Richard Therrien Educational Platform and Beliefs
I strongly believe that my philosophy of education is that education is preparation for skills needed in the real world. The most important goal is for students to learn high level thinking, as well as important problem solving and other skills. The continuous reliance on higher order thinking and student directed investigations leads them to a deeper understanding of content as well as better preparation for their future learning and lives.
I am primarily a science teacher, which is a field that is constantly changing. Facts that are learned today are changed the next day, and there is such a wide base of knowledge that it is unrealistic to expect that any one person master it all. Science, or any content, is best learned when students, under the teacherís guidance, have the opportunity to think for themselves, to use their preconceptions to examine a problem, research and investigate it thoroughly, and construct their own model and perceptions about the world around them. I have a constructivist view of education in the sense that I view learning as a scaffold. Students use their prior experiences, and add to it their school experiences. This building goes through additions and subtractions, connections are made and they walk out of the school setting with a complete building of knowledge. Because they spend most of the school time making connections, and fitting in new ideas with old, those skills are most important to carry on to life. Therefore, the purpose of education is to provide students with these tools.
A typical unit I teach involves many modes, and accommodates all learning styles. Students learn information through use of hands on experiments, class discussion, cooperative groups, projects, demonstrations, use of visual technologies, such as computers, videodiscs, and video, as well as traditional language based learning mode of text and written questioning. Students are also assessed in the same variety of modes, from projects, to oral questioning, to student-designed experiments, and other performance based assessments. I believe strongly in structuring lessons and units by following a learning cycle, such as engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluation.
A continuous repetition of such a learning cycle embeds students with the ability to gather and synthesize knowledge no matter what the situation. My philosophy would be closest to that of an experimentalist, favoring experiences over passive mastery of content. Because each studentsí view of the world and their connections between bits of facts are different, the teacher is required to be a guide to all, which is more of an existential approach.
The act of education is in the attainment of the curriculum, so that it is the curriculum that defines discipline. All classroom management issues can be addressed with the design of effective, motivating, and worthwhile lessons based on the curriculum goals and objectives. The more open the curriculum is, the more control the students have over their own learning. Thus, I believe that an effective approach is one that shares the goals and objectives with students, even down to the point of telling them how they are assessed at every step.
Overall, because my belief in education is that content facts are subservient to process skills. I do believe that all students have the ability to learn. Assessment is a method of feedback to students, parents, and teachers, on where the children are on their journey, and what pieces of the scaffolding they have in place. Education is a triangle of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. It is the curriculum that should define the skills and techniques that students need, and thus it is the curriculum that truly prepares them for the real world.