My foremost pedagogical intention is to seriously engage students with some of the most significant problems of our time. I think it is crucial for students to work through conceptual, philosophical, ethical, and interpretive questions in a rigorous, scholarly manner, but at the same time, for them to see how these seemingly "academic" issues actually have real-world consequences. I hope that my students will continue to find that the content of my classes not only prepares them for their professions but also helps them develop their own frameworks for making sense of their work, their lives, and their world.
Studying past cultures and seeking to understand early literatures deeply — even empathetically — are crucial intellectual activities, and I try to inspire my students to do so with vigor. "Critical thinking" is not only a matter of critiquing various points of view, but includes in even measure the complementary endeavor of comprehending unfamiliar mindsets in order to glimpse their specific and particular integrities. I try to encourage analogy as well as analysis, appreciation as well examination, and the play of the mind within a given set of assumptions as well as the interrogation of the assumptions themselves.
My teaching is primarily founded on the belief that literature is directly related to life, that it captures and represents life in all its complexity—its artistic, historical, psychological and social dimensions. Through works of literature and art, I teach students the means by which they may reach a better understanding of themselves and of others. It is my belief, that good literary works offer us the means by which we may become social agents of meaningful change.
Since practical instruction and the passing on of positive knowledge can be taught directly, it is the primary purpose of teaching as I see it. The other side of education—the developing of open-minded learners—cannot be directly taught without simply indoctrinating one's students. To keep the classroom space open and democratic, this part of education must always remain the indirect result of teaching. Through commitment to diversity, creativity, flexibility, and responsibility in the classroom, I find that I can reach my students in a number of ways that attends to both direct and indirect modes of learning.
As a theatre and performance historian there is nothing more important to me than enabling students to understand the past as essential to their engagement with the world. When a student fully understands the possibilities history gives her, she is seizing the power to make the world a better place for herself and others. As her teacher I believe my job is to help her identify the tools at her command and offer her the guidance she needs to bring about transformation, and, then, get out of her way.
I strive to help my students make the leap from rote learning to understanding the subject at hand in their own terms and then, in turn, to effectively communicate their knowledge with others. A challenge for this task is encouraging students to personalize their work while maintaining the critical distance necessary to evaluate it. This is easier said than done and requires mutual respect between teacher and student and a shared commitment to learning.
My underlying teaching principle is to instill curiosity in students, the ability to learn by themselves and an openness to new ideas. If I can achieve that goal, then I have succeeded. Most of their learning lies ahead, and they must be able to educate themselves.
The key to teaching is relating the material to the student's own experiences. Thus, engineering should be taught within the context of the technology that surrounds us. In this way, the student sees the relevance of the subject matter and develops the interest and desire to learn it. That spark leads to curiosity about the world and a pattern of lifelong learning.
Teaching is about hope. It is about believing that people want to learn, can learn, and will use what they learn to improve their lives as well as their world. It is about an undying optimism that you, as a teacher, can make an enormous difference in the lives of your students.
To teach well, there is no substitute for the passion born from a life's devotion to advancing the frontiers of one's subject. But it takes more. With each class and each generation, one must find new ways to get inside students' heads, see with their eyes, learn their language, recreate their misconceptions, and relive the joy of discovery with them. There is no easy prescription for, nor measurement of, this process. That's what makes it difficult, fun and deeply rewarding.
I strive to present information in a manner that allows students to see simplicity and clarity in seemingly complex subjects. Simplicity and clarity can only come from an extraordinarily deep understanding of a subject. Such depth of knowledge and the resulting clarity in understanding makes both teaching and learning a great experience.
As a political philosophy professor, one of my main goals is to help my students to understand the texts of classic and contemporary thinkers and apply this knowledge to their lives and social circumstances. The classes I teach focus on a wide variety of different thinkers and eras - Ancient and Medieval Political Philosophy, Modern Political Philosophy, American Political Thought, Contemporary Political Theory — but are all ultimately organized around a number of fundamental ethical and political questions: What is a good life for human beings? What obligations do we have to others? What is the nature of a just society? In all of my classes, I challenge students to come up with their own answers to these questions so that they can better understand their social and political world, gain more conscious control over their lives and decisions, and become better persons and citizens.
