I presuppose that human nature is neither good nor bad and that human nature is in some circumstances likely to produce good results and in others, bad. I believe that culture is both within and without us and that cultural objects can provide us with ‘words’ for the conversation as well as provide us with inspiration to explore our own interpretation and expression of culture. I believe that individual response as opposed to institutionally imposed reaction is crucial in the evolution of culture. I know myself to be present-conscious. I believe that history is of value only as it gives us insight into current issues. History may help us understand the world but it does not control current conditions. I believe that human identity is not formed by or controlled by history, but is impacted by current social mores, institutions, and beliefs.
So, as an educator, this has formed the foundation of my practice. I believe that there needs to be some buffer against potential negative aspects of human nature while still ensuring that there is flexibility so that the good might have room for expression. Throughout my career, I’ve been ready to accept changes and have expected that either evidence or good reasons will be provided to me that the changes will lead to improvements. As an educator who is present-conscious, I have sought to minimize any belief in the impact of history and to introduce my students to understanding the way the world is and how it works now.
I’ve carried these beliefs into my decisions regarding curriculum. I have sought to develop curriculum which engages my students and helps them develop skill in using ideas while leading them to appreciate and be curious about the mystery and wonder of the world and what is possible.
And in understanding the beliefs which have grounded my practice as an educator, I have also understood that my decisions regarding curriculum and course materials have been driven by a desire to guide my students to hold similar beliefs to mine. I believe in the importance of variety in thought and action and yet I know that the amount of variety I promote has been limited by my desire to guide my students toward my personal philosophy.
I have always known that educators teach as they were taught. So, my work as an educator has been a sort of unstated autobiography. In that, I am no different from any other educator. And I believe that it is important for all educators to be clear about the presuppositions, the general value principles, which ground their practice. Educators are, in effect, blind if they believe that their planning regarding curriculum is free of any influence of their personal presuppositions. How we respond to new problems and initiatives is based upon our presuppositions. I know that it is not easy to think about the presuppositions which ground our practice and I know that becoming clear about these will have an impact on our future practice. Acknowledging our presuppositions can lead to change in our practice – examination of what we do and keeping that with which we still agree and changing that with which we do not. And, in owning our presuppositions, we will not be ignorant of them and will be able to make curricular decisions with conscious awareness.
The challenge, then, is for every educator to reflect on all that they hold as true and valuable about learning, and the importance of education. In that clarity, empowerment and transformation lies.