There are five main philosophical schools of thought in education which are essentialism, perennialism, progressivism, existentialism and reconstructionism. However, here I have only chosen the philosophies which believe in student-centred approach. There are three philosophies that hold the similarity of being less authoritarian and placing the students as the centre in learning process. These three philosophies reject essentialism and do not agree with traditional mediums of teaching. They are recontructionism, progressivism, and existentialism 1.2 Reconstructionism
Reconstructionism is an important contribution of Theodore Brameld in the world of educational philosophy. Brameld in his book, ‘Education as Power’, says “education has two major roles: to transmit culture and to modify culture." In reconstructionism, education is seen as a way to bring out positive changes in society. The educational purpose of reconstructionism is to create social reform in which education serves as a mean to make people view society with a critical eye. Learners should never settle for what is but have to do critical thinking and dream of what should be. This branch of philosophy strives for a constant and positive change for the betterment of the society. A famous reconstructivionist, Paulo Freire (1921-1997) sees teaching and learning as a process of inquiry in which the child must invent and reinvent the world.
Theodore Brameld (1904-1987) and Paulo Freire (1921-1997) . Source: Google Image. The goal of reconstructionist learning is that the students themselves should conceive the good future. The students receive education as a preparation for their role in the future. Therefore, it is important for students to experience and taking social action on actual problems. Students should be willing to spend time in the community to learn its problems. Rote learning, memorization and direct-method are not preferable in recontructionism. Besides, reconstructionist students should possess a high sense of duty towards society. They are then are expected to be the leaders of reformation in society to form an observant, inquisitive, open-minded and highly capable society. As education should prepare students to become agents for change, reconstructionism philosophy believes that teachers must convince their students of the validity and urgency of the reconstructionist solution. However, teachers must do so with scrupulous scrutiny for democratic procedures. At the same time, learning process should enable the learners to be in control of their own fate and able to make social reform. 1.2 Progressivism
Source: Google Image
Progressivism is the educational application of a philosophy called pragmatism. John Dewey refined pragmatism and applied to education, which later became known as progressivism. Progressivism believes that school should encourage cooperation, not competition. According to Dewey, democracy and freedom are far superior to the traditional political ideas. He viewed progressive schools as a working model of democracy. In curriculum, progressivism also holds the same view as reconstructinism which the selection of subject content depends on the skills that will be needed in future society. This is because knowledge taught must help people to adapt to change. Progressivists believe that individuality, progress, and change are fundamental. In Progressivism, education is not to prepare students to live; it should be life itself. Learning should focus on understanding and action, not rote knowledge. Thus, it is believed that problem solving is the most effective way. As similar to reconstructinisim philosophy, progressivism prefers varied learning resources and it also views the best way to learn is through direct experience with the environment. As this philosophy puts more concern on students, teacher is seen as an advisor, not a director. The progressive teacher aids students in learning by helping students formulate meaningful questions and devise strategies to answer them. The answers are discovered from real world experience instead of mere reading or theories. 1.3 Existentialism
Among the three philosophies, existentialism has the highest degree of importance on the learners. Søren Kierkegaard is considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher though he himself did not use the term. He proposed that each individual is solely responsible for giving meaning to life. It is Jean Paul Sartre's that formulates the term existentialism. Existentialists argued that traditional approaches to philosophy do not adequately respect the uniqueness of each individual. This philosophy is against the views of any existence of authoritative truth about metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. In existentialism, it is strongly believed that every individual is responsible to decide what is "true" or "false” and "right" or "wrong,"
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Source: Google Image.
The educational goal of existentialism is education should challenge people to create personal meanings of their own design which means that the others’ interpretations should not be imposed on them. Learning activities will be organized around students' requests. Although existentialist educators provide some curricular structure, students have great latitude in their choice of subject matter. In an existentialist curriculum, students are given a wide variety of options. The curriculum often emphasizes the humanities as to provide students with experiences that will in developing creativity and self-expression. However, there is no rigidness of curriculum. As Learners should have a voice in deciding how the school operates, school is not the institution for transmitting the core culture, but as a experimental lab for students to realize their individuality before improving the society at a larger extend. Education should emphasize field trips and experiential learning as ways to help the youth explore the world and seek their own meaning. The role of teachers is to expose students to many ways and life options in helping them defining their own essence. Besides, teachers facilitate students by creating a stress free classroom with positive atmosphere. Existentialism centres vast concern on students with high respect to their personal perspectives and freedom more than any other educational philosophy.
