Teaching Philosophy
Rich Gibson

As a co-founder of the Whole Schooling Consortium and the Rouge Forum, I believe in the five principles outlined by colleagues in our founding meetings in 1997:

1. Empower citizens in a democracy: the goal of education is to help students learn to function as conscious ethical citizens of the world, seeking equality and democracy. Hence, teaching and learning must be purposeful, committed.

2. Include all: children learn together across culture, ethnicity, language, ability, gender/sex, class, and age--and resources for such teaching are seen as a site of struggle.

3. Teach and adapt for diversity: design instruction for diverse learners that engages them in active learning in meaningful, real-world activities involving an interaction of theory and practice; develop accommodations and adaptations for learners with diverse needs, interests, and abilities.

4. Build community and support learning: use specialized school and community resources (special education, title I, gifted education, local resources, etc.) to build support for students, parents, and teachers; build community and mutual support within the classroom and school; provide proactive supports for students with behavioral challenges.

5. Partner: build real collaboration within the school and with families and the community; engage the school in strengthening the community; and provide guidance to engage students, parents, teachers, and others in decision-making and direction of learning and school activities.

Good teaching involves a unique student meeting a particular educator in a special community. This is a social practice which builds on each of these singularities--and their intersections, both affective and cognitive.

Even so, education also must address the general, that is, for example, the social conditions that set up the school environment.

A clear grasp of the relationship of the particular and the general sets the stage for an educator to exercise, from moment to moment, the good judgement that makes discovery possible. Good judgement is structured upon freedom.

I seek to create a classroom where it is possible for students to employ, with a historical sense, ways to unveil, comprehend, and transform the material world. We can understand our world. We can act upon it. A critical part of this effort is to engage students in reciprocally determined projects which allow them to understand and criticize their own intellectual paradigms. I hope to make it possible for students to gain and test knowledge, in a reasonably free atmosphere, and to mutually demonstrate with them that ideas have sources and consequences. This is one way theory links to practice. What we do counts.

I hope students will recognize their own material interests in furthering the historical trajectory of equality and democracy. I try to challenge students to be willing to take a partisan stand, strategically, on the side of the interests of the majority. This means to use good judgement, persevere, and grow.

My goal, in part, is to assist students to know their own interests and viewpoints thoroughly, yet to think, "nothing is alien to me that is human." This suggests a person who knows his/her own specialty well, but who is also interested in the wide range of knowledge and culture that an urbane society offers, who is at once willing to take a stand, and to learn from the vision of another. This is a person who understands that the creation of the common wealth is rooted in individual activity--for the collective good. This is a person who understands that what he or she does, counts.

I believe we must reveal to students how we think and examine our surroundings, why we think the way we do, our goals, the hopes for which we will fight, while giving them clear proof that we respect their opinions, even when they are opposed to our own. I hope students leave my classroom knowing themselves--and their ways of acting on the world--a bit better.

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