My Philosophy

My Philosophy of Education: An Integractive Philosophy of Education

There are a few terms that I assume different than the usual way in my philosophy of education. Let’s state them clearly.

Usually “learning” is understood as the adquisition of academic knowledge only. For me, it is not only that. For me, learning is the growth that forms the person. That growth includes, but is not limited to, the adquisition of academic knowledge. By example: to love can also be learned. For me, learning is an action that is linked to all the personal formation processes. For me, the purpose of education is to form the person as the best person that each one can be and as the person that each one is meant to be according to his own integractive project: a project that informs, conforms, reforms and transform the own personal formation. The school is not only an academic environment: it is a personal growth environment.

Usually the Latin American identity is assumed as synonym of “political and social liberation”. I assume the Latin American identity, and also the Anglo-American identity, as synonym of “growth”: personal growth, not assuming “personal” as synonym of “individual” but in relation to communion. I unite my both cultural ascendances, the Latin American and the Anglo-American, with the same word: growth. Being American (assuming American not as synonym of being from United States but as synonym of being from the American continent) for me is synonym of growth. I chose to unite my both cultural identities in a single word taking in consideration one of the determining factors of the life of Puerto Ricans according to our Constitution: the coexistence of the two great cultures of the American continent (the Latin American and the Anglo-American).

In order to integrate by both cultural ascendances, my intention as teacher is not embracing a “liberation pedagogy” but an “integractive pedagogy”: a pedagogy that focus in the growth of the whole person as the unity of integration, action, realization and projection; a pedagogy that focus in the growth of the whole personal formation. I am choosing to embrace thinking and learning as part of something more important for me as teacher: the learning of how to develop all the processes of personal formation better. My integractive pedagogy and my integractive philosophy affirms the growth of the whole personal formation, not only the growth of knowledge by its own. The knowledge growth is part of the personal formation’s growth.

What “integractive” means? It includes the union of four terms: “integration”, “action”, “realization” and “obration”. Those are the four processes that compose the personal formation. Each one have a formative dynamic (a dynamic that every human being embraces while completing that formative process) and a formative task (a task that every human being commits with while completing that formative process). Let’s explaining them each one:

Integration constitutes the three dimensions of personal formation: the organic dimension (how do I live everyday? How is my corporal being?), the ontological dimension (how do I know the being? How is my rational being?) and the filial dimension (how do I relate with others? How is my social being?). The formative dynamic of integration is information, and its formative task is helping to be.

Action develops the three factors, the four expressions and the four moral standards of personal formation. The three factors are: thoughts (what I am thinking?), emotions (what I am feeling?) and skills (what I am doing?). The four expressions are intention (which is my motivation?), disposition (which is my attitude?), signification (which is my meaning?) and volition (which is my determination?).  The four moral standards are prudence (why I am judging this action appropriately?), temperance (why I am tempering this action appropriately?), courage (why I am confronting this action appropriately?) and justice (why I am undertaking this action appropriately?). The formative dynamic of action is conformation and its formative task is helping to do.

Realization generates the three causes of personal formation: create communion (to whom I give myself?), create family (to whom I belong?) and create community (to whom I serve?). The formative dynamic of realization is transformation and its formative task is helping to grow.

Obration projects the four keys of personal formation: vital identity (whose objectives makes me love more?), vital vocation (whose objectives makes me live with more freedom?), vital communication (whose objectives makes me give more life?) and vital perfection (whose objectives makes me happier?). The formative dynamic of obration is reformation and its formative task is helping to radiate.

Integration, action, realization and projection in unity form integraction: the process of becoming who we are and who we are called to be.

How does integraction can be applied to education by me as teacher as integractive learning?

Integration: All these dimensions must be taken into consideration in the classroom. I as teacher must take care of and teach how to take care of the corporal being, the rational being and the social being in an integrated way.