2.0 Teaching Approach
In teaching English as a second language (ESL) classroom, there are a variety of teaching methods and approaches. Over the years, many different teaching approaches have been developed to match students’ need. Here is student-centred method that concerns more on students during educational process. Therefore, this approach acknowledges and agrees with the three philosophies mentioned earlier. 2.2 Communicative approach.
Communicative approach is a famous and recent approach in ESL learning. In fact, many ESL books seem to claim that they are based on this approach. The communicative approach is believed to have taken place in language learning in the 1970s. The pressure was put on educators when there was a rise in the number of people wanting to learn foreign language for personal reasons. Many of the teachers realized the importance of switching their traditional teaching method towards a better method that prefers application of language in an active learning environment.
In ESL class, communicative approach believes that learning of language is most successful when learners are involved in real communication as they can develop natural strategies in language acquisition. As a result, there will be more emphasis on skills than systems. The syllabus is based on functional development not structural development. In communicative approach, teachers will not do drilling or repetition method but focus on constructing real life situations in classroom. This agrees with reconstructionism philosophy that is to bring the world inside the classroom. Therefore, teachers will vary the use of authentic materials. Communicative approach believes that teachers will have to maximize the opportunities for learners to communicate. Students are encouraged to interact with one another, doing given tasks in pairs on in groups. This is in unison with progressivism understanding that school should encourage cooperation, not competition. Teachers are only there to monitor and facilitate them without interference and give feedbacks after they have done. This is also in par with progressivism philosophy that is teachers are rather advisors, not directors. As students learn through trial and error process, teachers of communicative approach should always tolerate mistakes. It is important for teachers of communicative approach to apply tactfulness and creativity in teaching.
2.3 Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)
Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) is not a new approach in ESL methodology but a medium which helps English teachers to be more affective and engaging with students. Since the 1960s, computers have been used for language teaching. CALL is a tool that combines many advantages such as enabling students to have experiential learning, motivation, achievement, authentic materials for studying, wider interaction, individualization pace, greater source of information, and global understanding. There are three main stages for CALL. As CALL can be successfully applied not only for grammar practice but also for communicative activities, communicative CALL has been established in 1970 with the spread of communicative approach. For reconstructionists, bringing real life problems or issues to students is important in learning process. CALL helps in facilitating the students to be involved in the actual situation. Decision making, asking for advice, agreeing and disagreeing, and compromising with friends are some tasks that need authentic settings. Internet especially social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype and blogs connects the students with people of all around the world. Thus, students who are second language users of English can even communicate with native speakers and polish communicative skill in English. Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) provides an effective learning environment. The advancement of speech and language technologies has opened new perspectives on CALL. Students can practice in an interactive manner using multi-media content. CALL inherently supports students’ autonomy, which places the students firmly in control so that they can decide their own goal and pace in self-learning. Therefore, students have the freedom in learning and this agrees with existentialism philosophy that students should create their own personal meanings through education.
