This week I applied for a one-year lectureship with the University of British Columbia’s West Kootenay Rural Teacher Education Program (WKTEP). As part of their application package, applicants are asked write and submit a one page Personal Philosophy of Learning. Admittedly, it has been a while since I have actually thought about a my holistic viewpoint on learning and teaching, and relished this idea since to date much of my thinking has been discombobulated and very nonlinear.
So here is what will surely be the first of many iterations that I intend to share throughout my first year learning journey at the WKTEP program.
My personal teaching philosophy is strongly connected to the importance of all learning being student-centred. When learning and teaching are student-centred deeper learning and connection to oneself and place ring true. Through indigenous perspectives of learning and knowing, that is driven by an inquiry-based approach, and includes a recognition of the changing role of the teacher to one of guide, we can help our students become more connected to their learning. As a result, learners are more apt to reflect and become introspective about their learning journey.
I often refer to the First Peoples Principles of Learning framework as a guide for connecting students to their learning. Indigenous ways of learning and knowing stem from the importance of story, relational context (place-based learning), involve patience and time, and most importantly, on an exploration of one’s own identity as it relates to the greater whole. Learning about oneself is paramount to all other kinds of learning; it is the basis from which other learning originates.
Inquiry-based learning (IBL) approach is a powerful pedagogy that puts the student-centred approach out front. IBL requires students to be responsible for their learning. Asking questions and seeking solutions to problems is a fundamental human instinct, and I believe that student engagement and deeper learning come naturally in an inquiry-based classroom. Both my professional and personal experiences with IBL has helped to redefine my ethos towards learning.
One of the current joys of my week at school is the two-hour long makerspace program. In this space, I serve not as teacher, but as guide; regularly learning alongside my students. I also hold dearly the conviction that both passion and purpose are strong predictors for the success of one’s learning in any endeavour. I would argue that many of my successful learning interactions with students are recognizable in the role of ‘mentor’ or ‘role-model’, and not as ‘teacher’.
It has been my experience that one can never aggrandize the importance of cultivating a healthy habit of lifelong learning. Colleagues that are open to possibilities, wishing to take risks with their learning both in and out of the classroom seemingly find joy, purpose, and passion. They are also some of the most highly effective and motivated educators practicing. Walking the talk is a very deliberate process that serves my philosophy of learning immensely.
Finally, the influence of introspection is a missed opportunity in much of education. Whether it is through an existentialist lens or optioned as an element of developmental learning, learning about learning, learning about oneself through failure is crucial. Taking it a step further, I believe that deep learning only happens when one can share those experiences with others; an opportunity further consolidate one’s current understanding of the changing world around them. The preponderance of learning portfolios or similar formats (i.e. blog, website, etc.) for recording and sharing our learning experiences serve to support sharing of our individual learning journey.