Philosophy of Education & quotes

I teach because I love engaging individuals and communities of learners in discovery and invention, reflection, and problem solving. To be successful, I must be sincerely interested in each student's well-being. I believe that excellent teachers exhibit passion for four things; learning, their fields, their students, and teaching. Love of teaching is evidenced by the respect we show our students, challenging them by setting high, yet realistic expectations, and providing them the support to achieve these. Learning happens when students observe our passion - "wanting-it" - and come to want-it themselves. We can’t give students an education – it must be earned – but we can provide them opportunities to be challenged and prove themselves.

My objective is to nurture a student’s capacity for openness and receptivity to their own and one another’s passions. I must connect with my students - the more I learn about them, the more I can help them. I seek to create a community of learners who help each other achieve their best; and to do so, I must remove as many obstacles to their interest as possible.

quotes from Parker Palmer's book – The Courage To Teach

“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. Bad teachers distance themselves from the subject they are teaching-and in the process, from their students. Good teachers join self and subject and students in the fabric of life.” 

Teachers and students alike can hide behind the pretense of objectivity but we must admit that everything is subjective and necessarily consists of multiple viewpoints. “Objectivism causes fear. When we distance ourselves from something, it becomes an object; when it becomes an object, it no longer has life; when it is lifeless, it cannot touch or transform us, so our knowledge of the thing remains pure. That is why music, art, and dance are at the bottom of the academic pecking order and the “hard” sciences are at the top.”


favorite quotes

Achievement - The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. Michelangelo 

A preoccupation with achievement is not only different from, but often detrimental to, a focus on learning. Thoughts and emotions while performing an action are more important in determining subsequent engagement than the actual outcome of that action. Alfie Kohn

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Albert Einstein

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple. C. W. Ceran

Maximum difficulty isn’t the same as optimal difficulty. Alfie Kohn

Success is mine when I work my hardest to become my best, and I alone determine whether I do so. John Wooden

Paradoxically, if you erase success from your mind, you are more likely to be successful. GS

Educational success should be measured by how strong your desire is to keep learning. Alfie Kohn

John Dewey insisted that education should be seen as a process of living and not a preparation for future living.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Character is how you react to things. Reputation is what people say you are. John Wooden

Adversity - There is no education like adversity. Benjamin Disraeli

Artistic Greatness - Being your best when your best is needed. The ability to enjoy challenges when things become difficult and to derive exhilaration from them. John Wooden

Aristotle - We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.

Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skills to do difficult things easily. Jim Tressel

Assessment - Assessments should compare the performance of students to a set of expectations, never to the performance of other students. Alfie Kohn

Grades are a subjective rating masquerading as an objective evaluation. Alfie Kohn

We learn most readily, most naturally, most effectively, when we start with the big picture – precisely when the basics don’t come first. Alfie Kohn 

In reference to right answers -  Knowing is a process, not a product. Jerome Burner

We have so much to cover and so little time to cover it. Howard Gardner refers to curriculum coverage as the single greatest enemy of understanding. Think instead about ideas to be discovered. Alfie Kohn

What is wrong with encouraging students to put “how well they’re doing” ahead of “what they’re doing.” An impressive and growing body of research suggests that this emphasis (1) undermines students’ interest in learning, (2) makes failure seem overwhelming, (3) leads students to avoid challenging themselves, (4) reduces the quality of learning, and (5) invites students to think about how smart they are instead of how hard they tried. Alfie Kohn  

No one is an overachiever. How can you rise above your level of competency? Everyone is an underachiever to different degrees. The harder you work, the more luck you will have. John Wooden 

Don’t measure yourself by what you’ve accomplished, but rather by what you should have accomplished with your abilities. Past success does not guarantee future success. John Wooden

Jerome Bruner said that we should try to create an environment where students can experience success and failure not as reward and punishment, but as information.

Attitude - Transform each negative thought into a positive one; for only we choose our thoughts. GS

Each problem is an opportunity in disguise. Wayne Dyer

Your attitude is a choice. John Maxwell

There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you. John Wooden 

There are different kinds of motivation, and the kind matters more than the amount. Alfie Kohn regarding intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation 

A passion for learning…isn’t something you have to inspire with; it’s something you have to keep from extinguishing. Deborah Meier

Social psychology has found the more you reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Alfie Kohn

Awareness - Relaxed awareness, not effort, is what brings success. Mirka Knaster

My task is really not to change myself but to become familiar with who I am. Maureen Cook

To be aware is the unity of knowing and doing. Seymour Kleinman

When we truly sense what we are doing, that’s when we have a choice, that’s where change takes place. Sandra Bain Cushman 

Mastery is the natural result of mindfulness. Ron Kurtz

The intention of each lesson is getting you to recognize what you’re doing, kinesthetically. Once you’re conscious of it, you then can choose whether to continue doing the same thing or not. F. M. Alexander.

Certainty - Certainty abolishes hope, and robs us of renewal. Neil Postman 

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln

Cooperation – To get cooperation, you must give cooperation. Always seek to find the best way rather than insisting on your own way. John Wooden 

Concentration comes not from trying hard to focus on something, but from keeping your mind open and directing it at nothing. Suzuki Roshi

Being fully present in each and every moment. Jim Tressel

Confidence - Poise and confidence are not possible unless you have prepared correctly. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Poise and confidence are a natural result of proper preparation. John Wooden

Contentment - The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with you opinions and content with you knowledge. Elbert Hubbard

Critical thinking - An educated mind is practiced in the uses of reason, which inevitably leads to a skeptical outlook. Neil Postman

Criticism – The purpose is to help, to prevent, to correct, to improve, rather than to punish. Criticism is not meant to punish, but rather to correct something that is preventing better results. The only goal is improvement. John Wooden

If we were humble, nothing would change us--neither praise nor discouragement. Mother Teresa

An artist who lacks the power of self-criticism accomplishes but little. It is good if your work stands higher than your own opinion of it; bad if it is on the same level. But it is a great disaster if your work stands lower than your judgment of it. Leonardo da Vinci

Education - The very essence of school is elitism. Schools exist to teach, to test, to rank hierarchically to promote the idea that knowing and understanding more is better than knowing and understanding less. William A. Henry III

Education of the body - The essence of education is the education of the body. Benjamin Disreali

Ironically, we are all too often educated out of rather than in to an awareness of the body. Jean Houston.

