Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Educational Philosophy


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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Educational Philosophy

  1. 1. Dr. William Allan Kritsonis Example of PhD Comprehensives in Educational Philosophy Utilizing the Six Realms of Meaning in Improving Campus Standardized Test Scores Through Team Teaching and Strategic Planning Introduction School districts around the nation develop individual Campus Improvement Plans (CIPs) on each campus in the district yearly based on ways they can improve their campus and make it better for the school, the students, teachers, parents and the community. One major component in schools in the state of Texas is the TAKS test or the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills standardized test is a test that school children take in the state of Texas yearly. Students in Texas take this test in all grades, but have key grades where they must pass the test in order to either move on to the next grade level or graduate from high school. Through strategic planning in team meetings throughout the various departments in a school and faculty meetings, the school can come up with ideas on how to incorporate the realms of meaning in their classrooms to assist each teacher with improving the education of their students, which will ultimately lead to an improvement on standardize test scores. “An educational institution or school system claiming to be purposive must make some attempt to classify, codify, and integrate the knowledge base it has selected to become part of its curriculum” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. v). The metaphysics of things is that schools can achieve this goal through The Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (2007) by Dr. William Allan Kritsonis. Purpose of the Essay The purpose of this essay is to discuss ways school districts can meet one of their goals on their campus improvement plan, increasing their standardized test scores, using the six realms of meaning in the classrooms. This essay will focus on ways teachers can strategically plan in their team meetings and 1
  2. 2. staff developments and ways to improve the epistemology in the classroom based on the realms of meaning. Utilizing the realms of meaning will help schools; teachers and students reach the goals they have set in their CIP and their Mission Statement. School districts around the country are faced with the ontology of accountability ratings and state mandated assessments, which plays a large role in the funding that schools receive. Schools can reach the goals outlined in their CIP and receive their accountability ratings through constant planning in team meetings and staff/professional developments; coming up with ways to reach out to students to assist them in learning and improving their test scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test. Symbolics The first realm, symbolics, “comprises ordinary language, mathematics, and various types of nondiscursive symbolic forms, such as gestures, rituals, rhythmic patterns, and the like” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 11). The realm of symbolics is something that should be discussed and planned out during team meetings and staff development because it encompasses variables that are important to obtain and understand in order for students to be successful on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Symbolics is a realm that can be successfully utilized in all subject areas in public schools. PLC’s, have been successful in recent years in adding student success. “Scholarship on professional learning communities indicates that change is more likely to be effective and enduring when those responsible for its implementation are included in a shared decision-making process” (Scribner, Sawyer, Watson, & Myers, 2007, p. 71). Empirics The second realm empirics, includes the science of the physical world, of living things, and of man. These sciences provide factual descriptions, generalizations, and theoretical formulations and explanations that are based upon observation and experimentation in the world of matter, life, mind, and society. They express meanings as probable empirical truths framed in accordance with certain 2
  3. 3. rules of evidence and verification and making use of specified systems of analytic abstraction (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 12). Empirics deal with the sciences in everyday life. This realm focuses on the subject areas of physical science, biology, physics, psychology, and the social sciences. It relies on factual information and educators must deal with and present all of the facts to the students that they teach. Teachers must gather information that is true and accurate in order to reach and teach their students to be successful on TAKS. Esthetics Esthetics “contains the various arts, such as music, the visual arts, the arts of movement, and literature. “Meanings in this realm are concerned with the contemplative perception of particular significant things as unique objectifications of ideated subjectives” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 12). Through a school’s CIP and Mission Statement, schools can look at innovative and creative ways to motivate and stimulate student success in more creative and artistic ways. “Humans teach their children the arts to help them achieve what we consider a well-rounded education, exposing them to new and interesting forms of sensory satisfaction” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 284). Expressiveness lies above and beyond the art, music and physical education classes. Although students are encouraged to express their artistic ways in the arts classes, they are also encouraged to express themselves artistically in other classes. Synnoetics The fourth realm, synnoetics, “embraces what Michael Polanyi calls ‘personal knowledge’ and Martin Buber the ‘I-Thou’ relation. This personal or relational knowledge is concrete, direct, and existential. It may apply to persons, to oneself, or even to things” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 12). It is important with this realm that educators enforce to their students the importance of being responsible for their own actions and taking some responsibility for the choices they make with their education. Ethics 3
