Relating Philosophy to Pedagogy – How My Personal Values Influence My Way of Teaching

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Relating philosophy to pedagogy – how my personal values influence my way of teaching

Within any early childhood education (ECE) setting the pedagogy of the educators will have great impact on the programmes and philosophies which the children within that setting will be influenced by. Teachers have a responsibility to build and maintain authentic, open, reciprocal relationships with children, families and the community (Gailer, 2010). This is not only an integral part of the early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki which has relationships as one of its four foundation principles (Ministry of Education [MoE], 1996) but also part of the teaching standards and ethics. As a teacher I relish in the chance to build relationships with many different children, all unique in their culture, strengths, ideas and way of being. The importance I place on relationships sits well with both Vygotsky’s and Bronfenbrenner’s sociocultural theories. Vygotsky emphasised the importance of the people surrounding a child, seeing them crucial for supporting and enhancing the child’s development. Bronfenbrenner extended this into a model of contextual factors, using ideas about five kinds of contexts surrounding the individual child including their micro- and meso-systems where the interactions of their day-to-day realities occur (Drewery & Bird, 2004). These theories have been vital in the development of New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, and so my understandings of these and with my personal philosophy I hope to have the skills to be able to build respectful reciprocal relationships with all learners. Building these relationships however is not as easy as people outside of the profession often assume. Appendix 2 shows Suzie Gailer’s (2010) article on being professional, the article discusses how professional integrity of practice is reliant on teachers having a particular set of values, respect, authenticity, empowerment and transparency. The image of the child is culturally constructed and linked to our time and place in history, the image I have as a teacher today of children is very different to that of which I was viewed as a child. My image of the child has altered as I have gained both practical and theoretical teaching experience. In my first practicums I did not necessarily know what to expect about building initial relationships with children but as I have gained knowledge I now know that children can be trusted to build these relationships in timeframes which are right for them. Te Whāriki (MoE, 1996) presents the image of children as competent learners and communicators and I now uphold this image in my teaching practice and as a parent (Appendices 3, 4 & 5), along with the values of respect which I have articulated through the following of Magda Gerber’s work. From my own relatively limited practical experience and theoretical knowledge I can relate to the notion of Edwards & Nuttall (2005) where “the pedagogy, or ‘the act of teaching’, is not only mediated by educators’ understandings about the children, learning, and the curriculum; their understandings about the social settings in which they work, their personal experiences beyond the workplace and their engagement with the centre’s wider community all have a role in determining the educator’s actions” (p.36). My own underlying beliefs, values and philosophies all impact on my teaching style and, although often unconsciously, on the way I relate to individuals. Commitment to reflective practice, the personal philosophy I have articulated and the desire for professional development will aid me in holding true to a pedagogy which is responsive in time as well as to individuals. This pedagogy with its identified aspects of assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation is influenced by my values and experiences and I attempt to explain and reflect upon these in this essay. The main assessment process I use is ‘Learning Stories’, an approach...
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