Action: I must exercise thoughts, emotions and skills in unity. Learning must help my student to determine their own intentions, dispositions, signification and volition. Moral standards must be applied in the classroom.

Realization: learning must help my students to create communion, to create family and to create community.

Obration: learning must help my students to project their own objectives.

How does the different psychological, philosophical and sociological learning theories can be applied through integraction, forming an integractive philosophy of education? Let’s analyze that one by one, because each one can enrich integraction in some way or other.

Psychological Learning Theories

Bandura: the social learning theory and the social cognitive theory can be applied to integraction in the importance of assuming models as important source for learning how to think better, how to control emotions and how to acquire skills: we can learn them through observing others.

Vygotsky: the socio-cultural learning can be applied to integraction in understanding how we learn from others: we learn through cultural interaction. Our culture transmits us ways of thinking, feeling and doing things. Our learning is collaboratively: we lean by interacting.

Gardner: the theory of multiple intelligences can be applied to integraction in understanding how the action of learning develops according to our intelligence. intelligence is not a quantity that can be measured by an IQ but the development of our thoughts, coordinated as actions, in this case learning actions. There are eight intelligences: the linguistic intelligence, the logical-mathematical intelligence, the intrapersonal intelligence, the interpersonal intelligence, the musical intelligence, the visual-spatial intelligence and the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

Goleman: the theory of emotional intelligence can be applied to integraction in understanding the role of emotions in the action. Emotions can define how and what we learn, they can help us to stablish priorities and to determine most of our daily actions. EI or EQ is the ability to recognize, understand our own emotions, and to recognize, understand and influence other’ emotions.

Piaget: the theory of cognitive development can be applied to integraction in understanding how we know. Piaget believed that children experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment, adjusting their ideas accordingly. Piaget proposes four cognitive stages: sensorimotor, pre-operational, operational concrete and operational formal.

Bruner: Bruner’s cognitive development theory can be applied to integraction in understanding the information processing. According to Brunner’s learning of discovery, students learn better through a process of guided discovery, motivated by curiosity. The teacher will provide the necessary material for stimulating the knowledge’s discovery of his students. He proposes three systems of information processing that the student uses to construct models of reality: actions, images and language. He proposes three learning modes: enactive learning (from birth until the first year; codifying information based in actions, learning actions), iconic learning (from the first year until six years; codifying information based in images, learning through imagination) and symbolic learning (seven years and beyond; codifying information through symbols, learning through symbolizing).

Kolhberg: Kolhberg’s theory of moral development can be applied to integraction in understanding how moral standards can be used in the learning process. The moral judgement that makes possible the reflection of the own values is a cognitive process that is ordered in a logic hierarchy. There are three stages of moral development: preconventional (four to eleven years, they act according external controls), conventional moral (adolescence and most adults, they act according what is socially accepted) and postconventional moral (some adults, they act according that is good for the whole society). Promoting moral development must be founded in socialization and early interaction practices in which respect and justice are present. The first morality source are those who are nearest the student.

Rogers: I think that Roger’s theory is the one I am most aligned with as integractive teacher. Roger’s theory of learner-centered learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding of integractive growth. In order to a student be able to grow he needs to be in an authentic environment (an environment with openness and auto-revelation), he needs to be unconditionally accepted (being seen with an unconditionally positive vision) and he needs empathy (being heard and understood). The teacher is learning’s facilitator. Each student reacts according to his experience.

Maslow: Maslow’s theory of humanist learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding of motivation. If the student’s basic needs are satisfied, he will be able to learn and satisfy his upper needs. The five level of student’s needs are: physiological, safety, filiation, recognition and auto-realization. Maslow proposes a learning that is meaningful and alive, defining it as the process that modifies the perception that individuals have from reality, deriving in the reorganization of the “I”.