  4. 4. The fifth realm, “ethics, includes moral meanings that express obligation rather than fact, perceptual form or awareness of relation. In contrast with sciences, which are concerned with abstract cognitive understanding, to the arts, which express idealized esthetic perceptions, and to personal knowledge, which reflects inter-subjective understanding, morality has to do with personal conduct that is based on free, responsible, deliberate decision” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 13). This realm is another important realm to teach students in relation to their education as well. Teachers must teach students about academic dishonesty and how to be ethically moral in life. There have been numerous cases about students, as well as teachers, who have exhibited immoral ethics when it comes to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test. Synoptics Synoptics is the sixth realm of meaning. Synoptics “refers to meanings that are comprehensively integrative. This realm includes history, religion, and philosophy. These disciplines combine empirical, esthetic, and synnoetic meaning into coherent wholes (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 13). Educators must teach kids about the past, so that they will not repeat past mistakes, but make greater strides in life. Through our staff/professional developments and team meetings, we look at ways that we can improve the school for the betterment of the student’s success. Focusing on what was successful in the past and moving towards a post modern approach in the way we develop CIP, is what is in the best interest of our students. Times have changed, the students have changed and as educators, we have to embrace change for the success of the students we teach. Concluding Remarks In conclusion, student success on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test is based largely on the way teacher teams can successfully and logically relay the much needed information to the students. Through getting together as a team, in teaching teams and at staff developments, 4
  5. 5. educators can instill in students the axiology needed to make them successful in school and in life by utilizing the six realms of meaning in their instruction. REFERENCES Kritsonis, W. (2007). Ways of knowing through the realms of meaning. Houston, TX: National FORUM Journals. Scribner, J.P., Sawyer, R.K., Watson, S.T., & Myers, V.L. (2007). Teacher teams and distributed leadership: a study of group discourse and collaboration. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43, 67–100. 5
  6. 6. Where is Ayn Rand’s John Gault, When America Needs Him Most? Introduction Ayn Rand was an immigrant from Russia who witnessed firsthand the injustice that the government and others can bring upon those that are hard working individuals. Through this personal experience, Ayn Rand moved to the United States, were she remained until her death. Experiencing the ontology of things in Russia helped Rand develop her theory of “Objectivism” and the idea that one must be selfish to some extent in order to succeed in life. Through her novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Virtues of Selfishness, Rand introduces us to her philosophy and line of thinking. Purpose of the Essay The purpose of this essay is to discuss the issues within society, the government and the economy in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with the issues that the United States government is now facing. The question that was asked throughout Atlas Shrugged and the question that we as a nation should ask ourselves now is not “Who is John Gault”, but “Where is John Gault Now?” Where is John Gault now when the United States of America, logically one of the greatest nations in this country, is slowly failing apart, with the Looters of the world playing a key role in its destruction and downfall? Key Players in the United States Government The United States Government is now going through one of the worst economic crisis in American history since the Great Depression. When one looks at the economy, they turn to the key people who are in charge of the running of the welfare of our great nation, the President of the United States and his administration. Over several years, the United States has found itself digging her way further and further in financial despair, relying on the great minds of the government to pull her out. In the last several years, we as a nation have had several key players playing a role with the economy. The Bush Administration experienced three different Treasury Secretaries during his tenure as President of the United States. Another metaphysical question that we should be wondering is why 6
  7. 7. did the nation have to endure three different Treasury Secretaries in such a short period? Were they corrupt like the government in Atlas Shrugged, going after their own agenda to better themselves? Even the current president, President Barack Obama, experienced a few pit stops with his choice of Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner. Why is it, that both of these Presidents are experiencing problems with such critical players in their administration? Below is a list of important positions and people in both President George W. Bush’s and President Barack Obama’s administrations. With the current economic woes, you have to wonder, where did the great minds go that are suppose to get the country out of these troubled times. Did all the great minds join John Gault in the strike and retreat to the valley? With many businesses and corporations such as American International Group (AIG), Sally Mae and Freddie Mac, ENRON, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, CitiGroup, Bank of America, JP. Morgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Morgan Stanley and Robert A. Stafford Financial group failing or asking for bailouts as high as $45 billion to as low as $10 billion (United States Government) of taxpayers hardworking money, America and the media is left with asking the question, “Who is John Gault” (1957). Are these business and financial groups the Looters that are taking away from the hard working Americans to better themselves? Many of these groups that have asked for bailouts from the United States Government have Chief Executive Operators (CEO’s) that are still receiving bonuses and six figure salaries, these CEO’s are the Oren Boyles’s and Looters of modern times, that are taking away from the hard workers and making the lazy rich, richer. It is Ayn Rand’s belief that in a metaphysical society, everyone has the epistemological ability to decide and determine for himself, what should be done to the betterment of oneself. You must first and foremost take care of yourself in order to be of use to anyone else. This idea is not by any means calling for everyone to be self centered and conceded, but to take care of yourself so that you can help in the betterment of society. This is not in any way calling on everyone to be all about me, but for you to first 7
