For me, a teaching philosophy begins by looking to draw from both the past and the present, and any personal philosophy must be treated as a living text, open to change or evolution based upon my understanding of the world. It is not only the newly developed ideas or pedagogies that need to be considered, but also the ideas or perspectives from long ago that I may only be learning about now. I believe there is a wealth of knowledge to draw upon and available, but one must first acknowledge how much they do not know, to maintain a mindset of openness for both teaching and learning.
With that as my mindset, I begin in the past with Martin (1987) who described how feelings or emotions, and other non-cognitive facets of a person, are often neglected in education. Over 30 years later, Toulouse (2008) continues to speak about how educators need to begin focusing on the importance of self-esteem for all learners, and especially for indigenous learners. As such, I commit first to ensuring my philosophy is based on a holistic perspective, focusing on both the cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of both the material I teach, and people that I teach.
As I move to the current day, focusing on new and developing ideas, the position of Christou and Bullock (2012) remains in my focus, as many educators have found only failure when aligning themselves exclusively to one specific perspective and excluding all others. Although my philosophy is based on the idea of a holistic approach, exactly how that may look continues to evolve. I continue to focus on my own learning, and working to incorporate new ideas and techniques in my teaching. As an example, I offer the novel group assessment technique I developed, involving the creation of an evaluation factor (Mark, 2021) based upon the incorporation of peer and self-assessment to overcome challenges of fairness, and provide a more beneficial assessment for learners (Brown & Harris, 2012; Chin 2016; Forsell et al., 2019).
The final key feature of my philosophy is quite simple -- I am committed to ensuring the information offered, or taught in my classes -- is correct. To illustrate this, I offer the following quote:
"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit."
This quote is often attributed to Aristotle, and by matching the stigma of that name to those words, this quote is thought to define and inspire excellence in others. However, for those words to truly inspire excellence, the source should be cited as: Durant, W. 1926, p.87. Will Durant wrote those words as he spoke about Aristotle, and there is no indication or evidence that Aristotle ever spoke such words. However, this is an example of what I mean by correctness. Through a practice of always assessing, challenging and evaluating, as outlined by Christou and Bullock (2012), I believe I can ensure what I teach, above all else, is correct.
Overall, with my focus on the core aspects of learning from the past and present, maintaining a holistic perspective, continuing to learn and incorporate new ideas, as well as ensuring what I teach is correct. I am guided in my practice, with this as my teaching philosophy.
Christou, T. M., & Bullock, S. M. (2012). The case for philosophical mindedness. Paideusis, 20(1), 14–23
Brown, G., & Harris, L. (2012) Student self-assessment. In McMillan, J. H. (Ed.). (2012). Sage handbook of research on classroom assessment (pp.367-393). Sage Publications.
Chin, P. (2016). Peer Assessment. New directions in the teaching of physical sciences. 13-18. DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/ndtps.v0i3.410
Durant, Will. (1926). The Story of Philosophy. New York, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Co.
Forsell, J., Forslund Frykedal, K., & Hammar Chiriac, E. (2019). Group work assessment: Assessing social skills at group level. Small Group Research, 51(1), 87–124. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1046496419878269
Martin, J. R. (1987). Transforming moral education. Journal of Moral Education, 16(3), 204–213. DOI: 10.1080/0305724870160305
Mark, S. (2021). Creating an Evaluation Factor for Group Work Assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 26(10). Available online: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/pare/vol26/iss1/10 /
Toulouse, P. R. (2008). Integrating Aboriginal teaching and values into the classroom. What Works? Research into Practice (Research monograph #11).