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In my philosophy of education, I believe that all children have the right to an education. That education relies on differentiated instruction, as no two children are alike. It is our responsibility to look at the needs of the child and educate them to the best of our abilities. Not all children come to school having started their day in the same way. Poverty, times parents leave for work, sleep during the night, attending before or after school, divorced parents, separations from family, ethnicity, religion, celebrations from a particular culture… these can also all have an effect on how a child’s day is at school. Maslow has stated that when our most basic needs are not met then we cannot move on to the other steps. When a child comes in with these basic needs not being met then their day starts off with a struggle. Though we may attempt to provide the feeling of safety and/or provide food, offer clothing, provide care, offer compassion that would help the child to move up the pyramid, we as educators can only provide and offer so much. All of these constraints can put children and educators at risk. Helping children and their families, trying to understand and empathize with these families are all key into helping a child start off their day in the best way possible. All children deserve to have their basic needs met, and the right to an education. Working together to build up our communities I believe is the key to building up strong children.
The government has stated that all children have a right to an education. This seems to be something though that doesn’t truly start until the age of 3.5-4. This is when full day kindergarten is offered, but what about infants, toddlers, and preschoolers? “The years from birth to age five are crucial ones for children’s development. There is substantial and widespread evidence that early childhood education and care can be positive for children’s cognitive and language development, completed education levels, employment and wages, as well as making them happy in the short run”. We are living with a government that doesn’t seem to value the needs of children’s education. My belief is that we must meet all the criteria for children in education. Looking again to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we know that children (all people) have a right to have food, clothing, be healthy, and a place to live. The next stage is the need for safety and security in all areas of one’s life. This safety and security are requirements that need to be provided to all students. Not all, students fit into a box in a classroom with a followed curriculum. As an educator is it, my responsibility to bridge the gaps, increase strengths, and develop weaknesses, encouraging growth in all areas by beginning where that student needs the support the most. In the same report, as mentioned above, it states that “children from lower-income backgrounds are likely to have stronger positive effects, if they are not excluded from access and quality services. Multiple dimensions of quality are key factors in child care’s effects on children”. It is my belief that children of all ages should be afforded the right to the best education possible, and not just starting at age 4.
I feel that my role as an educator requires me to look outside the box. An educator should be empathetic, a good listener, creative, curious, and a desire for lifelong learning. The classroom is a community, as is the childcare, home provider’s house, or the school. We are responsible for building that community as we all work together. “Capacity building places the emphasis on existing strengths and abilities, rather than being overwhelmed by problems or feelings of powerlessness”. I cannot be responsible for what goes on outside of the four walls of the classroom. It is my professional responsibility as an educator to be responsible for the children and families I engage with daily, to provide a safe and secure place for their learning journey and to support other educators and encourage our learning journeys also. I am responsible for the community in my classroom and it should be one of safety, respect, learning and teamwork. I feel we should focus on the child and his/her/their skills and give them the ‘tools’ to succeed in life, and that life outside those four walls is different for each and every student.
My philosophy also encompasses team work. We cannot do our jobs alone. Working with other educators helps us to grow and deepen our own learning. In the document “Great to Excellent: Launching the Next Stage of Ontario’s Education Agenda,’ Professor Michael Fullan, who was a Special Advisor to the Premier of Ontario, felt that once educators reach a level of “great” in their career the thing that makes them exceed and thrive to be “excellent” is their peers, and the collaboration that they have together. I believe that when we collaborate, we not only learn, but we help others learn and grow. We are only as good as the sum of our knowledge. As education continues to change, so should an educator’s desire to keep learning.
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