  8. 8. take care of “me” so that you can help, assist and make life better for “you”. The strikers in Atlas Shrugged understood this philosophy and were in business for not only bettering themselves, but making and development things that would make society better and life easier for those living in society. Selfishness The strikers in Atlas Shrugged understood that through their selfishness, they would make a difference in society, making it better for all to live in. In order to survive in society you must be selfish, if you don’t take care of you, who will? The word “selfishness” in today’s society has a connotation of being unethical and morally wrong. How can one survive in a world without being selfish and concerned with oneself? In order to survive, one must think logically and place their needs above anyone else’s in order to be useful to anyone, let alone, himself. Going through life putting others needs before your own, can ultimately cause harm to both parties involved. You must be selfish in this world in order to survive and an attack on selfishness “is an attack on man’s self-esteem; to surrender one, is to surrender the other” (Rand, 1961, p. xi). Once you take care of “self” you are more apt to take care of those around you and society benefits as a whole. The Looters were selfish, but didn’t understand the true axiology of the word according to Rand’s philosophy and way of living. The Looters were about self and only sought out to improve their way of life and livelihood, not thinking about making things better for others. They were selfish, not because they were concentrating on themselves because they were a commodity to society, but because they were self absorbed. Concluding Remarks In conclusion, both Atlas Shrugged and the United States of America have had to deal with their share of problems and corruption within the Government. The question was asked throughout the novel, “Who’s John Gault?” (Rand 1957) and is now being asked over our national television stations with these trying times in the economy. Have all the great minds in the world gone on strike and are living in some remote area together? If so, we are begging them to come back and grace us with their 8
  9. 9. metaphysics of life, to help us improve our economy before we are faced with another depression, because throughout the nation there are still people struggling and trying to make it. The nation is trying to dig itself out of a hole that was created over eight years ago. We as a nation must realize that the President of the United States is not John Gault and cannot climb out of this whole that was created years ago over night but is in need of the epistemology from great minds with a John Gault mentality that can bring our nation as a whole back together as one. References Rand, A. (1957). Atlas shrugged. New York: Penguin Putnam, Incorporated. Rand, A. (1961). The virtue of selfishness. New York: Penguin Putnam, Incorporated. 9
  10. 10. The Key to Access and Prosperity in an Ayn Rand Society Introduction In Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness (1961), Rand introduces the world to her philosophical views on just what she believes the true definition of “selfishness”. She explores “Objectivism” and ethics in her book. She explains to the reader that ethics “is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions, the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life” (p. 13). This essay shows how Ayn Rand views selfishness and proves that selfishness can be both right and wrong according to the situation that one is in. Purpose of the Essay The purpose of this essay is to discuss how every man has the divine right to be selfish depending on the circumstances and the situation they are in. Not all things placed before the good of others are considered selfish. The book The Virtues of Selfishness and Ayn Rand (1961) shows when man has the right to be selfish and not feel bad about or doubt his actions. Objectivism “Objectivism” is a philosophy that was developed Ayn Rand (1961). “Objectivism” holds: that reality exists independent of consciousness; that individual persons are in contact with this ontology through sensory perception; that human beings can gain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation; that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest; that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez-faire capitalism; and that the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond (“Objectivism”, n.d.). Man must be concern first and foremost with himself in order to be productive in society and therefore be of use to society. Society cannot better itself when everyone is concerned about everyone else. You must first take care of yourself in order to be successful in society. 10
  11. 11. It is Ayn Rand’s belief that in a metaphysical society, everyone has the epistemological ability to decide and determine for himself, what should be done to the betterment of oneself. You must first and foremost take care of yourself in order to be of use to anyone else. This idea is not by any means calling for everyone to be self centered and conceded, but to take care of yourself so that you can help in the betterment of society. Selfishness Following the philosophy of “objectivism” may lead for people to assume that a person is being selfish and consider them a selfish person, but it is quite the contrary. In order to survive in society you must be selfish, if you don’t take care of you, who will? So let’s take a look at the meaning of the word selfish/selfishness. The word “selfishness” in today’s society has a connotation of being unethical and morally wrong. The exact dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: “concern with one’s own interests” (Rand, 1961, p. vii). How can one survive in a world without being selfish and concerned with oneself? In order to survive, one must think logically and place their needs above anyone else’s in order to be useful to anyone, let alone, himself. You must be selfish in this world in order to survive and an attack on selfishness “is an attack on man’s self-esteem; to surrender one, is to surrender the other” (Rand, 1961, p. xi). Once you take care of “self” you are more apt to take care of those around you and society benefits as a whole. Great Leaders in Society Who Had to Be Selfish in Order to Lead Society will not immediately succumb to the idea of being selfish, but in her own way, Ayn Rand had the key to surviving and making it in society. “In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; …. This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interest is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interest. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions (Rand, 1961, p. vii). 11
