Philosophy of Learning

School has never been something that has limited me and been so boring and mind numbing that I just want to quit, at least not all of the time. Although I am a learner who usually needs instructions and who is great with working with others in controlled environments, I still love to use my imagination. However, over the years, as in the words of Ashley Mccall, “I am acutely aware of how intentionally I have to work to renew my own lost imagination” (5). The education system has supported me in different ways, but it’s heavily lacking when it comes to creativity and imagination. Many times, teachers will say that there is no right way to do something and there are endless possibilities for an answer, especially in classes like English or history discussions. Yet it all really ends up coming down to a grade and that’s all we as students can focus on. I have been taught by this assembly line that is school, that I must do well now so I can then go to a good college and succeed even further in life. But because of this expectation to do well, it’s difficult to do new and difficult things confidently. The need to get a high grade out of a teacher has become more important than my personal creativity.

I feel as though I haven’t quite found a style of learning that makes me feel confident and comfortable with sharing. I think it stems from being willing to be disturbed, but not being quite willing to speak up. I am the type of person to do well on my assignments and homework, but when it comes time to speak up within a class discussion, I freeze up. If I want to claim my education, Adrienne Rich says that I must have “responsibility to [myself]” and “refuse to sell [my] aspirations short” (1). Even so, I am scared to.

“It’s easy to stand in the crowd but it takes courage to stand alone”

Mahatma Gandhi

While I have claimed my education in a more traditional sense through essays and tests, the education system hasn’t really taught me how to live in our current world. As a student and learner, I could really benefit from knowing what is happening in the world around me. However, I mostly get that information from online articles I read alone or from social media. And in this bubble that is Northbrook, I need that exposure to learn better. I am very willing to be disturbed on contemporary issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement and climate change. I want to learn more about these topics so I can be confident when voicing my opinions. But because of school, “we weren’t trained to admit we don’t know” (Wheatley 1). I stop myself from speaking to a whole class about important things because I’m scared someone will say I’m wrong or that they disagree. I put so much into working up to the hard standards that are set for me and now can’t quite find the confidence to be myself in front of others in class. 

4 thoughts on “Philosophy of Learning

  1. I completely agree with your philosophy and I can relate to many of your specific examples. I think you did a great job of articulating how teachers try to give students free range with activities, but with there always inintedned consequences to straying away from your teachers expectations, such as the possibility of it hurting your grade. I have experienced that throughout all of highschool; whether it was in English and I had to choose my topic for a speech, or in history and I had to choose the topic for a paragraph in my DBQ, I always choose what I think my teacher would most want to read because if they enjoy what they are reading, they are more likely to give me a better grade. I think you did a great job of explaining how this lack of space for imagination can hinder our education.


  2. I think that you did a good job crafting a philosophy that was specific to you. I like how you brought up problems with the school system and how that affected you as a learner. I also like how you took a different path on this assignment than what I thought to do because it made me see a different perspective. You also did a good job with choosing specific examples. Good job!


  3. I totally agree with you that schools need to allow students to be more creative. I also feel as if there aren’t endless possibilities and I don’t have the space to truly be creative in school because it ultimately comes down to the grade. I loved the assembly line analogy you gave and it perfectly describes how students grow up in school, just going through the motions and they have to do well each step of the way to end successfully. So, students end up focusing too much on the grade instead of learning to be a creative thinker.


  4. I wonder a little bit if we sometimes confuse our own willingness to be disturbed with confidence in asserting our (hopefully well informed) opinions. What if we thought about it less as confidence in what we’re saying is the best thing to share or the thing we think others might agree with and more of – this is a space where we come to share our thoughts, our questions, and our half-processed ideas? I’m genuinely not looking for AN ANSWER to anything when I ask students questions, which can knock some people off balance when they realize that’s actually true.


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