Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education
QUOTATIONS BY PHILOSOPHER
 

Frank Pajares

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My Educational Philosophy
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Self-Efficacy | William James | Italo Calvino | Philosophy | Word Attic

Truth may indeed be in the eye of the beholder, as is beauty, but the eye profits both from experience and from education. Experience requires the services of scholarship, knowledge, and reflection to define, refine, and redefine the eye's evolving judgment of what is true, and what is beautiful. ~ Frank Pajares, "Because There Is More Light There"


It's almost never a good idea to do anything too quickly. ~ Professor Pajares, advice for the impatient doctoral student


Beware of matters of consequence. ~ Professor Pajares


It's useless to have known then what you know now. ~ Professor Pajares in 771 discussion


You can have what you want. You just can't have it the way you want it. ~ according to Professor Pajares, "the wisest thing I know."


We all start out numbingly dumb, and, if we're lucky and work hard, we work our way to complete ignorance, which, if we write well enough, can be passed off as intellectual sophistication. ~ Professor Pajares in a email to students in 771


As so many of us have personally experienced, the actions of significant individuals—perhaps a teacher who came our way at just the right time—helped instill self-beliefs that influence the course and direction our lives take. ~ as quoted in Madewell and Shaughnessy's, An Interview with Frank Pajares


Education students, teacher educators, and school practitioners bear responsibility for their habits of mind. ~ Frank Pajares, "Teachers' and Students' Beliefs about Truth and Caring in the Teaching Conversation"


There are few things sadder to a teacher or parent than being faced with capable children who, as a result of previous demoralizing experiences, or even self-imposed mind-sets, have come to believe that they cannot learn, when all objective indicators show that they can. Often, much time and patience are required to break the mental habits of perceived incompetence that have come to imprison young minds. ~ Frank Pajares, Schooling in America: Myths, Mixed Messages, and Good Intentions


Greater conversation with its philosophical roots would help educational psychology shift its emphasis from the accumulation of facts in the pursuit of universals to the cultivation of judgment—a process that I believe could provide the discipline with an opportunity to overcome its derivative and divided character and to place the study of human functioning within an integrated view of the study of all material reality. ~ Frank Pajares, In Search of Psychology's Philosophical Center

And read Professor Pajares's philosophy of education, mainly in the words of others. And his responses to Bernard Pivot's questions.


The bad thing about psychologists is there's nothing they have to say that poets haven't already said. ~ Professor Pajares discussing T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men"; he is also fond of Freud's claim that "Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me."

A few of Professor Pajares's other favorite poets and artists: e.e.cummings, T. S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, Stanley Kunitz, Garcia Lorca, Charles Bukowski, Antonio Carlos Jobim, the Tao, Augusto Monterroso, Cole Porter, A. R. Ammons, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Maslow, Italo Calvino, and Gary Larson. And Thomas Kuhn. And these films. And these books. And this observation from Darwin. And here is a little poetry of his own.


The "fate that should befall most psychologists." ~ Professor Pajares


The development of informed scholarship, however, requires that all educational beliefs undergo challenge, that all survive careful scrutiny and analysis. Challenge alters and destroys but also clarifies and strengthens. ~ Frank Pajares, Preservice Teachers’ Beliefs


Truth may indeed be in the eye of the beholder, as is beauty, but the eye profits both from experience and from education. Experience requires the services of scholarship, knowledge, and reflection to define, refine, and redefine the eye's evolving judgment of what is true, and what is beautiful. ~ Frank Pajares, Because There Is More Light There


Trust must be reciprocal—to be sincere, speakers must trust their listeners. ~ Frank Pajares, The Psychologizing of Teacher Education


After a certain point in our lives there is little to learn, only to relearn. ~ Frank Pajares


 

College professors who view nurturing their students' often-fragile egos as beyond their purview or who believe that their instructional responsibility consists merely of dispensing information would do well to rethink their teaching mission and reflect on the nature of their roles as educators of youth. ~ Frank Pajares, Schooling in America: Myths, Mixed Messages, and Good Intentions


All individuals, at some point in their lives, suffer attacks of cognitive (belief?) dissonance, where incompatible beliefs are suddenly thrust on them and they must behave in a manner consistent with only one of these beliefs. It is at this point that connections are discovered or created and the centrality of a belief comes to prominence. ~ Frank Pajares, Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research


Students become teachers unable, and subconsciously unwilling, to affect a system in need of reform. ~ Frank Pajares, Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research


