Philosophy of Pedagogy
Around each of us is a shell, a border, the edge where cultural or experiential fabric ends. This outline contains the self and defines the shape. As a teacher, I seek to find the edges of my own experience as well as those of my students, and encourage us all to analyze what is within these boundaries and seek to learn what is outside. As Paolo Freire asserts, we must first agree to coexist equally within a classroom environment, and to honor our motley motives and backgrounds before we achieve critical awareness and an ability to learn and act beyond the classroom. Such goals are paramount to my teaching: activating decision making skills to apply the content of the course to scenarios beyond. To engage my students I must find the connections between my own ambition and theirs, as well as the media and format to which they respond. Knowledge is only retained when the learner has discovered his or her own benefit in its acquisition. Knowledge is only useful when it can be used in the world beyond the classroom.
My students are critical agents in that world and also in their lives within it. My students consider their environment with scrutiny, and recognize the systems upon systems and relationships of power that influence both the world outside our boundaries and affect the way we respond to them from within our borders. I poke holes in those shells with my pins and augers of information, and illuminate these obscured influences on our lived experiences, expose the shared experience of those living in world together. Exposure is not easy, and thus the environment in which this happens must be safe, transparent and navigable, for as we learn and relate to that which is outside ourselves, we must be allowed to retain a sense of our shapes’ outlines, even as they become porous.
While my expectations and the class structure is established from the onset, my voice is ultimately not an authority or dictator, but a participant and resource. I use project based learning and encourage my students individually, in small groups, or as a whole, to develop plans that motivate them, and help them accomplish their own goals within the realm of the class. My process is by example. I demonstrate the ways that I as a creator have been able to learn my craft, and the research that I have found to inspire me. I show my students their forbearers – the obscure and avant-garde, the powerful and hidden, and hope that the far reaches of possibility give them goals to consider and space to experiment. My role is as a facilitator a collaborator, a guide. My role is to be humble, human, and to create a space where we all address each other supportively, and are able to seek help where we find strengths, and offer help where we find weaknesses.
My voice, the voices of my students, the voices of my teachers in the past have been strongest when explaining things that impassion us. As a writer and a visual artist I am a documentarian of images and sounds and am interested in the ways juxtaposition creates meaning, the way our eyes look at the world through variously colored irises. I love manifestations of culture and am fascinated by their origins. The ways cultures have evolved, and the implications of their antiquated meanings, still bear on their current iterations. The vocalization of any subjectivity, informed by these unique cultural evolutions, has the power to change conceptions of one’s place in the world. I show my students the power of subjectivity through stories, through example, and through my own passion. I hope to instill in them the belief that their stories, the ways in which they individually construct their experience in the world, are worth voicing. I encourage the exploration of the circumstances and repercussions of stories in the world, so that they too can become valuable texts in the dialogics of culture. These are the shapes of my pin pricks, the shapes I poke students’ shells, and also the holes I expect them to make in mine.
The quality of my students’ achievements is a reflection on how well I have led them. Have I motivated them? Have I given them the tools to accomplish what we are working toward? Do they feel satisfied by what they have accomplished? Have they taught me something? I assess my students’ participation, thoughtfulness, and progress individually and in relation to their potential. The poet and translator John Balaban said of writing programs, “I don’t know how many writers are going to come out of them, but I really don't care either. What I care about is that there are all those people who care about the written word in a way that would not occur otherwise.” Creative courses are not useful in that they make every student into a master craftsman, but in that they expose the value of creative expression to members of our society.
The discordant voices of dialogue create valuable challenges which exercise problem solving skills and our ability to react and tolerate the unexpected truth of the world. Dialogue exists between individuals, but also between the texts and the creative work produced in a community. If I do my job correctly, I must only wait patiently until these voices create enough holes that the mote thick rays consolidate in a picture of radiant myriad color and surprising familiarity.
1/23/12 Lindsey Scherloum