Here’s an assignment I thought I’d share. Also, lots of teaching tips coming in a post soon. I’ve been observing a lot of teachers, so I’ll have lots to add.
1. State your ideological stance.
My most important ideological stance is that education is a privilege.
Education is power. Not only does knowledge of the world provide opportunities for self-determination, but it also fulfills the most poetic and profound opportunity that I know of. The very fact that once upon a time, energy congealed into matter, and matter condensed into stars, and stars died and were reincarnated in the organic molecules that sustain each of our lives puts into perspective the notion that it is possible for human beings to wonder and think and love. As Carl Sagan said, we are a way for the universe to know itself. To me, there is no higher form of power than that attained through deliberate thought about the humble place of humanity in the vast expanse. In this way, education is not only a social privilege (which it most definitely is), but a cosmic one as well.
Closely coupled with this ideology is the idea that I am compelled to do whatever I can to offer the privilege of education to anyone and everyone, and continue my own education in doing so.
2. Explain how you arrived at that stance:
I arrived at this stance as the result of years of consideration about the history of life, the universe, and people. More specifically, I realize that it is significantly due to my own privilege that I have had the luxury to spend most of my time for the last several years intensely investigating the world I live in and the ideas it contains. I am not so smart or special that I have earned my knowledge and appreciation completely by myself. Incredible teachers and circumstances have guided me, and for this I am most grateful. I want to live in a world where more people are given the opportunity to learn and think; therefore, I am determined to make such a world as best as I can.
3. Give one example of how you will implement your stance.
In order to implement my ideological stance, I will clearly communicate my view of education as a privilege. I will also communicate that I want everyone to have access to this privilege–if not for selfish reasons (I want my students to solve the big problems in the world for me), then for each student to fully respect his or her own potential power and self-determination.
4. Conclude with a discussion of the tension between using strategies and student construction of content enduring understandings, in terms of the often polarizing views between the “science” and art of teaching.
I view strategies as tools to make communicating content easier. These tools seem to fit more neatly with teaching as a practice than teaching as an art. The practice of teaching comes in knowing the strategies that work in a given situation in order to maintain classroom order as well as facilitate communication, but the art of teaching is the ability to coax the shy seed of original, creative discovery from within students rather than flattening or drowning it with unidirectional dictation.