Friday, December 24, 2010

Influential Educational Thinkers in my Life

When I was a high school junior my dad handed me a small book called How We think by John Dewey . I devoured it from cover to cover and most likely was on my path to becoming a teacher. John Dewey is the father of Progressive education and I am definitely in his camp.  Dewey believed that "Education was life itself". He also believed that the truth was something that you used to solve problems and since problems change so does the truth that you solve them with. Education and Experience and Democracy and Education are must reads for anyone involved with teaching people anything. Dewey taught me to put my hands in the mud and make mud pies.

Another thinker in my life who influenced my development as a teacher was my first headmaster, Mr. Andrew A. Zvara. I worked for and with Mr. Zvara for over 18 years and formed my basic views of the classroom. Andy embedded the idea in my psyche that the reason we were in a school was to empower children to do what they wanted to do, to show them how to begin to take control of their own lives and their own learning at every grade level. Andy taught me that curriculum was not king, the students were predominant in the learning.  I learned that my greatest task as a teacher was to find out who the students were as individuals and then to connect their interests to what I was teaching.

I have been fortuate to have great teachers for most of life. One of the greatest was a philosopher, Antoinette Mann Paterson. Dr. Paterson became my classroom role model because of her emphasis on imagination. Dr. Paterson taught me how to wear other people's shoes, to attempt to think their thoughts so that I might understand them and combine them with what I was thinking to create new thought from thousands of perspectives. We recreated historical reality in her classroom and I try to do that everyday in mine. She wrote two wonderful books, The Infinite Worlds of Giordana Bruno and Francis Bacon, Socialized Science.

Dewey, Zvara. and Paterson form the core. Combine them with your own thoughts and you might begin to understand this enigma called Norman. You will definitly begin to understand your own students!!

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