1 IMPORTANCE OF. A PHILOSOPHY FOR TEACHERS . FRED G. WALCOTT. Prof *cor of education University of Michigan, Ann Arbor THERE is a common miscon rightncss. His attitudes will continue to ception abroad, it seems to me, concern change, of course, as the impacts of new ing the nature of PHILOSOPHY and how it experience affect them. Realizing this is learned. When I see a school staff set fact of inevitability should enjoin us itself the task of drawing up a school all to tolerance for the present points of PHILOSOPHY , my interest wavers. I envi view of others. sion the countless hours of committee work and staff meetings devoted to dis Reflection on Experience cussions of trivia, all ending in a state Because a PHILOSOPHY comes from re ment so sanctimonious and so general flection on experience, it seems quite that it threatens no one.
2 Doubtful whether we can teach a new When I see this kind of project pro one indirectly that is, theoretically posed, my impulse is to suggest quickly: in detachment from the learner's reflec "Don't begin with this kind of thing; tion on his own questionable acts. We instead, start experimenting right now may be able to teach about PHILOSOPHY ;. to improve a practice that offends you." we might, for example, be able to teach The fact is that a PHILOSOPHY emerges the PHILOSOPHY of Socrates, so that the from experience. It would be more ac learner would be able to tell something curate to say that a PHILOSOPHY results of what Socrates believed.
3 From reflection on experience. Once ac This would be quite different, how quired, it constitutes a sense of Tightness ever, from what Dewey spoke of as in an organic attitude that looks both tegration into one's own being that is, toward the past that nurtured it, and to having a built-in, emotion-freighted the future where tentative actions are memory of one's own actions and their to be considered. personal and social consequences. Dew- There is an inevitability, too, in ev ey's comment on moral training l i s eryone's present philosophical position quite apropos here; it is, he said, "pre- that is, it could not possibly be dif 1 John Dewey.
4 My Pedagogic Creed. Wash ferent. One cannot deliberately take a ington, : National education Association. position contrary to his present sense of 1896 p. 14. 556 Educational Leadership cisely that which one gets through hav of physical violence, I now see that I. ing to enter into proper relations with was tragically wrong. others in a unity of work and thought.". It is only during a poignant weighing of Work with Remedial Pupils one's own or another's genuine emo Perhaps the most telling experience tional perplexity that such an integra in my professional life was my work tion can take place.
5 With so-called remedial pupils. I began I draw these thoughts, now, for ex this work without any special prepara ample, from a reflection on my own past tion, and I doubt whether special train involvements. When I began to teach, ing given before the real encounter I lacked both practical experience and would have helped me very much un a dependable PHILOSOPHY of education . less, of course, it had been genuine labo I had already tried to read John Dewey ratory work under the direction of a and William James for a college course, person of better experience than mine.
6 But I only understood them dimly be As it was, I followed the stereotyped cause my experience was not abreast of practices of the day: testing; assigning their ideas. remedial exercises, many of which I de For my own practical guidance, I had vised myself; re-testing; and using mo only some illusory notions drawn from tivational tricks of one kind or another. a primitive folklore based on force. The My own enlightenment came when I. teacher must be a strong dominant fig began to observe the habits of the pu ure, I thought, and he must have the pils themselves. Trapped in a system strength, physical and otherwise, to that was deliberately competitive, these maintain his control.
7 And so I acted like young people were the chronic failures. a martinet, commanding obedience and Their pitiful defenses against their pre anticipating trouble even where it did dicament were quite obvious. All of not exist. The pupils reacted to this them sought to hide their inability un treatment in a predictable human man der various false pretenses. Tests of any ner. While they obeyed outwardly, they kind were, in their eyes, only methods began to practice an underground re of a cruel exposure. If, for example, I. sistance exactly like that of my own would ask them to report the number callow youth.
8 This eventually led to of pages they had read during a class physical clashes with suspected leaders, hour, they would turn in fantastic fig which I won through superior strength ures. and position. One boy of large, awkward stature The community, which of course had had developed a skill in making wise fostered my illusions, thought that I was cracks. His classmates always rewarded a good disciplinarian. Yet looking back him with appreciative laughter. I. from my present experience and its an stepped up beside him one day to help cillary PHILOSOPHY , I would give a good him with his reading before the class.
9 Deal if I could live those years over. I Despite his silly antics, I discovered know, now, that had I been kindly, en that he was trembling violently, and couraging, helpful person, those fine pu sweat stood out in drops on his forehead. pils would have loved me. In every case I remember another boy of small April 1 966 $57. of their schooling. I was thrown back inevitably upon a sobering self-scru CHILTON tiny. And obviously I saw the single remedy that might restore their well- BOOKS being: humane acceptance and kindly encouragement. The school, I saw at once, must withdraw its standard ex provide materials, methods, pectations; it must seek to discover and and teacher education for to honor their simple ambitions to learn foreign language instruction and to grow up.
10 2. at all levels. Write for free Catalog and Handbook to: A Congenial Drift Center for The resulting parallels of PHILOSOPHY were simply automatic. I found not only Curricula m Develop ment clear directions for my own professional in Audio-Visual improvement, but I could discover ev Language-Teaching erywhere the supporting thoughts of others. As my own experience has 525 LOCUST STREET changed, I have felt a congenial drift PHILADELPHIA. PA. 19106 toward the pragmatic philosophers. It was they, I found, who had a warm cur rent of compassion in their veins. The stature often a very significant factor earlier ones, it seemed to me, came to whose mother was a patient in a men stand as posthumous critics of my own tal hospital.