I aim to help students see how class material is relevant in their lives and to the world in which they live. If I can do that—and, let's face it, for Psychology it's pretty easy—I find that students will engage with a topic at a level that changes how they think rather than merely acquiring the material that could as easily be absorbed from an afternoon on Wikipedia.
As a teacher in a professional education program, I must not only prepare students for immediate practice effectiveness but for career long success. I am enthusiastic about my field and seek to ignite my students' passion for serving others skillfully. This involves providing students with a variety of learning experiences aimed at facilitating their integration of theory-based knowledge with clinical acumen and skill.
As a teacher educator, I believe that teachers are the most critical factor in helping children and adolescents achieve success in learning. The experiences we provide for preservice teachers can have far-reaching consequences for the many children they will eventually teach. It is our responsibility to help future teachers develop as critical thinkers who are open to new learning, maintain a strong focus on teaching students as individuals, value the different ways in which learning can occur, and, above all, remember the tremendous influence they can have on their own students.
Today's students must solve tomorrow's problems. The future for all of us may depend on their abilities to think, to find solutions, to be creative, to challenge the status quo. To be their teacher is a staggering responsibility and deserves nothing less than everything I have. My motto, do whatever it takes.
The habits of thought students develop at college lay a foundation for lifelong learning and for living in a mindful way. I involve my students as active learners. I encourage participation, questioning, and group discussion. At the same time, I challenge students and try always to include some material that excites the best students in the class.
In terms of a teaching philosophy, I confess to being dogmatically pragmatic. Substantively, I have four goals in the classroom: provide students with the opportunity to increase their interest in the subject matter, sharpen their critical thinking abilities, help them with their research skills, and draw connections between the world and the academic literature.
Great teaching at the college level is based upon providing students with inspiration, not just information. I constantly pose questions from the latest scientific research and also help students make practical connections to everyday experiences to enhance course material. The idea is to inspire students to imagine what is possible by teaching them to think for themselves as well as view the world around them in an informed way.
As a student, I found that teachers who adopted a positive approach to learning and who encouraged curiosity inspired success. My mission is to inspire my students to become engaged citizens who understand the relevance of political science and its connection to their lives. When students have the opportunity to apply theories to the world around them and to draw their own conclusions, they get excited about grappling with real, consequential ideas that matter.
Students have always reminded me of plants - mix a little bit of water, nutrients, sunshine and attention and watch them blossom! Providing students with a mixture of communication, knowledge, time and attention has allowed me to witness the most magnificent blossoms imaginable! I love my profession; each day more than the last.
My teaching philosophy has evolved over the years. It is a continuous endeavor to discover, refine and adapt a learning environment inside and outside the classroom that triggers and inspires intellectual curiosity, and exploits students' potential. It is a philosophy to bring the best to the students, extract the best out of students, and create a life-long learning experience.
I am a lifelong learner and an education researcher, and the students I am privileged to teach see quickly that I am truly interested in their learning, questions, and process, not just numerical answers. My teaching includes interactive beyond-the-book connections and real-time assessment that addresses misconceptions about specific content, while working on a broader level to make meaningful, engaging, and accessible a subject that many students viewed as irrelevant, boring, and daunting."
In my courses I sometimes relate historical developments to current events with which my students might be familiar. More often, I emphasize that the past is irretrievable: that history belongs to a world we have lost and will not be repeated. By exposing students to a past that is in many ways foreign to them, by getting them to appreciate the differences between us and our ancestors, I offer them a road to the self-knowledge that is the main goal of an education in the liberal arts."
As a teacher, my goal is to create environments that breed success. Whether it's in the classroom, in the laboratory, or on the playing field, we should set high expectations, create positive role models, and encourage positive peer pressure. If we do this, I think that students will find themselves achieving more than they ever imagined that they could.
For me, the most important thing in teaching is just spending time with the students. One of the things I love about teaching at Winedale is the chance to work with students on Shakespeare, seven days a week, for the whole summer. If they hadn't learned something after that, I wouldn't be much of a teacher.
I hope that what my students experience in my classroom helps to guide their critical thinking and writing — and that they will come to look at language newly, seeing connections among different passages within a text and different rhetorical styles among authors. Learning how to articulate new insights and develop an argument orally and in writing should hone the skills that can carry the students into a lifetime of analysis and contemplation about the issues they confront on a daily basis, whether these confrontations comprise the intellectual challenges of an academic setting or the everyday acts of navigating their lives. My teaching allows me to create an environment that can be re-created by my students.
