Philosophy of life
In 2008 I wrote about “my philosophy of life and its ramifications for education”. I can still feel the passion of those days, although sometimes life stifles the energy a little bit. Some of the scenes have changed radically: kids took place of the early bike rides; I started and finished the Masters program I wrote this essay for; over the past 12 years I have taught 3 grade levels, 2 specialties in 3 different schools in a public school district. And I live in fear the cynicism around me will extinguish my flame. Reading ideas I wrote years ago is always bittersweet. It hurts to realize I have not been able to carry on all of my dreams and plans, but I find it so important to remember my idealistic self, to reconnect with my heart and not forget who truly I am, hidden under the pile of laundry and books and dishes and toys and grading papers and groceries and late nights catching up with life. Well, here it is. Who I am under the layers.
“What is your philosophy of life and what are its ramifications for education?”
I often present myself as idealist, naïve, immature or romantic due to my goal of following
my heart. Each job I take or leave, each course I attend, each choice I make comes from the desire
to live with passion. My focus on making each day enjoyable and fulfilling is what keeps me biking
to work even if I have to wake up 2 hours earlier to get there in time; nothing gives me the
sensation of being free, alive and healthy as watching the sunrise from my bicycle every morning
while feeling the cold wind blowing on my face.
When I chose to study Psychology at the age of 17 I also followed my heart. At the time I
did not think about how I would practice, or about how much money I would make. In college I
really meant to study the ways of the human mind because it intrigued me and it fascinated me.
After a few years of study I began to see the possible uses of psychology, and I developed an idea
of how I would like to use what I had learned to help others improve their lives: I wanted to work
with education. Children are intense in their being in the world and in their constant and evident
pursuit of pleasure. The education I had growing up was used mainly as the tamer of that pursuit.
Nevertheless, I maintained my belief of education as an ally of pleasure. My personal experience
learning other languages in travels to different countries, figuring out the wonders of chemistry and the sense of mathematics through cooking, and understanding the limits of the human body as
result of my own misadventures showed me the learning process can – and should – have its
foundations on life and on enjoyable experiences, guiding us to develop the tools to better follow
our heart. On the other hand, education as socialization process demands that on our path to
chasing our ideals we leave room for others to follow their own as well.
Being true to my heart led me to work as a preschool teacher, as coordinator in a language
center, as a child psychoanalyst, and as a cooking teacher. Over the years I gathered information, I
had precious interactions with other people and I learned theories that helped me develop my own
set of values concerning education, child development and mental health. I find the basis of these
values closely related to my ideal of following my heart in my own life, namely truthfulness to one’s
own self – one in this case being each person involved, the child, the parent and the professional.
When I decided to study Early Childhood Education at PCC as a means to formalize the
knowledge I had acquired in practice, I was surprised to find other professionals who held the
same belief I did, the belief that education should follow children’s interests, their desires and their
needs; rather than train them to become adults we should allow them time to develop into adults
while feeding their curiosity with experiences to challenge their minds, with support to enrich their
spirits and with environments to keep their bodies healthy.
In this process of studying at PCC and working in their Child Development Center, every
so often I go through very intense times when something I learn either from an instructor, a student
or a peer teacher challenges my established knowledge. The idea of seeing my students as people
rather than boys or girls is a recently acquired asset to my set of beliefs, which came from
discussions I had with one of my mentors and put my view of the world upside down for about six
months until I could digest it and think about it, talk about it and write about it. In that sense my
philosophy of life does not ramify into my philosophy of education; my philosophy of life is my philosophy of education – and vice versa. There is very little in my life that does not apply to my
stance as a teacher and almost every thing I experience as a teacher significantly adds to my life. It
is because I believe in love, in honesty, and in living life as close to my dream as possible that I
chose education as my profession. And it is because I have education as my profession that I
manage to believe in love, in honesty and in living life as close to my dream as possible. Every day
I see little people who couldn’t fake a smile if they wanted to, people who cry when it hurts, but also
people who need my help to turn these gut reactions into words that will communicate them to the
rest of the world and that will allow them to be understood. They need my help to provide them with
materials and experiences they are still too short lived to find on their own. Seeing their “oooohhhh”
eyes is what certifies me I live a fulfilling life every day.