Educational Philosophy: Synopsis
Constantin Stanislavsky, a Russian actor and theater director of the 20th century, formulated a constellation of techniques used to train and assist actors in creating characterizations. His inspiration, later adopted and developed by American actors such as Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, traces its origins to a “system” based on the idea that great acting is a reflection of truth conveyed and experienced both internally and externally through the actor. Developed into what is known today as “The Method”, Stanislavsky revolutionized the world of acting, as actors are now encouraged to build a cognitive and emotional understanding of their role.
Consider Stanislavsky’s approach in terms of education through his words:
“In the language of an actor, to know is synonymous with to feel.” (Constantin Stanislavsky, “Creating A Role”)
As a practitioner of the “system” myself, both in the way I act and in the way I live, I recognize that I am advocating for experiential learning. As a pragmatist, I learn by doing and I rely on my experiences and analyze them through intellectual reflections to reach the truth, or relative truth, philosophically speaking. By using instructional strategies based on physical and mindful engagement, my students are actively experiencing their learning. In theater we learn by being active participants as audience members, directors, actors, etc. Similarly, my classroom acts as a milieu for the student development of creativity and a safe space to practically explore learning. I see myself as a guide on an experimental path, inside and outside of the classroom, leading students towards discovering and learning what truth is to them. I encourage individuality and freedom of will to learn. I believe that students learn as they act upon their environment as knowledge is primarily rooted in experience, and I believe that the world only gains knowledge through somatic and cognitive interactions. In addition, I try to evoke emotional response by focusing on reflective and thought-provoking activities (in class and at home) which in turn result in an internalized understanding.
I find value in the postmodern world of philosophy in that objective truth can never be reached, and that language and meaning are socially constructed rather than universal. Yet, I do reject the idea that “Reality is inaccessible because we are caught up in a prison-house of language that shapes our thought before we think and because we cannot express what we think” (George Knight, “Issues and Alternatives in Educational Philosophy”). Language is the most direct and common way of communication therefore, through literature (plays, musicals, poems, books) I encourage students to search for their own perspective and communicate it by understanding the social and cultural influences that shape their own individual truth. In many ways, Art is the expression of language, and therefore reality (even if
reality is still subjective).
In my own teaching, I have found myself fixed within a pragmatic view on what education is about and how I approach it in my classroom. Nonetheless, I encourage myself to discover, through empirical knowledge and experiential learning the different perspectives and relative truths my students bring on our path toward social change.