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Allison Caruso

Alex Collopy

ECE 451

April 28, 2018

Platform Paper Final

Before starting this course, my teaching philosophy was flimsy at best. While I had some

experience in learning about different teaching styles and theories, I did not yet feel that I had

enough knowledge to apply to my own experiences. When I took EDTHP 15 freshman year, I

took a liking to the teaching philosophies of Romanticism and Progressivism. I would not

necessarily say that was when my teaching philosophy really developed, but at least I had a name

to give to some of the ideas floating around in my head. I also liked the idea of open dialogue

between teachers and students in the classroom and the belief that teachers and students should

be lifelong learners. As I feel my preferred teaching philosophies begin to slowly develop within

me throughout this semester, I am noticing a couple of patterns. As of this point in the semester,

I am beginning to explore the idea that learning is a process rather than a product. I have also

taken a liking to the idea that a teacher should provide unconditional love for their students and

that the process of labelling students can be detrimental to their development and well-being.

I remember that when this semester began, we opened with the idea that learning should

be about growth and improvement, not necessarily about achieving a certain result within a

specific time frame. While I do think that it is possible to set specific goals in the classroom and

work tirelessly to achieve them, I think that doing so sacrifices focus that could be spent

observing milestones in learning. That is why this class focuses on workshopping every

assignment that we do in order to slowly improve our quality of understanding. Getting into the
habit of seeing learning as a process will be helpful when we eventually have classrooms of our

own. In fact, one topic that we have revisited in class that especially resonates with me is the idea

that the teacher should be learning alongside the student. I also now see the importance of

tracking performance through documentation. It can be used to create visual, aural, or written

evidence of progress. This helps the teacher know if they are making significant improvement in

their classes, or if progress seems to stagnate and the teacher should reconsider if certain

practices are actually having a positive effect on their students (Sietz). I think that documentation

is what makes learning alongside students really possible, because without having a specific

method of tracking progress, how could we possibly expect teachers to simultaneously keep

track of both their students’ progress as well as their own? However, I also believe that teachers

should be cautious about how they document their work. If the documents only seem to compare

students’ performance with each other rather than themselves over time, then it can take on a

competitive nature and actually have a negative effect on students (Seitz). I think that a good

way to avoid this would be to make every child’s medium of documentation personalized. Every

child’s record does not necessarily have to include the same type of projects and assignments as

their classmates. Every child learns at a different pace and learns certain subjects more easily

than others, and I believe that their records should support that sense of individualism.

I also feel like I got the chance to explore the world of informal learning. I have never

really considered how tasks as simple as choosing a meal or running around in the dirt could be

valuable to a child’s education. These different experiences can even affect their behavior in the

classroom. For example, in my HDFS 428 lecture we discussed the case of a daycare class of

children who did not know how to use the miniature grocery store that the teachers had set up for

them. This was because their parents never took them out grocery shopping with them, and
therefore had nothing to base their play off of. Initially, I saw choosing food as a simple

necessity, while in reality it could be a great chance for a child to practice their decision-making

skills. Until I started taking this class and CI 295A, I did not necessarily pay much mind to the

importance of tactile learning. Maybe it is because as a child I was taught that there is a clear

divide between “learning” and “playing” or “goofing off.” I am starting to understand that in

reality, all experiences may have educational value if one looks at the situation from a certain

perspective. In my experiences at Hort Woods in CI 295A, I began to understand that even

playing with slime or paint can help stimulate a child’s creative and cognitive development. I

learned from my mentor teacher that exploring methods of tactile learning allow children the

opportunity to create and solve their own questions and scenarios, not unlike how a researcher

would test a hypothesis. This style of teaching seems to combine qualities valued in Montessori

and Reggio-Emilia inspired schools. When reading through Edwards’ article, I noticed that

Montessori and Reggio inspired classrooms involved a lot of materials that provided children the

opportunity to guide their own learning through play (Edwards 2002).

