Philosophy of Justice, Hope and Vision

According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, justice can be defined as the quality of being just, impartial or fair in one’s dealings with others. Justice can also be defined as the first virtue of social institutions. The pertinent questions one can ask are if justice exists and if it does if it exists for all. These are quite debatable and, therefore, various reactions can be made to them.

When one hopes for something grand, he/she draws from the beauty of the goal the courage to brave all obstacles. If the chance, of reaching it diminishes, the desire will always grow proportionally. Therefore, the further a reality is from a goal, the more desirable it is, and since desire is the supreme force, it has the greatest amount of force at its service.

Hope is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as the emotional state, the opposite of which is despondency, which promotes the belief in positive outcomes related to events and circumstances an individual’s life. It can also be referred as the feeling that what is sought can be achieved or that proceedings will turn out for the best or the act of anticipating something with desire and reasonable confidence.

Vision is a shared look at the future; a future filled with hope and promise. It can outline what a person wants to be or how he/she wants the world in which they reside to be (an idealized outlook of the world). The education scene is evolving very fast as it seeks to respond to societal developments in the past decade. In an attempt to confront challenges of this century, ambitious goals have been set up in current educational reforms. Day (1999) recognizes that the objectives of education have become much more complicated than before. In classrooms of the twenty-first century, teachers now need to employ a wider range of teaching approaches according to the need. Teachers are, therefore, expected to assist students in the acquisition of higher levels of cognitive skills.

They are also expected to inculcate among the students the ability to think critically, synthesize information and also skills of applying acquired awareness to new situations and astutely learn new knowledge. Day strongly suggested that self-regulation be employed as a vehicle to support student teacher learning.

A major contradiction that is evident in school policy is a double emphasis on basic schooling and lifetime learning. For one to become a lifetime learner, he/she has to leave school motivated towards further learning and confident in their capacity to set and achieve his or her own targets as he would wish.

However, the structure of basic schooling is whereby the courses of study are tailor made to suit specified achievement targets and little opportunity are given to goal setting or self-directed learning. As usual, the targets would be easier to achieve for some people than others leading to a situation whereby a significant proportion of students leave school without confidence in themselves as learners.

The ones who are successful in school may also find themselves inadequately prepared for learning in different contexts, which are less, structured than basic schooling. It is expected that this discontinuity between the need to prepare young adults for lifetime learning and demands of schooling will not last for long.

Therefore, a vision is required to ensure that proper mechanisms are put in place by the various stakeholders in the education industry in particular the teachers. The vision seeks to ensure that there is hope in the future for people who participate in an education process. Justice is closely related to that as with those measures put in place there will be fair and just means of evaluating various learners.

The various external forces that come into play in an education process are enormous. In today’s age, the world’s store of information is increasing in a very high rate. Freeley (1990) predicted that “ninety seven percent of everything known at the start of twenty- first century will have been discovered by the time today’s students were born”.

He also stated that these students would be required to encounter problems unimaginable at the time and make decisions for which there was no verification to support them. Advances in high technology delivery systems have ensured that knowledge is easily accessible while globalization has diminished the significance of geographical boundaries.

As international trends have changed, they have placed demands on young people entering the job market. In today’s technological age, scholarly capital will increasingly be the competitive advantage while thinking skills are a fundamental prerequisite for employment. Education institutions are every day under immense pressure to develop students capable of thinking critically and creatively, and be able to evaluate and use knowledge.

The main argument about teaching is that it is a hard profession getting harder. Although modern developments may have eased some burdens, they have not made life easier for teachers. Job of teaching is being redefining by efforts to reorganize schools for the demands of an information-based economy (INTASC, 1992).

Teaching should no longer just about covering the curriculum but about dispensing information, knowledge and skills. The implementation of any educational change depends on the teacher who executes the changes. Teachers are very crucial in development of student skills. If the performance of a teacher is the most powerful link to effective thinking among students, schooling teachers to teach thinking must become one of the utmost priorities of teacher education (Underbakke et al, 1993).

Day argues that the main motivator for teachers is making a difference in the lives of individual students. Therefore, there is a need for regular evaluation to find out the effects of their practices on the students. The results are very crucial to know the impact of their modes of teaching and also if there are any changes required to make it more effective.