Erickson: theory of psycho-social learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding the healthy development of the students. For Erickson persons must go through eight stages of psycho-social development in order to achieve a healthy development. The first stage is trust vs mistrust (birth until eighteen months, the capacity of trusting in others is developed according to the trust to the parents). The second stage is autonomy vs shame and doubt (eighteen months to three or four years, autonomy begins to be affirmed). The third stage is initiative vs guilt (three or four years to five or six year, new abilities are learned and the child feels useful). The fourth stage is industry vs inferiority (six to twelve years, the trust in the capacity of achieving goals is developed). The fifth stage is identity vs role confusion (adolescence to eighteen or twenty years, the identity is formed). The sixth stage is intimacy vs isolation (eighteen or twenty years to thirty years, satisfactory relationships are stablished). The seventh stage is productivity vs stagnation (thirty years until late adulthood, something is given to society). The eight and last stage is ego integrity vs despair (late adulthood to death, life is accepted). Failing in completing a stage means having less capacity of completing another stage, achieving a less healthy identity.

Ausubel: Ausubel’s theory of meaningful learning can be applied to integraction understanding the importance of what is meaningful to the student for creating knowledge. As we learn meaningfully the new information connects to a relevant concept already existent in the cognitive structure. New knowledge transforms the cognitive structure, creating cognitive schemas that make possible the retention of meaningful new material.

Bronfrenbrenner: Bronfrenbrenner’s ecological social theory can be applied to integraction in the understanding of the importance of environment. The ecological social theory states that students learn in four environmental levels: microsystem (the environment that is immediate to the student), mesosystem (the environment where the student develops), exosystem (the environmental contexts that does not include the own student as active subject) and the macrosystem (the environmental culture). The environment influences the cognitive, moral and relational development of the student.

Philosophical Learning Theories

Dewey: Dewey’s philosophical vision of useful earning can be applied in the learning action of integraction. For Dewey knowledge arises from an active adaptation of the human organism to its environment. Education develops useful skills for living in society and eradicates negative traits of society. Learning is adjusting to changing reality. School is an embryo of democracy.

Montessori: Montesori’s philosophical vision of natural learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding of development. Children have an innate path of learning. Children who are at liberty to choose and act freely within a learning environment prepared according to her model would act spontaneously for optimal education.

Freire: Freire’s philosophical vision of liberating learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding of vital vocation. Freire uses the term “banking model of education” to describe the traditional education system. The name refers to the metaphor of students as containers into which educators must put knowledge. According to Freire this model reinforces a lack of critical thinking and true knowledge in students, which creates opresion. For Freire knowledge is the result of a human, creative process, and education must become a political process in each country, because evert human being is making politics in any space he is.

Freire propone que la educación debe de convertirse en un proceso político en cada país, pues cada sujeto hace política desde cualquier espacio donde se encuentre.

Hostos: Hostos’ philosophical  vision of moral learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding of the moral standards. For Hostos the final aim of the human being is accomplished in moral, but in order to humanity achieve a fully moral existence education is necessary. When reason is educated, the conscience is educated, and the conscience induces goodness.

Sociological Learning Theories

Durkheim: Durkheim’s functional theory and functional learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding if how we relate with others. This theory proposes the cohesion of vital social institutions: school, family, government agencies, private institutions… According to Durkheim Education performs two major functions: transmitting the shared values of society and simultaneously teaching the specialized skills for an economy based on a specialized division of labor. Education must create a sense of belonging to a wider society, a sense of commitment to the importance of working towards society’s goals and a feeling that the society is more important than the individual.

Weber: Weber’s conflictive theory and problem-resolution learning can be applied to integraction in the understanding of how we relate with others. The solution of problems creates more vigorous societies. Learning opportunities are correlational with socioeconomical status.

Spencer: Spencer’s social Darwinism theory and evolutive learning can be applied to integraction in the Understanding of how we relate with others. It is important that each member of society learns how to realize his function efficiently. Spencer applies natural selection to education: he believes in the survival of the fittest and that Darwin’s theory of evolution can also be applied to human societies. For Spencer society is the product of change from lower to higher forms.