I also learned how valuable social and emotional development is to a child’s

development as well. I remember reading about different experiences that Ayers highlighted in

his book. He emphasized the importance of collaboration and teamwork, especially when he

decided to make a lesson out of creating a ramp for the class turtle (Ayers 2010). These lessons

also remind me of a discussion we had early on in the semester, in which we talked about “going

against the grain” as a teacher. I think that focusing on social and emotional skills could be

considered an example of that as opposed to rote memorization that the administrators in Ayers

supported. I also enjoyed reading Vivian Paley’s work, and especially liked some of her ideas

that came from her book “The Boy who Would be a Helicopter.” I liked her example of learning
to manage a classroom without the use of punishment--in her case a timeout chair--because it

only served to stigmatize children who received punishments frequently, and their behavior

never ended up changing (Paley 1990).

Furthermore, I really liked how Paley made a serious attempt to understand the logic that

her students follow, and came to understand that children and adults follow a different set of

logic. She also determined that as teachers, we should be expected to change our behavior to

serve the students’ individual needs, and not the other way around (PALEY 1999). Therefore,

over time she observed her students and noticed how strongly their logic was intertwined with

fantasy and pretend play. She realized that her best method of connecting with her students was

to follow along with the logic that they provide and encourage them to share their stories and

fantasies as often as they wished. And as she explored how children connect with each other and

the world around them through play, she also explored the idea of how to manage that

punishment-free classroom that I mentioned earlier. She stated that as a younger teacher, she

used it as a crutch, but over time found that it was ultimately ineffective in changing student

behavior that she did not approve of. I really liked that she was able to come to better understand

the logic that children follow as they interact through play, and instead of trying to instill change

in behavior through “adult logic,” she incorporated her reasoning into her students’ stories.

During the time that we read Paley in this class, we also discussed the concept of misbehavior

itself. We discussed the idea of “misbehavior” as a construct that we assign to children’s

behaviors based upon our own adult reasoning. When I read about her growth as a teacher

throughout the course of her books, I started to see that she seemed to learn just as much from

the students as they did her. We also discussed that because misbehavior is a construct, the

intervention method that the teacher approaches the behavior with is subjective. Personally, I see
“misbehavior” as action that causes harm to others. This can span anywhere from physical harm

to disruptive or disrespectful behavior toward someone else. However, I believe that instead of

punishing what I deem to be misbehavior, I think that it would be a good opportunity for me to

help teach the concept of empathy to a child, and that their actions affect the people around them.

I found Paley’s approach very interesting when she incorporates play into behavior modification,

and I am curious to see if I would do well to practice a similar method when presented with the

opportunity. Overall, I think that the ideas that Paley outlines in her writings are ones that I

would pick and choose to practice in my own classroom someday.

Another topic that I really connected with from the class was the theme of unconditional

love. From the very beginning of the course we focused on the differences between effective and

affective teaching and how they can greatly change the atmosphere of the classroom. Affective

teaching places emphasis on making the child feel that they are in a safe and loving environment.

This helps promote healthy emotional development and motivates them to learn. Effective

teaching, on the other hand, focuses on making sure that the students make the grade and views

teaching from a mechanical perspective. Personally, my favorite teachers throughout the years

were the ones who seemed to care about making a personal connection with each of their

students. These teachers treated my classmates and I as complete people, rather than scores on a

standardized test. The topic of love ended up being the main focus of my letter to my favorite

teacher in my journal. Within this class, I would say that some of my favorite days were the ones

when we listened to speakers such as Rita Pierson in her speech “Every Child Deserves a Hero”

and Andrew Solomon in his speech “Love, No Matter What.” In both of their speeches, they

mention the importance of loving even the most different or challenging children because that

unconditional love is what they need in order to grow (Pierson) (Solomon). This is where I also
consider the difference between “effective” and “affective” teaching. Effective teaching is more

focused on getting the necessary results, while affective teaching takes the individual child into

account during the learning process and shapes the lesson around their needs. I think that

transitioning to an affective teaching style may be difficult, especially according to the RSA

