Magnum Opus – Philosophy of Education
“Happy the one who discovers wisdom, the one who gains discernment: gaining her (wisdom) is more rewarding than silver, and more profitable than gold. She is beyond the price of pearls, and nothing you could covet is her equal. In her right hand is length of days; in her left hand, riches and honor. Her ways are delightful ways, and her paths all lead to contentment. She is a tree of life for those who hold her fast, and those who cling to her live happy lives.” –Proverbs 3:13
This presentation of my thoughts on the philosophy of education will examine the world in which we live in order to gain deeper insight into the hearts and minds of all people. It will discuss the meaning of reality. How did we come to find ourselves alive and riding on a giant planet that is flying around a burning star? Why? As a result of declining global statistics, the education department is demanded to work harder and harder to educate and strengthen through knowledge all who seek to gain understanding. Discerning between right and wrong behavior is crucial to proper development. Helping those in need represents the healing power of good knowledge. Educators must consider the world as it is now as well as how it might be in the future and work achieve the greatest result.
Educators must educate in a manner that helps the student reach total development. What is total development? There are many philosophies of the “ideal” man and the “ideal” woman. Socrates comes to the mind of many when considering philosophy. He expressed the importance of being morally good in order to achieve happiness. He stated, “I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that…from virtue comes…every good of man, public as well as private.” Though the philosophies differ, all educators might agree that honor and respect are qualities to be cultivated in all students. Herein I will present philosophies that impact the minds of people worldwide, historically as well as today, concluding with the philosophy of education I use personally.
Philosophy is made up of two Greek words: philo meaning “love,” and sophos, meaning “wisdom”. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines the word ‘wise’ as discerning and judging soundly concerning what is true or false, proper or improper. Cognizant, aware, informed, having knowledge, learned, and sophisticated. ‘Wisdom’ is defined as the quality of being wise; the ability to judge soundly and deal sagaciously with facts as they relate to life and conduct, discernment and judgment, discretion and sagacity. Wisdom thus can help us understand how we should live our lives. It can help us discern between proper conduct and improper conduct. It can help us understand what life is and why?
Since the dawn of the human existence people have looked for the answers. What is acceptable social behavior? What areas of knowledge are important to learn and why? In the past people turned to the “gods”. The gods descended from the sky and possessed knowledge and power. People turned to the gods for assistance and help.
Why are we here? How did we get here? Questions like these have fueled the minds of philosophers from generation to generation. We can reason that we are not responsible for the creation of the universe and all that is in it. We can reason that existence did not just happen without a purpose. In pursuit of finding a purpose, many people turn to spirituality and religion seeking knowledge.
Religious philosophy impacts the majority of the world. It strongly effects how people think, live, and judge between proper and improper conduct. The Bible tells us that we will be judged according to our deeds. Thus, if one lives an upright life, engaging in works of righteousness, one will attain a pleasant abode in the next life. Contrarily, if one engages in wickedness, one will descend into suffering. This common theme can be found in religious texts all around the world, thereby shaping the way the people of the earth view the world in which we live.
Buddhist philosophy teaches us that life is enhanced and ultimately perfected by inward development. Siddhartha Gautama, known as Buddha worldwide, said in the classic text, the Dhammapada, that, “irrigators contain the flowing waters, arrowsmiths fashion arrows, carpenters shape wood to their design, and wise people mold their characters.” Such has been and continues to be the goal of sages and mystics, worldwide, regardless of culture or race or religious preference. Inward purification, complimented by the external manifestation of this intention, is the goal of such individuals. It is believed that establishing such a state of true purity can allow them to establish an ascended state of consciousness. Aristotle said similarly: “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over yourself” as well as “moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”
Freedom from fear, purity of heart, generosity, self-harmony, adoration, austerity, righteousness, non-violence, truth, freedom from anger, serenity, aversion to fault-finding, sympathy for all beings, peace from greedy cravings, gentleness, modesty, steadiness, energy, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, a good will, and freedom from pride. These are the treasures of one who is born for heaven. These words were revealed to us long ago as a reminder to remember the Invisible, the Eternal. These words of wisdom remind us of the inner qualities we need to embrace in order to ascend into the higher realms of consciousness. John Dewey, a major representative of progressive philosophy, said “The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.”
The five most popular educational philosophies are essentialism, perennialism, progressivism, social reconstructionism, and existentialism. All of these approaches have many strengths and I integrate them all into my personal philosophy. I will briefly summarize them. Essentialists put much focus on academics, patriotism, and character development. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are essential subjects that are cultivated in this curriculum. Perennialist’s study the great books. Books such as Aristotles’s Sense and Sensible, The Bible, Oliver Twist, The Iliad, Ulysses, The Koran, Common Sense, War and Peace, and more are highlighted in this philosophy. Possessing knowledge of these books is important for student growth and development.
Progressivism is important as it teaches the student to learn through experience. Experience can teach more than classroom learning in many areas. I would embrace the scientific method of progressivism by having the students work in groups and do a lot of field work in order to get a more real world perspective. A social reconstructionist wants to rebuild society in a manner that improves the condition of the world. Taking action to change negative conditions with the intention to help all is an important task to embrace. The goal of this philosophy is making the world a better place. Existentialism promotes frontal lobe development and allows one to understand one’s role in life thereby attaining a deeper understanding of existence. These five philosophies, in my opinion, should be embraced by all teachers. In order to reach total development one must not be limited in one’s approach. One must open one’s mind completely. Thomas Jefferson stated regarding the importance of knowledge: “To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.”
