Discovering My Own Philosophy of Education
“Why in the world,” my friend says to me, “would you subject yourself to more of this?”
And it’s a fair question. We’ve been in the Secondary Education program at Arcadia for four years and, honestly, it has been a bear—and we’re not even done. He is just ready to go get out into the working world; he wants to actually be a teacher. I do, too, but I also want to further my education.
I started considering a master’s degree when the spring semester came crashing in around us, and the proposition for athletes was that anyone could return without losing a year of eligibility. Now, after having chewed on the idea for seven months, I’ve started to make a plan. The truth is, I am going to continue toward a graduate degree whether or not I can play volleyball.
Arcadia’s Education department is to blame for this. They have done a stellar job inspiring me, showing me what teaching can be, that I can’t help but see the cracks in the system that I am entering. Our schools need work, folks! I look at all these flaws, and I think that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be more prepared. If I am going to be an educator, if I am going to hold the fate of our young people, then I better be good at this thing—and I mean really, really good. I’m a perfectionist. Nothing is ever good enough for me. I’m still editing poems I wrote 10 years ago! So how can it be time to cut the cord?
We know, in this field, that teachers learn on the job. No first-year teacher is as knowledgeable, skillful, artistic, masterful at this job than an experienced teacher. To become a master teacher takes 10,000 hours, 20 years, halfway till retirement. I’m prepared to grow until I take my pension and leave. In fact, they’re probably going to have to kick me out of that classroom when the time comes, and I will still want to learn more.
But, with that said, I think that I owe it to myself to go deeper. I have to write a philosophy of education before I get my certificate, and I realize that I have no idea what that should be. I have an idea of what my philosophy is, but I know it can improve, expand, and build upon it. That is going to happen as soon as I enter the classroom as a professional teacher, but like my poems, I need to tinker.
The thing I am most looking forward to about graduate school is the research that goes with it. I have been speaking with Dr. Brasof, my advisor and an inspiration, about becoming his grad assistant and helping develop his research. We have also spoken about creating my program—yes, creating it. There is no set curriculum for a graduate degree in education, I have to pick my classes, pick them based on my interests, based on what I want to research and build my skill set around. I don’t think that I will be subjecting myself to anything. This is a labor of love. I am passionate about school, and that goes for both sides: teacher and student.
The pandemic has absolutely factored into this decision process as well. I may not have the ability to student-teach in a physical setting, because of local school closures, and that is really troubling me. Sure, I will be more than sufficiently prepared to teach online after this year, but what if I get my license and am suddenly thrown into in-person class? I want to be ready, but I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take things slowly. I guess that’s my thesis here; being the best teacher I can be requires more time and effort.
I am more than happy to put in the work.