Welcome to Experience Philosophy
"When my bird heard the truth it became a dragon."
Philosophy is not about arguments, debates, or the caricature of cranky old professors - not by a long shot!
Philosophy is the key to unlocking the shackles that smother your curiosity, critical thinking, wonderment, and your true sense of self. Philosophy is not just a subject you learn. Rather, it's a lifestyle of insatiable curiosity that will, if you let it, alter your way of being in the world. I traveled Europe with one goal in mind, take the words of ancient, medieval, and modern philosophers and seek out the environment that shaped their minds, and discover if their words, not only live on but, perhaps, linger in the air ready for new generations to take hold
My Philosophy of Education rests upon four areas needed in order to promote a stimulating educational experience: respectable student-teacher relationships, design diverse learning-centered lessons, promote critical thinking as opposed to passive thinking through detailed formative assessments, and finally, continue discovering new methods of teaching via professional developments.
The student-teacher relationship must be built on a shared need to learn and respect each other in a constructive manner. This recognition should naturally promote essential active learning practices that include various learning styles ensuring the content is retained and comprehended. In addition, we must have a critical awareness that diversity and cultural background affect the learning process and it is our responsibly to scrub our own biases from our methods and practices. Finally, a stale professor is a dying professor meaning we must continue to sharpen our teaching methods with the latest strategies that promote active positive learning experiences for our students.
The Student-Teacher Relationship
It's my belief that students learn best when they have respect for their instructor and trust the instructor to guide them through the course goals. A student-teacher relationship, with clear expectations between the teacher and student help engage with the student on a level they understand and shows empathy to students schedule and needs. Respectful interactions, appreciation for their situation, and interesting topics set the stage for a stable classroom community. We are in this car together, one driving the car and the other navigating with precision, calmness, and urgency. If we don't work together we head over a cliff! As a student, I never realized how important the student-teacher relationship meant to me. I hated teaching myself and having an instructor toss me a bunch of reading material, only offering vague feedback such as "needed to be deeper" or "nice work (thumbs up)". I want the student to know I appreciated their effort and took the time to experience the journey with them. I don't want to simply facilitate the information to them, I want them to know I expect them to have ownership in the learning process, and in return, I take equal ownership in teaching them. We, as instructors, must invest in them as much as we expect them to invest in themselves. Instructors must provide helpful constructive feedback in a timely manner. This is easily achieved by designing formative assessments that can be offered in real-time. This ensures the student corrects their mistakes before moving on and it shows the student you are invested in their time and efforts. One last thing to consider about the student-instructor relationship - we do not learn and teach in a bubble. Building a strong classroom community helps you communicate better with each student, lean on each other, and achieve our course goals. Nourishing a powerful and positive environment makes everyone work harder and be positive!
Design Active Learning-Based Outcomes that Promotes Education Ownership
It's crucial professors shed archaic teaching practices in favor of practices that support active learning-based outcomes promote an appreciation for various learning styles and cultural backgrounds. We, as modern professors, must implement strategies that successfully encourage students to become more active learners and take responsibility for their education. It's my wish to design a curriculum that adapts to fit the various needs of my students via Student-Led Learning and High-Impact Experiences, (personal to each student), while at the same time injecting my knowledge and expertise on the topic. I hope to create an environment that promotes strategic thinking about current events and how they relate to complex abstract ideas of the past. For example, I ask the student where is the origin of knowledge? At first, they blink and stare and offer various awkward answers. I walk over to an unsuspecting student and point at them, "all knowledge begins and ends with you.", pause and let that sink in, and then move my finger around the room, "you, you, you, and so on" I remind them that receiving the information is only half the journey. They need to actively seek deeper hard questions in order to obtain ownership over their own education. It's very important instructors identify strategies that achieve the course competencies and outcomes, after all - that's why we are here. Humanities require a look into topics that are abstract and completely foreign to the modern student -- the modern person for that matter! It's important I present activities that (1) meet the intent of the course objectives but (2) also allow the student a chance to appreciate other culture's beliefs and customs. I've constructed activities in a way that puts the student in the minds of the artists, philosophers, and humanists. For example, studying the impact and influence of Surrealism and Cubism via giants such as Picasso and Munch. Students must create an original self-portrait that showcases the influence of these artists and simultaneously reveals the essence of their being. This forces students to critically evaluate the material, outside of just memorizing vocabulary and helps them truly understand the Surrealist world from a first-person perspective. They begin to take ownership of their own learning process by offering this approach to learning, i.e. combining critical reading and hands-on activities, we can expose students to the complex material in a fashion that fosters lasting comprehension of the topics and material.
