My Personal Philosophy of Teaching and Learning
Peggy Wheeler

          I believe the human brain must learn, not passively but passionately.  We seek patterns; we seek meaning, and we seek relevance.  That the human mind is designed for learning is a given.  By the age of 5, the human child has mastered 85% of the structures of its native language.  All of this is accomplished by the intuitive grasp of patterns.  Learning is developmental in nature; there are stages which cannot be skipped.  Herein, lies the fervent call for insight, respect, and understanding.

        Education is about society's need to improve and perpetuate itself.  It is about literacy, literacy in language and literacy in technology, literacy for options and empowerment, literacy for the future. Moreover, literacy that reflects the depths of the human intellect as it has come down to us through our mythologies and our languages -- a literacy that underscores the magnificent, enternal, and enduring notion of a common human heritage. In all of my teaching there is strong evidence of appreciation and respect for the world of culture and for cultures of the world.

        Thus education is about life.  To quote the poet, Maya Angelou:  "Life is about surviving and being real -- surviving with some passion, with some compassion, with some humor, and some style."   . . As I reflect on the meanings here,  it seems  passion is the passion for life and learning.  Compassion is the concern for others and my planet.  Humor is for balance and perspective, and style is for the individuality in us all.

    All of this is just so much ethereal rhetoric unless there exists a means for translating it into the classroom.  Hopefully, my students will find an environment safe for, and nurturing of, inquiry and creative expression.  We will improve our reading skills by reading a wide variety of genre and exploring specific strategies proven to enhance skills. Literature will be the focus with many activities concerning poetry and the reading of text for meaning.    There will be numerous opportunities for writing.  Grammar and spelling will be learned in the context of our own writing.  The emphasis will be variously on the process and  the product of writing.  My students will experience challenge and success, positive regard and respect.  If life is about learning, then learning is about accepting the challenge.

"Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us.  The labyrinth is thoroughly known.  . . . Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence, and where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world."
                                                                 . . .Joseph Campbell The Power of Myth
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