The philosophy that influences and motivates my teaching is founded on three main components: engagement, practical skill, and mentorship.
My courses in ethics and applied philosophy engage students in a way that promotes understanding of how this education applies to daily life and their future. I accomplish this by using historical and contemporary examples to demonstrate the practical relevance of the subject matter. One example of this in my inclusion of the film Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Video in my Sexual Morality course. This film explicitly critiques sexual power dynamics in modern American culture by focusing on contemporary music videos and reinforces the relevance of course concepts to the students’ culture and life. I also design interactive and collaborative assignments to reinforce the practicality of course concepts. In all contemporary ethics courses that I teach, I challenge students to find an artifact from their culture that connects to the ethical dilemmas we have been discussing. Throughout the years that I have used the “cultural artifact assignment,” students have deconstructed YouTube videos, websites, blogs, Tumblr, news stories, articles, community flyers and advertisements, analyzing their connection to the course material and recognizing that the issues we have discussed are not limited to the classroom space. As an example, one student in my brought in a collection of print advertisements featuring models of both sexes and analyzed the differing poses as well as the use of the male and female bodies. The student critiqued these ads drawing from course discussion and concepts such as female objectification and the male gaze.
As a teacher in the university, I am there to mentor students in both learning course material and their development as students. While teaching introductory philosophy courses, I have recognized that many students struggle with a number of important university skills, such as time-management and formal writing. Recognizing the importance of these practical skills, I begin each class with a seven-minute writing prompt to develop students’ critical thinking and writing skills. These writing prompts are often tied to the assigned readings and challenge students to begin the class by thinking critically about them. For example, students are prompted to imagine themselves making decisions abroad a boat in Garret Hardin’s Lifeboat metaphor or to discuss an example of cultural relativism. I also often mentor students on an individual basis in order to promote success. This individual mentorship often includes outline and paper development. One collaboration has resulted in a paper being edited and prepared into a manuscript for submission to a student journal. To assist in time-management, I develop weekly course schedules to accompany syllabi. These schedules outline all assignments, readings, and other tasks that must be accomplished each week and are often particularly useful for online and hybrid courses.
In sum, my philosophy of teaching is built on ideas of ethical and intellectual engagement, practical skill development, and mentorship. These components form the foundation of my pedagogy and guide my role in the classroom.