Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sisyphus's Teaching Philosophy Meme

OK, so there's this.

In the spirit of P, however, I've got to go for snark. It is April, after all, and I've got absolutely no patience left. At the moment, my real life teaching philosophy is DO YOUR GODDAMN HOMEWORK AND GET TO CLASS ON TIME, I AM TIRED OF YOUR BULLSHIT.

So here's my world-weary, when-will-this-semester-end version, born of actually serving on search committees that require teaching philosophy statements.

My teaching philosophy centers on students. I believe in a dynamic classroom where students learn actively. I eschew all forms of sage-on-the-stage, chalk-and-talk, rhymey-blimey-whatever teaching. Eschew it! My pedagogy requires students to talk, to discuss things, to actually participate in the learning process. In this, I am refreshingly newfangled.

In my student-centric classroom, we occasionally sit in circles. This radically disrupts the power structure of the classroom, enabling students to take an active role in their own educations. Sometimes we also do group work.

Further, I am committed to developing critical thinking in my students by getting beyond the notion that learning is all about memorizing facts and regurgitating them at the professor's will. I know that this is a new idea, but bear with me here--as it turns out, literary study is not just about plot summary! I ask challenging and innovative questions to connect the material to students' own lives. I also use PowerPoint sometimes, because today's students are digital natives who learn best through visual stimulus and are excellent multitaskers. These are all very exciting new ideas that I came up with myself while I was TA'ing that course that one time.

Hm. That might actually be too snarky even for me. And truthfully, I can't say that my real-life teaching philosophy was that much better (content-wise, anyway; I had very little teaching experience when I first went on the market). I've tried my hand at writing more original teaching statements, and they all sounded just a little crazy. But "student-centered" has GOT to be the tiredest classroom-descriptor in the book.

At one point in the last committee I served on, I started fantasizing about receiving a statement of teaching philosophy that embraced straight lecture; at least it would have been different.

If I'm in a better mood later this week, maybe I'll take Sis up on her challenge for real and write about what does bring me joy in teaching. Up until about a week ago, I had plenty to say. And, okay, honestly, my seminar students are rocking right now, so I'll leave you with that bit of positivity.

5 comments:

Anastasia said...

I run the Anastasia show. Straight up. I never say this in my teaching philosophy.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

This cracked me up, especially the part "bear with me..." Loved it.

P said...

"we occasionally sit in circles."

:-)

Made. My. Night.

Dr. Koshary said...

This post and Anastasia's comment both made me very happy.

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