Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's Your Philosophy?

When I was interviewing for a teaching job, I recall my (eventual) principal asking me what was my philosophy of education.  Oh gees, I was a recent college graduate with only student teaching as experience.  So I decided honesty really was the best policy and replied, "I don't know.  I haven't taught long enough to have a philosophy."  I guess he liked that answer, among others, as I was offered the job.  (I taught high school English, including writing, literature, communications and film for 32 years, but my first love was really psychology.)  Please don't critique my writing now, knowing what I taught.  My blogging is just my talking out loud to anyone who will listen -- and to myself, a kind of journaling.

But I do have a philosophy on everything I've learned about psychology.  When I was finally able to enroll in a Master's program for counseling, I began my journey to healing.  (My own mother, too, benefitted from those studies, as I passed on The Dance of Anger to her.  After reading it, she told me in a trembling voice, that she didn't realize she'd been angry most of her life.  She told me that my getting my Masters after my divorce turned out to be a good thing for her, too, as we discussed many of the things I learned in my training.  Being quite different in personality, we clashed in my youth.  This was the beginning of our healing.)  Learning to be introspective and honest with ourselves and others, identifying and dealing with our own "issues" (most of which come from our experiences in our family of origin), learning effective ways to communicate our feelings -- especially anger -- to strengthen our senses of "self" and our relationships, and finding healthy solutions to conflict are of such importance, my philosophy is that we should have classes all through school which speak to these topics, among others, and help kids develop skills related to them. 

I think it's safe to say that many of us struggle in these areas.  Healthy behaviors weren't always modeled for us, because our parents didn't always possess the skills.  In fairness, they didn't acquire all of the skills from their parents, either, because their parents didn't see them modeled, and so on and so on back in time.... We need to break the cycle of unhealthy behavior patterns somewhere.  Within the family is the best place, but that could take generations and generations.  Perhaps a more expedient way would be within the school system.

My idea is that the class would be mandatory like English or math and tailored to the age level of the students.  It might be called something like "Being Me" or "Making Friends" or "My Family, Friends and Me" throughout the grade school years and progress through junior high and high school with more appropriate titles.  But this on-going class would deal with the study of human behavior through appropriate topics for each age.  It would include personality, dealing with feelings, anger management skills, conflict resolution, assertiveness-training, active listening skills, relationship-building skills, parenting skills, anything and everything that comes under the topic of "understanding people and oneself."  And it would be taught through role-playing, art, music, reading and discussion, practice and evaluation, film and DVD or whatever method is most age-appropriate for the students.

I think the world would greatly benefit from that.

Just my two cents.

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