  12. 12. Great leaders such as Bill Gates and Queen Elizabeth I had to exhibit selfish qualities in order to improve the society they lived in. Had Bill Gates not been a little selfish, would we have Microsoft? One can logically believe that Bill Gates put himself before others in order to achieve his goals of creating Microsoft, to better improve society; really, where would we be today without the creation of Microsoft? If Queen Elizabeth I relied solely on the feelings and emotions of others, she wouldn’t be known as one of the greatest rulers of this world, the ruler of an era dubbed “The Golden Age”, she knew the axiology of her life and her personal judgments and did not completely rely on others to determine what was right and what was wrong for England, she understood the value of her nation and what it took to up hold that nation. She understood that an ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means-and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good and that which threatens it is the evil (Rand, 1961, p. 17). The value of England was what Queen Elizabeth was focused on, England was the good and those who were against the Queen and had ill intentions was the evil. Emergency Situations There are situations that may require you to rely on the epistemology that you have attained through everyday life and come to the rational, that it is okay to help someone else out because you have studies the metaphysics of the situation and realized that you will not be placed in harms way by assisting someone in need. The question is asked, “should one risk one’s life to help a man who is: a) drowning, b) trapped in a fire, c) stepping in front of a speeding truck, d) hanging by his fingernails over an abyss?” (Rand, 1961, p. 49) You also have leaders who members of society look up to a great deal, that are leaving a life against Ayn Rand’s philosophy by being martyrs to help make a difference in the lives of their community. Such martyrs as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X. These civil 12
  13. 13. rights leaders fought for the rights of the people in their community during the “Jim Crow” times to make a difference for African Americans, sacrificing their lives and the lives of their families, forgetting about themselves in the process. Dr. King was living the life of altruism, thinking of the society that he lived in and only wanted to improve the environment that he was surrounded by and make a better life for those who were to come after him. These three men selfless acts cost them their lives and deprived them the right to see their children grow up and conquer their dreams. Ayn Rand would have been against the acts of them risking their lives and would have asked herself the questions before going out and standing up for the people, if this was an emergency that would endanger her life and if so, it wouldn’t be a risk that one should be willing to take. What good are you to the community if you are no longer here to make a difference? Concluding Remarks In conclusion, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism and her ideas on selfishness is a model that is fitting for some but not for all. It is a philosophy and view point that one must establish and follow in order to better themselves so that they may have an impact on society as a whole. This philosophy proves that it is indeed okay for one to be selfish with keeping in mind that through their selfishness, they are not only benefiting themselves, but society benefits through their fruits and labors. 13
  14. 14. References Rand, A. (1961). The virtue of selfishness. New York: Penguin Putnam, Incorporated. Rand, A. (n.d.). Objectivism. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand) Essentials of Objectivism (n.d.) The Ayn Rand Institute Web. Retrieved November 8, 2010, http://www.aynrand2.org/objectivism/essentials.html 14
  15. 15. A Postmodern Approach to Retaining New Teachers through Strategic Planning Introduction New educators are introduced to the education field, but sometimes with limited training in the field. Many are either matriculating from a four year university, or via an alternative certification program due to changing professions. Teachers who decide to teach on the secondary level in public education are required to major in the field of study in which they wish to teach; not taking as many education classes as elementary education majors and sometimes going through alternative certification programs. The metaphysics of things is that many schools are losing their new teachers before they even make it to their fifth year in the education field. What is it that principals can provide for their new teachers to retain them year-after-year, and hopefully beyond their fifth year in the field. We must move past the thinking of modernism and step into postmodern times, as the metaphysics of education has changed. The ontology of the way teachers use to be and think is in the past and we are now approaching a new generation of teachers who need to experience the expertise of seasoned teachers in order for them to make it in the field of education. In doing so, one most think as postmodernist do and leave the ideas of the past in the past. Past ideas can be great, because we must learn from the past in order to improve in the future, but we need to tweak these past notions on training new teachers and look at new and creative ways to educate them and keep them in the classroom. Administrators must continue to strategically plan ways to retain their novice teachers. One such concept which will maintain longevity for educators would be to offer a strong support system via staff development, mentors and professional development. Purpose of the Essay The purpose of this essay is to discuss ways in which public school administrators can retain their first year teachers beyond their fifth year through strategically planning based on a postmodern 15
