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Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy

 

As a sociologist who studies inequalities with a focus in education, I appreciate the importance of a strong and progressive education for both a student’s immediate well-being and his/her future life outcomes. I do not take my job as an educator lightly; I believe that the true goal of higher education is to help students develop critical thinking skills and a creative interest in the diversity present in society. Consequently, I view teaching and learning as dynamic process that involves every member of the classroom working together to create a learning environment that fosters higher-level thinking skills.

This view reflects my belief that each student can learn to truly do sociology. I believe that every member of society can benefit from learning how to think with a sociological imagination, and that this type of thinking emerges through interacting with curriculum material as opposed to rote memorization of sociological studies and facts.  By emphasizing critical thinking, as opposed to simple recall, I find each member of the class develops an interest in and deeper understanding of both sociology in particular and society in general. Not only does an interactive approach support a variety of learning styles, but a critical thinking oriented classroom encourages students to explore varying perspectives and ways to understand society and its many diverse members. 

My critical thinking approach allows learning to take place in multiple ways, such as discussions/debate, group projects, and writing, as opposed to restricting learning to isolated study. Through the use of multiple teaching techniques, students engage with numerous dimensions foundational to sociology as a discipline: cultural relativism, sociological methods and appropriate evidence, the role of theory in research, and theoretical perspectives. I believe that through understanding these dimensions and learning to utilize their sociological imaginations, students develop tools which will help them to better understand and navigate challenges in their own lives and the lives of others long after the classroom experience concludes.

Generating an interactive classroom learning community requires a great deal of effort and rarely occurs without work. I find that some simple techniques, such as incorporating group work from the very first day can help to build community. Additionally, I make every effort to be approachable and interested in the student’s lives and perspectives. Finally, and most importantly, I incite discussion whenever possible in the classroom, defining discussion as involving interaction among all members of the classroom and not simply call-and-response between me as the instructor and individual students.

Through the utilization of these methods, I make every effort to develop critical thinking skills and a larger worldview in my students. My sociological insights into the importance of education in the lives of all members of our current society contributes to my passion for teaching. I believe that the insights and techniques that students learn through the study of sociology continue to be useful and important long after each student’s classroom experience ends.

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