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Eastern Region Colleges ABC Institute

Educational Beliefs

“I see and I believe.”
— Or —
“I believe and I see.”

The second statement is as true as the first. As curriculum workers, our values and our beliefs influence and shape the decisions that we make as we build and review curriculum. Our beliefs also contribute to the conceptual framework and philosophical foundation of the curriculum. You may want to review some of these resources to help clarify your values and beliefs.

Teaching Perspectives developed by Pratt and Collins

Daniel Pratt and John Collins have developed a Teaching Perspectives Inventory.

The inventory summarizes five approaches to teaching.

Transmission: Effective teaching requires a substantial commitment to the content or subject matter.

Apprenticeship: Effective teaching is a process of enculturating students into a set of social norms and ways of working.

Developmental: Effective teaching must be planned and conducted “from the learner’s point of view”.

Nurturing: Effective teaching assumes that long-term, hard, persistent effort to achieve comes from the heart, as well as the head.

Social Reform: Effective teaching seeks to change society in substantive ways.

Curriculum Orientations


John Miller and Wayne Seller in their book, Curriculum: Perspectives and Practice have identified three curriculum metaorientations.

Transmission orientation: Curriculum is designed to transmit facts, skills and values to students. Students master specified content and certain values and mores needed to function in society or work effectively in a career area. What is to be learned is analyzed and broken into small units that are then arranged sequentially and taught using specific instructional strategies.

Transaction orientation: The curriculum is designed to create a dialogue between the students and the curriculum in which students reconstruct knowledge through their engagement with the curriculum. There is an emphasis on curriculum strategies that facilitate problem-solving and the development of cognitive skills.

Transformation orientation: The curriculum is more open ended and focuses on personal and social change. Students learn skills that promote social and personal change. Learning experiences are viewed holistically. The interdependent nature of the world and the interrelatedness of phenomena are key values in this orientation. The curriculum and the student interact with each other in a holistic manner.

See a chart comparing these three orientations to curriculum.

Developing an Educational Philosophy


You may want to think about your own educational philosophy.

These prompts to help faculty develop/update their educational philosophy were adapted from material originally developed by Georgian College for their new faculty mentoring program. It is used with permission from and thanks to Georgian College.

The sentence starters and questions below can be used to generate dialogue around your beliefs about teaching, learning and curriculum.

I believe students…

I believe learning…

I believe success in learning is measured by…

I believe students learn best when…

I believe evaluation of learning…

I believe students are motivated to learn when…

I believe students are de-motivated when…

I believe teaching…

I believe success in teaching is determined by…

I believe the source of curriculum is…

I believe the purpose of curriculum is…

I believe that curriculum should be organized by…

I believe that what to include/exclude in curriculum can be determined by……

What has influenced your philosophy and how? (i.e. past teaching/learning experiences, subject area, learning style, teaching style, knowledge about teaching or learning, theories, writers, other educators)

Significant Influences

How it influences philosophy


How will/does your philosophy impact what happens as you build and review curriculum?

Tania Fera-VanGent from Niagara College produced this tip sheet to help teachers develop or review their philosophy of teaching. You will find additional resources for further exploration listed here as well. Teaching Philosophy (.pdf)

For other resources on developing an educational philosophy you may want to visit:

The Centre for Educational Excellence at the University of Waterloo suggests exercises that can help teachers develop a teaching philosophy.

This Handbook of Teaching developed at the University of Manitoba is full of helpful resources.  Chapter 5:  Reflecting on the Practice of Teaching would be very helpful for college faculty wanting to explore and/or clarify their values and beliefs about curriculum.