Source: Google Image
It has been described in reconstructionism philosophy that teachers must be familiar with the constant change. Students of 21st century are knowledgeable in the use of computer and web learning. Y-generation is equipped with modern gadgets and most of the students are even more advance in technology than their teachers. Thus, teachers of modern approach should update themselves with recent developments of technology. By using Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) as a tool in teaching, teachers can help students become more involved in the task and monitor students’ progress with the help of computer. 4.0 Personal Educational Philosophy
My very own educational philosophy is my answers about why, what and how I will be teaching, and about the nature of learning and teaching. It is my personal set of principles that guides my professional actions now and surely later in life when I become a teacher. As I read and learn educational philosophies of the Western scholars, I realize the importance of having my own school of thought. My life experiences, values, environment and interactions are the aspects that will continuously shape my personal philosophy in education. 4.2 Influence of educational philosophies
Educational philosophy that attracts me the most is progressivism. To a certain extent, I also agree with reconstructionism and existentialism. As we can notice, these philosophies centre on students during teaching and learning process. When I was a school student, I had always love teachers who acknowledge students’ opinions and attend to their students’ questions with patience and compassion. This kind of teachers receives back the love, trust and respect that they put on students. I believe that educators who are authoritative and using traditional approach are boring and fail to develop intimate relationship with their students. This will then affect the sharing of knowledge between the teachers and their students. Other than that, progressivism is in accordance with my own view of life. I believe that life is a continuous educational process. As I explained earlier, progressivist believes education is not to prepare students to live; it should be life itself. We can never stop learning as we pick up new things every single day, be it useful ones or not. Learning process is not limited to the syllabus or fixed curriculum at school, but a thorough process covering almost everything we do for betterment of self. Coincidently, we improve our society and our nation at large. This agrees with reconstructionism which aims for social reformation for more positive change. 4.3 Defining Education in own words
Education is an eternal process in bringing out the best in ourselves and others, be it formally or informally which results in positive development of every individual in terms of thinking and action. Learning and teaching are two inter-dependent mechanisms that make up education. Learning is self-seeking enlightenment and progression which take place with the help of guidance while teaching is sharing of ideas and insights to grow new and more powerful wisdom. Education is never to build competition with other people around but within oneself. It is also a tool to free human beings from hatred and sufferings. Education is also the reasoning of the past and a way of fulfilling future dreams and hopes. Elaboration:
My personal meaning of education implicitly tells my philosophy of education. It shows how I perceive education which acts as a baseline on my actions. It is clear that I view the purpose of education as a lasting way to be better in life. It is never limited to what I learn formally but covers everything that I do that helps in self-betterment. I believe learning is self-seeking progression which means nobody has the power to force someone to learn unless that person is willing to seek knowledge. I also believe teaching is sharing which means it is a two way process. Other than that, from the above philosophy, I suggest that education is not to create competition with others but within oneself which means we have to aim to be better than yesterday, not to be better than other people. I also view education as a hope to bring peace and happiness in this world as it widens our perspective. Lastly, I see education as a present gift that helps in accepting the past wholeheartedly and building the strength of tomorrow. 4.4 Methods
My personal educational philosophy is in accordance with communicative approach that has been explained earlier. As a future ESL (English as a second language) teacher, teaching language means to share and apply the knowledge of English with others. It is important to motivate my students to communicate efficiently in English by building a strong rapport with them and being a good role model to the students. I will create a pressure-free class so that students feel comfortable to speak and voice out opinions. Learning language is not just a matter of knowing grammatical structure but also as a medium to share about cultures and develop values.
I would like to set an enjoyable and active learning environment for the students in classroom. This can be done by doing a handful of games and activities but imparting the knowledge altogether. Some activities that I can do for the students are role-playing, debating, guessing games, quizzes with rewards and many others. A lot of the time, I will let the students do their task in pairs of groups so that they can interact and share ideas with one another. As language is inseparable with the real world, I will encourage the students to use the language outside the class and school compound. The use CALL (Computer-assisted Language Learning) is also vital. Therefore, my students will be encouraged to communicate in virtual world such as blog and Facebook. I can venture into my students’ thoughts more personally and make it easier for me to facilitate them in their progress.
At the end of the day, the main objective which to improve the students’ level of English can be achieved successfully. At the same time, the students have also flourished their minds with positive thinking and developed learning skills to be use throughout life. They are then become the future generation whom is excellent and competent both locally and internationally. 4.4 Conclusion
There is no general agreement on what human beings ought to learn in order to have the best in life. There will also be continuous debate whether education should focus on cognitive development or character development first. I have also aware that there are different needs and styles given by different group of students. Thus, I may have to vary and adapt my methods when encountering my student at different level. The tendency to stick to merely one philosophy among all other philosophies discussed may bring flaws. Thus, a variety of teaching methods and adapting my philosophy over time are highly required.