Philosophy of Education at Metcalf School
Nature of Education
Education is a dynamic process of social change maintained in the interest of all members of society and directed toward the improvement of society. Therefore, a good education will be the one which fosters a desire and ability on the part of men and women to plan and work together to make life more worthwhile, more satisfying, and more secure for all – everywhere.
The primary purpose of education in this country is to promote the continuing development of individuals so they may understand, adjust, and contribute to the democratic way of life. The school will seek to provide a challenging environment, opportunity, stimulus, and guidance that will further democratic ideals and meet the need of the growing child. The kind of citizen that a student becomes is largely determined by the nature and quality of the attitudes, appreciations, understandings, and skills which he has developed from birth. The significance of children’s school experiences is heavily influenced by the human relations which exist in the school.
Students who learn to cooperate with others in the solution of common problems, who develop scientific and creative ways of thinking, who grow continuously in their understanding of the world around them, and who believe in democracy as a way of living, will help to improve our society. Neither the passive and "good" individual nor the one who is "good" but illiterate may be considered as effective citizens in our society. Likewise, the individual who is literate, knowledgeable, and active but whose value system is out of tune with democracy may not be considered a good citizen.
As our knowledge of the learning process grows and as our normative values change, so will what we believe about education growth and change. Systematic investigations of the total education process should be a responsibility of all education. Change is not to be made for the purpose of jumping on and off educational band wagons. Rather, proven ineffective education processes will be eliminated and replaced by more sound approaches.
Democratic Values Give Direction
Democracy is a great social faith, a way of life which has its purpose equal opportunity for the maximal development of all in terms of the unique potentialities, capabilities, and personalities of each. This means that all participants (faculty, administration, students, and parents) will have an appropriate share in the planning, in the work, and in the evaluation of the results. The fundamental democratic values provide direction to the entire program of the school. As teachers, we must always bear in mind that we are representatives of the society in which we educate.
Organizational Plans for the School
Organizational plans should serve the purposes of the school. The following serve as criteria for school organization:
- Is it in keeping with democratic ideals, democratic practices, and good human relationships?
- Does it provide for close personal relationships and guidance?
- Does it provide for continuity and relatedness in learning?
- Does it facilitate individualization of instruction?
- Does it provide for flexibility and resiliency in the approach to teaching as well as selection of content?
- Does it encourage security, positive self-concepts, and sound, mental health?
- Does it make possible the learning of essential subject matter and/or skills?
Learning is heavily conditioned by the learner’s background, needs, and interests. The school is concerned with the whole child in his/her total environment and recognizes that learning really takes place through interaction of the two; thus a stimulating environment is necessary to maximal learning. The teacher studies both child and his/her environment in order that he may better guide him/her into purposeful experiences which are within his/her level of social, mental, emotional, and physical maturity and at the same time contribute toward the democratic ideals. The concept of readiness for learning must be applied to teaching at all levels. The child learns most effectively when interest in the thing to be learned is the major force. Since children learn in different ways, the learning process cannot be defined as a set group of procedures. Undue frustrations, tensions, and unresolved conflicts will be guarded against at all times. Overemphasis on marks, awards, and other driving devices lead to spurious learning. Teaching media must be varied and creative, providing learners with multi-opportunities to work at different rates and different levels.
The reality of individual differences must be fully accepted. It is believed that an individual is the product of his/her environment coupled with the undetermined native ability. The school should provide a challenging environment to every child in terms of his/her needs, interests, and ability, thus, every child will have an opportunity to achieve and succeed in worthwhile activities, thereby establishing a measure of security for all. Basic civic liberties will be respected and accorded to all in practice; likewise, their meaning will be clarified through study. Perspective in meeting individual needs is essential. An exclusive emphasis upon individualizing instruction to the exclusion of social learnings may transform the blessing of individualism into the curse of selfishness. Likewise, and over-commitment to group-oriented activities renders us incapable of providing for the uniqueness and individualized learnings necessary for the maximal benefit of each student. The learner should become increasingly responsible for determining his/her own program; he/she becomes at all times an active, but not a sole, participant in deciding how and what he/she learns.
The major sources of the curriculum are the needs of children, social realities, organized fields of knowledge, and the democratic values. The curriculum should at all times be scaled to the maturation of the child. This means that the curriculum will attempt to meet the unique needs of each child. Experiences which provide citizens with knowledge and skills for democratic efficiency will be stressed. A balanced curriculum must provide for the achievement of all of the school’s general educational objectives. Thus, desirable lines of student growth in preparation for life in our society will be our aim rather than the restricted aim of subject matter mastery or the equally restrictive aim of the "child-centered" curriculum. It is to be remembered that a child meets life as an integrated whole, not as a compartmentalized area of decimals, grammar, spelling, or other specific areas of subject matter.
The role of the teacher is that of a guide, leader, and motivator. The teacher facilitates continuous learning for each student and provides an environment for the development of desirable attitudes. The teacher will involve the student in choosing and planning those activities which can best serve him/her and society. The teacher will be accorded his/her rights or citizenship at all times. Sense of success, security, and belongingness is necessary for all individuals, including teachers.
Assessing Student Progress
Evaluation is the means by which goals are verified and clarified, needs are diagnosed, and progress is assessed. It is a broad process which appraises student growth in relation to all of our educational objectives. At the same time, evaluation should be an essential contributing element in that growth. Since learning takes place in many forms and many levels, evaluation should be both continuous and multifaceted; it must be both qualitative and quantitative. The method and techniques of appraisal must be appropriate to the kinds of behavior to be appraised. Evaluation involves careful diagnosis, prescription, and immediate reaction.