Issues that touch on personal conviction and deeply held assumptions are skirted, perhaps because the confrontation between teacher educator and student on the subject of what beliefs shall be deemed appropriate can be an uncomfortable one. . . . It is, after all, dangerous to wade into deep waters if one cannot swim. ~ Frank Pajares, Preservice Teachers’ Beliefs


All words begin as servants, eager to oblige and assume whatever function may be assigned them, but, that accomplished, they become masters, imposing the will of their predefined intention and dominating the essence of human discourse. ~ Frank Pajares, Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research


The human brain is far too complex an organ to determine that x can't be taught. ~ Professor Pajares, during a discussion in EDS 771



There can be little psychological distance between the fear that others will think us incompetent and the suspicion that we may be so, the suspicion that our accomplishments are ill deserved. ~ Frank Pajares, Toward a Positive Psychology of Academic Motivation


Students whose academic efforts are grounded in love of the work and who prefer tasks from which they can learn, even if they make mistakes along the way, do not require that others validate their academic efforts and do not fear self-censure or the censure of others when errors are made. This social and psychological emancipation from need and fear frees individuals to more readily accept, appreciate, and forgive—to invite—themselves and others. ~ Frank Pajares, Toward a Positive Psychology of Academic Motivation


Clearly, dispositions such as optimism are motivating. In addition, positive dispositions such as optimism, perceptions of authenticity, self-acceptance and regard, and acceptance and regard for others are themselves related to academic motivation and achievement. ~ Frank Pajares, Toward a Positive Psychology of Academic Motivation


One need only cast a casual glance at the American landscape to see that attending to the psychological well-being of students is both a noble and necessary enterprise. ~ Frank Pajares, Toward a Positive Psychology of Academic Motivation


The aim of education must transcend the development of academic competence. Schools have the added responsibility of preparing fully functioning and caring individuals capable of pursuing their hopes and aspirations. ~ Frank Pajares, Toward a Positive Psychology of Academic Motivation


Teachers can aid their students by helping them to develop the habit of excellence in scholarship while nurturing the character traits necessary to maintain that excellence throughout their adult lives. ~ Frank Pajares, Toward a Positive Psychology of Academic Motivation


Caring for students should be inextricably conjoined with truth in the teaching conversation, [but] a reciprocal conversation engenders its own sense of responsibility. Good manners and the everyday psychological savvy that all teachers should possess dictate that, when instructing children, honest criticism should be couched in terms that students are capable of understanding and be delivered in ways that have the intended effect. Teachers do well to take seriously their share of responsibility over their pupils' emerging self-beliefs. Honesty escorted by unkindness is too often likely to be met with resistance and may have precisely the opposite effect that a teacher might wish. Wielding truth as one would wield a blunt object constitutes both an insincere and unjustifiable speech act. Gentleness, kindness, and tact are fine chaperones of truth and sincerity. Also, truth must sometimes be withheld, if the speaker should judge that the listener is not, in some way, genuinely ready or able to engage in the speech act. There is nothing in these commonsense safeguards, of course, to license subterfuge, duplicitous honesty, or, most especially, the distortion of truth in the teaching conversation. ~ Frank Pajares, "Teachers' and Students' Beliefs about Truth and Caring in the Teaching Conversation"


This is the type of influence I believe parents exercise: their ability to make their children's existence a happy or a sad one, or, as is usually the case, a peculiar mixture of both. When I argue that parents "make a difference," that is the type of difference I mean. I don't think that I was particularly instrumental in shaping the type of individuals that my children became, but I think I was very instrumental in ensuring that they were as happy as possible during their voyage to their identity, which, I agree with Pinker, is rather "predetermined" by their biological endowments and unique environments and relatively independent of my actions during childrearing. ~ Frank Pajares, class handout on Steven Pinker


Parents and teachers who provide children with challenging tasks and meaningful activities that can be mastered, and who chaperone these efforts with support and encouragement, help ensure the development of a robust sense of self-confidence and of self-worth. Beliefs of personal competence and of self-worth ultimately become habits of thinking that are developed like any habit of conduct, and teachers are influential in helping students to develop the 'self-belief habits' that will serve them throughout their lives." ~ Frank Pajares, "Self-Beliefs and School Success"


The influence of people's self-beliefs on their achievement does not end with their schooling. Consequently, the aim of education must transcend the development of academic competence. Schools have the added responsibility of preparing self-assured and fully-functioning individuals capable of pursuing their hopes and their ambitions. ~ Frank Pajares, "Self-Beliefs and School Success"


