Sunday, January 16, 2011

Curriculum - Philosophical Beliefs

What are your philosophical beliefs about the purpose of school, about what subjects should be taught, and about how students learn? How does your work demonstrate your belief?

I believe the children and young adults of a society are its most valuable resource. Our wealth is held not so much in land and goods as in creativity and innovation, hard work and inspiration, individual and collective knowledge and skill. If we fail to invest in providing a high quality education to our youth, we neglect our own future prosperity.

Schools must be inclusive, serving all students and addressing the needs of learners throughout the entire continuum of needs and abilities. This means nurturing and lifting up our disadvantaged youth and also challenging our gifted and talented students so that all learners can reach their full potential. A high-quality education is a moral and ethical imperative; it should be the right of every child, not just the wealthy or elite. I believe very strongly in the value of the public education system and that we need to make that system work for all of our students.

What is the purpose of schooling and what does it mean to be an educated person? Today, it means more than simply becoming proficient in reading, writing and arithmetic. The skill set necessary to survive and prosper in our current (and future) society is quite different than what was required fifty, thirty, or even fifteen years ago. Since our knowledge base is constantly growing and evolving, we cannot possibly teach our children everything they need to know. We must help students achieve fundamental skills and conceptual understanding – and also prepare them to access and critically evaluate vast amounts of information; effectively communicate using multiple formats and technologies; and collaborate to solve problems that have an impact on local and global levels.

I am currently an instructional technolgist for Oakland Unified School District. I work with a small team to assist school sites with tech planning, integration and professional development. We try to help teachers incorporate information and technology literacy into all curricular areas and to use various technologies and multimedia as tools to enhance delivery of content, increase student engagement, support collaboration (among and between teachers, students and outside experts), and to allow students to access, evaluate and create information in ways they could not without the technology. Our instructional technology team is part of the larger district department of Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction, so I also collaborate with content area specialists and instructional coaches.

I believe that one’s philosophy of educational leadership should reflect and support his/her overall philosophy of education. Although this seems to be a simple and obvious statement, our beliefs and ideals are often tempered by daily realities and constraints. Educational leaders must strive to create and maintain a school culture in which the focus is on student learning and effective teaching and all staff engages in professional reflection and growth.