EDU 6120: Module 1

What I Learned” –Reflection on Professor Arthur Ellis’ lecture entitled,

“Four Broadly Accepted Goals of Education”

The education system as practiced in America today, whether it be public, private, or in the home–reveals common themes, purposes, and intentions which guide the interactions between teachers and students. Regardless of various educational settings found in communities and cities across our United States, we see the cornerstone goals of; Academic Knowledge, Citizenship, Self-Realization, and Employment. (Ellis)

Academic Knowledge: “idea of knowledge as an end unto itself”

Citizenship: “Building citizens, participating, enlightened”

Self-Realization: Individual goals “the person becoming what they want to become”

Employment:  “A career (ready for work)”

The process for achieving the goals involves fostering a delicate balance in the student/teacher relationship.  On the one end of the continuum is the “Passive Learner—where learners receive information, knowledge passed down from authorities.” The other end–the “Active learner—actively engaged in the learning process—creating and constructing learning by doing. Knowledge being discovered, created—reflective thinking.”  With regard to the role of the teacher, we must consider which will be most effective—the “teacher as the instructor” or “teacher as the facilitator of knowledge”, or a combination of the two.

In the public high school setting where I teach students with a variety of special needs, I often find myself placing a heavier emphasis on “facilitating” vs. “instructing”– , but of course, as noted by Ellis, “Balance is the key”.  As I work with each student to address the components within their Individual Education Plan (IEP), I am charged with facilitating and keeping at the forefront–progress toward transition goals. The transition plan, in effect, begins with utilizing the student’s strengths—while considering any needs for specially designed instruction/supports—in order to assist them through a course of study and “facilitating” their active involvement in the process of creating realistic goals for their future.

My work with high school students includes teamwork with parents, as well as various agencies and employers in the surrounding community/society. Ellis’ description of the additional role of society toward the educational process known by the Greek term, Paideia—actually sheds new light for me on the practice of home schooling. I have always taught in the public school setting and my children have attended the same, however, a number of my friends have homeschooled their children. Although I respect their decision to do so, I must admit that I have always perceived this practice as being a bit too protective. I can see now, however, how homeschooling in many ways could be considered as a modern day expression of the Paideia—“learning from the society….the marketplace, the art museums, the libraries, the neighborhoods, even the shops and stores and factories… “ .  I am thankful for this fresh perspective.

As I am just now at the beginning of taking coursework for earning my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction–after three decades as a special education teacher—my primary question is: How can I more effectively provide specially designed instruction to high school students in an inclusion setting?

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