STATEMENT OF PHILOSOPHY OF GIFTED EDUCATION
My philosophy on education begins with the goal of creating a positive environment for self- esteem and discovery learning. My mother and her father were teachers. I always heard: Children need to feel good about themselves if they are going to learn. This was reinforced by recognizing the teachers I liked best. It is interesting to note that they were always the ones I learned the most from.
My mentors were kind to me growing up. The desire to build lessons centered on exploring and discovering stem from my undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Child development classes introduced me to an understanding of cognitive processes. Studying Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development was truly the highlight of my college education. Breaking down the ability to comprehend into stages of sensory-motor, pre-operational, concrete and formal made me look at how we acquire new information in a whole new way. Discovery is the key to learning he observed. I aim to incorporate as many hands-on projects and experiments as I can into the curriculum.
After University, I taught in the Chicago Public School System for two years. I was responsible for three seventh and three eighth grade English classes. Students were grouped by ability. Thirty students per class was the average. There was very little communication between teachers and parents. Students brought knives and guns to school. This was the late 1970s in Chicago’s inner city. When I started out it shocked me to open a teacher’s desk to see lesson plans and find a ruler wrapped in masking tape. Teachers crossed the line. I grew up in a house and school that rejected corporal punishment. I left the teaching profession disillusioned, and I journeyed over to learn how to trade commodity futures on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
I taught many colleagues both the basics and nuances of our industry. Commodity markets continue to be my day job. Teaching is in my blood. My goal is ultimately to transition back into teaching full time. I taught classes for six semesters in the Montclair State University G&T Program. Weekend classes were ideal times for me. The teaching environment I require is one which is conducive to discovery learning. Small class sizes in state-of-the-art classrooms, along with good parent communication, and the wherewithal to produce my own content in exciting subject matter go a long way to making teaching fun.
I weave the theories of Joseph Renzulli and Howard Gardner into my philosophy of gifted education. Renzulli’s three-ring model of intelligence promotes the synthesis of achievement, creativity, and commitment to task. Commitment to task, which requires persistence and motivation, is required to succeed throughout the course of one’s life. Howard Gardner’s work has stimulated me to incorporate an approach steeped in an understanding of multiple intelligences. Specifically, I am keen to design content that becomes a driver for cultivating mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences. I believe standing and moving exercises bodily-kinesthetic skills, which in turn nourishes mathematical-logical and spatial intelligences. My classes typically require some drawing and note taking, which is to stimulate cognitive processes, the aim of Piaget’s goals.
In teaching science classes such as Einstein’s Astrophysics, Energy Force and Motion, and Sound of Numbers, my role is both facilitator and resource person. I aim to raise questions in order that students are inspired to begin their own line of inquiry. In addition to mind-bending ideas such as understanding paradox in quantum mechanics for instance, I promote the scientist’s biography and the background of the invention or discovery in order to provide color, clarity, and broaden the scope of lessons. In physics, my aim is to teach students that complexity of ideas can be illustrated by experiment and analogy in order to gain an understanding.
I take on the obligation to make things more interesting to capture that student’s attention. I hope to have a reservoir filled with patience.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to establish a Gifted and Talented program. Teaching is rewarding on a soulful level for me. I plan to continue my formal education. The graduate level courses i took last summer and this summer studying for the Praxis Biology content exam reinforces the importance of teacher training for me. I am keen to learn more. As I contemplate whether I am taking too much on board this coming semester with both my full time job and teaching gig, I reckon I am modeling achievement, creativity, and commitment to task to my college-bound and high school-bound sons. My philosophy motto could be: “If I can do this, then you can do this.”
Renzulli, Joseph; Reis, Sally. Enriching Curriculum for All Students Sage Publications 2007
Gardner, Howard. Theory of Multiple Intelligences http://www.niu.edu/facdev/_pdf/guide/learning/howard_gardner_theory_multiple_intelligences.pdf
Piaget, Jean. The Child’s Conception of Time Random House 1969