Promote Diverse Learning Styles And Cultural Backgrounds
One of the main goals a Humanities professor involves fostering an appreciation for the world and cultures outside their bubble. For example, one careless instance involved a student discussing their experience in the workplace in which they were talking about music and it was 'just so gay'. This verbiage quickly spread throughout the class like a virus, instantly shutting down students. By reading the room, I quickly saw the damage produced from his words. We, as instructors, must remember the students absorb our knowledge and experience therefore, it must be objective, sharp, free of bias, and presented in a professional manner. I want the student to experience the information and analyze the ideas presented to them in a manner they feel respected and safe. The biggest question I foresee - how do you accomplish all this? I would achieve this in two ways, (1) establish a clear path of communication with my students ensuring they feel safe with me and (2) continue to be critically aware of diversity and inclusion in my lesson plans, visual aids, and speech.
We must spend time designing course material that reflects an accurate picture of humanity, if not, we are part of the problem. I see a forthcoming problem in the area of diversity not only do you need to take into account color awareness but also realize color does not solely define background. Within my Florida Humanities course, I have a majority color, black and brown, and very little white students. If I assume each person of black color is African American, I'd be sorely mistaken. Most of the students of black color vary between Haitian and the Dominican Republic, and many are first-generation American who has no idea about the African American struggle for civil rights. They have entered into a fight that they had no clue, just because they are of black color and assumed, they are African American. Consequently, the instructor needs to understand that black doesn't always mean African. Diversity has to be more than recognizing just color but also recognizing ethnic background & identity preferences. Therefore, the curriculum must include different ethnic backgrounds, images of all colors, and also show gender preferences, and students with disabilities. A good spot to implement this would be the icebreaker. On day one of class, the professor could design a bingo game that focuses on seeking diverse backgrounds and cultural experiences. Then, also make sure all their Lectures and PowerPoints reflect not only people of color, but different genders, LGBTQ+, and/or students with disabilities.
Continue To Sharpen Our Teaching Methods
Teaching is more than the teacher-student relationship but also includes refining our own methods and pedagogy via professional development goals, colleague connections, and peer observations. There are many ways I, personally, try to better myself. I partake in mentorship programs with my colleagues allowing me to see how seasoned instructors overcome complex lesson plans and present them in a digestible manner. In that same respect, fresh new instructors bring new light and spunk to topics that might have grown stale over the years. Another aspect of instructor growth is peer-reviews and observations by a colleague. Student feedback is great, however, that feedback is not always constructive and critical. A fellow colleague could observe areas that need a second look or saw a way to overcome a hard lesson plan. It's the same logic that includes the head chef assessing a sous chef vs someone off the street. A fellow colleague speaks your language, knows the customs, and wants the same thing you do - achieve the Essential Course Competencies in the most effective manner. We need to keep in mind Humanities is always changing! We need to stay current with experts in the field. We need to attend conferences, colleague lectures, read the latest articles on the topics, travel, and see the changing world. We also need to use digital and social media to our advantage and reach out to professors on the other side of the world! The world is at our fingertips - no reason not to further educate ourselves on a daily basis. It's important to note that teaching requires more than writing lectures and study guides, you also need to create an environment conducive to positive learning through respect, trust, and varied learning techniques.
My academic work, after completing my Masters Thesis, 'On Subconscious Truths As Expressed by William James', I now focus my research in two areas of Personal Identity:
(1) Explore the causal relationships that form our beliefs and identity.
(2) Examine how our environment shapes our identity, i.e.. the relationship between what you believe and disbelieve and how it affects who you are as a person.
Hopkinsville Community College; Philosophy
Fayetteville Technical Community College; Critical Thinking
Valencia College; Humanities