All entries for Monday 22 March 2021

March 22, 2021

What is your teaching philosophy? – Kate

What is your teaching philosophy? How has this originated and can you evaluate how your educational touchstones will impact upon the teacher you aspire to be?

As a student of literature, I am well-schooled in theory. In asking questions critically and knowing that definitive answers are rarely possible. That it is the enquiry, the ideas, and the wondering which lead to understanding. I am an aspiring teacher librarian and a central theme within my educational touchstones is critical literacy. My teaching philosophy is one that is centred around the power of language, representation and identity. ‘I would like to talk to children about books and help them to discover their favourites as the media that become their favourites will not only shape who they become but their understanding of the world.’ (London, 2020)

‘In children’s literature theory the imaginary child is often alluded to but it is rare to carry out research with actual children and how they are engaging with books.’ (London, 2020) I am studying the PGCEi as I would like to add practice to theory and explore my teaching philosophy with students. Our class has been learning poetry and I have been discussing how we make meaning from a text. We have been looking at where poets get their ideas. We have been discussing the poem “Eletelephony” which uses made up words to express confusion. We are discussing that poets can manipulate language and that how they use language is as relevant to the emotion of the poem as the central theme or idea. Luke and Freebody (1990) created a literacy model for teachers which incorporates critical literacy. The first step is ‘breaking the code’ which is concerned with ‘recognising and using the fundamental features and architecture of written texts’ (State Government of Victoria, 2019) and this first step towards using critical thinking is what I was attempting with this lesson.

During a tutorial with my tutor she recounted a story from a school where she had previously worked. There was a travelling librarian who came to collate the classroom collections and this librarian would take away the books that were more than ten years old. I was upset by this story because books hold our history, our community, our former selves and allow us to deconstruct the past so that we can better understand our present and future. Peterson and Mosley Wetzel suggest ‘the need to reconceptualize teaching as a political act with the set goal of empowering learners with the ability to recognize and deconstruct oppressive ideological stances.’ (2015, p.58) This particular librarian was denying the students the opportunity to deconstruct, challenge and celebrate the voices of picturebooks past. It is practices such as this which inform my philosophy as I hope to work against them within the library.

I am not so ideological as to consider my future career as a teacher librarian closely connected to political activism. I do consider it to be one of enquiry. To encourage students to ‘have the skills and dispositions to question, challenge, and think deeply about all kinds of texts.’ (Winograd, 2014, p. 1) I hope that teaching students to recognise the power of language and voice will empower them to see that there is strength within their own voices. ‘A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.’ (Le Guin, 1989)

References

Freebody, P & Luke, A (1990) 'Literacies Programs: Debates and Demands in Cultural Context'. Prospect: an Australian journal of TESOL, 5(3), pp. 7-16.

Le Guin, U. (1989) Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places. London: Golancz.

London, K. (2020) ‘Kate London Teaching Touchstones’. PGCEi 20/21: The University of Warwick. Unpublished Work.

Peterson K., Mosley Wetzel M. (2015) “It’s Our Writing, We Decide It”: Voice, Tensions, and Power in a Critical Literacy Workshop. In: Yoon B., Sharif R. (eds) Critical Literacy Practice. Singapore: Springer, pp.57-75.

Richards, L. E. (2018) Poets.org: Eletelephony [Online] URL; https://poets.org/poem/eletelephony) (Accessed 24th October 2020).

Victoria State Government: Education and Training (2019) The Four Resources Model for Reading and Viewing. [Online] URL; https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/readingviewing/Pages/fourres.aspx#decoder(Accessed 3rd November 2020).

Winograd, K., (2015) 'Critical Literacy, Common Core Standards and Young Learners: Imagining a Synthesis of Educational Approaches'. In: Winograd, K. (ed) Critical Literacies and Young Learners: Connecting Classroom Practice to the Common core. New York: Routledge, pp.1-11.


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