Design Active Learning-Based Outcomes that Promotes Education Ownership
Professors must shed ancient teaching practices that support active learning-based outcomes and appreciate various learning styles and cultural backgrounds. As modern professors, we must implement strategies encouraging students to become active learners and take responsibility for their education. I 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 injecting my knowledge and expertise on the topic. I want to create an environment that promotes strategic thinking about current events and relates 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. Then, I walk over to an unsuspecting student and point at them, "all knowledge begins and ends with you." I pause and let that sink in, 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 must actively seek more profound hard questions to obtain ownership of 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) allow the student to appreciate other cultures' beliefs and customs. I've constructed activities that put the student in the minds of 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 critically evaluate the material outside of memorizing vocabulary 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. As a result, we can expose students to complex material that fosters lasting comprehension.
Promote Diverse Learning Styles And Cultural Backgrounds
One of the main goals of 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. 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 students to experience the information and analyze the ideas presented to them to feel respected and safe. The biggest question I foresee is - how do you accomplish all this? I would achieve this in two ways: (1) establish a clear communication path 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 accurately reflects humanity. If not, we are part of the problem. I see a future crisis in the area of diversity curriculum. For example, we must consider color awareness and realize color does not define background. At Valencia College in Florida, we experience a very diverse color population. If I assume each person of 'black' color is African American, I'd be sorely mistaken. My students usually varied between the Haitian and the Dominican Republic backgrounds. Many first-generation Americans knew 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 must 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 seeks diverse backgrounds and cultural experiences. Then, ensure all their Lectures and Images reflect people of color, different genders, LGBTQI+, 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 try to better myself. For example, I partake in mentorship programs with my colleagues, seeing how seasoned instructors overcome complicated lesson plans and present them digestibly. 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 only sometimes constructive and critical.
A colleague could observe areas needing a second look or see 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 that the Humanities are constantly changing! We need to stay current with experts in the field. We need to attend conferences, colleague lectures, read the latest articles, 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. It would be best to create an environment conducive to positive learning through respect, trust, and varied learning techniques.