Why do I teach?
At the very foundation of my teaching philosophy is the idea that everyone can learn. Some people do better on their own while some prefer instructor led settings. Regardless of the environment, I believe that everyone is capable of intellectual growth and that fear, rather than our intellect, is a common obstacle. We’re scared to fail, scared to look silly, scared to be wrong, but if you’re learning from those experiences, you’re growing from them. In that aspect, I want to challenge my students to question everything, explore common and not-so-common beliefs and evaluate your thought process. I want you to learn to push past the surface information, past the habits of memorization, to employ active learning techniques in your daily lives.
I also place a strong emphasis on the value of pursuing topics that are of personal interest, something that is necessary for individual happiness. We often think of continuing education as a means to an end; a degree or certification is just a pathway to the perfect job. This doesn’t always have to be the case and there’s nothing wrong with learning just to learn. Taking a course in photography, community knitting classes or a seminar on horticulture are examples of continuing education relevant to the individual. An integral component to my classes is getting you to reevaluate your relationship with learning, remembering that it can be fun and it can be rewarding. Students will begin to build confidence in their ability to contribute meaningfully to self development, peer discussions, and on a larger scale, to community and social initiatives.
How do I accomplish these goals in the classroom?
- Collaborative Learning – Adult education theory puts a strong emphasis on encouraging students to bring their experiences into the classroom, and with good reason. By the time we move into continuing education, we are brimming with ideas and experiences that help us relate to each other and the world around us. Because of this, I believe that regardless of your background, every student has something to bring to the table. Whenever possible, I try to incorporate collaborative learning, or targeted group work, as a way to share information and perspectives.
- Critical Thinking – Part of effective learning is applying new knowledge to your current situations, making critical thinking a skill that is relevant in both business and personal environments. Analyzing and reflecting on information leads to deeper thinking, allowing you to explore your previous beliefs and determine whether they still hold true, are incorrect or can be expanded.
- Building Relationships Through Open Dialogue – Building relationships is one of the ways we share information and develop our knowledge. For this to work, respect in the classroom is crucial. Students are encouraged to share their opinions in a safe learning environment where they will have the opportunity to bring up questions or thoughts and have those opinions considered with equal weight by both the instructor and peers.
When you leave my classroom, it’s my hope that you have gained comprehension of the content, that you engaged in a meaningful exchange of ideas with your peers and that you start to recognize key elements regarding the way you perceive education as an adult. Additionally, I aim to learn something from you, no matter how grand or small or obscure, because a student can teach the teacher and it means just as much. Finally, I hope my classes inspires you to “pay it forward”- continue to share knowledge where you can and encourage those around you to do the same.