I’m looking back over my statements of teaching philosophy from 2001 (when I was searching for my current job), 2002, and 2003 and then comparing them with the new and improved one. I’m noticing that, back in 2001-2003, my teaching “philosophy” was more of a laundry list of pedagogical techniques that I engage myself in when teaching. “I use lots of active learning.” “I measure my students’ progress using a variety of assessment techniques.” “I am a firm believer in the use of computer technology in mathematics courses.” And so on.

Whereas, now, my focus is much more on the big picture — on what makes me who I am as a teacher, what makes me tick, what you will find in any instance of my teaching, regardless of technique or technology used, as well as what goes on behind my teaching. I am saying, “Here’s what drives me. Here are my core beliefs about education, teaching, students, and how it all fits together in the culture of education. And out of that, proceeds what I do in the classroom.”

So these days, when trying to express my philosophy of teaching, I am focusing less on what I am doing and more on how, why, and to whom I am doing it. I like that.



Filed under Education, Higher ed, Life in academia, Teaching

6 responses to “Observation

  1. I also have noticed, however, is that some advice given to beginners is sometimes in the overall-picture mode rather than the specifics they really need.

  2. I guess the difference is that in the 2001-2003 I was more *defining* my teaching in terms of specific tools. That seems a little myopic, in retrospect.

  3. I note that the statement is not math-specific. Intentional?


  4. @jonathon: Interesting point. No, that wasn’t really intentional, but it does make a lot of sense. The last few years I’ve been involved in the design and instruction of courses that are not mathematics courses — one course on C.S. Lewis, a course on privacy and leadership, etc. — and been in on the discussion stages of lots more non-math courses. So I think I am seeing myself these days more as just a teacher, period, rather than as a mathematics teacher. That’s symptomatic of being involved in a liberal arts college where the disciplinary lines are often blurred or even erased. I think that’s a good thing, too.

  5. virusdoc

    This is probably just the pedagogical equivalent of learning to ride a bike. At first, you focus intensely on the mechanics: how to pedal, shift gears, use the brakes (rear first!). Eventually, those functions become so ingrained they are taken over by lower cognitive centers, and many even become fully unconscious and utilize only the spinal motor neurons.

    Now you’re starting to enjoy the scenery and think about destinations. I look forward to that phase of my teaching.

  6. Interesting. If you have a chance, could you take a look at mine. It’s got a very different focus, largely, I believe, the result of becoming a high school math teachers during a hot part of the Math Wars.