Joseph Campbell said, “The job of an educator is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.” The CSUN credential program has embraced this philosophy wholeheartedly. The foundation of our education as educators here at CSUN is built upon localizing each student at the epicenter of their own learning experience. We are trying to get students fired up about what they are learning as well as enable them to understand how they are learning. If we can show students a clear and direct path toward subject matter knowledge, that is wonderful; however, if we can give our students the tools to teach themselves, no matter what endeavors they may pursue in any subject area, then we have begun to provide a meaningful and valuable education.
It may seem obvious that students must be at the center of the learning process; this is generally not the case. The CSUN credential program is determined to make this condition part of the past. It is important to have classrooms focused on student-centered learning. The students themselves not only receive a more enriching education from this, but they can also construct their own meanings within the subject areas. It has become all too common for teachers to lecture at students, which maintains a teacher-oriented classroom environment. This format has its place in the educational arena, but it must occupy only a portion of this arena. An entire education that is based on lecture limits the opportunities for students to grow and build upon their various strengths. By utilizing a student-centered approach to education, students begin to navigate and drive their own learning experiences by being at the wheel; students should not be passengers on an education railway. To make students want to connect with their own learning process, we as educators must help our students see their potential and abilities and give them various forums to develop. We strive to enable students to tap into personal vitalities that will motivate and encourage their education.
America’s classrooms are changing, and our educational methodologies must change and adapt as well. The diverse student bodies that we as teachers of the 21st century are working with require the implementation of diverse pedagogical designs. The credential program has taught me that to educate means to make students not only aware of their different learning styles and preferences, but to promote their individual and personal connections with the material. This makes learning seem less like a process and more like an experience. Processes come and go, and processes can be forgotten, but personal experiences stay with us forever. Education should be an experience because it is personal.
In summation, the CSUN credential program, in my opinion, is teaching its teacher candidates that the best education a well-trained teacher can provide his or her students is instilling in them a personal confidence that transcends the classroom, but enhances their experiences within it.
Matt Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org