I recently wrote a teaching philosophy – I adopted it some for this post to apply more generally. To write this philosophy I adapted the 7 C Model I use for many things I do. If you have time, please take a look and share your thoughts… Thank you.
The teaching techniques and philosophy I developed and use has evolved over the past 14 years. Overall my teaching philosophy has developed techniques to fulfill the goal of helping others evolve into a better, more competent and capable version of themselves. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe captured my philosophy well when he proclaimed,
If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.
How I accomplish this philosophy can be described with what I refer to as a 7C framework which includes Challenge, Courage, Competence, Commitment, Connection, Contributions and Consequences.
In my efforts to be an effective teacher I initially ask the almost rhetorical question of whether or not they are interested in becoming a better version of themselves. Gaining confirmation, I them ask them to accept it as a Challenge. I also warn them that growth is hard. As Simon Sinek has stated,
If the challenge we face doesn’t scare us, then it’s probably not that important.
With giving them the idea that accepting the Challenge is important, I also explain that seeing this as a Challenge rather than a chore makes them more likely to think and act as needed to meet the Challenge. I also tell them my experience has shown that as they work to meet these challenges they will develop strengths and abilities they never knew they had. Of course since accepting the Challenge is scary, they need Courage.
As Mark Twain made known,
Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of it.
I explain they will need Courage because as they learn new ideas and concepts to become who they want to be, these new ideas can be scary because they will Challenge their existing beliefs. I also explain that Courage is that voice inside of their head that says they can be better!
In concert with these efforts is my aim of helping others become more capable through the development of Competencies from acquisition of new skills and knowledge. As the management guru W. Edwards Deming often stated,
Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.
When I teach I provide opportunities to learn from lecture, homework, projects, and group assignments. In helping them learn and develop Competencies, I am not just working to help them survive, I am helping them realize their potential to thrive.
New abilities don’t just happen, a Commitment is needed. Colin Powell explains Commitment like this,
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
Commitment is devotion or dedication which requires persistent effort and thought. To assist their development, I design my courses so they engage in preparation, hard work and have the opportunity to learn from failures. Committed students are rewarded with developed Competencies from their use of the many varied learning opportunities provided if not in a class, at work and in life.
I also emphasize the value of Connections through experience and teaching about other resources, people and groups. As Helen Keller said,
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.
To help them learn how to make connections I teach them about the benefits of developing strategic partnerships which are connections to groups that share a common goal and have complementary strengths. In my teaching I demonstrate this by making Connections with the library to help them learn, with Wellness Education so they can use their competencies, Career Services for developing job acquisition skills, and with the Volunteer and Service Learning Center to gain leadership skills through the completion of a Service-Learning assignment.
To help them understand the value of their knowledge, I relate class to their future and how it will enable them to make Contributions. Albert Einstein warned,
One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is the pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.
It is by accepting the Challenge, having Courage, being Committed to learning new Competencies and making Connections they are able to Contribute to individuals, groups and society, thus making a career of which they should be proud.
Finally, since the Dalai Lama suggests that in this life there are no punishments and no rewards, we simply suffer or enjoy the Consequences of our actions and choices, I explain the beneficial Consequences of their Contributions to others and to themselves. The consequences they will be able to enjoy include autonomy to direct their career and life, mastery over many topics and hopefully the discovery of a life purpose. Through their personal growth their Consequences beyond autonomy, mastery and purpose include self-confidence and the ability to be a happy, successful citizen who contributes as a role model and helps create a better tomorrow.
This teaching philosophy helps me continue to learn, grow and improve. It also keeps my teaching and learning as an interactive, not a passive process. I cannot make others learn and it seems these techniques and philosophy helps me provide an opportunity to learn. This philosophy and these techniques also force me to continually learn and develop better ways to learn and share new information. I hope that my teaching efforts are providing others with the ability to create interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Of course having the honor to teach and in attempting to help others become better versions of themselves, it has hopefully provided me a way to become a better version of myself. For this I am thankful for these opportunities.