My Educational Philosophy

Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.
–John F. Kennedy

This post outlines some thoughts I have about education. I will likely add to and edit this list from time to time. My opinions are my own and have been developed over the last 20+ years of training apprentice and journeyman electricians, attending corporate training, and taking college courses.

  • School is a prescribed amount of work that must be done in order to demonstrate “progress” and to receive advancement. It includes satisfactory performance in things like:
    • Attendance
    • Homework
    • Quizzes and Tests
    • Labs
    • Classroom Participation
  • School is a range of expectations that can be considered the minimum academic burden placed on a student. The requirements of school are met by regurgitating what the instructor (or institution, governing body, etc) wants to hear – orally, “right answers” on tests, etc. It is a job that must be done if one wants to receive credit for education.
  • The goal of school is to bring about education, but progress and advancement can be achieved without engaging in significant education.
    • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. –Albert Einstein
  • Opportunities for education (real learning) happen all of the time. To excel, one must embrace those opportunities.
  • Instructors can present information, explain, answer questions, coach, etc; but they cannot force the student to learn. Students must share responsibility for education with the instructor.
    • I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. –Albert Einstein
  • No one knows everything and everyone knows something. Mutual respect goes a long way in the classroom.
  • Grades are not that important so long as learning has taken place. Forget about the medal and go for the win.
  • Understanding a concept is more important than memorizing facts.
    • Education is not the learning of facts, but training of the mind to think. –Albert Einstein
  • Nearly anyone can be taught how to do a task. Proficiency requires the development of skills that allow the task to be done well each time. Mastery requires that we know how to do a task, become proficient at doing it, and understand why we do it.
  • Programs and processes are created to serve people, not the other way around.
  • Enthusiasm is usually more important than ability. Enthusiasm will find ability, but ability will not always find enthusiasm.
    • Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. –William Butler Yeats
  • It is important to balance knowledge with creativity. All of the knowledge in the world cannot solve a problem until someone imagines a solution.
    • To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. –Thomas A. Edison
  • Assessment can take many forms (tests, essays, presentations, demonstrations, etc), but before the assessment can take place, one must decide what one wants to assess.  For example, understanding is often assessed with a written test. In some cases, this is the best method, but one might also allow a demonstration, project, or portfolio. Any method is fine as long as it can actually assess that learning has taken place. Too often, we are satisfied when a student simply demonstrates the ability to complete the assessment (usually a written test) without bothering to confirm that they have learned.

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