Beliefs About Students Essay

It is undeniable that the beliefs about students and education have a profound impact on what is taught and how it is taught, just as the beliefs about life have a profound impact on how individuals live their lives. Educational beliefs are revised and refined and over time becomes stronger as they seem to serve us well and prove to be true. Thus, these beliefs ultimately become our philosophy of education. It is possible that every student that enters a classroom can succeed.

However, in order for them to accomplish this, teaching should be student centered.

Students should be encouraged to understand and appreciate their uniqueness and to be accountable for their learning and behavior. According to Ornstein and Hunkins (2004) Perennialism relies on the past; especially the past asserted by agreed-on universal knowledge and cherished values. Dunn (2005) also agreed that Perennialism is the oldest educational philosophy and is therefore traditional. It is believed that students are vessels to be filled and disciplined in the proven strategies of the past.

This philosophy is supported by the realist philosopher John Locke, who was of the belief that at birth the mind is a blank sheet of paper on which the teacher could write knowledge (Tabula Rasa). According to the essentialist viewpoint, there are certain basic or essential knowledge, skills and understandings that students should master in order to function successfully in the society. These are reading, writing, computing and in today’s world, computer skills. Plato, who was the father of idealism, believed that both male and female are equal and should be educated equally.

Therefore, the curriculum is the same for everyone and planning to execution of lessons are dominated by the teacher. However, one should not forget that these beliefs are teacher centered and tend to be more authoritarian and conservative and emphasize only the values and knowledge that have survived through time. Learning occurs through experience, Therefore students should be allowed to develop cognitively through experimentation and to reach their own personal potential instead of being shaped into a specific mould.

Dunn (2005) cited Immanuel Kant who agreed that knowledge is rooted in the experience of mankind and can only be achieved by an active and exploratory mind, rather than one that is passive and receptive. Carl Rogers also believed in experiential learning. He believed that unlike academic knowledge, experiential knowledge is required to meet the needs of the learner in order to complete important real-life tasks such as learning to drive a car. Every student is different, no single set of learning outcomes is appropriate for all students.

Thus a set curriculum will not be suitable for all. Students should be able to determine what they need to study with the guidance of the teacher. This will help them to arrive at their own understandings. Jean Sartre, a leader of existentialism believed that man’s responsibility is vested in man himself. He further stated that people are entitled to be human with dignity and is a human only when he or she is entirely free and accepts responsibility for his freedom.

You may be led to believe that students are blank slates and learn based on mainly academic knowledge that has been tried, tested and proven and that all humans are equal and should be educated equally. However, do not ignore the fact that students are taking to the classroom, their own ideas and materials rather than receiving material in class as it is given. Students restructure the new information to fit into their own cognitive frameworks. In this manner, they actively and individually construct their own knowledge. They also are different thus, the same rigorous curriculum will not work for all students.

From these facts one may conclude that in order to help students reach their full potential and gain the knowledge and skills that they will require in their daily lives as a democratic citizen of our society, the student centered approach to how students learn must be practiced. Therefore it is recommended that teachers facilitate students instead of being fountains of wisdom. The teacher should help students in their pursuit for knowledge and also help them acquire the communication, problem solving and critical thinking skills which will enable them to be life-long learners.

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