If everyone on earth embraced love, then all conflict would disappear as all came together in unity. All would then ‘awaken’ to the fact that we are all one family and would live together in a state of ascended harmony. Regarding the nature of life, popular and respected philosopher Lao Tzu stated that “Life derives from the nature of the earth. The earth derives from the nature of the universe. The universe derives from the nature of the Great Integrity. And the Great Integrity is the omnipresent, omnigenous omniform, the universal material and spiritual substance, and the holoversal interlinkage and coition of existence.” Is it wise to ignore the Power that commands all to exist? Should we consider the Power that gives life and contemplate the nature of existence? If we are intelligent and aware, is it not reasonable to consider that the Power that makes our hearts beat is also intelligent and aware, even more so? Yet so much mystery surrounds this Power that is seemingly absent, yet permeates our very being.
The earth is a garden, a garden in space, a beautiful place. Where is the universe? What is beyond it? What sustains it? It is said that the Giver of life has always been and will always exist, full of glory and honor, full of might and power. The sage Krishna said that even the gods fall down in the presence of the Power that commands them, yet the Giver of life is beyond all thought, supreme. How then can we wrap our minds around such a concept? It seems the deeper we go, the more questions we have.
Questioning the reason one exists is crucial for development. When death appears, what happens next? Spiritual education teaches the student to worship the Creator of life. How will this impact the total growth of the student? Is there harm in it? Is it worthwhile?
The core of spiritual philosophy is to love one another. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When people choose to engage in thoughts rooted in lower desires such as hate and greed, these lower tenants take form and eventually lead to suffering. As a result, people suffer in pain and misery. Why is it so difficult for people to simply love each other?
The core of my personal and universal philosophy is love. Every layer of my philosophy is love. All manifestations of my philosophy are love. It is love that binds us. Without love, the world would fall apart. Without love, the universe would collapse.
When instructed to write of my personal philosophy of education, many questions came to mind. The philosophies that have been alive and passed down for thousands of years, teach us of God and heaven and hell, angels and devils, right and wrong, good and bad, punishment and reward, the beginning and the end, and many other philosophies regarding the nature of existence. Why is so much emphasis on religion? Midwest America is primarily of Judeo-Christian culture. Acknowledging the teachings of the Bible is important for most. The Bible teaches about God and the goodness of doing good, morally and ethically, and teaches us to pray to God and gives thanks. Religion impacts value development as well as the way in which we perceive reality.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a time when a person would not be judged by skin color, but by the content of one’s character. Philosophies revolving around disdain and dislike need correction. One needs to be accepting of others regardless of how they look. The only exception comes when people violate the boundaries of respect and harm others. I want to help people to overcome their differences, whether racial, sexual, or anything else, and live together in peace. If people can overcome hate and all manifestations of it and embrace compassion, life would enhance for all. Hate is not good, love is greater.
I do not believe in violence, unless it is an absolute struggle for survival against incoming force. There is no reason people cannot discuss things and be rational. There is no reason why all people on earth cannot live in peace. I love life. I love all. I want all people to love all. It is time to do away with hate and all manifestations of it. All forms of discrimination, greed, selfishness, and all similar thoughts that hinder our development should be abandoned. We can develop by wanting to help people, by doing things that benefit ourselves and others, and by letting go of these lower tenants.
I believe that all life is sacred and should be respectfully honored. If people could develop a deeper state of love within their being, life would be experienced in greater depths. It is said that the earth flies at the speed 66,000-67,000 miles per hour. Every second we travel nineteen miles through space. The invisible force that drives the planet is the same invisible force that gives us our every breath. I acknowledge the Ultimate Power that gives life to all.
It would be worthwhile to acknowledge the law that binds us. All are in submission to the Power that commands. We had no power over our birth. We must breathe. We must eat and drink. We must sleep and wake up. We are bound by the laws of physics. We must live accordingly, and we must come face to face with death.
Art and science are a major part of the philosophy I wish to teach. Life is art and science. Music and imagination, as well as reflection and contemplation, enhance total development. Sitting under the stars and the moon and feeling the wind blow can help one connect with nature. Connecting with nature will strengthen one’s clarity and understanding. Stress relief through exercise, meditation, and relaxation are therapeutic measures to be taken for educational growth. Everyone should embrace healthy living in all ways possible. Health is wealth. It is mandatory to maintain a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle in order to reach total maturity.
Freedom and justice help balance proper conduct in society. Students should be encouraged to think about such matters. Students should have access to all knowledge that helps them develop completely. Students should be taught to think not only about their own welfare, but of the welfare of all.
It is important for one to gain an understanding of the nature of realty. Love is the answer. In my personal philosophy of education I will seek to help all students, regardless of who they are, learn to grow and develop into upstanding citizens of the world. I will encourage them to have love for all and to live in a manner that improves the condition of the earth. I will work to improve my students to the best of my ability. Perhaps then all life can live as one, and as one, we can live in peace.
Cleary D. Tao Te Ching. Pg. 44.
Doubleday and Company, Inc. The Jerusalem Bible. Pg. 936.
Hahn, T. The Dhammapada. Pgs. 33.
Jefferson, T. Quotes. http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Thomas_Jefferson
King, M. I have a dream speech. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm.
Mascaro, J. The Bhagavad Gita. Pg. 40.
Sadker, Sadker, and Zittleman. (1970). Teachers, Schools, and Society. Pgs. 319-343.
Socrates. Quote on virtue. http://www.molloy.edu/sophia/plato/socrates.htm