Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Philosophy of Education, Part 1

My Foundations of Education class required an essay on my personal philosophy of education. The syllabus listed no page number requirements. When we asked the professor how long it had to be, he simply said, "Explain yourself."

Mine was six pages long and is reproduced here, section by section, for your edification and reading pleasure.

Why is education important?   
Everyone is not born equal. Some kids are smarter than others. Some are burdened with physical disabilities that make learning more difficult, such as visual impairments; psychological disabilities, such as ADHD; or learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. Some are born poor, cut off from documentaries on cable TV, research opportunities afforded by high-speed internet, and learning enrichments such as tutors, extracurricular opportunities, and trips to museums and musical or theatrical performances. And there’s nothing we can do about any of that.
                But there are some things we can control, and we owe it to ourselves, our students, and our world to give every child access to education. Some day, someone will find a cure for cancer. Someone will find an environmentally friendly, completely affordable fuel alternative. Someone will end world hunger and bring about world peace. The next Bill Gates or Marie Curie or da Vinci may have been born already, but without access to a quality education, these children may never realize their true potential. Of course, not every child will be a da Vinci. Some will be limited by ability, some by interest. There are people who find their greatest joys and deepest fulfillment in more “humble” careers, like construction or managing a convenience store. No one who really wants to be a landscaper should be pushed to become a surgeon. But no one who really wants to be a physicist should be forced to become an electrician. We should be limited only by our desires, not by money or opportunity.
                Education cannot be equal, but it must be fair. There are some kids need extra support, whether something as simple as meeting with a tutor once or twice a week or attending a special school for their whole lives. Some need extra challenges in order to help them meet their full potential. Some simply need accommodations, like textbooks in Braille or audio form, or a printed copy of the teacher’s lecture notes. Education cannot be handed out equally to all students, because not all students are equal. But education must be fair, because very little else in life is. When we have a chance to bring justice to an unequal situation, we have a responsibility to do so. 

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