My Educational Gurus

By: Fernando Gratacos

Throughout my time being a student, I have observed a variety of ways that educators teach, students are expected to learn, and how they actually learn. Much of elementary and most of middle and high school were set up with an essentialist philosophy in hand and as a result students became used to being passive learners, being spoon fed information vital for their next test. While in community college, I had one professor that was so inspiring and used a teaching style so new to me that it flipped my world upside down and made me realize that I want to be an educator. Since then, it’s been a journey learning about all the different teaching philosophies that can be applied into the classroom. My philosophy is based on the mixture of the studies of Sir Ken Robinson, Lev Vygotsky, and Paulo Freire.

My Philosophy of Early Education

Childhood is the period in one’s life when they are most creative and receptive to new information. Thus, children should be encouraged to explore and experiment as much as possible so that the hands-on approach makes sure they really understand what they are doing rather than being given all the information without room to critically think. “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish, and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime” is the proverb that I like to relate to.

Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally recognized speaker and leader in the development of creativity, innovation, and human resources in education. When I was looking at ways that ADHD affects a child’s educational experience, I first discovered Sir Ken Robinson and after watching his Ted talk, had a new perspective. Some of his main philosophies that I agree with include how schools often kill creativity, which is catastrophic as creativity is vital in life! Another is the misuse of medication towards children; how we are in the most visually and mentally stimulating time of human history and then get confused when students don’t want to look at a whiteboard for 8 hours a day, so we assume it must be a mental condition and prescribe them pills to dull them down. Lastly, Sir Ken Robinson has talked about his disagreement with the current school progression system. Children are chunked by age rather than development which often causes an achievement gap that only widens as they continue.

Lev Vygotsky

A classic. Lev Vygotsky was a Soviet developmental psychologist who developed sociocultural theory and many others. The main theory of his that I always come back to is the zone of proximal development. I believe it is critical for teachers to Properly assess where a child is developmentally and then work up from that. Of course, it’s more difficult then talking to an entire class while handing them worksheets and if they understand it already great they get an a but if they’re struggling then they better figure it out or else it’s just going to get worse. Mixing the zone of proximal development with Zoe Ken Robinson’s view and creativity, teachers should be prepared for all kinds of creative questions. problems, and outlooks from children and be prepared to work off that.

Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher often regarded as one of the most influential educators of the 20th century.  The newest educational guru for me, but one whose philosophies have proven to capture my engagement after having one of my favorite classes based on his philosophies. I have found that I am much more willing to interact in class discussions and with professors alike when they incorporate problems posing education rather than banking education. I am still learning about all the ways his critical pedagogy can be applied to classrooms and if I have any experiences that I can use to better understand. The most recent example that I can think of is observing a conversation between my half-brother’s sister and my niece (14) about the manipulation of Disney Park employees by executives.



Changing education paradigms

In this talk from RSA Animate, Sir Ken Robinson lays out the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools’ dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD. An important, timely talk for parents and teachers.

Transcript of “Do schools kill creativity?”

TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript: Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.


How Vygotsky Defined the Zone of Proximal Development

The zone of proximal development (ZPD), or zone of potential development, refers to the range of abilities an individual can perform with the guidance of an expert, but cannot yet perform on their own. Developed by psychologist Lev Vygotsky, this learning theory may be observed in a classroom setting or anywhere else where an individual has the opportunity to develop new skills.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

By Slobodan Dimitrov – own work CC BY-SA 3.0 Paulo Freire was one of the most influential philosophers of education of the twentieth century. He worked wholeheartedly to help people both through his philosophy and his practice of critical pedagogy. A native of Brazil, Freire’s goal was to eradicate illiteracy among people from previously colonized countries and continents.