Animate video in class which labels our current education system as archaic. Affective teaching

is also more collaboration-based, which may prove useful as our culture and economy become

more globalized. To me, collaboration-based learning means learning with groups of peers and

combining skill and effort to solve a problem or create a story. Affective teaching also involves

anti-bias education, which teaches children to be aware of and accepting differences among

themselves. I think that a lot of love is necessary to properly convey these new styles of teaching,

and I think that love goes into making the decision to transition to this teaching child for the sake

of the student.

Another important topic that stuck out to me from this class was the controversy

surrounding labelling. After reading the examples from Boldt’s and Ayers’ writings, I can see the

damage that labelling can have on a child and how they are treated by their teachers and peers.

When Nick was labelled as an “at risk” reader in Boldt’s article, he ended up developing a

serious aversion to reading stemming from the anxiety that the label placed upon him (Boldt

2006). When Quinn was labelled as having ADD in Ayers’ book, he grew distressed and

discouraged. In both cases, neither child experienced these emotions before they were labelled as

different. In class, we discussed that placing labels on a child may be helpful when working

behind-the-scenes, but when openly expressed to the child and to their peers, it has a detrimental

effect. This may be because the child may begin to base their identity around the label and their

self-efficacy may become damaged in the process. It can be damaging enough when the label is
properly placed, but often times children may even be labelled frivolously. According to the

RSA Animate video, there is an exaggerated ADHD “epidemic resulting in mass medication of

students who may have trouble focusing on lessons that they do not find stimulating (The RSA

2010). The video argues that this label places a stigma upon children who do not conform and

may stifle their natural creativity. I believe that if labelling children must take place, it should

only be used behind the scenes of the classroom in order to aid the teacher in how to meet the

needs of their students. Labels should not be used to compare children, labelling should not be

used to explain a child’s behavior, and labelling should not be used to define a child’s worth and

identity.

Throughout this semester, I have started to feel my beliefs and philosophies toward

teaching rapidly begin to take hold as I become more educated about the may complex sides of

teaching. I know that I still have a long way to go before I can confidently begin to express and

implement my own judgements about the many complicated issues surrounding teaching, but I

also know that I am steadily making progress. So far, I believe that the process of learning is

more meaningful than pure results, and therefore I believe that affective teaching involves loving

your students unconditionally and avoiding labelling them as an easy way out. I understand that

there are no black-and-white answers when it comes to teaching, but I hope that with a

combination of empirical evidence and my own moral beliefs, over the next few years my

personal philosophy on teaching will continue to develop and mature.

Works Cited

1. Ayers, William, and Ryan Alexander-Tanner. To Teach: The Journey, in Comics. New

York: Teachers College, 2010. Print.


2. Seitz, Hilary. “The Power of Documentation in the Early Childhood Classroom” Young

Children. (2008): 88-93. Web. 1 March 2018.

3. Solomon, Andrew. “Love, No Matter What.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading,

www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_love_no_matter_what.

4. Pierson, Rita. “Every Kid Needs a Champion.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading,

www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion.

5. Boldt, Gail. “Resistance, Loss, and Love in Learning to Read: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry”

Research in the Teaching of English. (2006): 272-309. Web. 1 March 2018.

6. Paley, V. G. (1990) The Boy Who Would be a Helicopter. Cambridge, Massachusetts,

London, England: Harvard University Press.

7. Paley, V.G. (1999). The Kindness of Children. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London,

England: Harvard University Press.

8. Edwards, C.P. “Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio

Emilia” Family and Consumer Sciences, Department of Faculty Publications,

Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. (2002): 1-13. Web. April 21, 2018.

9. The RSA. (2010, October 14). RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved

From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U