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My educational philosophy is grounded in ideas that were put forth over 150 years ago by Friedrich Froebel.  He encouraged educators to view children as "the seed corn of the future"; each as a full and essential member of humanity.  He was concerned with their "all-sided" development; that is their emotional, physical, and intellectual awakening.   He believed children benefit more from what they put forth from within than by what they absorb or acquire from the outside.  According to him, education is growth that is carried on by and through the child, not for the child.  He believed activity of the hand is a fundamental condition of development.  He maintained that all things are united and should be presented to the child to perceive in their connection.  "Nothing in education should stand detached and isolated;" he said, "but like life itself, all things together, in the living union of cause and effect, should constitute an inwardly connected whole."


Contemporary brain research has verified many of Froebel’s teachings.  Today we have new words for these ideas: constructivist teaching, integration, a thematic or discovery approach, experiential learning and cognitive anchoring.   I am committed to these concepts not only because they are sound educational strategies for the twenty-first century, but also because they are validated by my historical perspective of our field.  I believe a sensitivity to the lineage of current thought has both deepened and broadened my understanding of why and how to implement these concepts in the classroom.


 Pre-service teachers must learn to empower children by providing them with learning experiences that are intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically nurturing.  They must understand the needs of children at each stage of development.  They must know that learning occurs a safe and accepting environment.  They must be prepared to honor and celebrate the diverse nature of their students whether that diversity is manifested in the student’s culture, ability, learning style, socio-economic status, or life style differences.


As a professor of education, I have a responsibility to my students, my field of study, and the college or university for whom I  teach.  However, my greatest responsibility will always remain the well-being and development of the children whose lives my students will influence for decades to come.  Froebel beseeched educators to care for and cultivate the garden of "freshly springing humanity", to provide the things a germinating seed requires, and to allow each to blossom in its own time.  My goal as a teacher of teachers is to instill that spirit in my students along with the expertise necessary to make them strong and honorable “gardeners.”




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by Strauch-Nelson, Wendy J. last modified Jul 13, 2010 12:30 PM