Dr. Jones has been teaching in higher education since 2003. He is passionate about teaching people of all ages about the power of communication.
To Be Present at the Birth Of
Etymologically, the word educatemeans “to be present at the birth of.” When the old meaning of educate is melded with our common understanding of the word, which is to instruct or train, we see new dimensions and possibilities for the praxis of teaching. I admit freely that my view of education is romantic, and although my years of experience teaching at the university level have tempered my views with practicalities, I still see education as the most important part of my life and as a calling that I am compelled to answer. Rather than view education as the act of teaching or transmitting information, 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 “re-birth” students; rather, I view education as an opportunity to facilitate and be present at the birth of new ideas.
Critical Thinking and Deliberation
More specifically, I value critical thinking as an entrée to deliberation, which prepares and invigorates students to be engaged citizens working for the public good. Having taught several courses on intercultural communication and cultural identity, I have enjoyed the opportunity to create spaces for dialogue in which students feel safe to voice their opinions, occasionally make mistakes, and hopefully learn.
Part of this process involves making the content of the course matter by making it relevant and meaningful. Rather than recycling syllabi, I look for opportunities to engage my students in ongoing events in the community and to continually improve my own teaching and learning. One of my favorite assignments involves “culture jamming.” Students creatively and publicly intervene in a taken for granted aspect of culture to make it more visible and open it to discussion and critique. Students are able to identify an issue that is important to them and then put the concepts and theories we have learned in the class into action in a creative and unique way.
The Interplay Between Teaching and Scholarship
In all of the instances mentioned above, my scholarship and my teaching inform each other, and I consider myself a teacher-scholar. Whether it is through culture jamming, community partnerships, or highlighting how communication is integrated into all aspects of our lives, including academic, professional, and civic, I bring my research interests into the classroom and my philosophy of education to my research.
My philosophy of education would not be complete without a discussion of mentoring. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since 7th grade, 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 by the possibility of doing original research. My newfound passion for research combined with my ongoing passion for teaching lead me down a new path toward the professoriate. The mentors I had in college shaped and changed my life. As a first generation college student, I needed those mentors to guide me, because I did not have anyone in my family to turn to whose advice was informed by experience. I now consider those advisors part of my chosen family and seek to model the skills they generously nurtured in me within my own praxis.