Roger Hiemstra's Personal Philosophy of Education


My Philosophical System

I draw eclectically on several systems. However, the humanism model provides the foundation upon which rests most of what I do as a teacher or facilitator. I also try very hard to be consistent with the tenets of this foundation not only in what I do as a professional but also in my role as spouse, parent, friend, and community member.


I believe that intellect is what distinguishes humans from animals and that we have the potential to expand that intellect throughout life. I also believe that there are a large number of concrete facts basic to our being able to perform as capable educational professionals.

What is Reality?

The reality that I embrace rests on an assumption that all humans are basically good and have potential for continuous growth and development as individuals. This growth can include such features as intellectual improvement, enhanced interrelationship abilities, and expanding civic literacy skills.

Nature of Being Human

I adhere to basic humanistic notions that the dignity of each human being must be respected. I also respect each person's desire for autonomy and independence but recognize that such desire is in a constant state of fluctuation.


Educational Aims

I believe that educational aims should center around helping adults reach their maximum potential in any learning setting. This should include the development of personal intellect, the ability to think critically, and the translation of new knowledge into practical skills and behaviors.

Educational Methods

I encourage considerable self-direction and learner involvement in all aspects of a learning experience. I also use learning contracts as a means for an individual to plan a personal route through a learning experience.

Educational Content

I provide learners with some basic parameters of what the learning experience should involve or cover in order to meet professional expectations regarding the mastery of the subject matter. However, because there are so many ways of achieving mastery, learners are involved in some needs assessment activities at the beginning of the learning experience to help them plan their specific routes through the content and to provide me with some input to help in my preparation of or focus for curricular material, learning activities, and learning experiences for the remainder of the course.

[Here is a web-based version of a philosophy statement developed by an Elmira College student to give you a comparison.]

Roger Hiemstra's Personal Code of Ethics

As an adult education professional, I recognize the importance of codifying and making known to my profession and to the general public the ethical principles that guide my work. I understand that ethical dilemmas will occur as I conduct my professional activities but am committed to a set of values and philosophical beliefs that embody my ethical responsibilities as a professional.

I declare the following principles to represent my personal code of professional ethics.

1. I am committed to developing the highest educational and quality of life potential for all individuals with whom I come into contact as a professional higher educator.

2. I will attempt to exercise objective and non-partial judgment as I practice my profession.

3. I will constantly strive to advance my knowledge and skill regarding higher education leadership.

4. I am committed to sharing such knowledge, skill, and corresponding experiences with others through publications and presentations.

5. I will always strive to work within the accepted standards and policies of the higher education profession.

6. I will seek to uphold and improve where necessary any laws, regulations, and policies governing the delivery of educational programs to all adults regardless of their age, background, current situation, economic status, gender, racial derivation, religious beliefs, or sexual preference.

7. I will not condone or participate in any unethical or illegal acts.

8. I will constantly strive to be the best possible higher education leader.

9. I will seek to treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, dignity, and good faith.

10. I will take all reasonable steps to inform myself, all students with whom I work, and the community at large of any consequences stemming from professional work with which I am involved.

11. I will look forward to and accept any evaluative feedback provided to me by others and constantly attempt to incorporate appropriate changes into my professional work.

12. I will strive to be a good citizen, be civil in my relationship with others, and utilize my increasing professional knowledge to enhance my skill as a leader.

Roger Hiemstra's Statement of Professional Commitment

(I am indebted to a 1993, summer, issue of the Journal of Extension for providing ideas and words valuable in the development of this statement of commitment)

Change due to technological development, constant knowledge expansion, and ongoing experiences in working with others has always been an integral part of being a higher education professional. However, it seems that today changes are occurring faster and from so many different directions. Thus, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine which change to react or respond to first.

At the same time, in higher education new clientele, needs, situations, and financial challenges constantly emerge. This necessitates that the higher education profession must continuously prioritize and re-prioritize time commitments. Often this means "letting go" of old activities or "ways" and becoming involved in new ventures and new clientele. This frequently creates an angst on the part of not only the professional, but also current clientele or students who may feel they are being abandoned or short-changed.

Thus, as a professional I recognize that I must continually face many changes that affect both me and the people I serve. This means I am required to implement programs and services that must change over time, too. This also requires that I constantly find ways to coordinate and collaborate with others, explore partnerships with various groups, and upgrade the content of programs with which I am involved.

I also am committed to using new and emerging technologies in the delivery of such programs but must be diligent in assuring that by so doing I do not inadvertently eliminate or greatly reduce the accessibility of such programs for people who have limited access to these technologies. This will take constant examination of delivery modes, materials utilized, and access routes made available. I am especially concerned about my increasing use of the Internet, social media, and smart phones as resource storehouses and instructional delivery tools. This makes make more difficult my efforts to be diligent in not adding to a "haves" and "have-not" situation.

Above all, I am committed as a professional to helping develop a greater appreciation for those common goals and values that make our society a healthy place in which to live and in which the constant need to learn throughout life is recognized as vital to a community's development. This requires championing excellence in all programs with which I am involved and fostering the professional development of all colleagues with whom I have a relationship. In essence, this means creating an environment for innovation and excellence in what I do as a professional.

Therefore, following are some of the professional stances to which I am committed:

November, 2013

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