  16. 16. approach. There are many programs that are in effect in schools that assist beginning teachers with getting through their first year, but the problem comes with the execution of these programs. What is Postmodernism? To first understand why public school administrators should adopt a postmodern approach in the running of their school, one must understand just what postmodernism is. Postmodernism is about constructing a way of looking at the world of ideas, concepts and systems of thought through the historicity of context and the shifting nature of linguistic meaning and symbols as they are manifested in discursive practices which run through educational administration and related fields (English, 2003, p. 3). When one has a postmodern view of education, they are thinking creatively and outside of the norm. Postmodern thinkers are looking for new ideas and concepts that can improve the system in which they are working in. In education, administrators must first look for ways to look after and take care of their teachers in order for the teachers to be successful in the classroom with their students and what is right for student success. According to Fenwick English (2003) the challenge of postmodernism to the prevailing theories in educational administration is that it is theoretical, that is, it proffers no theory to center any specific practice, but rather is open to consider all claims and the theories which may define and support them. Administrators move from the modern views of running schools, and the modern theories used to educate its students. Postmodern administrators have to look past the norm and the way things have always been done, but look at new and innovative ways to better the education field. The implications for the postmodern turn for educational administration are: (1) problems with the concept of the knowledge base; (2) the dilemma of best and reflective practices in preparing practitioners; (3) the question of legitimacy and boundaries at the university level; and (4) the continuing paradigmatic blind spot of understanding leadership (English, 2003). 16
  17. 17. Administrators in public schools must utilize their teacher’s talents and willingness to bring new and creative ideas to the forefront. By changing with the times, administrators are able to embrace the changes that have occurred in the education field and leave the old modern views behind. Subsequently, empowering novice teachers to become more skilled, confident and ultimately dedicated to the education profession. Mentors When beginning teachers step into a district and on a campus, they are usually assigned a mentor. Webster’s dictionary defines a mentor as a trusted counselor or guide. Mentors, like administrators, take on the role of a leader to new teachers and are entrusted with teaching new teachers the guidelines and ropes. “The vanquished veil shows that leadership is a dialectical journey in which two parties (leaders/followers) anchor and immerse themselves in a stream of master signifiers which result in a new synthesis of shared identities” (English, 2003, p. 56). It is the job of the mentor to engage the mentee in both success and horror stories that they have dealt with in the classroom, with parents, and with administrators. Many new teachers are stressed and are uncertain of how to deal with obstacles that might occur because secondary educators are sometimes not trained on these hard to deal with issues. This proactive model of mentoring can guide the mentee in making sure they have a global idea of how to logically address common concerns teachers face. Staff Development Staff development is something that is not new to the education field, but it has been changed and improved. Staff development or professional development is something that not only new teachers need, but seasoned teachers as well. Not only are the times changing, but also the clientele that educators are dealing with. As an administrator, it is up to them to examine the epistemology of the staff and provide them with the appropriate staff development needed. 17
  18. 18. Professional Learning Communities Professional learning communities (PLCs) is something that high schools all around have started to implement in their schools in hopes of improving the knowledge of their students and increase parent communication. PLCs are also a big help to beginning teachers. During meetings of teachers in PLCs, new teachers are given the opportunity to meet with experienced teachers and get the epistemology needed for becoming great teachers. These communities provide teachers with the knowledge needed for improving student learning by discussing what is and isn’t working in the classroom. Teachers collaboratively getting together in a structured environment to discuss students is something that has been improved throughout the years, and becomes and axiology resource for new teachers. PLCs provide a consistent alternative to addressing the learning objectives for each student individually and collectively. Teacher Satisfaction Keeping up the moral of teachers is another major concern that new teachers express. Administrators must keep their teachers happy and in a workable environment in order to retain them. Teachers are leaving the education field because they are not happy on the job and no longer have a love for teaching, and when they leave their school, they are often leaving the field altogether. It is up to the administrators to monitor their employees and make sure that their morale is up. Concluding Remarks In conclusion, providing true support for new teachers will prove immeasurable in retention efforts. Making sure to provide beneficial staff development opportunities for teachers both new and seasoned will ensure educators are thoroughly versed in district, state and national education guidelines for learning. Additionally, utilizing postmodernism as a strategy to evoke change will empower our profession to implement and maintain current trends in education. 18
  19. 19. References English, F.W. (2003). The postmodern challenge to the theory and practice of educational administration. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher. 19