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Cara Summerfield, M.Ed. M.A.


Education/Training Philosophy

The foundation of the progressive teaching philosophy is to promote societal well-being, enhance individual effectiveness in society, and to give learners practical knowledge and problem solving skills.  I feel that self-confidence and successful problem solving go hand in hand.  Therefore, by using problem solving as a structure for writing assignments, my students not only are given the opportunity to develop their self-confidence, but to also develop their problem solving skills.

It is very clear that education theories are based upon expectations that will provide a successful end result.  How is this result accomplished?  Is it something as simple as giving students assignments with limited direction?  I think not.  When looking at the writing process, I have discovered it is based on feeling and inner stirrings of the individual. 

Writing begins with a creative thought.  As feeling human beings, there is no place for analysis when being creative, as creativity is founded upon feeling and insight.  As soon as rules, judgments, or morality comes in, creativity is tarnished.  When handled from a humanistic viewpoint, an open, liberal process can assist in the development of confidence of the individual when the development is supported by the instructor.

In every academic course, the writing activity is required.  It is a personal process that touches the very core of a person.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most intriguing and intimate processes that one may experience.  Process pedagogy focuses on the recognition of the human spirit.  If students write from their inner spirit, then and only then can a student really develop or even recognize their own voice in their writing.  The ability to recognize one’s own voice is important because it portrays the true spirit of the writer.  Therefore, for a student to be free enough to let his or her own voice show there must be a level of confidence that does not restrict ideas or thoughts of the individual.  I must care about not only the student’s writing ability, but my level of confidence in my own writing.  If I am feeling less than adequate, it would be difficult for me to guide my students in the right direction.

I believe that the instructor is just as instrumental in helping students to develop emotionally, spiritually, and mentally as a psychologist or minister.  The proof of how much caring is offered is found in the student’s writing.   If I care about my student’s confidence, the student will find freedom within the writing process and be free to explore their inner selves.  By exploring their inner selves, they find the necessary confidence to go out in the world and make miracles happen.  However, focusing on their level of confidence may cause me to miss important aspects of the individual.  In order to remain open to these aspects, I believe that all learning styles need to be considered and addressed in how material is presented as well as the environment.  

If the environment is relaxed and fun, it is conducive to learning and the stress is alleviated.  Another tool for alleviating stressful situations is group projects.  Students seem to always feel stronger and “smarter” when interacting with their classmates within a group with the same goal.  Composition students need both opportunities to learn writing as well as developing their writing confidence.  Group assignments should be fun and creative and an opportunity for students to completely “lose themselves” in their writing needs to be provided.  By engaging with their inner selves, they will find what they need to problem solve in the real world.

Teaching composition has helped me to see the importance of assisting students in achieving self-confidence not only in their writing, but in their personal lives.  By focusing on the level of confidence in my students, whether I am teaching or training, I believe that I can be instrumental in changing our society for the better. After all, self-confidence is the backbone and foundation for every human being who hopes to make a difference in the world.