Education is the process of becoming a member of a society. The more complete and well-rounded our education, the more complete and capable a member of our society we can become. We cannot afford to think of any one of our roles in the society – citizen, worker, and parent – as the most important. Each role influences and overlays the others. The educator, the person who leads us into society, has to remember this when educating. Our approach to educating is our approach to our society.
My approach to education is encouraging and entertaining, yet disciplined and rigorous. My goal is to take every class and forge them into their own society, where they may freely express themselves and follow their own intuitions about the world. The classroom must be a cauldron for fire testing ideas, a cradle for minds to grow and be nourished, and a performance place, keeping the group engaged and interacting.
The skills required for realizing this have been hard won. From my experiences with some of the brightest undergrads at the University of Miami, who needed only to be asked “What did you think?” I learned to respect my students and to learn from them. As an overly earnest young man, I had the opportunity to listen to James Burke, author of Connections and The Day the Universe Changed, andleading figure of the KnowledgeWeb Project. After a while, in my attempt to summarize what he was saying, I said “So education is the most human of activities?” He replied, with a small smile, “Just so.” A young man in an Introduction to Philosophy class at Tennessee State University wanted to know why he needed to study philosophy. Then I learned that students need leadership that can express the values of a society and that can be flexible enough to trash a lesson plan to answer a really important question, revealing that teaching is not reciting facts but meeting people. My philosophy of education is born from all this.
At a Glance
Programs & News