Etymologically, an old meaning of the word educate is “to be present at the birth of.” When this meaning is added to our common understanding of the word educate, which is to instruct or train, we see new dimensions and possibilities for the praxis of teaching. I admit that my view of education is romantic, and although my six years of experience teaching at the university level have tempered my philosophy with practicalities, I still see education as the most important part of my life and as a calling that I am compelled to answer. My philosophy is guided by the fundamental assumption that teaching is transformative and can open spaces for dialogue whereby students may be moved in new directions. It is not my goal to completely transform or move students to experience “re-birth”; rather, I view education as an opportunity to facilitate and be present at the birth of new ideas.
More specifically, I value classroom discussion and deliberation as an entrée to critical thinking, which prepares and invigorates students to be engaged citizens working for the public good. Having taught a variety of courses relating to communication, culture, relationships, and identities, I have enjoyed the opportunity to create spaces for dialogue where students feel safe to voice their opinions, occasionally make mistakes, and hopefully leave the discussion being more conscious of the importance of ethical communication competence.
My philosophy of education would not be complete without a discussion of mentoring. I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was very young, a decision that was largely influenced by some of the teachers I had. Although I entered college with the goal of becoming a high school music teacher, I quickly found myself intellectually stimulated in a way I had not been in my years of public grade school, and my new-found passion for research, combined with my ongoing passion for teaching, led me down a new path toward the professoriate. The mentors I had in college shaped and changed my life, and, as a first generation college student, I needed those mentors to guide me. I now seek to model the skills they generously nurtured in me within my own praxis. It has been my pleasure to have students take multiple classes with me, and to have guided them and learned from them in and out of the classroom.
In all of the instances mentioned above, my scholarship and my teaching inform each other, and I consider myself a teacher-scholar. I bring my research interests into the classroom and my philosophy of education to my research. I strive to be a bridge between my campus and community as a public intellectual who is privileged to work in the intellectual vocation.