Artificial self-esteem is naked against adversity; unwarranted confidence is cocky conceit." ~ Frank Pajares, "Schooling in America: Myths, Mixed Messages, and Good Intentions"


When what is communicated to a child from an early age is that nothing matters quite as much as how he or she feels or how confident he or she should be, one can rest assured that the world will sooner or later teach that child a lesson in humility that may not easily be learned. An obsession with one's sense of self is responsible for an alarming increase in depression and other mental difficulties. ~ Frank Pajares, "Self-Beliefs and School Success"


Institutional, curricular, and pedagogical transformation and a focus on students' intellectual development are not incompatible with concern for students' personal, social, and psychological needs and well-being. ~ Frank Pajares, "Schooling in America: Myths, Mixed Messages, and Good Intentions"


Teachers are responsible for making judgments about what is worth learning under circumstances in which it is not self-evident what becoming informed requires. ~ Frank Pajares, "Teachers' and Students' Beliefs about Truth and Caring in the Teaching Conversation"


It seems clear that many of the difficulties that people experience throughout their lives are closely connected with the beliefs they hold about themselves and their place in the world in which they live. Students' academic failures in basic subjects, as well as the misdirected motivation and lack of commitment often characteristic of the underachiever, the dropout, the student labeled "at risk," and the socially disabled, are in good measure the consequence of, or certainly exacerbated by, the beliefs that students develop about themselves and about their ability to exercise a measure of control over their environments. ~ Frank Pajares, "Schooling in America: Myths, Mixed Messages, and Good Intentions"


Nearly every meaningful act begins with apprehension and culminates with familiarity. ~ MFP


I'm not what I used to be, and never was. ~ MFP



Every action we take alters the probability of our subsequent action. ~ MFP


Hard enough that it energizes; not so hard that it paralyzes. ~ MFP


How you define a problem determines the manner in which you solve it. ~ MFP


As they drive down a highway, novice drivers have a tendency to focus their vision on the spot of road closest to the hood of the car. That's because they try to align the left front corner of the hood with the center stripes of the highway. It was very difficult for both my kids to learn to focus on the horizon instead of on the oncoming stripes. At first, they said they couldn't keep the car straight if they didn't carefully concentrate on aligning hood with stripe. Of course, they soon realized that this narrowness of vision prevented them from seeing not only what was around them but, more important, what was ahead. ~ MFP


Look back, look in, look ahead. ~ MFP


Our lives are defined by the stories we retain. Our behavior is designed by the stories we retell. ~ MFP


The Last Word: An Interview With Frank Pajares: God, the Devil, William James, the Little Prince, and Self-Efficacy


What makes research possible is the understanding that we are not altogether unique. Just as we are all made of flesh and bone, similar sense and similar sinew, we also share similar habits of mind and of action. Without these basic similarities, generalizations that touch on the human condition would have no reasonable foundation. Even when people seem alien to us, they tend to be alien in similar ways. In part, this is because the environment is limiting. And by this I do not mean only the physical environment, but the psychic environment within which meanings are constructed. Language, symbols. Similar people living in a similar world thinking in similar ways. Without this similarity, coherency, consistency, and mutual understandings would not be possible. Even when we find someone extraordinary, the difference is always in degree and not in kind. It is to that end that we have superlative adverbs. And IQ tests. In fact, when an individual strays too far from conduct that is similar to our own, we hardly know what to make of it. If the conduct is particularly abhorrent, the individual is dismissed as inhuman, an animal of sorts. If the conduct is particularly benign, the individual is said to be a saint, an angel, a god. In any case, not a person. ~ MFP


Today
    the platitudes of life rest easy on my shoulders,
    and simple thoughts have meaning and make sense.
You are unwise to think me wise today.
    Answers are easy
    when questions are disguised
       as childhood crises
       that end up in smiles.

~ MFP


It is not enough to know what you want to know; you must know how you want to know it. ~ MFP


When all you know is discomfort, even discomfort is comforting. ~ MFP


"A flower growing in the desert is the triumph of will over adversity." ~ Frank Pajares

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essential est invisible pour les yeux." ~ Le Petit Prince, Antoine de St-Exupéry


May happiness
pursue you

catch you
often, and,

should it
lose you,

be waiting
ahead, making

a clearing
for you

~ A. R. Ammons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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