By Sonya D. Lavett
Teaching philosophies require that instructors create a teaching philosophy statement and submit that along with their credentials as a way to express what they believe about learning and teaching. Self-reflection is a guiding process that enhances how teachers engage with their students.
But what about a learning philosophy for students? At the beginning of most degree programs, students are encouraged or required to take part in an orientation course that helps them delve deep and define their own unique learning philosophy. To that end, students think about the way they think and learn and then apply this knowledge to a plan that will increase their potential for success.
Knowing oneself and how information is best interpreted and understood is a major component in developing keen insight. Through self-discovery, amazing things can happen. If there is no actual assignment in a course that encourages this behavior, why not participate in some self-reflection outside of the classroom and create your own assignment? No grading required, but you can use it to stay on track throughout your degree program.
This goes beyond determining if you are an auditory learner or a kinesthetic learner. Knowing how you process information is just one important way that you come to understand yourself better. Here are some sample questions to ask when designing a learning philosophy for yourself:
- What do I need to know about myself in order to study this topic/industry and then go on to perform?
- What are my most important values?
- What are my authentic interests?
- What am I passionate about and, more importantly, why am I passionate about this?
- What resources do I have/can I develop that will further the learning process?
- What real life opportunities can I make available to myself that will strengthen my skillset?
- What ways do I evaluate information and then decide on a course of action?
- What problems need solving where I can combine what I learn in class with my life experience to begin tackling an issue?
For seekers of knowledge, many discover that there are no hard and fast answers in life, but merely a path to continue asking more involved questions and getting closer to a potential “truth.”
Now more than ever, as technology allows us access to a vast, seemingly endless amount of information on a daily basis, it is so important to understand how that information is filtered and then determine what to do with all of it.
Just like instructors, understanding how you approach learning, what it means to learn, and how you process information is a helpful tool in your journey of self-discovery and defining your personal philosphy.