As I have continued to develop my personal philosophy of human nature, I have come to two important beliefs: (1) it is human nature to be inquisitive, and curiosity is the driving force of both thinking and learning. In this statement, thinking can be defined as the process of discovery or creation that involves reconciling new ideas, information, or opinions with one’s prior knowledge. Learning can be understood as the end result of thinking, in which an individual has successfully reconciled this new information with his or her preexisting schemata. Curiosity can be described as the wondering about or seeking of connections in the world, both individually and socially, to help solidify or redefine one’s perception of the world and their place in it. By these definitions, thinking is the process and learning is the product, and both recur cyclically in the process of education. It would be rash, however, to conclude that thinking is only a stepping stone to the end goal of learning, or that learning is just a necessary pause in thinking; learning and thinking exist symbiotically. It is this educational process of thinking and learning that satisfies human curiosity and drives us forward to repeat the cycle.
The second part of my philosophy of human nature is that (2) individuals want to feel valued as members of a community. We are social beings who want to feel that we can both provide for and be provided for by a group of individuals. The strength of this community attachment is determined by the perceived mutual investment in others’ success, happiness, and well-being. The idea of providing and being provided for can take shape in many different forms; one may contribute basic necessities such as food, shelter, or safety, but one can also make more abstract contributions, such as ideas that can help satiate the natural human curiosity discussed above.
As an English Language Arts teacher, my primary goals are (1) to encourage students’ personal relationships with reading, writing, and the rest of the language arts, giving them the skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond, and (2) give them the tools necessary for a high level of verbal, cultural, and digital literacy, giving them the skills necessary to interact positively and productively in their communities.
Through my teaching philosophy and pedagogical approaches, I hope to encourage students to develop into independent, critical thinkers who value their individual ideas and opinions as well as how they relate to broader social and communal ideologies. By fostering active student engagement with their own ideas and with their communities, I hope these students will develop the skills to continually engage with their own curiosity and discover the personal meanings that make their lives worthwhile.