Teacher's Reflection, Liberal Arts and Social Justice | Free Essay Example

Teacher’s Reflection, Liberal Arts and Social Justice

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Topic: Education
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Reflection

Research indicates that when we reflect on our individual actions and thoughts, this often enable us to internalize and process information in a more efficient manner. Through reflection, an individual is not only able to take into account the elements of an experience(s), but also how such an experience has impacted on them, as well as the lessons learned out of such an experience (Reed & Koliba, 1995).

As such, through a reflection on the past, we are in fact trying to prevent the occurrence of past mistakes (Posner, 1996). In learning, reflection helps us to internalize that which we have learned. In the absence of such a reflection, there is a higher likelihood of us losing the information gained (Reed and Koliba, 1995). Through reflection, we achieve thorough growth and learning. Reed and Koliba (1995) opine that self learning not only enables us to become more productive, but is also very fulfilling. Dewey (as cited in Hatton & Smith, 1995) considered reflection to be a special way through which problems could be solved.

Therefore, reflection has been regarded by many scholars as a special type of thought. Nonetheless, Dewey’s ideas could be seen as supporting both the reflective actions as well as reflective thinking. The use of reflection by a teacher in the process of writing and thinking enables him/her to reflect on how effective a lesson is. On the other hand, it enables a learner to take their time in internalizing information whey such a learner is requested to, for example, write a reflective essay.

Liberal arts education

Liberal art is a term used in reference to a curriculum whose aim is to impart into the learner’s general knowledge, in addition to aiding in the development of their intellectual capabilities and rational thought (Blaich et al, 2004). In this respect, liberal arts may be seen as a departure from the vocational, technical, and professional curricula that stresses more on specialization. The study of such subjects as languages, history, literature, mathematics, science, and philosophy constitutes the contemporary liberal arts.

Looked at from another perspective, liberal art education refers to a study program that has been designed in such a manner as to enhance analytical capacity, problem solving, critical reflection, computation, communication, as well as knowledge synthesis from a variety of disciplines (Harris, 2010).

Therefore, liberal arts education is intended to equip the students with social, historical and intellectual context so that they may be able to better recognize the continuity between on the one hand, the past and on the other hand, the future, in addition to the ability to drawing on an individual’s capacity of reason in understanding the human experience., in addition, liberal arts allows the learners to question the human enterprises’ dimensional values, not to mention an a clarification of the results of their thinking process.

On the other hand, transformative education entails change, as manifested by the periodic reaction to the teaching perspective with a view to promoting students’ learning. Nonetheless, transformative learning transcends beyond just merely advocating for change. In this respect, transformative learning gives priority to teachers and their work by opting to view them as a point of central focus in helping to facilitate learning through productive pedagogies. As a result, teachers turn into change agents. In order to perform this role, they often forge links with members of the community in an endeavor aimed at engaging the classroom in student-driven authentic context.

Transformative education entails the application of teaching programs whose activities are authentic, community-based, and in which students play a participatory role in the process of identification and planning of curriculum outcomes. Moreover, transformative learning enables a teacher to model the process of learning in such a manner as to allow students to reinforce the positive outcomes of the process. If we endeavor to assess transformative education from such a perspective, it therefore becomes clear to us that it is a good foundation that enables us to put into practice the aforementioned approach into our educational system.

Liberal arts are important in helping to prepare teachers during their training program. Due to the generality of the liberal arts curriculum, what this means is that we are in a position to produce teachers who are knowledgeable in a wide variety of disciplines. There are a number of benefits of the liberal arts education, including the ability to assist students gain a better understanding of the physical and natural world around them, in addition to the things that ennoble and beautify life, including the creative arts and literature (Creighton, 2005).

In particular, liberal arts enable a student in their endeavor to pursue knowledge on some of the questions that have remained a challenge to mankind, such as the issue of a just society, and what entails the best life (Soka University of America, 2010). The main objective of the liberal arts is to produce individuals whose deed and speech are thoughtful. Since the liberal arts entail a well rounded education in the various disciplines, students are therefore prepared to embrace graduate work in diverse fields.

As such, they are able to pursue such future careers as in the fields of diplomacy, business, teaching, and medicine. By studying the liberal arts, the human dimension is also incorporated into the different education specializations, in effect establishing a string base for global citizenship, not to mention the process of preparing the students to take part in effective dialogue with individuals from various parts of the globe, as well as from diverse cultural settings.

If at all individuals aspires to succeed in the place of work in the years to come, they require more than just a mere technical training. However, liberal arts education could be regarded as by far the most practical approach in helping to prepare students for lifelong employment. This is because liberal arts education enhances personal and intellectual growth, in addition to equipping the individual with the necessary skills and techniques that allows them to handle change by enabling them to adapt to a working environment that is characterized by constant change. For some people, liberal arts education is nothing more than a fuzzy term.

In this respect, it is often viewed as a handicap to technical training, an approach that a majority of the people regards as the best strategy to prepare students for the job market. On the other hand, we may want to view liberal arts education as a vital key for the survival of individuals in any field due to the constant changes that are now a characteristic of the workplace.

Social Justice

Rizvi (1998) argues that we should desist from viewing social justice as a static or timeless concept, and instead attempt to look at it as a reflection of a society’s changing economic and social conditions. In teacher education, there are a number of conditions that hinders social justice. To start with, Moultry (1998) infers that a majority of the pre-service educators are yet to admit that racism is indeed a problem.

Their entry into the teaching profession is not therefore with a view to ensuring the attainment of a more just society, but for other reasons (Carpenter, 2000). One might then wonder how the issue of social justice affects education. To start with, it is important to note that in 1971, the white teacher candidates were at 88%, a figure than increased in 1996 to 90.7%. On the other hand, in 1971, the black teacher candidates were at 8.1 %, and in 1996, they had increased to 7.3%. At the same time, the teacher education faculty was estimated to have been between 87 and 90 percent during this same period (Carpenter, 2000).

To the pre-service educators, Whiteness for example, is not seen as a culture, and as a result, they fail to reflect on their individual plight as a privileged lot, thanks to their racial background as Whites (Carpenter, 2000).

In addition, there is the tendency by these pre-service educators to resists changing any form of beliefs that they may have incorporated into the teaching practice, not to mention that they are especially opposed to any beliefs that are likely to be imposed on them (Carpenter, 2000). There is the need for pre-service educators to try and reflect on how their racial background, attitudes towards sexism, racism, as well as additional issues of inequality and injustice may result in a development of biasness while executing their duties. This is with a view to ensuring that they become effective teachers while working with students from different ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds.

Reference List

Blaich, C., Bost, A., Chan, E., & Lynch, R. (2004). Defining Liberal Arts Education. New York: Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts.

Carpenter, H. (2000). An ethnographic study of teacher candidate’s educator resistance to multiculturalism: Implications for teaching. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Creighton, J. V. (2005). Liberal arts education more important than ever. Web.

Harris, R. On the purpose of a liberal arts education. Web.

Hatton, N. and Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher education: towards definition and implementation. Web.

Moultry (1998). Senior education students’ attitudes about multicultural education. In C. Head (Ed.), Multicultural education: Knowledge and perceptions (pp. 116-136) Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.

Posner, G. J. (1996). Field experience : A guide to reflective teaching. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Reed, J., and Koliba, C. (1995). Facilitating reflection. Web.

Rizvi, F. (1998). Some thoughts on contemporary theories of social justice. In B. Atwah, S. Kemmis, & P, Weeks (Eds.), Action research in practice: Partnerships for social justice (pp. 47 – 56). New York: Routledge.

Soka University of America. (2010) Benefits of a liberal arts degree. Web.