While working towards my Master’s degree in TESOL, I had the opportunity to craft a brief “philosophy of teaching.” One idea that stuck with me during that assignment was the need to continually revise one’s philosophy of teaching. That is what I intend to do over the next several weeks in this blog forum.
“Decisions are easy when values are clear.”–Roy Disney
Last June, I wrote the following main points pertaining to my philosophy of teaching:
a) sensitivity to context
b) the need to find a balance between conformity to institutional norms and personal integrity
c) a teacher shouldmodel discipline, integrity, consistency, assertiveness, and self-control
d) the promotion of self-development
I recently crafted another list, which had a total of eight points. I’ll only address four this week, and i’ll return to the next four for a subsequent post. There was something absent when I was compiling my list: specific attention to SLA/ELT pedagogical techniques. I really don’t know what to make of that, thus, I will ask my handful of readers: should a personal teaching philosophy include subject specific points? It’s an open question, and I may modify my views based on the feedback I receive. Be that as it may, here are the first few key factors which motivate me to improve my teaching:
1. Anti-douchism. This is a little tongue and cheek. The well-known slang term “douchebag” frequently runs through my mind. I’ll give it an operational definition: a person who is lazy and close-minded; a person who rejects incoming data or new approaches without reference to specific, valid criteria or principles. I encounter such attitudes (let’s not label an entire person based on a particular set of attitudes in a specific domain) frequently in my classroom by students, and occasionally colleagues. It makes my job frustrating. Ultimately, I want students to gain the ability to suspend judgement and approach knowledge/activities with an open-mind. Whenever they do reject something–be it a teaching methodology, or anything outside of the classroom, I hope students can articulate coherent reasons for their beliefs and dispositions. This ultimately entails students have a critical orientation. That may depend on developmental factors, such as gaining increased metacognitive awareness and , at a biological level, the growth of the pre-frontal cortex.
2. Service. Unquestionably, humans are deeply social. It is impossible to deny the many benefits all individuals receive from the multiple institutions which they operate in. However, the relationship is most beneficial and fulfilling when mutual reciprocation is a concurrent feature. I think it is fair to say humans go from self-centeredness to a more community-based orientation as they develop. I feel part of a teacher’s responsibility is to facilitate the transition.
3. Community. Largely related to the prior point. A feel a teacher should promote an orientation with in students to both contribute, and after a certain developmental stage create and innovate new or existing communities.
4. Respect for the individual. I don’t think humans are inclined towards tolerance of diversity. It takes the proper exposure and experience to develop such an orientation. I see two components here: respect for the self and respect for others: especially others who are not similar to you. I feel both forms of respect have a symbiotic relationship.
So that is the first four. Next week I hope to list the next (and so far final) four. Afterwards, I will compare how well my current place of employment adheres to my philosophy of teaching, and most importantly how well my teaching conforms to the above criteria. I conclude with a question for my readers: How appropriate do you feel such dispositions are for a NES working a foreign culture–when he is not a citizen of said culture?