher to gain the confidence, respect, and cooperation of the pupils (Heyting, 2004).
b.) To the Parents—It is the duty of the teacher to keep close touch with parents, to inform them of the progress or of any serious misconduct of their children, and of all other matters of vital interest to them. In regard to these matters there should be perfect frankness. The teacher should invite the cooperation of the parents; the teacher should inform the latter of the mental, physical, and moral growth of their children. The teacher should maintain cooperative relations with the parents (Morris, 2003).
One of the best means of reaching the parents is through public meetings held regularly. In the meeting, the teachers and the parents can discuss their mutual interests and the interest of the school. This will also give the teacher the opportunity to present the work of the school.
c.) To the Community— The teacher should participate actively in the life of the community. He should refrain from belittling in any way the community in which he is employed. He must avoid behavior that conflicts with the community standards. He must accept behavior patterns with respect and courtesy. The teacher must not seclude himself, nor must he ignore the claims of society on his time, even on the plea of his being busy with school work. The teacher’s participation in the life of the community is most needed in the development of creative leadership and in the process of social reconstruction. A close relationship between the teacher and the people of the community is essential in the functioning of modern education (Heyting, 2004).
d.) To His associates— The teacher owes important duties to his associates. Teaching is a cooperative effort in which the teacher shares responsibilities with other teachers. Every teacher should assist in developing and carrying out the policies of the school system. He should take the side of his associates both inside and outside the school especially in matters of school discipline. It is the duty of every teacher to aid his associates by giving constructive advice and helpful suggestions (Burns, 2002).
e.) To Himself— The teacher, likewise, has responsibilities to himself. If the teacher is to keep himself fit for the important service he has to render to society, he must be physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally stable, and morally upright. He must know himself-his strengths and his limitations, his potentialities, and his interests, in order that he may develop them. Likewise, he must grow in his chosen calling, or else his calling will outgrow him. The teacher should avail himself of every possible opportunity to help promote the moral, social, education, economic, and civic welfare of the people of the community in which he is a member (Burns, 2002).
C. What kinds of knowledge or skills should be taught? Why? Would technology be used to further these knowledge and skills?
Mental device is related in form and meaning to the subject-matter being presented. Questions, projects, techniques, reviews, and drills are examples of mental processes. Bossing classified visual materials into two groups, from the viewpoint of usage—those available within the classroom, and those out of the classroom (Heyting, 2004).
D. What are the most important subjects of the curriculum? Why?
The most important subjects in the curriculum are reading and writing. The ability to read is one of the most important of human accomplishments. In any civilized society it is almost impossible for an adult to get through the day without reading. For safety and efficiency in the home, a person must read manuals of instruction for household equipment, and the labels on medicines, packaged foods, cosmetics, and household cleaners. The average adult must also read sales of correspondence. On the other hand, writing is important too because by means of writing, knowledge and thoughts are expressed in a manner permitting them to be recorded and preserved or communicated to other persons, even those distant in location or time. Literature, music, and drama owe their modern development to man’s ability to record them in writing. Our knowledge of history depends largely on written accounts, and formal education on written text material. Writing makes it easier to define and analyze a problem; mathematical problems are solved, traditionally, with the aid of writing. Treaties and contracts carry little weight unless written (Rury, 2002).
E. What type of approach to discipline should be implemented in the classroom? Would it respect the needs of individual students?
Many classroom investigations have shown the truth of the saying that success breads success. If a child is punished whenever he makes a mistake in a given learning process, the effect will be to decrease his overall motivation. Should punishment be excessive the child will eventually withdraw and cease to try? A child who experiences success in his work, and whose efforts are encouraged, will want to go on working, and will develop a positive emotional attitude towards his work. Likewise, in a survey of a considerable amount of research into the efforts of praise and blame as motivators in children’s learning in the classroom, found that blame as a motive is ineffective. The researchers found that praise acted as a reasonable incentive to learning while blame was an equally consistent inhibiting influence on learning. Moreover, the basic ways of creating a favorable learning situation for discipline are in reality the same basic steps in good teaching. Classroom discipline is a product of the teaching and of the learning process. The basic ways of creating a good learning situation for discipline are in reality the same basis steps in good teaching. Disciplinary problems are like teaching and learning difficulties for the need to diagnosis, direction, prevention, and treatment. These disciplinary actions implemented in the classroom are advisable within the classroom premises because these will encourage every student to strive harder by giving them appreciation instead of negative comments (Reid, 2003).
F. What types of educational activities should take place in the classroom? Would technology be used in presenting these activities?
Essay-type of examination should take place in the classroom in order to develop critical thinking. The criteria for a good test construction do not vary greatly between new-type test and the essay examination. The following principles are suggested:
The content of the essay type of examination should be made to conform to the criteria of the standardized tests as far as possible. This type of examination can be made as valid as any other forms of testing if care is exercised to make it so.
Some of the rules followed in constructing the objective type of test should be applied likewise in the construction of the essay type of examination. The emphasis upon subject-matters as the basis for examination for the selection of items to be treated is as important a principle in the essay type as in the other types of tests
The content of the examination should be based on its purpose or aim. The fundamental purpose of essay examination and on other types of mental activity.
To some degree, technology can be used to enhance the presentation of these critical activities. Restoring and publishing creative works in the internet is a big help to be acknowledged and critiqued by other readers in order to have a room for improvement (Livingston, 2003).
G. What is the relationship between school and society?
School and society relate with each other. A school is an institution for instruction; also, the building in which it is housed. In addition, the term school is also used to described a group of persons engaged in artistic and intellectual pursuits who show a similarity of style, method, or attitude. While society is a group composed of men, women, and children that have established patterns of cooperation by means of which its members are able to survive and reproduce. In other words, school is within the boundary of society. Whatever happens to the school affects the society. If a particular teacher does something that affects the entire school, the society is also affected because it also concerns the welfare of the students who study in this particular school (Livingston, 2003).
H. What is the cultural role of education?
Education in this country is supported by the public for a definite and noble purpose. The term function as used in education may mean the purposes, or the activities to be accomplished by educative process. The term is applied to education as a whole, or to a unit of our educational system. Function is fulfilled by providing for some ends or goals. Aims or objectives in education are accomplished by exercising the functions of the school. Once the aims of education are known, the functions of education can be determined or formulated. The functions of education are therefore influenced by the aims of education set up by society and in part by the nature and needs of the pupil to be educated. To be productive, education should have objectives that will enable it to meet worthily its obligations and its opportunities (Perry, 2001).
Philosophy of education is sometimes referred to as the immediate objectives of education. Immediate objectives on the other hand are purposes which a subject at a given time must aim to achieve through the courses of study or the curriculum. Its aims constitute a very important aspect of the total education. They are more specific and they can be accomplished in a shorter period of time, maybe a day or a week. These, too, are considered goals of specialization.
Educational aims cannot be determined apart from the purpose of society which maintains the school. The purpose of any society is determined by the life value which the people prize. As a nation, we have been striving always for the values which constitute the democratic way of life
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