Learning Philosophy

I’ve always been a player of words. Life events usually change how specific words make me think and feel. 7 months back the word  philosophy sounded like something I wanted zero part of. No one has ever asked me to define career choices or styles. This is not to say I haven’t thought about what I felt influenced by and how those things impacted my classroom. If we break it apart, philo means love and sophy means wisdom. So the love of wisdom. How fitting is that for an educator of all the things? I entered the world of education for two reasons, the love of children and learning. I’ve always loved to learn. Learn the new and spread it as far and wide as I can. Add in the mix of children and it’s the perfect concoction to piece together my learning philosophy; learning is never ending. 

As I dig deeper into what this means and how it all folds together so neatly, I have to consider the fact that my learning and teaching philosophy could quite possibly be identical. If my learning philosophy is that learning is never ending and my teaching philosophy states that I want all students to learn to accept and take ownership of the learning journey, wouldn’t you say they go hand in hand? Shouldn’t the way I feel about learning and the way I feel about teaching mimic each other? I find that they do, except it’s not a carbon copy. Each day brings a new learning experience into my room and therefore challenges my teaching. Neither of them are one size fits all. Both are always changing and revolving.

It is my belief that learners come in all shapes and sizes and require educators of all philosophies of teaching. It is also my belief that educators come in all shapes and sizes and require the background knowledge of all the learning styles these students will bring to the table. Ertner and Newby state, “The way we define learning and what we believe about the way learning occurs has important implications in which we want to facilitate changes in what people know and/or do.” Personal beliefs in the how and why learning occurs is a direct transfer to the classroom.

When I think about what type of learner I am, I feel pulled towards more of a constructivist mixed with cognitivist approach. Constructivism is defined as a theory of learning based on the idea that humans construct their own knowledge through direct, as opposed to being taught concepts in the abstract. Simply, we construct our own knowledge based on individual experiences. Constructivism hits all of my buttons as a learner of all things except in the world of math. In order to learn, I need hands-on experiences filled with skills and people. More of the create my own ending, draw my own conclusions, and less of the results someone else wanted me to achieve. Cognitivist screams to my math brain though. This could be defined as the way a learner organizes new information while seeking ways to understand and  relate to already known information within their memory. As a young learner, I struggled with all areas that weren’t based on schema and retaining information. My grade school experience was definitely with teachers that felt drawn to the behaviorist approach. This is your typical checks and x’s approach. Reward and punishment for mastery and growth. Whether it was out of comfort or core beliefs, I am not sure. 

When I think about myself as an adult learner, I find that I push the cognitivist approach to the back and try to focus on constructive learning. Learning for me these days is much more about experiencing the process of learning and not so much the correct answer.  I believe that students, myself included, are moving past skill memorization and strategic answers and into the realm of true understanding of the hows and whys of being a learner. Learning to learn is such a hard concept for many students but I believe if they are given the opportunity to branch out and explore, this concept becomes a little less abstract and a bit more realistic for them. 

Now, am I the same learner and educator? I vividly remember starting my career in the mindset of reward and punishment. Really, how was I to know any different than what I had experienced? I knew this did not suit my learning style all of those years ago, but surely more of my students would find it a better fit. Six years in and I feel myself coming full circle. I believe there is a true need for all learning theories in the classroom. Think more along the lines of a portrait of learning painted with watercolors. All the colors of the world blended perfectly together. 

My innovation plan for the upcoming school year is based on the Constructivist Theory where my students will document their learning process and generate new learning through the use of hands-on activities and real world applications through the use of technology in ePortfolios. Students will become active participants in the construction of their own learning. The use of ePortfolios will allow students to have choice in what they utilize and create a sense of ownership for their learning adventure. 

References

Cummings, C., Harapnuik, D., & Thibodeaux, T. (2017). Using the cova approach to promote active learning in digital learning environments. In Handbook of research on digital content, mobile learning, and technology integration models in teacher education (pp. 22–44). IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-2953-8.ch002

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43–71. https://doi.org/10.1002/piq.21143 Harapnuik, D. (2019, July 22). Learning Philosophy. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=95

Parousinas, A., & Karageorgakis, T. (2020, November 21). Constructivism And Behaviorism in designing online Learning Programs. Educraft. https://educraft.tech/constructivism-and-behaviorism/