Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Educational Philosophy

My undergraduate is in History with a minor in Asian Philosophy and Political Science which is effectively a pre-law degree. That degree got me a job cooking barbecue in a grocery store deli. Now don't get me wrong. I don't believe the sole purpose of education is to gain a foothold in the job market, but it helps. That degree simply begged for more education.

I also have an MLIS with a concentration in archives and academic libraries. This is the degree that provided job skills and got me out of the grocery store and away from the front desk of a hotel. While I was training to be a preservation administrator, I have ended up as a school librarian. Such is life.

My Ph.D. is in educational Philosophy. At this point, it is an open question as to whether I am a philosopher who supports himself by being a librarian or a librarian who dabbles in philosophy.

I pursued the PhD simply because I wanted one. Indeed that is the only reason to subject yourself to the mental anguish and stress of obtaining this degree. It is conceivable that I could find a position in a School of Education, a Department of Philosophy, or a Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Not that I'm a Polimath, but my degrees are broad and I have experience and publication in these areas. However, because international schools in Asia pay rather well, all of the jobs would probably entail a cut in pay to go along with the rise in occupational status. In this area, if no other, I'm a materialistic pragmatist, I'd rather have the money.

That doesn't mean the PhD has not changed my outlook about my job or education in general. It has. My philosophical studies have altered my view of what, why and how I do my job. I have come to believe that one of the major problems with education world wide is that too many educators do not work from a consistent, coherent or self recognized educational philosophy. This not only makes their job harder, it means that their students often receive a less thorough education than they could.

This is bothersome in two ways

First, it is bothersome because despite my gruff exterior, I believe that students deserve the best education that society can afford to give them. Not just for economic advancement but because if done properly, education makes them better people. This statement is in itself a rather complex philosophical statement which could take pages and pages to unpack. I'm not going to do that here simply because I don't want to. I have other fish to fry.

Second, it is bothersome because I feel compelled, because I see the problem, to do something about it. This is probably the legacy of the parable of the "Good Samaritan" I was taught in Sunday school as a child. I have been trained since childhood that to see a problem and to not try to correct it is sin. This is also a complex issue that deals with psychology much more than philosophy. I don't know much about psychology but I'm convinced that neither do psychologist. So I'll leave this alone a well.

However, I am going to, at least on an irregular basis, start posting on the subject of educational philosophy. I need to do this because I don't see teachers or teacher librarians working through these issues. These post make become the rough notes for an academic paper.

Then again they may not. We'll see what happens.

The goal is to create a document that can be used as a foundation that teachers, administrators and school support staff, especially at Christian schools and International schools in Asia can use to gain insight into their educational philosophy. I'd like to be able to help schools develop their educational philosophy into a coherent system. I think it would improve their instruction.

We'll see how it goes

Until next time

Fai Mao
The Educational Philosopher

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