Fingers. That's the key. Learning can be fun sometimes, but it is always hard work and it takes root when it passes through the Fingers. So coach students into using their fingers to learn. Every good coach works his/her athletes hard for the good of the athletes. The best coaches say things like "We're in this together, and NOBODY will outwork us!" Well faculty can coach their students to do the hard work of learning in a similar way. "We're in this together and NOBODY is going to outwork us!" Then make those fundamentals pass through their fingers.
"I'm Looking through You." To that Beatles' title I'd add "at" and "to." I look at my students' immediate scholarly needs, but I also look through the present to what might be valuable to them long after we part. And I look to them for ideas that help me to reinvigorate this whole wonderful process of looking through, at, and to.
Though a senior member of the English department, I am especially interested in and committed to teaching lower division courses. In these classes I endeavor to make sure students leave every session feeling that our work on literary texts has put them in contact with real people and real life questions, that it has triggered their imaginations and built their intellectual confidence.
I never enter a classroom without remembering my own college experiences, and those memories inspire me to reach out in any way I can to establish trust and communication with my students. Teaching them what I know is an essential but nonetheless minimal first step. The real trick is helping them discover their own potential: the confidence to tackle a thorny problem; the liberation of seeing "I don't know" as a starting point rather than an end.
I have great enthusiasm for my discipline and enjoy taking students on journeys through and out of their textbooks. Associated with learning is a joy that, when emphasized, allows for natural curiosity to feed interest which is rewarded by discovery. It is important for students to understand the relevance of what they are learning — "the big picture" — prior to focusing on necessary details. Chemistry is a story, complete with human and content-based relationships. Thus, I emphasize connections to prior content in addition to building bridges to the future. I encourage inquisitive minds and expect a high standard of excellence, while fostering playful, learned interactions with the surrounding world.
Education in the form of knowledge does not by its very nature beget student success. Engaging students with the lifelong learning skills and knowledge they will need in order to succeed after graduation is the cornerstone of a quality education. I see my role as an educator as challenging, engaging, supporting, and mentoring students to help them achieve independence and life success through critical thinking, ethical reflection, and the pursuit of lifelong learning.
One of the best descriptions of my approach to teaching was given by a former student. The statement ended up in print in a story about my relationship with students. "Most students and his colleagues would agree that when he is with his sons, he is a father and a teacher; when he is on the witness stand as an expert, he is a specialist and a teacher; when he is advising students, he is a counselor and a teacher; and when he is in the classroom, he is a father, specialist, counselor and a teacher."
I am just dumb enough to know what students have trouble with, and to understand why they might have trouble with it. I try to go through these sticky things in detail, and with repetition. I love my subject, its history, and the characters that shaped it, and I try to encourage my students to work as hard as they can and find something in all of it that fascinates them. I also firmly believe in the idea of treating everyone with respect and without condescension. I believe that my classes are fun places for motivated students.
My goal is to cultivate an atmosphere of experimentation, growth, change, and challenge. Clearly, there is no magical, 'how to' solution for social work students — the process that they must facilitate with clients is complex and dynamic. I expect students to stretch themselves, examine their beliefs and assumptions, and move beyond their present comfort zones of knowledge and intuition. I want my students to understand that they are part of a joint enterprise in which they learn critical skills and help create and not merely receive a body of knowledge.
Educators who impacted my life the most motivated me to realize my unique gifts and talents, and they supported me every step of the way. My goal is to pass this gift on to my students. I want my students to understand research design and statistics, of course; but, more importantly, I want my students to use the challenges and adversities of life to help open their minds and hearts so that they can excel and experience their own magnificence. In turn, they will be able to create a future in which we all benefit, a future in which we all share a set of common values and common responsibilities. And, in doing so, they will transform lives, not least their own.
As a teacher I am able to accomplish much with my students in activities that extend beyond the classroom. The art studio lab is a crucible where they are given ample opportunity to express ideas in a well-controlled environment. I find it essential to provide my students real-life experiences with their art that reach beyond the walls of the art department.