A Teaching Philosophy: A Prerequisite for Effective Pedagogical Practices in Teacher Education

A Teaching Philosophy: A Prerequisite for Effective Pedagogical Practices in Teacher Education

Anne W. Kanga (Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9948-9.ch007
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This chapter examines the importance of an educator's “teaching philosophy” as a major prerequisite for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Teacher Education. The critical need for this examination is guided by the complex nature of challenges that educational institutions are continually faced with such as, diversity, students' awareness of their rights, ethnicity and negative ethnicity, information technology, capitalism and commodification of the educational enterprise, international competitiveness in both teaching and learning among others. Further, quality driven ESD programmes are currently a global concern. To guide this study were the following research questions: What is Sustainable Development/ (SD) and ESD? What is a teaching philosophy? What is the purpose of a teaching philosophy? What should inform an educator's teaching philosophy? In which ways can an educator implement his/her teaching philosophy? And, what characterizes a clear teaching philosophy? Finally, recommendations that can inform theory, policy and practice are presented.
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Those who educate children well are more to be honored than even their parents, for these only give them life, those the art of living well (Aristotle- 384-322 BC)

In the wake of many challenges facing teachers and the teaching profession such as (big class sizes, heavy work load, mainstreaming and its related perspectives, integration of technology) (Keengwe, 2013; Kibera & Kimokoti, 2007; 2006; Nieto, 2003), an intriguing question that can be asked is: “what keeps teachers/educators going in spite of everything”? In all societies, education is given a central place by allocating enormous resources and time because it is the foundation for any successful society. As pointed out by UNESCO (2001), quality education is a prerequisite for ESD. A growing body of literature and research indicates that teachers who lack well defined self reflective views about why they are in the teaching profession are more likely to leave the profession or be underachievers (Hammond, 2003). A dearth of research acknowledges the complexity involved in teaching effectively at all levels of learning. Further, even when some information is available on what makes educators effective, emphasis has been on the primary and secondary school levels to the exclusion of tertiary institutions (Kreber, 2005; Kane, Sandretto & Heath, 2002).

It is also important to note that in all the studies reviewed, with the exception of online sources, scholars have “evaded” to use the phrase “a teaching philosophy” and have used terms such as: teaching beliefs, theories, values about teaching, assumptions about teaching, reflection on knowledge about teaching (Kane et. al., 2002; Kreber, 2005; University of Minnesota (UMN), 2009). A brief preview of some key documents (TSC Charter; TSC Code of Ethics for teachers, 2002) that describe the functions of the TSC in Kenya reveals that the idea of a teaching philosophy or even its generic presentation is glaringly absent. The author in this paper acknowledges that the idea is new in Teacher Education literature especially in African countries, and hence the reason the idea is fore-grounded in this paper.

According to the TSC Code of Conduct and Ethics (2002)

A teacher shall always, in carrying out his [her] duties respect, protect, and promote the human rights and freedom of students without discrimination on the basis of race, tribe, political opinions, color, creed, sex, disability, social status or culture. A teacher practicing this career shall also maintain his [her] professional aptitude. He [she] shall not convey, or allow others to convey the impression that anyone is in a position to influence him [her]… In this case, he shall not engage himself [herself] in any sexual activity with a student regardless of a student’s consent or not…A teacher shall always be punctual and meet his [her] deadlines in executing his [her] duties. In his [her] evaluation of students, a teacher shall be honest and judge only on the basis of performance (3).

A critical analysis of some of the unethical practices by teachers reported in our educational institutions such as sexual harassment, cheating of examinations and supplying illicit drugs (Kanga, 2004; Education Insight, 2010) puts into question the seriousness in which teachers take the code of conduct and ethics. Consequently, as this paper foregrounds, the idea of “A teaching philosophy” in the minds and practice of Kenyan teachers/educators, or even within the larger African region, seems neither nurtured nor named and hence the need to theorize it. Such theorizing can be the basis of the practice of a teaching philosophy.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Internally Displaced Learners (IDLs): This concept and/or phenomenon is the author’s interpretation of learners who are forced to flee their homes and consequently their schools for various reasons such as natural or man-made disasters, war, conflicts, political strife and other forms of gross human abuse. Such learners remain within their own country and do not cross an international border. They are therefore not eligible for protection under the same international system as refugees. Also, there is no single international body entrusted with their protection and assistance. The concept is informed by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) definition of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Teacher Education: Refers to the policies and procedures designed to equip prospective teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, school and wider community.

Effective Pedagogy: Refers to a student centered teaching and learning (SCL) approach where educators are reflective in their theory, practice and policy implementation in teaching/learning, resulting to positive impacts in the learners.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): Education for Sustainable Development is an education that aims to help people to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future, and to act upon these decisions. ESD is hoped to meet the needs of the present without compromising those for future generations. It is a vision of development that encompasses populations, animals and plant species, ecosystems, natural resources and that integrates concerns such as the fight against poverty, gender [in] equality and human and animal rights are observed.

Educator: This term is broadly used to mean a professional in the field of education such as a teacher, principal, administrator, lecturer, professor involved in the theory and practice of teaching and learning.

Teaching Philosophy: A teaching philosophy is a self reflective statement of an educator’s beliefs about teaching and learning; a statement that discusses how an educator put his/her beliefs about teaching and learning in practice by including concrete examples of what you do or anticipate doing in the classroom (UMN, 2009 AU56: The in-text citation "UMN, 2009" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Sustainable Development (SD): Is a process for meeting human development goals such as effective teaching and learning, while sustaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend.

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