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John Giotta RSS
Personal Biography & Educational Philosophy
“In the end we will have had enough of cynicism and skepticism and humbug and we shall want to live more musically.” - Vincent Van Gogh
“What is done in the classroom today will decide Civilization’s tomorrow.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Artists, poets and philosophers seek meaning. Everyone does, of course, but these individuals seek for meaning with more diligence than the average person and then express this meaning in a way that is meaningful to the rest of society. Their ability to perceive and express meaning is probably why Vincent Van Gogh’s and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotes above helped me to form and express my own thoughts on the subject of teaching. Each of the quotes above reflects one part of why I want to teach as well as my overarching philosophy on teaching.
Van Gogh suggests that each person reaches a point where they will want to live their lives with less cynicism. Prior to becoming a teacher after spending twenty years in sales and marketing, I had reached that point in my own life. I yearned to do something that would have a positive impact on the world beyond my own skin. After twenty years, I found myself having “had enough of cynicism and skepticism” and wishing I had stayed on course to “live more musically” by becoming a teacher. I wanted to start each day looking forward to making the world a little bit better. Luckily, I acted on my desire to change and, after following the alternate route to teaching, have had the joy of joining a profession that puts me in a position to affect positive change.
Making the world a little bit better is what Emerson’s quote speaks to and why I believe I have led a more meaningful life as a teacher. It can be argued that, aside from parents and the rare, transcendental political or religious figure, no group affects the health of a democratic society more than teachers. A teacher will help create good citizens by expanding an individual student’s experience of the world, developing that student’s critical thinking skills and by providing an additional moral character example to those the student, hopefully, already has. Most important of all, the teacher, through example, teaches the student to teach – themselves and those around them. The end result is that the good teacher affects not only their students, but everyone that student has influence over in later years: “civilization’s tomorrow.” This civilization of tomorrow is why I strive to be the best teacher I can be and why I believe my life has had more meaning as a teacher.
Since becoming a teacher, I have lived more “musically.” I sought meaning and have found it. Furthermore, I have tried to express it to others and to help them, my students, find and express meaning themselves. This and my experience in my classroom suggest that not only artists, poets and philosopher’s seek meaning, but students and teachers as well.
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