Matter over mind is just as valid as mind over matter. Mirka Knaster

Fairness - Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn’t mean treating everyone alike. That is unfair, because everyone doesn’t earn the same treatment. John Wooden

The fact is that some people are better than others – smarter, harder working, more learned, more productive, harder to replace. William A. Henry III

Opportunity does not need to be exactly equal. It needs only to exist. For the talented and motivated, that will be enough…The vital thing is not to maximize everyone’s performance, but to ensure maximal performance from the most talented, the ones who can make a difference. William A. Henry III

There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of students of unequal potential. Plato

Goals - Goals should be difficult to achieve because those achieved with little effort are seldom appreciated, give little personal satisfaction, and are often not very worthwhile. There is a price to be paid for achieving anything of significance. John Wooden

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. Tao Te Ching

Success is a journey, not a destination. Ben Sweetland

Replace end-gaining with being inclined to see what unfolds. Mirka Knaster

Patience is power. Chinese proverb

Initiative - Having the courage to make decisions and take action. Never be afraid to fail. You have nothing to fear if you have prepared to the best of your ability. John Wooden

I believe that when we write things down, we begin the process of activating the fundamentals in our lives. Jim Tressel

Learning is discovering that something is possible. Fritz Perls 

Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. GS

Management Teaching requires the consent of students, and discontent will not be chased away by the exercise of power. John Nicholls

The whole art of government consist in the art of being honest. Thomas Jefferson

Mistakes - No mistakes, no experience; no experience, no wisdom. Stanley Godstein

Music fundamentals - The simplest things in music are the ones that count. The simplest thing are, of course, also the most difficult to achieve and take years of work. Pablo Casals

Persistence - Everything that happens--good and bad--should motivate you to be persistent. Jim Tressel

Poise - Being yourself; not acting. You therefore can function near your own level of competence. Satisfy you own expectations rather than those of others. John Wooden

Practice - The two difficult things about practicing are getting started and not stopping. GS

Pressure – All that matters is the pressure you put on yourself. External pressures cause people to choke. While you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you react. John Wooden

You can respect a person without necessarily liking that individual. John Wooden

Skill – Ability to execute a task quickly and properly - your technique. I would much rather have a lot of skill and little experience than a lot of experience and a little skill. John Wooden

The SAT is useless for evaluating changes in academic performance, and any educator, journalist, or politician who uses SAT results as an index of change in educational achievement does so in ignorance or for reasons that must be considered suspect. Michael Kibby Standardized testing - 

Students who ace these tests are often those who are least interested in learning and most superficially engaged in what they are doing. Alfie Kohn

The simplest things in music are the ones that count. The simplest things are, of course, also the most difficult to achieve and take years of work. Pablo Casals, cellist

Strength – Tension - Movement

Strength that has effort in it is not what you need; you need the strength that is the result of ease. Ida Rolf

The soft overcomes the hard. The slow overcomes the fast. Tao Te Ching 

The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. Tao Te Ching 

Every muscular rigidity contains the history and the meaning of its origin. Wilhelm Reich

Any activity that is learned with excessive tension always will be carried out with excessive tension, and any change predicated on tension can lead only to more tension. Judith Leibowitz.

The only thing permanent about behavior patterns is our belief that they are so. Moshe Fedenkrais 

Movements are expressions of people’s beliefs about and strategies for handling themselves and the world. Paul Linden

Success There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love.  There’s only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen. Wayne Dyer

Your circumstances do not determine what your life will be; they reveal what kinds of images you have chosen up until now. Wayne Dyer

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it. Dalai Lama

Talent is the ability to persistently act on a passion for a particular subject. GS

Teaching - They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Jim Tressel

Teamwork - TEAM - Together, Everyone, Achieves, More - Jim Tressel

A gifted player, who is not a team player, will ultimately hurt the team. John Wooden 

Before a vision (dream) can become a reality, it must be owned by every member of the group. Phil Jackson

Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender to “me” for the “we”. Phil Jackson

The sign of a great player is how much he elevates his colleagues’ performance. Phil Jackson

Being a team player should not imply a demand for simple obedience and conformity. Alfie Kohn 

Teamwork is not a matter of persuading people to set aside personal ambitions for the greater good. It’s a matter of recognizing that your personal ambitions and the ambitions of the team are one and the same. Pat Summitt

Great teams have two vital ingredients: love for one another and discipline. Dr. Pat "Doc" Spurgeon

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a process; working together is success. Henry Ford

There is no delight in owning anything unshared. Seneca

You do not come to rehearsal to learn your part, you come to learn everyone else’s. John Venesky

Technique is the immediate and precise response of the body to directives sent out by the mind. Ivan Galamian

Time management - Watching television requires no skills and develops no skills. That is why there is no such thing as remedial television-watching. Neil Postman

Visualization Nothing happens but unless first a dream. Carl Sandburg.

Work. Albert Einstein – three rules of work

    1. Out of clutter, find simplicity

    2. From discord, find harmony

    3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity

The journey is the reward. Chinese proverb.

Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform at our best. Michael Jordan