My pedagogic creed has considerably changed since I first taught one decade ago. In my early twenties, my philosophy of education focused on the freedom of expression, discipline, teaching methods, expectations, parent and community involvement, and ideals. However, life experience and a master’s of education have shifted my philosophy to focus on: being a caring and committed professional and fostering the establishment of and sustaining a socially-just classroom by creating a fully participatory democracy and employing a multicultural curriculum.
Most notably, I have learned that what defines my competency should not solely be attributed to how effectively I impart knowledge, but also how well I impart a caring rapport. I understand that relationships can be used as a pedagogical tool to care about students beyond their identity as learners. I never underestimate the smallest act of caring, which has the potential to turn a life around. Whether it is a smile, a listening ear, a genuine compliment, or providing differentiated instruction, students want to be cared for and want the opportunity to care. For me personally, caring requires modeling caring relations, developing a quality rapport, establishing an open dialogue and exchange, instituting respect and mutual understanding in the classroom, and being a change agent.
Creating a fully participatory democracy means that the student body should be invited and encouraged to be active participants in their own education. Not only do I insist that students utilize their voices in the establishment of rules and consequences, but I engage my students in the development of curriculum and assessment. Such empowerment models a democratic culture and partnership with my students. Such inclusion creates an atmosphere of mutual respect, cooperation, personal responsibility and accountability, and cohesion. A fully participatory democratic culture will likely result in a sincere and vested interest in school and teach students that their individual voice can and will affect the collective whole. If students are not taught and encouraged to be engaged as citizens of their respective schools, they may not desire to be engaged as citizens of their respective communities.
Essentially, multicultural education is defined as social change through education. It requires imagination, thoughtfulness, and a commitment to tomorrow, inclusive of all of our citizens’ stories and cultures. Multicultural education harbors an environment for a multitude of voices in a multicultural society. It harbors a place where newcomers and not-so-newcomers will succeed in the multicultural world as we know it to be, which is why we need to advance together as a pluralistic nation- “with liberty…