The goal of my teaching, and center of my philosophy, is interactive learning. One of my goals in teaching is to facilitate a classroom conducive to learning by using multiple strategies. I believe that knowledge will stay with an individual when they have multiple ways to absorb and analyze the material. My teaching philosophy reflects this strategy, as I use many techniques to engage students and take responsibility in their own learning. Effective teaching is made up of two critical elements: knowledge of the content and the ability to meaningfully communicate it.
Political Science is a discipline where many teaching techniques flourish. I work to incorporate a mixture of lecture and small-group sections. Students respond well to the mix of forms, being able to discuss their own interests and arguments in class debates and workshops, present a topic to the rest of the class as the ‘resident expert,’ ask questions in a lecture format, or engage each other in classroom experiments illustrating themes such as ‘tragedy of the commons’ or ‘the prisoner’s dilemma.’
Beyond the content of the classroom, I believe students should leave their courses with skills they will use in their lives. Not all students in a Political Science class are interested in pursuing a career in politics or academia, but all can benefits from the skills Political Science draws upon, such as critical analysis and evaluation. I structure my sections to include activities that develop these skills. Students must write research papers and participate in cooperative group work. They must develop high quality products within their deadlines and articulate complex concepts in an understandable way to their peers. By encouraging students to develop transferable skills, I hope to impact students regardless of career choice.
Studying political science involves framing understanding how the actions of individuals, groups, and states create our understandings of norms and political systems. I want my students to understand that our current political reality is the consequence of major events and changing mindsets so they are better prepared to act as aware political actors themselves in the world. I desire to use what I learn to serve and make an impact on the lives of others.