A personal philosophy is cultivated through experiences, learnt behaviors, and education. Health is in itself, a philosophy. It is a multi-faceted idea that can be expressed through many different components. The seven main components of health are physical, social, emotional, spiritual, mental, sexual, and environmental health. All of these components are combinable, as well as able to stand on their own, to explain health. From my experience, the society we live in values physical health above others. However, old philosophies regarding different aspects of the six components left are beginning to reemerge. This revisiting of those philosophies has lead to “western” culture allowing new outlooks on health and its many aspects. My personal philosophy regarding health stresses the importance of spiritual, mental, and emotional health. I believe that these are three of the most important aspects of health, and cause a trickledown effect, affecting not only the 4 other aspects of health, but an overall well being.
My belief toward health, as it relates to education, has recently grown over the past few years. Not only holding opinion, but now fostering also knowledge to support the evidence I have seen. Growing up in the United States and being accustomed to a “typical” American education of sitting behind a desk, has not failed me up to this point. I feel that I have learned a lot of useful information that will assist me throughout my life. Due to my upbringing, this model of education was my idea of the best way to educate students. I saw only that America, a highly intelligent and developed nation, used this method to teach. Leading me to the conclusion that the best way to teach a subject, would be to follow suit. I assumed it was normal for students to complain about doing homework or fall back on the excuse, “when am I ever going to use this?”.
Those excuses reach outside the classroom as well, raining down onto the parents at home throughout the United States. And those parents smile, repeating what the teachers say to their students. Looking back on this process, with the experience i have gained in the teaching world, it is hard for me to answer these questions. I have found that I now side not with the teachers and parents that brought me to where I am today, but with the students going through the system now, and the student that I used to be.
As a nation, we are missing out on valuable educational opportunities for our students. Leaving them lacking in many aspects of their educations, which impact their adult lives. We are so stuck on grading and standardized testing that we are limiting the amount of experiential learning students are exposed to. Unnecessary stress has been added on students by limiting their educational instruction to lectures, papers, quizzes, and tests. This paper based, data driving educational approach is not the most effective way for students to learn and grow. For example, this is demonstrated by the story of the little boy who wanted to go outside and play in the cold. Instead of telling the child how to dress, he experienced the cold for himself and eventually dressed accordingly.
This idea is similar to a trade school mentality. Experience based in the field learning is what educational efforts should be focused on. If education contains a wholeistic approach, not only teaching the facts but the application and bigger picture of those facts as well, then the student that asks “how is this going to benefit me?” can be given an answer. A student spends a large chunk of their life in a school environment. I see it as our duty as teachers, which is itself a very weighted term, to be able to give a definitive answer to our students that is relatable to personal experience.
I believe a small step toward this idea of education would be to counter the idea of homework and make learning more student centered. As a student, I would never have a question about material being taught, until I went home and tried to work on my homework. Instead of lecturing to students in class, why not let the student listen to the lecture at home when they are most focused. When students are in class, let them complete homework problems and collaborate with other students and, most importantly the teacher. This interactive “out of the seat experience” makes students more involved and responsible for their own learning.
My philosophy on health education is somewhat similar to my stance on education. With the overwhelming amount of information in the health field, I feel that we need to base what we teach students on relevancy. Due to the fact that students have unlimited access to information regarding alcohol consumption, drug use, sex and many other sensitive topics that are covered in health class, it is difficult for a health educator to show students that these activities are not appropriate. Teachers and parents know that this type of behavior is rampant in high school age students from personal experience. It is not accurate to say that every student in high school is using drugs, and participating in sexual activities however, a large population is. Drug use and sex are a huge part of our society, being romanticized in the media that our children are exposed to. The adults that surround these students need to take responsibility for the proper education of the younger population. Sharing knowledge and helping them to cope with these experiences appropriately. Education is headed in this direction in regards to sex education from an STI/Pregnancy stand point, however alcohol consumption effects and education is still lacking.
The issue of teaching students about drinking has so many components that a health educator has to take into consideration. Most importantly that it is against the law for someone under the age of 21 to drink in the United States. As previously stated, it is naïve for us to think that this age restriction is preventing students from partaking in drinking; we know the behavior is happening so why do we continue to ignore the facts? We need to accept that providing information to students about this taboo topic it not enough to control the behavior.
For example, if your little brother, who is a senior in high school, approached you and said “I got so drunk last night, had a blast with my friends, and hooked up with this girl” are you, as an adult, going to scold him? No! You are likely going to pat him on the back and have a sense of pride. This type of positive feedback related to the “partying” lifestyle is all too common in our society. Television shows, movies, and commercials associate drinking with having a good time. Music promotes this lifestyle as fun and exciting. The fact of the matter is going out with friends, having a couple drinks and socializing is fun! Underage students observe this behavior and want to partake, and who can blame them? I do not think that we should change the age at which people can drink, but I feel that we need to take it upon ourselves as educators, guardians and mentors to teach students how to how to consume alcohol in a mature, non abusive manner. Instead of telling students how alcohol will affect them, and ruin their lives, I feel like we need to let them experience it first hand in a controlled and safe environment. By doing this, alcohol would lose its mystique and hopefully prevent high school students from abusing it.
My outlook on overall health has been altered with the more education I gain on the subject. My previous beliefs were without a multi-component perspective, lacking different levels of medical care and only taking into consideration the physical aspect from a tertiary care level. From a disease and medical standpoint, the secret of primary care has been leaked out into our society. Growing up I had no idea that diseases such as cancer where preventable and that lifestyle choices were causing us to be and stay sick. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the government wants. The medical community is a business and views us as a pay check. However, if we take responsibility of our physical health as a nation and live a balanced lifestyle by eating correctly and living an active live, tertiary care would be an absolute last resort instead of the only alternative.
As you are reading my paper you are probably thinking: how does making school more experiential based, teaching students how to drink appropriately, and making health care more focused on primary prevention versus tertiary care relate to the importance of spiritual, mental, and emotional health? I can some my answer up in one word: stress. The American population is overworked, over stimulated, and exhausted. This lifestyle is mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining which is the main cause of many physical health problems.
A majority of the population never get any time to unwind and spend time with family or friends. Since we are constantly trying to better ourselves, financially and educationally, we are missing out on what is truly important: spending time with the ones we love. Our values as a society are changing. Parents spend minimal time talking to their children and teaching them valuable life experience. Children learn their behaviors from media sources, and social networks. The new generations are losing the ability to properly communicate and function as a part of a society. Many of those
children are unable to maintain a job because their work ethics are self taught through television and media. Parental intervention is a necessary tool in an adolescent’s life. I strongly believe that the society we live in and have created is perpetually going to have a negative impact on health. It is our responsibility to learn how to live healthily within it. Asking for the world to change is an unrealistic goal. Asking for information to be shared and knowledge to be passed down is a manageable and realistic goal. We need to teach our children how to respect themselves and others within this corrupted environment and to find a happy medium on the continuum between quality and quantity of life. By making spiritual, mental, and emotion components of health a priority in our society, we will regain our priorities as a nation and discover an underlying purpose for life that does not revolve around material or superficial items.