However, this more radical approach to learning and evaluation of one’s practice is very difficult to achieve by oneself. It requires teachers to work with each other even though they may even be more reluctant to challenge assumptions. Therefore, it will be essential to make the networks wider and more diverse.

Day also summarizes the realities of teachers and teaching. He says that teachers are a school’s greatest asset as they stand at the interface of the transmission of knowledge, skills and values. They also have a main task of inculcating in their students a disposition towards a lifelong learning.

He emphasizes that continuing and career long professional development is essential for all teachers in order to keep up with change and to renew and review their skills, knowledge and visions for good teaching. Although teachers learn naturally over the course of his or her career, learning from experience alone will limit development.

Teachers’ actions will always be a result of the interplay between their life histories, their current phase of development, classroom and school settings and their broader social and political contexts where they work.   Seeing this interplay it is difficult to predict their actions as regards imparting knowledge to students.

Classrooms encompass students with diverse motivations and dispositions. Teaching can be said to be a complex process, but although the complexity may be reduced, successful teaching will always demand both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. Therefore, successful teaching requires a synthesis of the head and the heart.

Teachers cannot be developed, but they can only develop. They should always be involved in decision making. They should also be continuously involved in decision making and processes of their own learning. To develop a successful school you need to develop successful teachers to educate students.

The role of planning and supporting the career-long development is a joint responsibility of teachers, schools and government.   Therefore, professional development is a serious business which is very important in maintaining and enhancing the quality of teachers and leadership roles of principals.

There is a need to supplement teachers’ self – regulatory skills so that they are sufficiently prepared to deal with the challenges they face when teaching. The skills they have acquired now are essential, but they would need to update them continually in the future. Therefore, learning environments need to be supportive and conducive to ensure teachers can embrace new teaching roles and bear new burdens.

Another vision for teachers is a conceptual network whereby teachers can translate the knowledge and skills they have learnt into practice. Schools can, therefore, in this way be vessels for thinking when teachers have been prepared with the obligatory skills and knowledge. They also need to have developed the will and sill to learn.

There are several implications of proposals made to change the education system. This will impact on the hope and vision of an entire generation of learners. Also, pre-service teachers’ skills need to be developed further by the employment of various activities that help in transforming of theory to practice. It is suggested that positive attitudes can be fostered by situation theories of thinking where the contexts are meaningful. This enhances the overall value of education.

To ensure justice, the teaching method should also take into consideration the ways that dispositions associated with the skills can be strengthened.  These considerations are crucial because the instructional processes through which some skills are acquired may themselves damage or undermine the disposition to use them (Katz, 1993).

Education instructors should have hope of fostering awareness of positive and negative dispositions and, therefore, should encourage manifestations of positive dispositions through the use of role models and having appropriate scaffolds. This will go a long way in ensuring a just education system.

Teacher education programs must not be guided by oriental knowledge assimilation alone. However, having a solid knowledge base is always essential for effective conveying of instructions.  Student teachers should, therefore, be actively involved in the process of their own learning.

To be able to effectively combat these challenges, the role of teacher educators would have to change. Although they may provide direct information on certain topics, they should also serve as a resource on the other portions of course content and build a wide variety of learning resources.

They should be able to guide students to assess their needs and competencies while serving as a mentor, validator or evaluator of student teacher accomplishment throughout and at the end of a particular program me. There should always be hope that this can be achieved in the requisite time plan.

The question of application of principles of democratic education to the formation of student-citizens is one that has been asked over and over again. Westheimer and Kahne (2004) seek to provide thoughtful analysis and substantive models for the same. This is mainly related to elementary and secondary contexts.

Joseph Kahne and Westheimer spent the better part of a decade evaluating programs which were aimed at developing good citizenship skills among youth and young adults. After various studies, they came to generally similar solutions. This was that the goals and practices commonly presented in curricula that aimed at fostering democratic citizenship had to do more with voluntarism, charity and obedience than with democracy. To educators, good citizenship entailed more of listening to authority figures, dressing neatly and being nice to neighbors than making social decisions.