Welcome to Experience Philosophy
"When my bird heard the truth, it became a dragon." persian adage
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 to promote a stimulating educational experience: respectable student-teacher relationships, design diverse learning-centered lessons, promote critical thinking instead of 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. Also, we must have a critical awareness that diversity and cultural background affect the learning process. It is our responsibility 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 our students' active positive learning experiences.
The Student-Teacher Relationship
I believe 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 student's schedule and needs. Respectful interactions, appreciation for their situation, and exciting topics set the stage for a stable classroom community. We are in this car together, one driving the vehicle 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 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 promptly. This is easily achieved by designing formative assessments that are 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 ancient 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 the past's complex abstract ideas. For example, I ask the student where the origin of knowledge is? 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 more profound hard questions to obtain ownership over their education. It's essential instructors identify strategies that achieve the course competencies and outcomes. After all - that's why we are here.
Humanities require a look into abstract and completely foreign topics to the modern student -- the everyday person for that matter! I must 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 that put 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 these artists' power and simultaneously reveals the essence of their being. This forces students to evaluate the material, outside of just memorizing vocabulary critically, and genuinely understand the Surrealist world from a first-person perspective. They begin to take ownership of their 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 that fosters lasting comprehension of the topics material.
Promote Diverse Learning Styles And Cultural Backgrounds
Promote Diverse Learning Styles And Cultural Backgrounds
One of the main goals of a Humanities professor involve 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. They talked about music and said, "some music is just so gay." This insensitive verbiage quickly spread throughout the class like a virus, instantly shutting down students. By reading the room, I quickly saw the damage produced by 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 professionally. I want the student to experience the information and analyze the ideas presented to them to 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 future crisis in the area of diversity curriculum. For example, we need to consider color awareness and realize color does not solely define background. I have a majority color, black and brown, within my Florida Humanities course, and very few white students. If I assume each person of black color is African American, I'd be sorely mistaken. Most of the black color students vary between Haitian and the Dominican Republic. Many are first-generation Americans who know very little about the African American struggle for civil rights. They have entered into a fight because they are black 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 identifying ethnic background & identity preferences.
Therefore, the curriculum must include different ethnic backgrounds, images of
all colors, gender preferences, and students with disabilities. An excellent
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, make sure all their Lectures and Images reflect
people of color and different genders, LGBTQ+, and students with disabilities.
Continue To Sharpen Our Teaching Methods
Teaching is more than the teacher-student relationship and includes refining our 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 complicated 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 excellent. However, that feedback is not always constructive and critical.
A colleague could observe areas that need a second look or saw a way to overcome a hard lesson plan. The same logic includes the head chef assessing a sous chef vs. someone off the street. A colleague speaks your language, knows the customs, and wants the same thing you do - achieve the Essential Course Competencies most effectively. 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 educate ourselves daily further. 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.
Academic work, after completing my Masters Thesis, 'On Subconscious Truths As Expressed by William James,' I now focus my research on 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.
(3) Examine prior ideology now clashing with the emergence of diverse and equitable ideologies.
Hopkinsville Community College; Philosophy
Fayetteville Technical Community College; Critical Thinking
Valencia College; Humanities