Banks: Banks’ theory of equality and multicultural learning can be applied to integraction in the Understanding of how we relate with others. Banks proposes five dimensions of multicultural education: content integration, knowledge construction (helping the student understand), equity pedagogy (teachers change their methods to enable kids from diverse racial groups and both genders to achieve), prejudice reduction (using teaching methods to help kids develop more positive racial attitudes) and empowering school culture and social structure (changing the total school culture to see how to make it more equitable).

It is not my mission as a teacher to determine for my students with of these theories, or any other one, they use to inform, conform, transform and reform themselves. I am only an instrument to help them determine that by themselves, in order to become the best person they can be and the person they are meant to be according to their own integractive project (personal formation project). As I said, for me the purpose of education is helping everyone to growth up to their best personal formation possible and design their own integractive project for their lives. For me, a teacher is a person capable of helping to be, helping to do, helping to grow and helping to radiate.

An integractive philosophy of education have some consequences in my style of teaching English as Second Language (ESL).

How the learning of ESL fits into my general purpose of education? Learning ESL helps the person to integrate, act, realize and project in a more personal enriched way. Learning a second language gives the student the opportunity to communicate better, to think more creatively and to aport a more enriched personal formation to the community. Learning ESL gives the student the choice of pursuing more dreams and achieving more personal objectives.

Which is the learning structure of my ESL classroom? I strongly believe in learning diversity and in personal formation-focused learning, so I am acquainted with different second language learning approaches and I apply the second language learning methods to the diverse personal formation processes. The three second language learning methods that I use most are the communicative method (learning the second language through completing communication tasks in the classroom), the audio-lingual method (learning the second language through practicing auditive-speaking skills in the classroom) and the natural method (learning the second language following the natural order of human language learning). Although I am fond of using all the second language learning methods possible, the grammar-traduction method is the one I like less because it gives the wrong idea of what a language is (language is not only learning grammar), because it creates frustration, because it does not motivate creativity and because I am unable to learn languages through that method. I usually apply second language learning with the discussion of concrete readings, like picture books, bilingual books, fantasy books, etc., in order get the ESL learners used to processing information by their own. I strongly believe that learners acquire and develop a second language through application in the personal formation: thinking in the second language, communicating in the second language, creating in the second language… All the personal action factors (thoughts, emotions and skills) need to be involved in the second language learning.

How does the structure of my ESL learning methods affect the teaching and student learning? The focus in the personal formation makes my structure learner-centered and the strategy of using diverse second language methods makes my structure learner-inclusive. That affects my teaching style because that means that I depend on what my students need to grow more as persons and to learn the second language better, and I also depend on which second language learning methods help more my students in order to build my ESL lesson plans. I am a strong advocate of including technology in the second language learning lesson plans, because persons need technology to engage with today’s world. If my students do not have technology available in their homes, I make it present in the classroom with the school’s resources or with my own resources (bringing my own computer, taking the students to the computer room of the school and teaching them how to use technology in their diverse second language learning tasks…).

As ESL teacher, my role is helping to be, helping to do, helping to grow and helping to radiate my students using ESL. My academic preparation helps me a lot to accomplish that, but humanity is also needed. In any necessarily bilingual living setting, like Puerto Rico and multicultural communities along US where English and Spanish are both spoken, this academic and human role is very necessary. Multicultural families need spaces where their children can learn to communicate and function properly in ESL. Families can help the school a lot in that process by integrating ESL in their daily lives. For example: movies and TV can be seen in English if available.

ESL teacher can do wonders in the task of helping to be, helping to do, helping to grow and helping to radiate Hispanic and Puerto Rican students using ESL, integrating both Latin American and Anglo American cultures. In our times we need to be personal integractors: persons that integrate, act, realize and radiate the best they can be in all the languages they can speak.