I suppose that a personal teaching statement needs to answer two questions of the sort that one might be asked in a job interview: “Why do you want to teach?” and “What do you hope to accomplish?” I could easily say something about wanting to “wake the student up," “broaden their horizons,” or some variant thereof. Every teacher wants to do those things. When we use those sorts of hackneyed phrases without considering what they mean, we are speaking a dead language. We are partaking in an exercise in Latin grammar; making sure the form is correct without regard for the content. For example, students learn the proper language of “social studies” in elementary school: terms like “culture,” “prejudice,” etc. They repeat these words like they complete the algebraic expression x = 2 + 2; automatically and without considering whether those numbers stand for something in the real world. It's boring and UNPRODUCTIVE for everyone involved.
What I want to impart is the ability to practice a sort of “meta cognition.” I want to suggest to that what we call thought typically follows the same procedure as filling in that equation. Real deliberative, reflexive thought takes place BEHIND the number crunching. If one pays attention closely, it even has a different feeling; a sensation in a region somewhat posterior to that felt when calculating. This is what we mean when we talk about “waking students up.” It is the ubiquitous goal of undergraduate education and it should be – if we as educators, are willing to exemplify the practice of poking and prodding at our own clichés until they are jarred from their comas -- until they begin speaking the way they did before they were routinized.
Upon the completion of that last paragraph, my ode to reflexivity has doubled back on itself and made me wonder if it also some unconscious expression of my cognitive programming, the legacy of late 60's hippy culture, etc. What do I hope to accomplish? I want to exemplify for my students exactly this kind of probing: a question from a question; a thought in motion doubling back into itself and expanded outward to infinity. When this occurs, student "engagement" is no longer a problem, because a real question has been asked. It fills the consciousness and demands an answer, which demands further questions and so on.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Oakland University - Bachelors, Sociology
Graduate Degree: University of Arizona - Masters, Sociology
ACT Composite: 29
GRE Quantitative: 169
GRE Verbal: 154
music, intellectual pursuits, reading Russian literature, rock band
College Level American History
High School English
High School Level American History
What is your teaching philosophy?
Problem: Most implements of mass education (textbooks, articles, etc.) are filled with thousands of empty words and "systems" that serve the marketing needs of publishers and not students. Solution: Show the student how to strip away the packaging.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Extensively listen to the student's concerns - about the material, about education in general, and about what the student wants from educators that she or he is not getting.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
All good teachers teach thinking processes rather than "material" - teaching the man to fish rather than giving him a fish (to beat that dead horse one more time).