Personal Philosophy of Education

Personal Philosophy of Education
NNMC Alternative Licensure Program
By Jeffrey Ethan Genauer

“May the fire of intellect, the soul's light to mind
Show us the torchbearer's path to the height he climbed,
And may the material of thought fuel the flame of insight
On the journey of our souls in the quest for right.” (RW Emerson)

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson in the Nineteenth Century, I believe in the ideal of “respecting the pupil” by allowing the genius of the child’s own inspiration, perception and search for truth to flourish. As an ideological forefather to the progressive education movement, Emerson advised us that schools “should not be timid, should have a wider scope and … should dare to arouse the young to a just and heroic life.”

The education of engaged citizens, according to contemporary academic followers of John Dewey, involves two essential elements: (1) Respect for diversity, meaning that each individual should be recognized for his or her own abilities, interests, ideas, needs, and cultural identity, and (2) The development of critical, socially engaged intelligence, which enables individuals to understand and participate effectively in the affairs of their community in a collaborative effort to achieve a common good.

My general teaching philosophy, along with my approach to teaching history and civic studies in particular, parallels this central concern for recognizing and embracing each student’s unique interests, abilities, identity and needs. For example, instead of merely teaching students to learn a standardized “history of the United States,” I want to be a teacher who encourages students to practice the process of acquiring historical knowledge through critical and creative engagement with the historical narratives shaping their own cultures, communities, identities, and place.

In addition, I have been influenced deeply by the ideas of environmental education, including Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods and the “No Child Left Inside” movement. I support the growing trend for integrating environmental literacy into standard academic curriculums, and I am an enthusiastic advocate for garden-based educational options to be provided for all students.

My commitment to the physical well-being and healthy development of young people includes the conviction that access to high-quality, nutritious food is a fundamental requirement for a positive learning atmosphere. By linking with local sustainable food programs along with the increasing national institutional support for healthier food in schools (such as the National Farm-To-School Network and FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Initiative) I believe every school can and should provide the fresh and healthy food options that will best fuel the bodies and minds of our students! As an experienced leader and activist for building community-based sustainable food systems, I hope to serve any school that I work for with this dedication and knowledge.

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